A lot of video hit the cutting room floor, due to the YouTube ten minute time limit. Much of what I cut was answers to specific questions. I want to answer your questions, so I’m going to piece together the excess footage. I won’t be able to record any new video, so I apologize if you’re question doesn’t get answered visually.
- Android 2.1 – Many phones sold today still run Android 1.6 or even worse 1.5. It’s refreshing to see Android 2.1 on a mid-level device. Unlike the (unofficial) Hero 2.1 update, this is the full Android 2.1 experience. Live Wallpapers, the Coloriris Gallery, and the new 3D Launcher are all included.
- Camera – When I read that the Ally only came with a 3.2 megapixel camera, I had my doubts. However, it’s not too shabby. It has auto focus, a flash, and even a macro setting. Check out my sample shots here. I also posted a short video here. I’ll try to snap a few more pics and videos before I have to return it. I’m not 100% familiar with vanillandroid 2.1′s camera app. But I believe that the Ally has a different one. I could be wrong.
- Price – Did you know that T-Mobile still sells the G1? Did you also know that it’s $99.99*? The LG Ally is also $99.99*. If I had to choose, I’d take the Ally. Even the DEVOUR, also on Verizon Wireless, is $149.99 and it still runs Android 1.6.
- ThinkFree Office – While this app isn’t exclusive to the Ally, it is included for free. That’s a $9.99 value. You can view, create, and edit documents, spreadsheets and presentations. You can also view PDF files. The best feature: Google Documents integration. They also offer a free cloud storage solution of their own.
- Keyboard – Not since my Helio Ocean have I been as satisfied with a QWERTY slider. The keys are raised and beveled, so it’s easy to recognize that you’ve moved from key to key. It has 4 full rows, with a slight offset (like a laptop keyboard). It includes Back, Home, Menu, and Search keys. These are in addition to the front-facing keys. Plus, they crammed a 4-way directional pad with “OK”, on the right side. It doesn’t get in the way or shift the keys too far left, making typing awkward. It’s rather useful, actually.
*Contracts, mail-in rebates, etc
- LG Home – While it’s not fully integrated with the ROM (a la Sense or MOTOBLUR), it is a nice change from vanillandroid. I particularly like the quick launch dock at the bottom, as the apps are customizable. You can also rearrange the app layout in the launcher. They make it easy to switch between Android Home and LG Home with a “Themes” app. This app will also allow you to switch to another Home replacement (i.e. OpenHome).
- LG Widgets – The calendar widgets aren’t pretty, but they get the job done. The weather widget is nice, as it shows the time and date. When you tap the widget, you get a full screen weather forecast. However, it doesn’t launch the Clock app, when you press the time.
- Performance – Let’s not kid ourselves. This is not a superphone. However, it’s a very capable mid-range phone. The screen is relatively responsive, but not as snappy as the Incredible. The multi-touch works well for basic pinch-and-zoom usage. It works okay for multi-touch games.
- Socialite – There are so many great Twitter clients in the Market, I don’t know why any manufacturer would want to create one from scratch. The least they could do is partner with one of the top developers to license their product or code for their devices. Socialite is a sub-par. There is no option to “share” pictures to either Facebook or Twitter. The widget doesn’t have a landscape view, so when you slide the keyboard open, the widget disappears and it says “Problem loading widget”. The landscape widget doesn’t always load properly. Also, I did not receive notifications on a consistent basis.
- Bloatware – It’s typical for carriers or manufacturers to add apps to the core Android set. The Ally is no different. In addition to the above mentioned Socialite and ThinkFree Office, Verizon and/or LG have included Amazon (shopping), Facebook, MySpace, and Visual Voice Mail. I would have downloaded Facebook regardless, but I’m a Google Voice user and would never use Visual Voice Mail. Since these apps are free in the Market, they should allow users to install (or in this case, uninstall) them on their own. Carriers are provided with their own section of the Market to highlight “featured” apps.
- The Heft – The Ally is by no means “slim and trim”. I think the length and width are fine, but the thickness is a bit off-putting. It’s not that the device is uncomfortable to use, but you can certainly tell you’re carrying it around. The Motorola DROID is proof that you can have a slim full-QWERTY phone. Also, the phone is a bit heavy. When I was reviewing the Incredible, I would forget that it was in my pocket. That’s not as true with this device.
Pricing and Availability
The LG Ally is available for pre-order now and will be in stores on May 2oth. Pricing will be $99.99 after a $100 mail-in rebate with a new two-year customer agreement. Plans start at $39.99 for voice, plus $29.99 for data. If you want voice and text it’s $59.99. Learn more about Verizon’s plans here.
Should you get this device? If you’re an LG fanatic, and are looking to ditch your enV for a smartphone, then “Yes”. If you want a quality QWERTY Android phone for a great price, then “Yes”. If you’re looking for the hottest, fastest, sexiest phone, then “Probably not”. It is a VERY capable phone. It has a VERY attractive price. It will make many customers VERY happy. But it’s not for everyone.