LG GW520 review: A wholesome Cookie
User interface: Widgets and Livesquare
The GW520 has the latest Flash-based touch interface by LG, very similar to what the KP500 Cookie offers.
The interface features a lot of nice animations and transition effects. For example, when you get to the bottom of a scrolling list, the items don't just stop rolling, but bounce and throb to your sweeps with almost physical elasticity as on the iPhone.
The interface is generally quick and responsive enough and lagging is rarely an issue. The LG GW520 brings two homescreen panes. The first is a Widget-populated screen that lets you arrange the available several mini applications as you please.
To get to the second homescreen you sweep your finger sideways across the screen. The screen turns over like you roll a cube.
A touch on the marker in the bottom right corner of the homescreen pulls out the Widgets tray, which holds all of the currently unused widgets. You can choose the ones you want and drag them onto the screen or hide the ones you don't need back in the tray.
The LG GW520 offers an analog clock, a mini FM radio, a mini music player, a notes app, Image slideshow, a world clock, a calendar, WeatherBug, cellular info, web search and Facebook widgets as well as Push e-mail widget.
Unfortunately, new widgets cannot be added. That is the main disadvantage compared to the competing Samsung TouchWiz feature phone interface.
A nice feature allows you to align the widgets onscreen by shaking the handset thanks to the built-in accelerometer. For this to work however you need to have the widgets tray open.
Next is the Livesquare homescreen, which is one of the few notable improvements over the Cookie. The Livesquare is in essence a log of all your communication. They are displayed on the screen in several different layouts. You can set the background as a Zoo or a Park, populated by small human or animal figures notifying of missed events or received calls and messages.
The number of messages (or other events like incoming calls and emails) is displayed in a small bubble next to each figure. You even get such figures for events from unknown contacts - ones that are not present in your phonebook.
You can also set the Livesquare to reset every day so you'll see only today's events. Using the grey button in the bottom left corner you can access a complete communication history.
The phone supports threaded messaging view so conversations are displayed as an IM chat.
At the bottom of the homescreen you will find a navigation bar with four non-negotiable shortcuts. The first one takes you to the Dial pad to punch in a number, the second opens the Contacts list, the third one takes you to Messaging, and the last one brings up the main menu.
The menu system is simple, yet decently organized and generally very usable. The main menu consists of four tabs - they are displayed in a column on the right-hand side of the screen. Changing the tabs is done by clicking the respective icons. Alternatively you can select the scrolling menu option from the settings where you can change tabs by simply sweeping your finger accross the screen.
Thanks to the built-in accelerometer, the LG GW520 interface auto rotates when you turn the handset to landscape mode. The feature works selectively and is only available in the web browser, when typing a message, browsing images or watching a video. Rotation is quick but perhaps not the smoothest we've seen. The interface also rotates when you slide out or in the QWERTY keyboard.
The GW520 comes equipped with a task manager allowing you to run several Java and native applications simultaneously and effortlessly switch between them.
The task manager on the GW520 has a "launcher" tab that hosts a number of configurable shortcuts to various applications. LG GW520 offers nine slots since the favorite apps list isn't scrollable.
Another thing the GW520 shares with the other recent touch phones by LG is the Status screen - touching any of the icons on the status row on top (next to the clock) opens up a screen with readings about signal, battery and memory stats, and allows you to quickly toggle the ringing profiles, music player and Bluetooth.
Phonebook is fine
The phonebook capacity offered by the LG GW520 is up to 1000 contacts, each with its full set of details. You can organize your contacts into caller groups, and you can also assign them a personal picture and a ringtone.
There is a bunch of available fields for each contact on your list - you start off with fourteen fields, but once you enter a number or an email address, an additional field of the same type becomes available.
You can also add a note to a contact and when you enter the birthday field, you can also have the phone save the date to the calendar as a reminder.
Scrolling the contacts list is fluid and friendly. In fact, LG have done a great job with scrolling throughout the user interface so it's almost as enjoyable as on the iPhone.
If you don't want to go through all the contacts to reach those starting with "Z" for example, you can either use the search box at the top or you can drag the side scrollbar, which seems the quicker option.
You can opt for displaying the SIM and phone contacts separately, as well as all together in a single list.
The LG GW520 handles phone calls trouble-free, no voice quality or reception issues.There is Smart Dialing, and Speed dials are supported. When you hit a key, which has been assigned, you get hinted of the contact in question.
However the Smart Dial is quite useless as it only searches for contacts whose numbers contain the digits you typed. This just isn't of much use since most people don't bother to remember the numbers of their contacts as long as they got their names.
The LG GW520 scored an Excellent mark in our loudspeaker performance test. More info on our test can be found here.
|Speakerphone test||Voice, dB||Ringing ||Overall score|
|Apple iPhone 3G||66.1||62.1||71.7|
|Nokia 5800 XpressMusic||75.7||66.5||68.5||Good|
|LG KC910 Renoir||71.9||65.6||72.0||Good|
|Samsung M8800 Pixon||75.7||69.6||82.1||Very Good|
|LG KP500 Cookie||78.1||75.7||82.7||Excellent|