Falling somewhere between the flash of the Chocolate and no-frills, no surprises industrial design of the recently launched Ally, LG has outed the Fathom (aka VS750) with little fanfare. Featuring a mercifully unadorned WinMo 6.5.3 (save for wallpaper, pictured above, designed by a certain Vera Wang), a 1GHz CPU, quad band GSM, and a handful of AC adapters for charging all over Europe and the UK, this is a device clearly meant to go global. But will it capture people's hearts and minds? Read on to find out.
- Straight WinMo 6.5.3 UIBright, crisp displayExternal microSD slot
- Pics tend to look 'washed out'PriceyUnlock key hidden along the top of the device
Once we got the phone unlocked, the first thing we noticed was that (to LG's credit) the interface is standard Windows Mobile 6.5.3. We've certainly encountered enough janky custom UIs in our time to come to appreciate the straight forward simplicity of WinMo's Today Screen. As far as the 3.2-inch resistive touchscreen display goes, it really is no better or worse than we're accustomed to. Sure, with some practice you get used to it, but really -- why do you think man invented capacitive?
Aside from the usual resistive shenanigans, we have to say that our experience was pretty pleasant. A trip around the physical handset found us holding a solid, well-built device. First of all, the top surface is textured, giving it a more substantial feel than smooth plastic would, and the back of the phone has a little bit of texture as well -- if anything, it feels "quality." A trip 'round the edges reveals the volume rocker, micro USB port, camera and task manager keys, a microSD card slot (mercifully, there's no need to remove the battery or back plate to access this), and a power / lock key that resides at the top of the device.
This is not a light phone -- a quick, unscientific survey of what we happen to have in our desk here finds that even the G1 feels like a feather compared to it. Sure, we don't mind (we like a phone with some heft, after all) but you might balk at its, well, bulk. As far as the slider mechanism goes, it's solid, with the landscape QWERTY keyboard moving into place with a healthy click, revealing the twenty-six letters of the alphabet plus your full compliment of function keys as well as a d-pad.
Moving in, the 3.2-inch WVGA display does the job admirably -- colors are, well, their proper color, sufficiently bright and bold, and it's only upon very close inspection that things start to get wiggy. Close reading on a very long train ride might give you a headache, but quickly jotting some emails you should be fine.
Indeed, the part of the review process that we were most looking forward to -- playing with the camera -- was not as much fun as we had hoped (in all honesty, maybe because we were in Pittsburgh and there was nothing to take pictures of). In our experience, the light has to be "just so" to get decent pics. Too much light, the colors get pretty washed out. But hit that sweet spot -- say taking medium range shots with the right lighting -- and the pictures turned out fine. But how often does that happen? The same goes for video. This does well enough, but the results are no great shakes either.
Oh, you want to make phone calls with your phone? We can report consistent call quality across the board. As a speakerphone, the thing was actually louder and clearer than we're accustomed to, and as a phone phone we've got no complaints.
All in all, we have to say that LG is on the mark with its first Verizon smartphone (even if it's a rather boring mark). Of course, with the entire world (or at least a certain specialist segment that we cater to) counting down to Windows Phone 7, and with amazing things coming from the Android community every day, the whole WinMo thing feels a bit like a throwback. And at $150 (with $100 rebate and two year contract) we think the companies are hitting a little high. Still, this is a solid outing and a solid device -- let's hope that it's the first of many for the pair.