The U.S. cellular, the famous carrier in the U.S. has improved the line up of its smartphones. This improvement is particularly significant in the department of Android handsets. Some good handsets such as the HTC Desire and the Samsung Mesmerize are added to this line up. The newest member of the Android based U.S. Cellular handsets is the LG Apex. It however is not as good as the other handsets. The Apex is similar to the Verizon Wireless’ LG Ally as it packs a full QWERTY keyboard and also has an inexpensive price. It is an Android 2.1 Éclair smartphone which suffers from the sluggish performance and also from the short battery life.
Dimension: 4.57 x 2.22 x 0.62 inches (H x W x D)Weight: 5.39 ouncesOperating System: Android 2.1 ÉclairDisplay: 3.2 inch touch screen, 480 x 800 pixel resolution, 262 K color supportCamera: 3 mega pixel, auto focus, flashMemory: 102 MB internal storage, micro SD card slotConnectivity: Bluetooth version 2.1 with EDR, EVDO Rev-A, 3G, Wi-FiBattery: 1500 mAh, 7.5 hours talk time, 14 days stand by timePrice: $79
The Apex is quite compact when comparing its dimensions with most of the other handsets that also equip QWERTY slide out keyboards. This is evident from the figures mentioned above. It is not too wide as the other handsets and hence it is comfortable to hold it. The handset features a soft touch texture on the back side panel and it has a solid construction. The only downside with the design is the small real estate of the display.
The display of the Apex is a touch screen measuring only 3.2 inches. It has a resolution of 480 x 800 pixels and supports 262 K colors. The display is quite bright and crisp, compensating for the smaller size. It supports the pinch to zoom options and is equipped with an accelerometer sensor. The responsiveness of the touch screen is good in launching the applications and menus. It is slightly sluggish when it comes to the scrolling and swiping actions.
The Apex has a slide out QWERTY physical keyboard. The D-pad on the right side of the QWERT keyboard is not thrilling as the one found on the Motorola Droid is not too good. But LG has put in some effort to make it work. The usage of the D-pad does not require any special adjustment in holding. The keys are sufficiently raised and they are of good size. The spacing between the keys is also good in order to reduce the mispresses. There are dedicated keys for the home, search and menu functions apart from the separate number keys.
Under the display, there are touch sensitive keys that are common to the Android handsets. They are the menu, back, home and search keys. There are also physical keys for the cal and end or power operations. The volume rocker and the micro USB port are on the left side while the camera key and the micro SD card slot are on the right side. The camera lens and the flash are on the back side and the 3.5 mm audio jack is on the top edge.
The Apex is packed with midrange feature set. It makes use of the Android 2.1 operating system. It has the support to the Google services such as the YouTube, Google Latitude, Google Talk and Google Maps. It has the Think Free Office Suite and services offered by U.S. Cellular preloaded in it. More applications can be downloaded from the Android Market. It has the speaker phone, voice commands, speed dialing, conference calling, SMS, MMS, email, 3G, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and GPS features on board. It also has the support to the social networking applications like Twitter, Facebook and MySpace.
The Apex uses the stock music player of Android. This is common to all the smartphones using the Android operating system. The interface of the music player is quite basic. It supports the files with the AAC, AAC+, MP3 and the WMA file formats. It can also create playlists and support album art.
The Apex is packed with a 3 mega pixel camera with the auto focus and flash. The camera offers variety of editing options like scene modes, color effects, white balance self timer and ISO settings. The camcorder can record videos with a resolution of 640 x 480 pixels. The quality is fine and it is clear enough to make out the objects. It is slightly dark and grainy however.
The quality of the calls is decent. The audio sounds tinny with no background noise. There is no issue in carrying out a conversation. The callers on the other side also have the same experience. The quality of the speaker phone is good. There is slight hollow effect but the sound is clear and loud. The Apex is run by a 600 MHz processor which struggles to perform well. The handset experiences slight lag even when performing simple operation like switching of the home screens and launching applications. the included 1500 mAh battery is rated to offer a life of about 7.5 hours of talk time and 14 days of stand by time.