Cell Phone Review: LG Enact – A Low Cost, Starter Android Phone
Disclaimer: Verizon Wireless provided temporary use of the phone with service in order to facilitate this review. I have not been otherwise compensated. Girls on the Run of Southeast Michigan provided me with free entrance to their SuperHero 5K in exchange for my promotion and review of the race. All opinions are 100% mine.
Are you looking to embrace a full-featured smart phone but maintain the physical keyboard of your slide phone? If so, the LG Enact may be the phone for you. I never had a slide phone with a physical keyboard, so I didn’t know the advantages of a physical keyboard. At the time that the slide phones were popular for texting, I was in what I called a texting bubble – I was too old to have started texting in college/early 20s and too young to have a child who texted. Now, however I text all the time.
Since I am very used to a virtual keyboard (I started with an iPod Touch in 2009 then moved to an Android phone in 2010 and finally an iPhone in 2011), I didn’t initially see a huge benefit to the physical keyboard. It was easier to mix text and numbers since there is a numbers row on the keyboard instead of having to switch between virtual keypads or use multiple keystrokes. However, the “price” of the physical keyboard is a thicker, heavier phone.
However when my daughter and I ran the Girls on the Run SuperHero 5K on a cold, rainy day, I noticed a big advantage to the physical keyboard. In order to protect the phone, I placed it in a ziploc bag to take on the run with us so that I could take photographs and communicate with my parents who were watching the race. With the physical keyboard, I was able to navigate the menus and text and even take pictures without using the touch screen allowing me to leave it in the bag. Definitely something that I couldn’t have done without the physical keyboard. Unfortunately the keys are small, so your best bet for cold weather typing is still touch enabled gloves (I’ve found the cheap knit ones from Target work great).
Other than the keyboard, I found the LG Enact to be a fairly standard basic Android smartphone. As a Gmail user I am able to access my e-mail fairly seamlessly (although I prefer the regular Mail app to the Gmail specific app since I don’t care for the threading and automatic sorting that the Gmail app does on both the phone and the web version). My calendar synchronizes from my Mac to Google Calendar to the phone without issues. Apps like Facebook, Kindle, Instagram, etc. work flawlessly on the phone.
The camera is 5MP and took adequate pictures. Below are three photos that I took at the race. They are unedited – just uploaded to Picasa and shared from there – to show you the capabilities of the camera:
With the full Google Play store available, it was easy to download apps, music, and video content that I have already purchased on other Android devices. I will say that the Google Play store is a big step up from the Android Marketplace that was on my original HTC Incredible Android phone.
My main complaint is with how the Android operating system interfaces with a Mac (or more correctly does not interface). Google does not offer a way for an Android device to connect directly to a Mac. The main issue with this is with my pictures. I find them very difficult to retrieve from an Android phone. I have to upload them to a service such as Picasa (which is now intermingled in Google Plus) and then download them to my computer. I have had the same issue with every Android phone that I have used and as a Mac user, this was a major driver in my switch from an Android phone to an iPhone (I had a 4S and now have a 5S). With the iPhone, my pictures are transferred via iCloud and show up on my computer automatically. Even when I had a PC, my iPod Touch communicated with it better than an Android does with a Mac.
However, if you are a PC user, the LG Enact would make a great first smart phone, especially since it is FREE with a 2 year contract on Verizon Wireless. Personally, I have been with Verizon through it’s Bell Atlantic predecessors since my first cell phone in 1995. I have had great service in the 4 states that I have lived in and almost everywhere I have travelled in the US (my mother-in-law’s house has traditionally had no cell signal from any carrier).