The LG GW620 runs Android 1.5, which is getting a old, but at least has been retouched by LG. It’s not a complete makeover as we’ve seen on HTC phones with the Sense UI but it brings Android closer to what LG users are used to.
As usual, you get three homescreens to put widgets on, but at the bottom there are four buttons in typical LG feature phone style – dialer, contacts, messaging and menu. Another tweak to the homescreen panes is that they are looped – there’s no end point from which you need to sweep back. Good for navigation usually, but with just three homescreens it’s not a big deal anyway.
The notification area, one of the strong points of the Android UI, got a tweak as well – it has two switches for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. You could probably snatch a widget from the Market that offers even more switches, but the advantage of putting them in the notification area is that they are accessible throughout the whole interface.
The LG GW620 doesn’t have the standard set of hardware Android buttons, instead LG have decided to use only three – home, back and the menu key. The Search key is missing, but pressing the menu key on the homescreen offers a Search button, along with the usual options to add a widget, change the wallpaper, etc.
The reskinning effort by LG went a little deeper – the main menu has been changed too. It now groups apps into categories (Communication, Multimedia, Utilities and so on) and the icons of most apps have been replaced with LG style icons.
We have a small gripe with this – not all icons were changed, like the Android Market and Gmail ones. Perhaps Google doesn’t let manufacturers change them, but still – the difference in styles is very visible and a little annoying.
In the menu you’ll find a little tool called Homescreen selector, which lets you pick between the vanilla Android homescreen and the custom LG Home.
LG didn’t preload the LG GW620 with additional widgets aside from the standard Android v1.5 ones. Of course you can get some off the Android Market, so we’ll let this one slide.
The UI on the LG GW620 is acceptably fast, but it lags occasionally, which makes it seem unresponsive at times.
Here is how the LG GW620 compares to the HTC Hero in terms of performance. We used the free Benhcmark and PiBenchmark apps from the Android Market for the test and the results are here for you to see.
Android v1.5 has one single Contacts application that includes four functions – the Dialer, the Call log, Contacts and Groups. The app uses a tabbed interface for easy navigation between the four functions.
On top of the Contacts list, there’s a Search contacts button to compensate for the lack of a physical search button) and an Add a new contact button. Another way to search for a contact is by using the alphabet scroll.
Each contact is listed with a photo, name, default phone number and a call button. Viewing a contact has been redesigned with social networking in mind. Here a tabbed interface is used again. The default tab is the View tap – it shows all the info for that contact.
The next tab is the Log tab – it lists all communications with that contact, from calls to messages from Facebook.
Which brings us to the third tab – Community. It allows you to link a contact with their Facebook, Twitter and Bebo accounts. When you do, a small icon of whatever social networking site it was appears over the contact’s photo.
Editing a contact is mostly unchanged. You have all the types listed (numbers, email addresses, etc) and there's a plus sign on the right - clicking it adds another item of that type. Pressing the minus sign under it deletes unneeded info.
Finally, there’s the Groups tab. The default groups are Starred in Android (you can “star” contacts, that is mark them as favorite), then Facebook, Twitter and Bebo (though these show only if you have an account for that site).
An additional app, Favorite contacts, shows a grid with the contact photos of all the contacts that you’ve starred. Most of it is eye candy, but the app can be quite handy too – tapping on a contact brings up the options to call the contact, send a message or email or edit the contact details. If there is more than one number for the contact you can select which one to use.