CameraThe LG 420g camera offers only VGA (.3 megapixel) resolution, and of course lacks a flash, so the pictures you take with this phone won’t be the greatest. I took a few example shots, and even in full sun, the shot wasn’t crisp. And in general, the colors looked a little washed out. See an example photo at left. But none of this is really surprising in a $20 camera phone ($40 from Straight Talk).
On the plus side, and as I mentioned earlier, it’s easy to transfer pictures to a computer or another phone via bluetooth. Other settings available on the camera include: brightness; image size (640×480, or 320×240); color effect (normal, B&W, sepia, negative); white balance (auto, incandescent, sunny, fluorescent, cloudy); night mode; timer (3, 5 or 10 seconds); burst shot; and image quality (super fine, fine, normal. It can NOT record video.
The browser has a nice appearance to it and seems to work pretty well. Pages loaded as quickly as could be expected, given the GPRS technology. The text is easy to read on this browser, and I had no trouble accessing a wide variety of sites including Yahoo Mail, ESPN, Wikipedia and Mapquest. I think you should be able to get to just about any site you want, although how good they look will depend on the coding of the site itself. A larger screen would make the browsing experience better, but I don’t think it’s a problem as is.
The organizational features are above average compared to recent TracFone models, including a calendar, alarm clock, note pad, calculator, world clock, task list, stop watch, and unit converter. There’s also a feature called “date finder,” in which you can input a beginning date and a number of days, and the phone will calculate the date that falls x number of days after the beginning date. Another unusual feature is a “secret notes” option, in which you can enter notes that are protected by the phones “security code.”
The calendar function, as well as the alarm clock, work very nicely in my opinion. I’d prefer that the task list automatically incorporate into the calendar, but that might be asking too much for a cheap phone like this. All in all, if you stick to the calendar and the alarm clock I think this could be a handy organizational device.
The 420g comes with a couple of pre-loaded games. First, there’s a version of sudoku that I don’t particularly care for because there’s a noticeable lag between pressing a key and when the cursor actually moves between squares. There’s also something called “mini game planet” that has 10 very simplistic mini games inside. You can unlock two of the ten to start out, then you’ll have to earn more “credits” by playing the games to unlock more. Some of these are moderately entertaining for the first few minutes, but they get boring pretty quickly.
However, there’s also apparently the ability to add your own java games, which you can download from the internet. I haven’t done so yet with the 420g, but I’ve previously done something like this with my LG 600g and Samsung T401g. Here are some tips for adding games to this model.
Other info and random thoughts
Some other users have complained that this model is, for some reason, harder to flip open than previous TracFone models. I agree; it seems the mechanism in place to keep the clamshell closed is quite strong. Whether you consider this to be a benefit or detriment is a matter of personal preference, I guess.
There’s no voice-activated dialing, but no GSM phones in TracFone’s lineup can claim that feature. The LG 220c is a comparable model that DOES have voice activated dialing, but that is on the CDMA network and lacks a camera, so there are some trade-offs.
I also could not find a headphone jack. It could be that the charging port doubles as a headset jack, but in that case you’ll need to find a special headset or adapter. Perhaps a wired headset jack is missing completely, and LG expects people to use a Bluetooth headset instead of a wired one. Either way, this is something to be aware of for those that prefer a wired headset.
Some people have complained that the font size is too small. I can’t disagree with this – the size of the numbers when dialing a call was smaller on the 420g than on any phone model I tried. It’s possible to change the size of the font in the menus, but the dialing display as well as the home screen are locked in terms of font size, and this might be difficult for some people to read.
I think the LG 420g is about what I’d expect from a $20 TracFone (though it can be cheaper if you order with TracFone’s discount or find the right sales at brick and mortar stores).
There are some nice advantages to this one: Most versions of the TracFone 420g now include double minutes for life, although you’ll need to verify this with the specific version that you purchase. Sound quality and reception are good but not great (the Moto w376g tops this one in both categories). Battery life is good, but not as great as the 23 days of standby that LG claims. Bluetooth is unlocked, which is great for transferring ringtones and pictures. The phone is slim and light, and offers nice features. The browser works well. The ability to add java games and apps is a very nice capability. There’s also that little trick about being able to read incoming text messages for free if you use the external screen.
On the negative side, the menu navigation seems to result in some lag, the screen could be larger and sharper, the text on the screen is quite small and might be hard for some people to read, the camera is poor, there’s no voice activated dialing, and no wired headset port that I could see. There’s also no detailed user manual; just a “quickstart guide.”
In summary, I think this is a fair phone for under $20 ($40 from Straight Talk). I can’t give it my full endorsement, as it has some definite flaws. But maybe that’s about what we should expect in a phone in this price range. I also don’t think it offers a lot of upgrades over the two year old LG 600g, so I’d stick with that one if you’ve got it.
It’s also worth comparing this model to the LG 220c. The 220c has no camera and only sometimes has DMFL but offers the advantages of voice-activated dialing as well as the often wider coverage of Verizon’s CDMA network. In my opinion, the 220c offers several advantages.