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LG InTouch Max GW620 review

Barry de la Rosa
4 Feb 2010
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
270
inc VAT

A good first effort from LG, but the GW620 is already out of date thanks to Android 1.5, and the comfortable keyboard can't make up for its poor performance.

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Specifications

Android 1.5, 3.0in 320x480 display

The InTouch Max GW620 is LG's first Android phone, and has a large slide-out QWERTY keyboard and a customised user interface, although you do have the choice of switching between this and the standard Android home screen. LG's interface differs only slightly at first glance, adding a small toolbar across the bottom of the home screen that matches the toolbar found on other LG phones.

Instead of Android's application screen, accessed by dragging a handle from the bottom of the home screen, you press a button to take you to LG's application screen, which is conveniently split into categories. When you hold an application icon, you can drag it to a different category, or drag it to the home screen by hovering over an area at the bottom of the screen.

LG has also changed the behaviour of the home screen. Android splits the home screen into three panes, and you can swipe side-to-side to choose a pane. LG's home screen wraps around, so that you can keep swiping to cycle through all the panes. LG has also included a few non-standard applications, such as the QuickOffice document viewer, and its own social aggregation features with what it calls Linkbook.

This isn't actually a separate application, but integrated into the address book. Once you've imported your Google contacts and added Facebook, Bebo or Twitter accounts, you can then link each Google contact with contacts in the other services. Note however that this process isn't automatic - you have to manually merge your contacts - and it only supports the three services mentioned above. It's really no match for HTC's Sense or Motorola's Motoblur software.

In fact, we were disappointed to find out that the GW620 uses Android 1.5 rather than the more recent 2.0 or 2.1 (although the latter is only on Google's own Nexus One for now). Not only does it miss out on the built-in social aggregation features of Android 2.0, such as support for multiple online accounts, but it also lacks multi-touch, and misses out on updates to the web browser and camera application. LG won't say whether they will offer a free update to a newer version of Android in the future.

Android 1.5 only supports screen sizes up to 320x480, which might explain why the GW620 doesn't have a larger touchscreen. Despite this, its screen is bright and has vibrant colours. It uses a resistive touchscreen which is very responsive - we assumed at first it was capacitive as the merest fingertip touch activated it - but it's not as smooth as the screens on the HTC Hero or Apple iPhone.

This is partly due to the poor performance of the GW620. LG doesn't specify what processor it uses, but it's rumoured to be the same 528MHz Qualcomm chip found in HTC's Hero. We criticised the early version of the Hero for being slow, but HTC subsequently brought out an update which sped things up dramatically. It remains to be seen whether LG will do the same, but in its current state the GW620 can prove sluggish.

The slide-out keyboard has five rows of keys, with the top row reserved for number keys so you don't have to use key combinations. The keys are large and far enough apart to make hitting them easy, but they are rather stiff. The screen only switches to landscape mode when you slide out the keyboard, overriding Android's settings. LG has replaced the standard Android virtual keyboard with its own version, which isn't half as good, so you're better off using the actual keyboard for all text entry.

LG has opted for a non-standard button layout on the face of the phone. There are touch-sensitive buttons for Home and Back commands, and the large central button is the Menu key, which we found rather unintuitive, although it also acts as the screen unlock button. There's no dedicated Search key such as you'll find on other Android handsets.

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