LG 501c Review Part 3 – Conclusion

LG 501c Review Part 3

Like I pointed out on the first two posts of this LG 501c review, I am not the author of this critique. Credit for that goes to long-time TracFone user and commenter on this blog, Otis226. 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.

This phone is available for both TracFone and Net10. You’ll find links to all portions of this review on the LG 501c review index page.

Connectivity

The 501c can connect up to bluetooth-enabled devices. That’s the short answer. I’ve tried to test this function as carefully as I know how, using both a Windows based PC and an iMac. The phone is easily recognized. Getting ,sending and exchanging vCard info, as well as calendar events works well and easily. But that’s where bluetooth connectivity seems to stop with this handset.

What made this confusing to me, is that since the LG500g has full bluetooth connectivity, I assumed the LG501c, being so similar in appearance, as well as being a newer offering from Tracfone, would have it also. My mistake, but the real capper was that the owners manual for this handset states, in the section on transferring photos from the phone to another device, that the choice includes sending via MMS or bluetooth. This is incorrect, as the only choice given with the 501c is via MMS messaging.

So, it seems that bluetooth connectivity is quite limited by Tracfone for this model. I am unable to test the capability of communicating with a vehicle bluetooth device, but I believe it should work at least for voice calls. I would be surprised, however, if the phone book function or voice commands work over bluetooth.

Further, USB connectivity is limited as well. I tried connecting via USB to both a Vista and an XP windows machine, and in both cases the phone was recognized by the PC as a “USB modem.” I found no options within the “settings” menu to change the USB connection mode to “mass storage,” which is the setting used on other phones (like the LG 500g) to allow for file transfer via USB.

Camera

The VGA (.3 mp)camera seems sub-standard in terms of resolution, when you compare it to the other 1.3 and 2.0 megapixel cameras on most new TracFone and Net10 mobiles. That being said, it works as well as any I’ve used with a Tracfone. It includes the standard adjustments for brightness, resolution and multishot functions, (3 or 6 shot). Also available are 5 options for ‘image effects and 5 options for ‘fun effects’. If the phone is held still in moderately bright light, you will get a passable image. There is no video option on this phone.

To sum it up here, as long as you know you won’t be getting a low-resolution image, you won’t be disappointed. The camera works fine, but is hindered by the VGA resolution, lack of video, and lack of airtime-free methods of downloading the pictures to a PC.

Extras

Internal memory is limited to 75 mb, approx. 2.7 which is reserved for messages, contacts, etc. Included ringtones number 32, but that includes 9 message tones. Additional ringtones can of course be purchased.

The same two games included on the LG500g are also available here, Chequered Flag and WordAttack, with the option to buy others. You can also add java apps, as I successfully installed the opera mini browser by navigating the 501c’s native browser to m.opera.com. Further, I logged into Facebook, and was promptly greeted by a suggestion to install their app, which I did without a problem.

I did not try any other apps from sites like getjar.com or umnet.com, but apps from those sites should work as well as long as they are compatible with this phone (look for .jar files). One thing to keep in mind as far as installing apps, though, is that there’s no apparent easy way to get java files from a computer to the LG 501c. With bluetooth blocked from transferring files, no removable memory, and with USB not functional for data transfer, you’ll be limited to downloading any jar files via the phone’s browser, therefore costing you airtime.

Speaking of the browser, I was happy with the speed of the connection. I tested it by loading ESPN.com, which has a lot of information on the main page, but is also a very main-stream site with plenty of resources for optimizing the mobile version of their site.

It took approximately 8 seconds from when I pressed the “browser” button until I was ready to enter the URL. After I clicked “ok” on the URL entry, it took around 20 seconds for the page to load. I then repeated this by clicking on ESPN’s “NFL” page, and it again took approximately 20 seconds to load the page. This isn’t blazing fast by any means, but then I don’t expect people to be using this type of phone for long web-browsing sessions.

A couple of complaints I do have on the browser, though. First, most other TracFone and Net10 handsets I’ve used will allow the user to select “browser” from the menu and then enter a destination URL BEFORE activating the browser. On the 501c, however, selecting “browser” from the menu launches the browser immediately, and therefore the airtime meter begins immediately. It’s not a huge amount of minutes, but I’d rather enter a URL airtime-free if possible.

My other complaint is one that I’ve made dozens of times before – the “browser” shortcut button on the home screen cannot be re-programmed. As I’ve said before, this can result in the accidental activation of the browser, thus costing airtime. You’ll have a couple of seconds before your charged, but this could be a real problem if the browser is activated while the phone is in a pocket or purse.

