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.
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.
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.
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).
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.