Mini Review of the LG 5450


The LG 5450 is the first camera-phone to be released by Telus Mobility. It also kicks off their launch of MMS (Multi-media Message Service) which allows photographs to be sent directly from one compatible phone to another, or to the Internet.

Last Updated: 02-Nov-2003

Before reading this review, please read Some Thoughts on Phone Reviewing.

Also read Comparing performance of Telus PCS Phones.

General

Clamshell phones with built-in cameras are already old-hat, but Telus hasnít offered them until now. My personal take on such phones is that they have limited usefulness, and are sold primarily for their novelty value. Even at a very reasonable cost of 25 cents per picture transmission, the cost of using the feature too much can add up very quickly. However, I leave it up to each individual to decide if they really need the camera feature. Iím here to comment on the usefulness of this phone as a phone.

There really isnít much that sets this particular clamshell apart of others of its ilk. It isnít exactly jam-packed with features, nor is its color screen particularly inspiring. The colors are a bit more vibrant than on the Motorola T731, but overall the screen is the usual low-grade type used in virtually all current color phones. Okay, Iím permanently biased after seeing the gorgeous screen on the Sharp GX22, but for those of you who havenít yet seen what excellence really looks like, the 5450 is at least not as bad as some phones on the market.

The fit-and-finish on the 5450 is excellent, with a good solid flip that includes a positive rubber stop that makes it feel even more solid. The only thing I didnít like about the phoneís physical design was the placement of the camera lens. Itís mounted on a beveled section near the top of the phone (that lines up with the flip when itís open). The location tended to be right where my fingers wanted to hold the phone. The lens was also too close to the surface, meaning scratches are an all too real threat.

The keypad was mostly flush, but I found that the keys had really excellent feel, which more than made up for their design. Key placement was mostly good, and none of the keys were melded with others, and so feeling the keys without looking was possible. I didnít really like the 4-way pad however, as it wasnít easy to feel that youíd put your finger in the right place, and it was far too easy to press other keys by mistake.

The menu system was well laid out, and aside from one main menu item entitled ďDo MoreĒ, most of the system made perfect sense. Menu response speed was good, but the placement of the back key was rather odd. The 5450 defies normal convention, and places it immediately below the 4-way pad. Iím sure youíd get used to it in time though.

Most of the ringers on this phone are of the polyphonic variety, but at least one of them is a standard ringtone. Fortunately this one standard tone is actually loud enough to hear in noisy environments, but all the rest of are really only audible in more subdued environments.

RF Performance and Audio Quality

RF performance was good, but nowhere near the level of the top performer, the Ericsson T206. Compared with my old Motorola ST-7868W (with a stubby antenna) the 5450 was ever so slightly worse. Given that the ST-7868W performs well below that of the Ericsson T206, that doesnít say much for the performance of the 5450.

Incoming audio was disappointing as well. While it is a huge improvement over the LG TM520, the tonal balance of the 5450 is decidedly hollow and harsh (and not much different from the T731). Sound reproduction is excellent however, so as I noted in my review of the T731, slightly poor tonal balance is easier to get used to than poor sound reproduction.

Earpiece volume is acceptable, but not really loud enough for extremely noisy environments (like walking down a busy street). It depends on the volume level of your caller, but since some callers can be faint, itís always preferable to have a phone with lots of overhead.

Outgoing sound quality is very good, and similar again to the T731. Like the Motorola phone the 5450 benefits from its clamshell design which puts the microphone very close to the userís mouth. Because of that the sensitivity of the microphone can be turned down, and thus it doesnít pick up much background noise.

So as a phone, the 5450 is actually about the same as the Motorola T731, with similar tonal balance and outgoing sound quality, but slightly worse RF sensitivity. However, given that it isnít that much more expensive than the T731, it might be worth the extra bucks to get the camera feature, even if you donít use it all that much.

****************

Here are a couple of photographs I took over at Square One using the LG 5450:

Home