Moving on, the tools included are; a calculator, EZ tip calculator, world clock, stopwatch, and unit converter. The ‘My Schedule’ submenu brings up the alarm clock, which allows 5 individual alarms to be set.The phone must be powered on for the alarm to function.

A standard calander function, which allows 300 different events to be saved, with or without alarm function. And finally, a notepad, where up to 100 short, 150 character notes can be stored.

Perhaps the “extras” on this phone are more notable for what’s missing – in this case, an mp3 player and microSD card reader. Both of these options are something that I’d expect on this type of phone these days (and indeed are included on the LG 500g, the very similar GSM equivalent to the LG 501c).

Conclusion

In conclusion, if you are looking for a QWERTY keyboard on a Tracfone or Net10 handset, and you must have CDMA coverage, I guess this is the phone for you. Or at least until the release of the recently-announced LG 505c, assuming that comes to TracFone and Net10.

I still can’t understand why this phone’s price is more than the LG500g ($39.99 compared to $29.99), for what apparently is so much less. Perhaps that will change with time. All I can assume, is Tracfone wants to make using CDMA as unattractive as possible for people that don’t really need it in their area, and for folks that must have it, you take what you can get.

The LG 501c is not a bad phone by any means. It excels in terms of signal reception, and provides adequate call quality in a nice compact form factor.  However, the low-resolution camera, locked-down bluetooth, and lack of USB connectivity, expandable memory,  video recorder, and mp3 player make it hard for me to recommend this phone wholeheartedly.

All things considered, the QWERTY keyboard might be enough to influence some CDMA-using Tracfone and Net10 customers to make the switch, and I can’t disagree with that either if you are a big texter. But I would recommend this as an upgrade only for those who definitely want a QWERTY CDMA phone now. If you can afford to hold off a few months, though, you might want to wait and see what the price tag on the LG 505c is when it is released.

TracFone

Net10

LG 501c Review – Part 2

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.

This device is currently available for both TracFone and Net10. You’ll find links to all portions of this review on the LG 501c review index page.

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.

Display/Keypad

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:

TracFone

Net10

LG 501c Review – Part 1

For the LG 501c review, I’ve once again called on my old TracFone friend Otis226 to share his thoughts. The review below is largely his work, with some minor edits and/or additions by myself (pbushx2). I have gone through the review completely myself, and believe the work to be completely reliable and consistent with my own experiences with the LG 501c. So, here’s the first part of the review from Otis226. As more segments of the review are posted, you’ll find links to them on this LG 501c review index page.

LG 501c Review

LG 501c Review Picture 1Pbushx2 has again kindly permitted me to put down my thoughts on the LG 501c (available for both TracFone and Net10), so I’d like to offer this review of the handset. One of the biggest pluses this, or any other newly released Tracfone can have for me is a full users manual, and this handset indeed has one available. Although it doesn’t answer every question that will come up when you start using your phone, to me, it is so much better than the trial and error methods needed for models that Tracfone decides to release with a 1 or two page ‘quick start guide’ only. That may be my age showing, but I know I’m not the only person ‘over 50’ to use Tracfones who appreciates a real users manual.

General Overview

This is the first Tracfone offered in CDMA version using a full QWERTY keyboard (The LG500g, which was reviewed earlier on this blog, was the GSM version). As Patrick has mentioned earlier, this phone is very similar in appearance to the 500g.

Dimensions are 4.5 x 2.3 x 0.5 inches, with a weight of 2.83 oz. My initial impression was that it felt just a bit thicker than the 500g, and the color of the sides and back are more gray than black. I’ll mention the other slight physical differences as I describe the general appearance.

This phone does come with the DMFL option from Tracfone. Unlike the LG500g, there is no memory slot, mp-3 player or video capabilities with this phone. It does have bluetooth connectivity as well as a VGA (0.3 megapixel) camera on board however.

In my reviewing its features, I’ve found it fairly comparable to the older LG290c slider phone, which I still use as my everyday Tracfone. The lighter weight, qwerty keyboard and full bluetooth connectivity are pluses for the LG501c. Having the capability to disable the browser on the LG290c is a big plus in its favor for this user. The browser button cannot be disabled with the 501c.

The “reserved memory” provides room for up to 1,000 contacts, 300 calendar events, 100 notes, (each note is limited to 150 characters), and 150 entries in call history. A total of 700 messages can be stored, (500 SMS, 100 MMS, and 100 MMS notifications). The internal ‘multimedia’ memory of this phone is limited to 73.1 mb out of the box, as some of the total 75mb appears to be allocated the the “reserved memory described above.

