Cheap Smartphone Review: LG 800G
The 800G from LG is a phone available in the US through prepaid carriers Tracfone, NET10 and others. The one I have uses the Tracfone carrier.
As I’ve said before on more than one occasion, I’m a cheap cell phone user and hate post-paid cell phone contracts with a passion; this is why I use low-end prepaid cell phones instead.
The 800G is an "expensive" Tracfone. I put that in quotes because it’s only 50 bucks at the time of this writing and will only go lower in price as the months go on. Still, at 50 bucks it’s a bargain touchscreen phone.
Yes. The 800G is a true touchscreen. More on that in a moment.
Smaller than it looks
From the picture it’s easy to assume this phone is iPhone-sized. It’s not and is smaller. The unit is 4-1/8" high by 1/2" wide with a 2-1/2" depth. To put this in perspective, this phone will fit in a men’s t-shirt pocket easily.
The camera sucks
The 2.0MP built-in camera is fairly crappy. Only good for taking outdoor daylight photos and pretty much nothing else.
There is one big perk however. The camera auto-orientates no matter what orientation you hold it in, so if you decide to turn it on its side, it adjusts automatically.
4 hours talk time, 16 days standby on battery
This is slightly better than most upper-end smartphones. For most people you’ll probably be required to charge the phone once every 3 to 5 days on average with regular use. For the miserly that don’t use a cell phone often and maybe use it a handful of times per week, you’ll probably have to charge once every 10 days.
Can support a 4GB microSD
There’s some debate as to how much additional storage a phone like this can support. I know for a fact it will support a class 4 microSD of 4GB with absolutely no problem at all. If you try to use an 8GB or above, it may not work.
No, you can’t tether it
Not possible. Just because it’s a smartphone doesn’t mean it’s tether-able.
This is a "triple-minute" phone (Tracfone-specific)
If this phone is bought direct from the Tracfone web site, any time card bought for this phone is auto-upgraded to triple-minutes at no extra charge. For example, the purchase of a 60-minute card means you get 180 minutes.
If you buy this off the shelf at a retail store, pay attention to the packaging carefully. If it says nowhere that it has "triple minutes for life", then it doesn’t. I have seen instances where the 800G phone is double-minute only, and I strongly recommend against buying that when you can just order it and get triple-minute instead for the same price.
This is not an iPhone or Android phone, so don’t expect it to be
I’ve noticed some that give really bad reviews of this phone because it doesn’t do what a phone triple its price does. Well, no kidding. Duh. The 800G is an example of "you get what you pay for".
The 800G does what it’s supposed to do very well. Talk, text, take photos, set alarms/reminders, etc. All the basics are covered. If you’re expecting iPhone/Android-like operability, that’s not the 800G at all.
Good and bad stuff about the touchscreen
Having icons and "swipe-able" menus makes just about everything a whole lot easier to deal with compared to a featurephone or one with a keyboard.
I’d say the absolute best touchscreen feature on the 800G is the speed-dial screen which is a "swipe" away from the main menu (or you can always leave it as your home screen). From there your speed dials are triple-function. Touch a speed-dial contact and you can choose to call, text or edit the contact right from there. Very convenient.
The worst touchscreen feature is the one that doesn’t exist – a back button. In order to go back a menu, you have to press the middle tactile button (seen in photo above, look for the ‘arrow’ button on bottom). This takes getting used to and usually cannot be done one-handed.
One thing I was pleasantly surprised with is how readable the screen is even though it’s small. All fonts are very legible, so if you had bad eyesight, don’t worry, you’ll be able to read it without issue.
Easy-access USB port
Something I’m genuinely thankful for is that the USB port where you plug in the cable for data or charging is easy to get to, largely in part to the covering being designed correctly. Instead of a rubbery push-in/pull-out thing, it’s a harder plastic with a generous space for your fingernail to get in there and pull it out and rotate easily.
The 800G has a single button on top, a split up/down for 2 buttons on right and 3 buttons on the front.
The top button is for power-on and screen-off. A long press turns on or off. With a short press you hear a little ‘click’ and the screen goes out – but the phone is still on. Believe me, this is very convenient to have because when you want to chuck the phone in your pocket but not accidentally activate anything on the screen; a quick press of the top button is all that’s required to accomplish this.
The ‘rocker’ on the side is for volume increase/decrease with short presses. A long press on the ‘down’ button will trigger the phone’s silent mode. Another long press there will return to normal ringing/text-notify volume.
The front three buttons are Send (call), Back (for menus) and End (end call), and that’s all you need to know about them – but with one annoyance. Every phone I’ve ever used with an "End" button means a long press of that button turns off the phone; that does not happen on the 800G. If you want the phone turned off, you have to use the top button instead. That’s weird, but it’s how the phone is designed.
The first question answered that people usually have about this phone is:
Does it have widescreen QWERTY?
YES. But the way to get to it is somewhat buried.
There are three modes of text composition on the 800G. Keypad, Keyboard and Handwriting. The default mode is Keypad, which is a T9 style you see on featurephones. Handwriting mode means you can handwrite things on the screen and the phone attempts to translate that into text. Keyboard is the widescreen QWERTY.
When composing a message (meaning the screen where you’re actually composing the message and not one menu before), there’s an icon at bottom left which looks like a sheet of paper with writing on it. Touch that, then select "Input Method" and then "Keyboard" and you’ll have your widescreen QWERTY. And yes, it will stay that way for every message you compose until you switch it to something else.
Another thing to bear in mind is that "word suggestions" are turned on just like they are in Keypad mode, but fortunately they can be turned off. While on the QWERTY compose screen, there will be a small paper icon at top left where you can touch, and select to not show word suggestions.
Can you "double-thumb" it?
I find double-thumb texting (where you type using only thumbs with both hands) to be annoying on the 800G’s touchscreen and prefer using Keypad mode with T9 enabled one-handed holding the phone vertically.
What I’d suggest for anyone that gets this phone is to try both Keypad and Keyboard to see which you like best. While it’s very cool that the 800G has QWERTY, remember that the screen is small and not the best for big-fingered people. Keypad mode has button areas that are larger, and with the assistance of T9 predictive texting (on by default) may be easier to compose texts with.
In addition I’ll also say the T9 predictions on the 800G are really good. The dictionary is large and the predictions easy enough to deal with – at least for English language.
Touchscreen is the way mobile phones are going, get used to it
Being that touchscreen phones are getting cheaper to manufacture and sell, there’s a lot more carriers offering them now at bargain bin prices; the 800G is an example of this.
Phone makers are making a push to completely phase out featurephones with standard tactile keypads.
I switched from a mobile phone with tactile QWERTY thumbpad to the 800G with touchscreen. Texting on touchscreen does take getting used to. For example, if the T9 predicts a word you didn’t want, how to fix it is to actually touch the word itself and select a different suggestion; this is altogether much faster than fishing through menus on a phone that operates by nothing but tactile buttons. Once you start doing things the touchscreen way you’ll find it’s much quicker than the tactile more often than not.
The assign-anything shortcuts/icons you can put on the home screen is also something I greatly prefer over the older tactile phones. Getting to stuff is just plain easier with touch.
The 800G is a basic touchscreen smartphone, and it gets the job done. All the conveniences of touch are there and there’s not too much learning curve involved.
This is just a personal preference on my part, but one worth mentioning.
The default ‘theme’ for the 800G is "Cartoon" and looks dopey (seen in photo above), like it was drawn by a 11-year-old. If you want something that’s not-so dopey looking, the alternative theme bundled is "Black", and has proper-looking graphics for icons/menus/etc. so it doesn’t feel like you’re operating a toy.