The LG enV Touch is the successor to the company’s popular Voyager model, and the new age version of the original enV VX 99000 that debuted in 2007. And with an updated and sleeker design and interface, 3.2 megapixel camera/camcorder with flash and autofocus, full HTML browser, and support for a litany of Verizon services, there’s plenty for the Touch’s older siblings to be envious about. The enV Touch delivers a supreme media and messaging experience, and while it’s unfortunately lacking WiFi and support for VCAST TV, LG’s enV Touch is sure to win the hearts and minds of Verizon subscribers longing to reach out and touch a new generation of the company’s folder-style lineage.
At first glance, it’s the Touch’s luxurious 3” external touch screen that stands out – and with a crisp and vibrant 800×400 pixel resolution, it should. Flipping open the Touch reveals a twin 3” non-touch TFT display. The enV Touch is about 4.5” long and slightly more than 2” wide, weighing in at a brawny but fit 4.92 oz. At nearly .7” deep, the Touch is slightly bulky like its brethren – but hey, it’s packing a very nicely spaced QWERTY keyboard with a couple nice shortcut keys and four-way navigation key. And it stills slides into a pocket or purse quite nicely.
The front screen is surrounded by a sleek and shiny metallic frame, and the only 3 buttons on the front of the phone are the nice dark brushed metal Send, End, and Back/Voice Command keys. On the left side of the Touch is a camera button, volume key, and quick key lock button. On the right is a microSD slot that supports up to 16GB as well as a standard 3.5mm headset jack for your media listening pleasure. A 3.2 megapixel camera with flash set in a pretty classy grooved metal backing graces the back. A Micro USB jack can be found on the bottom, and also serves as the charging port.
The internal display is surrounded by a pair of stereo speakers. The keyboard on the other side of the device features shortcut keys for quick access to Messaging, Favorite Contacts, Vibrate Mode, and Voice Commands (doubling as the space bar key), with two navigation keys at the top. Keys are slightly raised and feel good when pushed, making typing a message a pleasure.
The enV Touch’s hinge allows it to open to either a laptop-esque slant or fully flat. I preferred it to be fully flat when responding to a text message on the fly, but tilted like a laptop if I was browsing a web page while sitting at a table or desk. Each to their own.
An aesthetically pleasing interface with some well thought out features made the enV Touch easy if not fun to navigate. After sliding up to disable the key lock, you are greeted by a fully customizable home screen. Tapping an arrow at the right of a screen brings up a tabbed menu with Shortcuts and Media. Shortcuts can then be dragged and dropped into the home screen and arranged however you want. A customizable time widget can also be dragged to anywhere on the screen. Across the bottom of the screen are icons providing quick access to Messaging, Phone, Contacts, Favorites, and a full menu where all applications and settings can be reached from.
The Touch is quick and responsive, and I didn’t experience any freezes or hang ups during my time with the phone. The screen is a resistive touch screen – meaning that unlike some popular touch screens that shall remain nameless (ok, *cough*, *cough* iPhone), the Touch requires some pressure be applied. To be sure, there is a slight learning curve, particularly for a veteran iPhone user such as myself. But after a day with the phone, I was cruising around without issue. The enV Touch also provides a very slight vibrating feedback confirming that an action has been performed. Reading that you may be thinking that that would get annoying after awhile, but it’s actually quite satisfying. If you disagree, or want to control the sensitivity of the touch screen, never fear – there’s plenty of customizable settings on the Touch.
Although the Touch is not the first in its family to feature the ability to navigate menus, play music, and make calls through voice commands, it’s still worth mentioning. While the voice command functionality still often made mistakes, and you really have to speak up for the phone to recognize your voice, the ability to make a call or launch the music player, for example, was great – particularly while driving.