Two other features that are a bit disappointing compared to the LG500g; the record voice feature allows you use ‘pause’ while recording, but not when playing back the recording, as you can on the 500g. I used this record feature quite a bit with the 500g to dictate notes, since pausing the playback was so convenient. Also, the alarm function will not work with the phone switched off, as on the 500g. On this model, the phone needs to be powered up for the alarm to work.

External/Appearance

This phone feels about as good in the hand as the LG500g did to me. It slides into and out of a pocket pretty easily. The rounded edges help that a lot. I have not dropped this phone yet, as the finish on the edge of the device seems to be more of a “matte” finish as opposed to the glossiness on the 500g, thus making for a better gripping surface.

In terms of quality of construction, I feel it is certainly as well made as the LG500g, or any of the other recent Tracfones I’ve handled. I think most users would not feel the same stigma that some experienced with the earlier Tracfones, which seemed to announce they were inexpensive pre-paid phones.

The LG logo is just under the screen in front and is embossed on the back cover as well. The Tracfone swirl logo is only found on the back cover, under the camera lens. Two speaker slots are just to the left of the lens.

On the top edge is a covered 2.5mm audio jack, as opposed to the more commonly used 3.5mm jack on the 500g. (Of course without an mp-3 player on the 501c, this may not be a big deal to most people). The charge port is located on the left upper edge and on the right side are the external volume keys.

The screen shows the typical Tracfone info: signal strength, amount of battery charge, date and time, (after the handset is activated). It also displays when the phone is in ‘home’ or ‘roam’ areas, and can display the number of minutes and service days left. There is an icon glossary located in the settings sub-menu if something should be unfamiliar to you on the screen.

From left to right, the fixed keys are; menu, camera, 4-way directional pad, clear and browser key. Below these are the ‘send’ and power end/keys. The directional keys don’t look to be programmable. The shortcuts assigned to each key are as follows: up = messages menu, left = games menu, down = contacts list, and right = sound menu.

As with the 500g, I initially felt that the ‘qwerty’ keys would be too small to be effectively used by my large hands, but I find typing on the little keypad better than expected. We’ll get into further features in the next part of the review.

Also in the next portion of the review, we’ll get into the audio quality, signal reception, the keypad and menus. Before part 2 is published, though, I’ll also have the first part of Samsung t528g review underway.

TracFone

Net10

LG 501c Review

LG 501c Review

EDIT: My LG 501c review is now posted for you to read. Here are links to the portions of that review:

LG 501c Review Part 1

LG 501c Review Part 2

LG 501c Review Part 3

LG 501c Interactive Tutorial

LG 501c Instruction Manual (PDF)

If you’re looking for a complete LG 501c review, this is the place to start. I’ll be doing a thorough review as soon as this model is available, and this page will be the index of all the info I can find regarding this handset. Right now, though, it hasn’t been released yet, so most of the info I have is somewhat speculative (based on some info from TracFone’s site as well as what I’ve deduced based on the specs of similar phones).

At this time, it appears this phone will be available for:LG 501c Review PictureTracFone, Net10, and Straight Talk

Most notably, this appears to be a CDMA device (based on the “c” included in the name of the model), so it will work on Verizon’s coverage. And, obviously, it has a hardware (as opposed to “virtual” touch-screen) QWERTY keyboard. If you’re a CDMA TracFone user, this could be a very big deal for you as many people in this category have been waiting for such a phone for a long time.

From what I can tell, it seems that this 501c will be nearly identical to the just-released 500g, which in turn looks like a scaled-down version of the popular LG 900g for Net10.

Below is what I was able to come up with for a feature list:

  • Qwerty
  • VGA Camera
  • Bluetooth Capable
  • Support for downloaded games *
  • Voice Commands
  • Handsfree Speaker
  • Mobile Web
  • Phone Book with up to 1,000 Entries
  • Light weight at just 2.82 ounces

* It is unclear at this point whether the “downloadable games” I’ve seen referenced in several versions of TracFone’s materials refers to games downloaded directly from TracFone (at a cost), or Java apps such as those supported on the LG 900g, 800g and, presumably, 500g. In either case, it would be a pleasant surprise if this CDMA device does indeed downloadable apps. In the past, CDMA phones have not included any games. It is my understanding that this is somehow related to a very restrictive patent held by Qualcomm, who produces the hardware used in CDMA handsets.

It is also unclear at this point whether all three AMerica Movil brands will support this handset, though as I stated at the beginning of this article I am  increasingly optimistic that TracFone users will have the opportunity to use this model. Of course, Tracfone, Straight Talk and Net10 alike are very tight-lipped about upcoming phones, so only time will tell.

Regardless of which carriers it is sold by, I’ll put together a full LG 501c review as soon as I can when it is finally available for purchase.

TracFone

Net10

Straight Talk