As I noted in the beginning of this review, I am not the author of this critique. Instead, for this review, I called on my friend Otis226, who has a great deal of experience with a variety of TracFone and Net10 handsets, and whose judgment I trust fully. I have also used the 501c myself, and I compared Otis’ written review with my own experience, adding and editing where necessary. The result is a combined effort that I feel presents a very accurate evaluation of this device.
General Phone Function
Reception on this handset has been good to excellent for me during the several weeks I’ve been using it. I’m located in a GSM/CDMA overlap area, where I feel that GSM has a slight edge on call quality. My main Tracfone is a CDMA, LG290C, and this LG501C was every bit as reliable for signal strength, reception and call quality.
I still judge all Tracfones by how they compare to the Motorola W376g when it comes to call quality. I would give this handset a 3.5 to 4 rating if the 376g is a 5.
Volumes on this handset seem adequate to me. I can clearly hear the ringtones on volume level 4, (they are adjustable from the side buttons, with options ranging from silence all, alarm only, vibrate only, 1 beep, and volume 1-5). The in-call volumes are good to very good and fair to good in noisy, outdoor situations. I found the speakerphone to be excellent, and it is easily turned on and off with the press of a button in the lower right hand corner of the keyboard.
There are 99 speed dial slots, with #1 reserved for voicemail. Each contact can be assigned their own distinctive ringtone. The contacts can also be broken down into 1 of 5 different groups: Business, colleagues, family, friends, school, and no group.
The 950mAh 3.7 V Lithium Ion battery is identical to the one used in the LG500g Tracfone, (LGIP-531A), as is the charger. Here it is rated at 10 days of standby time and 2.5 hrs. of talk time. Interesting as this talk time is only half as much as is stated for the LG500g! I guess it depends on your source of that information. Anyway, I’ve found while testing, and considering that this phone doesn’t have the mp3 player or video capability of the 500g, battery life is fair. Of course if your web browsing and bluetooth use is less than average, your talk time per charge should be substantially better.
I find the display on this phone to be bright and crisp, and very similar to the LG500G. When viewing photos taken and using the slideshow feature, the viewing is comfortable, taking into consideration the size of the screen. Viewing the screen from an angle seems better to me than many former models. The only place where the display completely fails is trying to view the screen in full sunlight. Without shading it with your hand or a building, you’re going to have a great deal of difficulty seeing very much on the screen. I would look for a shaded area before attempting to use this handset out in the sun.
Having kind of gotten used to the menu set up on the LG500G, it seems that LG has once again slightly changed their menu format for this handset. Instead of the 9 options offered on the 500G, here you are given a choice of 12 submenu choices, (bluetooth, my schedule, and voice commands get their own submenus on the LG501C). I do like that they once again included numbering the submenu items so that hitting the corresponding number on the keypad brings up that submenu without having to scroll to it. I still feel more comfortable with the menu layout on my 290C, but I’m certain that anyone using the LG501C for a short time will find the menu and submenu display fairly easy to navigate.
Using the full ‘QWERTY’ keyboard is really what this phone is all about. If you need a CDMA-connected handset and you like the speed and ease of text input using this type of keyboard, you’ll love the LG501C. I’ve mentioned that I’m not an avid texter by any means, but using the QWERTY keyboard really does make it fun and so much easier than hunting and pecking with a standard numeric keypad. I would hope that in the future Tracfone would offer a model that includes a touchscreen as well as the full QWERTY keyboard, so users could have the option of using a touchscreen keyboard, or the real thing.
The tactile feel and response of these little keys seems just right to my thumb pressure. Add to that the general comfortable fit when holding this phone, and I think it’s a really good combination.
If you press the ‘CLR’ key from the home screen you will be brought to a screen that shows you the functions of the central shortcut keys (up, down, left, and right). As previously mentioned, I don’t believe these keys are programmable. They appear to be locked to the “Messages,” “Sound,” “Contacts,” and “Games” (clockwise, starting with the “up” key).
That’s all I’ve got for now, but there’s one more installment of the LG 501c Review coming next week. In that final article, we’ll go over the connectivity, camera, extras, and the final recommendation on this device. If you want more details from the sellers of this phone, here are the links: