Review of the LG 6190


For those of us whoíve been using cell phones for quite a few years now, the LG 6190 is a rather odd model number. To us veterans a 6190 is a Nokia phone that started the current feature and menu scheme common in all modern Nokia models. The LG 6190 has nothing in common with the Nokia 6190 however, and I mention this only as a point of interest.

 

The LG 6190 is available on Telus PCS.

Last Updated: 14-Feb-2005

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

RF Performance

RF Sensitivity: Iím going to have to start this review with some bad news, but this is really the only aspect of the LG 6190 thatís below average. The RF sensitivity barely matches my old Motorola StarTac at 1900 MHz, which was once a benchmark phone, but has been bested by many other phones in the last 2 years. Models such as the Kyocera Blade and the Sony-Ericsson T206 have blown the StarTac out of the water for pulling in weak signals.

I also tried out one of the non-activated LG 6190s in the Telus store in Square One. The signal on Telus PCS is very weak at the back of the store, and many of their phones canít hold a decent signal. Compare to other models on display at the same table the LG 6190 was amongst the worst at pulling in a clean signal, thus confirming what Iíd found with the test phone out in the Hall of Shame.

We also tested 850 MHz on Bell Mobility, and in that regard the LG 6190 was somewhat better than my old StarTac. However, Iíve never tested the StarTac against any other phones at 850 MHz (as Bell Mobility has only recently implemented that in my area) and so I have no point of reference.

Over-the-road Performance: I was very pleased with the over-the-road performance of the LG 6190. I took the phone through the usual demanding loop near Square One, where many Telus PCS phone suffer greatly from the interference provided by a plethora of tall buildings in the area. The LG 6190 kept the interference to a minimum, and if Iíd had a Nokia 3205i with me at the time Iím certain that the 6190 would have matched it is this performance aspect.

When audio disruptions did occur they were fairly muted and they didnít seem to have a very annoying effect on audio reproduction. In other words, if Iíd been talking to someone for real during the drive through the demanding area I wouldnít have been at all upset by the phoneís handling of the RF problems.

Click on this link for a full description of RF Performance, and how to interpret it.

Audio Performance

Tonal Balance: While the LG 6190 isnít quite as well-balanced as the Motorola V710 or the Nokia 3205i, the overall tonal balance of the phone is very good. It sounds a little harsh on some types of voices, but for most situations it produces very pleasant sound.

Sound Reproduction: This aspect of the phone is also very good, with smooth reproduction of most nuances of speech, and very little sibilance. Unfortunately there is an annoying amount of background noise present thatís quite audible in quiet environments. Some of it is just plain ordinary hiss, while other components seem to be caused by the backlight. This noise MOSTLY disappears when the backlight dims, which means it is only an issue for the first 30 seconds or so (depending upon your backlight setting).

As with all background noise however, it isnít noticeable in noisy environments, so whether this bothers you will depend upon where you use your phone most often. If you plan to use the phone in a quiet house or office environment, you might find the background noise rather annoying. However, if you use the phone outdoors a lot, or at busy shopping malls, you probably wonít hear it at all.

Outgoing sound quality is also very good, with very little distortion caused by the noise-cancellation when thereís a high level of background din. The phone manages to knock out much of the background noise with very little damage to your voice. While it isnít quite as good as some other CDMA phones Iíve tested (the Kyocera Slider of Bell Mobility comes to mind), itís certainly among the top 5.

Earpiece Volume: The maximum volume of the earpiece is quite high, and the earpiece itself maintains excellent sound reproduction even when the volume is high. While the phone lacks the innovative Smart Sound feature of Kyocera phones, the high overhead available on the 6190 makes up for it. Even calling the exceptionally quiet Movie Phone number (at 416-444-3456) I found that the phone had enough volume overhead to make the call audible, even in a noisy shopping mall.

Click on this link for a full description of Audio Performance, and how to interpret it.

Support Features

Ringer Volume: When the loudest ringer was the chosen the phone could be heard when stuffed into a pocket in a noisy shopping mall or in a moving car. While the ringer isnít exactly ear-shatteringly loud (like the Motorola i730 and i830) it is more than loud enough for just about any circumstances you might find yourself. Unfortunately only one ringtone even comes close to this level of performance, whereas all of the rest produce rather disappointing maximum volume.

Keypad Design: The keypad of the LG 6190 is different from virtually every other phone on the market at the time of this writing, in that it has secondary keys for each letter of the alphabet (located in the spaces BETWEEN the standard keys). I hadnít expected to be very impressed with this design, but I have to admit that it works much better than I imaged. The standard keys are rather flush and difficult to discern, but they have excellent feel and accuracy, and I had very little trouble with them.

The extra alpha keys will take some getting used to, as there is no specific pattern to them (they just put the letters onto the keypad in order from left-to-right, top-to-bottom). Once mastered though, Iím certain that SMS and email buffs would whip out messages in no time flat. However, the keypad does beg the question ďis it better than a good T9 implementationĒ? This is a valid point, and Iíd have to say that itís probably a one of those ďyes and noĒ type of answers.

T9 works very well when A) the word you type is in the dictionary, and B) the word is unique, or it is the first one selected. Whenever either of these two conditions is not true T9 can be a pain-in-the-neck, whereas the Fastap keyboard will produce the results you want each and every time. On the other hand, some T9 implementations (though not all) will auto-complete words for you, so you sometimes donít have to type all of the letters in the word to get it. Fastap wonít do this for you, and you have to type all of the letters in all of your words. In the end though, Iíd have guess that Fastap will win out over T9 for heavy SMS and email writers, but for casual SMS and email users there doesnít seem to be much of an advantage.

Headset: The sound quality to my Samsung earbud was very good, but the volume was disappointingly low, especially compared to the really high volume from the native earpiece. This makes the phone far less useful if you tend to use earbuds or headsets when driving (which is a good idea from a safety perspective).

Speakerphone: Wow, this is probably one of the best speakerphone implementations Iíve seen in quite some time. It even beats my i730 in both maximum volume and overall audio quality by a perceptible margin. This speakerphone is so good that it can be used very successfully to carry on conversations while driving in a car. Youíll have a little trouble hearing it in a crowded shopping mall or out on a noisy street, but these arenít locations you tend to use speakerphones anyway.

Display: The color display looks very good indoors, but like many such displays it has a bit of a problem with direct sunlight. Outdoors the screen can be seen, but youíll have some difficulty, and youíll have to angle the phone just right to catch the light well without undue reflections. The display is about average for color phones these days, and is neither a disappointment nor a selling point.

Conclusions

If I was in the market for a CDMA phone right now, I donít think I would hesitate to buy an LG 6190. I am disappointed with the lackluster RF sensitivity, but just about every other feature of the phone makes up for that. The great incoming and outgoing sound quality, the excellent speakerphone, and the terrific over-the-road performance are right up my alley.

Oddly the guy Iíd borrowed the phone from was rather hoping that I wouldnít like the phone as much as I did, because for some reason he wasnít very happy with it. I canít say I understand why, as except for the RF sensitivity issue this is a GREAT phone.

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