Samsung s425g Review: Call quality, battery life, and more

This is the first installment in my Samsung s425g review. As I publish more parts, I’ll update them on the review index page.

General Overview

The Samsung s425g debuted in the second half of 2012 and is currently available for Straight Talk ($59.99) and TracFone ($49.99). It is a GSM device, operating on the networks of AT&T or T-Mobile.

The 425g, which has a side-sliding QWERTY keyboard form factor, appears to be an update on the previous t401g and t404g from Samsung. As compared to either of those models, this one appears to be a solid upgrade.

The most noticeable improvement over those models is the more compact, lightweight design of the s425g. It weighs in at about 4.1 ounces and is much svelter than its predecessors with dimensions of 4.5 x 2.1 x 0.6 inches.

This model is a little sparse on features as far as current phones go, with the aforementioned slide-out keyboard being the most noteworthy feature. You’ll also get a 2.0 Megapixel camera with 4X digital zoom as well as Bluetooth, support for Java apps, and a microSD card slot that can accomodate cards up to 32GB. And if you are looking at the TracFone version of this device, you’ll get Triple Minutes for Life.

External/Appearance

The appearance of the S425g is a very basic, almost to the point of looking utilitarian, but I rather like it. The block-print “SAMSUNG” logo is above the screen, and the America Movil concentric circles are stamped below. Only the basic numeric keypad is visible at first, along with the standard Send, End, left and right soft keys, the directional pad, and two hard-wired shortcut keys.

The screen looks rather large, giving the appearance that it consumes half the front face of the phone. But what really gets my attention here is the compactness of the s425g – at first glance it doesn’t seem possible that there’s a full qwerty keyboard hiding anywhere in this phone. It looks and feels very slim. The nicely rounded corners further contribute to this appearance.

On the upper left edge is the volume rocker, and lower down that same side is microSD card slot. On the upper right side is the power/USB connector, and at the lower right are two buttons. The first is a camera key, which will open the camera from the main menu, or function as the shutter button when you are actually in camera mode. The other button is a “multitasking key.” According to the owners manual, this key “opens the application switch window that allows you to select from a group of applications without having to exit from the currently active application. These options include Call, Messages, Browser, Music Player, Games, and End all.”

During my time with the phone I’ve found it very easy to carry, largely because of the compact stature. While it’s obviously all plastic, it nonetheless has a solid, durable feel to it. The slider mechanism works smoothly and provides a nice solid “ker-chunk” when it’s opened or closed. It doesn’t make me worry about the long-term durability.

General Phone Function

I have found the reception to be very good, though it still falls short of the amazing Motorola w376g, the signal-magnet standard-bearer of old TracFones. I have yet to experience a dropped call with the Samsung s425g.

Call audio quality is likewise very good, in both directions, far exceeding my expectations based on prior experience with Samsung prepaid phones.
Volume is excellent as well, both for phone calls and for ringtones. Speaking of ringtones, you’ll get good flexibility in terms of custom ringtones. It’s easy to use sounds either recorded through the phone’s own built-in recorder, or those that you transfer to the phone by USB or bluetooth. However, be warned that you will not be able to use full-length songs as ringtones or alarm alerts.

This phone is a real workhorse in terms of battery life. The stated times are 6 hours of talk time or a whopping 12.5 days. In practical, every-day use, I can easily go a week without charging this phone. For a point of reference, I go typically through about 150 minutes per month, pretty much equally mixed between voice calls and texting.

Straight Talk TracFone

That’s all I’ve got on this model for now, but I’ll be back soon with more information about the Display, keypad, connectivity, camera, and extras, as well as my final recommendation. For those of you who can’t wait that long, though, I think it’s safe to say that if you are looking for “dumb phone” with a qwerty keyboard, this is a good one to go with.

Tracfone Promo Codes – March 18, 2013

Here’s a link to the most current TracFone Promo Code list.

I went over the list on March 18th,  2013, and compared to my other sources. The following are the codes that I have added, and I’m happy to report that unlike the last few times I’ve reviewed the list, I actually found some worthwhile codes.