When closed, making a call on the Touch is achieved through a good sized on-screen keypad. You can also easily launch voice dial from the dial screen. The phone book supports up to 1500 contacts, with multiple phone numbers, 2 email addresses, and a physical address. Visual Voice Mail is available on the Touch, but requires a $2.99 monthly subscription. The speakerphone can be activated by opening the Touch while in-call, or dialing a number from the internal keypad. The speakerphone on the Touch is among the best I’ve seen, with calls coming in nice and loud with good clarity, and callers reporting that they could hear me well, even if I were standing several feet away.
The LG enV Touch continues in its family’s tradition as a phone built for the heavy texter. And it delivers. Text messages can be grouped in a folder by contact, or can be sorted in sent and received folders by time. T9 text entry can be used for a quick text without opening the phone, or of course the Touch can be opened to continue banging out a message from its formidable keyboard. And to those who admit to occasionally reading a text message while driving, you can ease some of that guilt with the Touch’s text-to-speech functionality that will read a received text message aloud while you keep your eyes on the road.
Verizon’s Mobile Email ($4.99) is also supported, giving mobile access to most popular web based email services as well as IMAP and POP accounts. I set up Mobile Email with my Gmail account and the experience was decent. It’s not going to rival the experience of a true email equipped Smartphone, but will satisfy anyone who wants casual access to email on the go. For corporate users with Microsoft Exchange accounts, the phone also supports a service called RomoSync. The Touch also comes equipped with a mobile document viewer with support for .pdf, .doc, .xls, and .ppt files.
The enV Touch comes loaded with a full HTML browser. Alas, the enV Touch doesn’t have WiFi, but with a decent connection to Verizon’s EVDO network, page loads were usually pretty snappy (10-15 seconds). Most pages rendered just fine on the Touch, although there was the occasional cut-off or malformed table. I became pretty comfortable with the Touch’s zoom feature, and liked the ability to search for text on a page. Oh, and the Touch’s browser supports Flash.
With its crisp 3” display, stereo Bluetooth, support for VCAST Music with Rhapsody and VCAST Videos, and memory expandable up to 16GB with a microSD card, the media experience on the LG enV Touch rivals any phone on the market. Although I would have liked to see one touch access to music, navigating your music library is pretty intuitive and reminiscent of most media setups complete with album art and the like. It is possible to create playlists that can be accessed from the My Media tab of the pop out menu for quicker access. When a song is playing, a media bar appears on the home screen that displays the name of the song playing and an equalizer, as well as a pause button. Tapping the bar brings the media application back up.
The Touch’s 3.2 megapixel camera/camcorder with flash and auto focus doesn’t disappoint, and offers some great features. The camera can be quickly accessed with the dedicated camera button on the left side of the phone. Once the camera application is open (a quick two seconds after hitting the camera button), tapping the center of the screen will bring up an array of options ranging from flash settings to white balance, color effects, and resolution. Resolution can be changed between a crisp and impressive 2048×1536 to a still decent 640×480. Tapping an on-screen button in the upper right switches to camcorder mode.
The camera also offers a number of innovative camera modes. My personal favorite was the Name Card Reader mode. Take a picture of a business card, and the Touch will process the image and create a new contact that automatically imports the card’s readable information. This may sound like one of those features that sounds great, but inevitably doesn’t really work. But with a basic business card without fancy fonts, I was pleasantly surprised. The camera also offers an Intelligent mode that alters settings based on surrounding conditions – and does a pretty decent job of it. There is also a Panorama mode, Facial Makeover mode, and Smile mode (automatically takes the picture when smiles are detected:). The Touch is also armed with a self timer.
The flash is bright, and great for objects that aren’t too far away. Images taken were crisp and clear, and video was great quality for a cell phone camera.
The enV Touch supports VZ Navigator – and GPS software works just as well on the Touch as any stand alone GPS I’ve ever used. VZ Navigator is available for $9.99/month, or $2.99/day if you don’t have a subscription and find yourself lost without a clue.
The enV Touch deserves its name. This sleek and well equipped folder phone certainly impressed, and will indeed inspire some envy among its peers. It has a responsive and sharp external touch screen, great internal QWERTY keyboard, impressive camera, and a strong media and web browsing experience.
Buy this phone now!