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Verizon LG Versa: A Unique Rev-A Option

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Friday, 10 April 2009
lg versa views
From left: Versa with QWERTY attached - open; Versa with QWERTY attached - closed; Versa without QWERTY (3 views)

The LG Versa, Verizon's second non-PDA Rev-A phone (the other being the much-loved LG Dare), is truly unique compared to any of the other devices currently available from Verizon. It is essentially a full touch-screen phone very similar to the Dare but has a detachable case that contains a full physical QWERTY keyboard.

Sound weird? It is - but it's also extremely useful and convenient!

Without the case and keyboard, the Versa is nearly identical in appearance to the Dare. It's small and lightweight and features a roomy 3" touch screen as well as convenience keys for "Call", "Clear/Voice", and "End/Power". The touch screen features a cool animated interface and three customizable home screens that are easily scrolled through with the classic "swipe" method. The Versa comes with a stylus, but I did not find that I needed it at all - the touch screen is quite responsive and I had no trouble making selections with my fingers. For input on the touch screen, there are full virtual QWERTY and T9 keypads that can be viewed either vertically or in landscape mode as well as a surprisingly functional handwriting recognition tool. When flipped horizontally, the virtual QWERTY is plenty roomy for phone dialing and short texts, but heavy texters will appreciate the...

Attachable full QWERTY keypad! By removing the back cover of the phone, you are able to attach the Versa into an included faux-leather case that has a built-in QWERTY. The case and keyboard add a little bulk to the phone - it's about half an ounce heavier and 3/4" thicker when attached - but the functionality is worth it. The full QWERTY is extremely roomy (much moreso than other phones with QWERTY's, such as the Blackberry Curve or EnV2) and feels sturdy and solid despite the fact that it's quite thin. Typing on it was a breeze!

Besides the nice touch screen and the cool factor of the QWERTY, the Versa offers all the standard features you'd expect: text and multimedia messaging, voice dialing, mobile instant messaging (though AOL, Windows Live, and Yahoo), speakerphone, voice recording, calculator, calendar, alarm clock, world clock, notepad, stopwatch, and a fun little drawing pad, which lets you sketch with a variety of pen colors and sizes using either your fingers or the stylus. There's also a media player (the Versa only has 310MB storage on board but supports up to 16GB Micro SD cards) and GPS capabilities (requires VZ Navigator subscription).

When it comes to email and the web, remember that the Versa is NOT designed to be a PDA/Smartphone, so you won't see all the same functions as you will with something like the Blackberry Storm or Samsung Saga. The browser does support full HTML and Flash Lite 3, but it's not as nice as Opera or Mobile Internet Explorer, and not all video formats are supported. The browser isn't awful, however: YouTube videos worked (and looked) great, and the browser allows you to have up to 3 "tabs" open at once, so you can toggle back and forth between different sites. Zooming and scrolling were easy, although it took a lot of scrolling to view full HTML websites (the mobile versions of sites, when available, were much easier to use). As for email, you can access most popular webmail providers like Yahoo, Gmail, AOL, etc through the browser, but you can't set up email to download to the phone automatically like you can with a PDA.

While the the Versa isn't the best when it comes to on-phone web browsing, its EVDO Rev-A capabilities make it a great candidate for tethering. The Versa can be tethered via either Bluetooth or USB cable (although it doesn't come with the cable, which is a bit ridiculous) to PC's and Macs and worked perfectly with VZ Access Manager on both my PC and my MacBookPro - many tether-capable phones from Verizon aren't compatible with VZAM on the Mac! When tethered to my Mac, I saw comparable speeds to what I experience with a dedicated Verizon EVDO device at the exact same location (70% signal strength with no antenna):

LG Versa speedtest results - tethered to Mac
LG Versa tethered directly to MacBook Pro at 70% signal strength

Better still, the Versa also tethered with the Cradlepoint routers (Cradlepoint MBR1000/CTR500 with firmware version 1.5.1 and CTR350/PHS300 with firmware version 2.3)! Cradlepoint does NOT list this phone as officially supported and we can't make any guarantees about the compatibility, but I had great success using the firmware versions noted above and experienced nearly identical speeds while tethering in the routers as I did while tethering directly to my computer.

LG versa tethered to CTR350
LG Versa tethered to Cradlepoint CTR350 (running firmware version 2.3)

 

Overall, I am thoroughly impressed with the Versa and its capabilities. The lack of an email program and the so-so browser could be considered a disappointment, but since it is not intended to be a PDA (and therefore doesn't require the pricey PDA data plan) I can't hold that against it.

What we love:

  • EVDO Rev-A
  • Tethered easily to PC and Mac via VZ Access Manager or Bluetooth
  • Worked with Cradlepoint MBR1000/CTR500 with firmware version 1.5.1 and CTR350/PHS300 with firmware version 2.3 (no official Cradlepoint support, but worked in our tests!)
  • Removable keyboard surprisingly convenient
  • Responsive touch screen - didn't need stylus at all
  • Has an antenna port (located beneath battery cover, but better than nothing)

But we're not as fond of:

  • Does not come with USB cable to tether - have to purchase separately
  • No WiFi
  • Email through browser only - remember, the Versa is NOT a PDA/Smartphone.

Overall grade: A-. I wasn't sure how I'd like the removable keyboard, but it is a great option for folks who aren't quite ready to commit to a touch-screen phone.


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Last Updated ( Wednesday, 09 September 2009 )
 
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