  • 19921 for 250 bonus minutes on a 400-minute card

  • 75769 for 250 bonus minutes on a 400-minute card

I’ve added these codes to the database and put them in bold text to set them apart from the older codes.

Tracfone Promo Codes Updated – Feb 2013

For the current TracFone Promotional Code database, click here.

I updated the list of codes on Feb 11th. It has been nearly 5 (yes, FIVE!) years since I first started publishing the bonus codes, and this is without a doubt the saddest time for TracFone Promo codes during that time. The codes that I’ve been collecting and curating seem to be dying off slowly in recent months, and there haven’t been many new ones popping up to take their place. For the last month, I’ve found just one lonely new addition to the list:

  • 52822 for 40 bonus minutes on a One Year – 400 -minute card

Meanwhile, I’ve officially moved a bunch more to “expired” status. If you have to add minutes any time soon, it might be worth taking a chance on some of the codes that are marked as expired – sometimes they spring back to life, and it’s also possible that I’ve made a mistake. But in all likelihood, you’ll have to settle for an amount of “bonus minutes” that is lower than what you are used to.

Perhaps this is TracFone’s way of pushing us toward a new phone with Triple Minutes for Life (my Samsung s425g is growing on me, and the LG 840g looks like a winner as well), but for those of us that have spent the last decade or more chasing after the ultimate bonus code, this is a sad day.

Samsung s390g Review Conclusion

This is the final installment in the Prepaid Phone Guy review of the Samsung s390g. As you might expect, the conclusion is at the bottom of the page. Jump to that if you just want the bottom line without the gory details. Or if you really want to dive in, you can find links to all of my info about this model at the s390g review index page. Here’s the rest of the review:

Camera

The phone’s 2 mp camera takes what I consider good photos in daylight. There are the standard options, such as single, continuous, panorama or smile detection modes. The photo size can also be selected between 320×240 up to 1600×1200 (2 mega pixel). Photo quality of Economy, Fine or Superfine may also be chosen.

You can take video at 176×144 or 320×240 resolution. The few short videos I shot were of decent quality, even in fairly low light conditions. By no means a replacement for a good quality camera, but handy when one isn’t available nonetheless. Photos and video were easily transferable to my PC or iMac via bluetooth.

Extras

First, in addressing the issue of browser capabilities, know that as with all TracFone models I’ve used (limited to “feature phones” as opposed to Android models), TracFone Wireless powers the browser. You can purchase ring tones, graphics or games, hop onto Facebook, check email and networking sites and check weather, sports and news. There are also access to mobile sites for Moviefone, Ebay, Amazon, Univision and Yahoo, both in English and Spanish. I find the browser cumbersome but then I don’t browse from my phone very often.

Samsung s390g connected to wifi

What has taken some of the sting out of navigating the browser on this handset is its WiFi capability. If you have a WiFi network handy, it is a simple matter to go into the menu options and choose ‘WiFi’. It will then walk you through setting up your WiFi connection. You will need to input your network security password under ‘options’ the first time you set this up. Then, every time you activate your WiFi connection, you can go to the browser and the wireless symbol at the top of the screen will remain green, indicating you are using the WiFi set up. Conversely, if you are on the cellular data connection, the wireless symbol will be blue to indicate you are being charged minutes for your time browsing. One other point I’d like to make from my experience; if you should lose your WiFi connection while browsing, the system will revert back to the cellular data connection and minutes will automatically begin to be deducted from your phone bank. I should also mention that it is a fairly simple matter to install a proprietary browser, such as Opera mini, that makes the browsing experience more productive, in my opinion.

Another handy feature of this phone is the capability to set up various email accounts right from the main menu. Just go into ‘email’ and you will be prompted to an email set up wizard. Once set up you can send and check emails as well as adjust several other parameters. I became aware that using this service also used minutes on the phone, as the phone periodically syncs with the network to see if new emails have been received. This will charge at least .3 min for each check whether there is new email or not. I recently learned that the interval of these network syncs can be adjusted from every 30 min to once a day. The default setting is every 30 min, (TracFone is of course in the business of selling minutes). I decided that I’m not away from a computer often enough to make using this particular option necessary, but for a busy, on the go individual, this is a nice feature.

The list of organizer and scheduling features on the Samsung s390g is pretty standard: up to 1,000 contacts, 100 memos of 100 characters each, 100 tasks of 100 characters each. The calendar can accommodate 100 appointments with an alarm reminder function. There are also 4 separate alarms, plus a wake-up alarm. A nice feature is an auto power on/off option, which will automatically turn the handset on when an alarm time is reached.

An uncommon function I found in the Tools menu is an ‘Eco Calculator’, which allows you to determine the fuel efficiency and emission output of your vehicle. I need a bit of work with figuring out exactly how this one functions. There is a ‘Voice Services’ feature, which seems to work okay for very limited applications and if you enunciate very clearly.

There are 15 ring tones included; I imagine encouraging the purchase of others. The mp3 player works well. You can create playlists to help keep your music organized, and with the option of a 32 GB micro SD card, that can make for a lot of music and photo files. I find the sound through the small speaker adequate. Of course, using ear buds should certainly enhance the listening experience. To sum up a few of the features:

  • Audio: Music Player; Compatible Music Files, AAC, AAC+, MP3; Ringtones, Polyphonic 64-note; MP3/Music Tones
  • Internal memory: 117 MB
  • Calling Functions: Speakerphone; Voicemail; Multitasking; TTY; Airline Mode
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth®; Wi-Fi®; WAP Browser; Java™
Straight Talk TracFone

Samsung s390g Review Conclusion

So, to conclude, I would have to say that this is probably one of the most feature rich handsets to be offered by TracFone (not so much so in the case of Net10 or Straight Talk) thus far. It looks like the price has been dropping a little as well (currently $69.99 on Straight Talk, $49.99 on Net10 and TracFone), which may make it attractive to a good segment of users.

I was really excited to try the wifi feature on this phone. I was optimistic about the possibility of using my phone for the occasional email or some basic web browsing, without having to use minutes to do it.

I actually made this our ‘main’ phone during the period I’ve reviewed it. I must say that after using it on a daily basis for close to 2 months, it leaves me missing my LG290c. I guess the main deal breaker for me is the pocket-dialing problem this phone has. I’ve never carried a cell phone with this problem and don’t like that the keys can’t be truly locked other than turning the phone off. This is a HUGE problem in my opinion.

Even if you can get past that issue, one of the main reasons to go for a phone of this style is the ease of texting. However, the Samsung s390g fails to “keep up” with the text input of speedy thumbs.

Many will also dislike the trackball feature, that, while browsing, proves to be handy but can get annoying because of its sensitivity when navigating other functions.

Although it seems that TracFone is listening to what its customers what in a prepaid phone, at least somewhat, they’re still not quite there with this handset.

Unfortunately in the TracFone arena there’s nothing quite like the s390g in terms of a qwerty phone with WiFi. The recently released LG 840g (TracFone and Straight Talk, not currently available on Net10 for some reason) looks like your best bet as it has wifi, but you’ll have to accept a touch screen instead of a hardware keyboard.

If you prefer to skip the wifi and get a great keyboard for banging out quick text messages, I suggest the LG 900g (great buy on the reconditioned version at Straight Talk). This model isn’t available for the other two brands, though, so on Net10 or TracFone you’ll have to go to the LG 500g. I don’t recommend the Samsung t404g or s425g for reasons similar to the problems I’ve had with the s390g.

Tracfone Promotional Codes Updated – January 2013

For the current TracFone Promotional Code database, click here.
I updated the list of codes earlier this month. I’ve been trying to make a stronger effort to clean up the list a little bit and stay on top of the expired codes, but it seems that I often get conflicting reports of what’s working and what isn’t. In those cases, I try to err on the side of including too many codes rather than too few. In other words, I’d rather have a code listed as “good,” and have you try it for yourself, than the opposite.

Get bonus minutes with TracFone promotional CodesThat is especially true since the newer codes seem to be so meager in terms of the bonuses they offer. Here is what I came up with this month in terms of “new” codes.

40020 for 20 bonus minutes on a 120-minute card
86365 for 50 bonus minutes on a 200-minute card
70479 for 400 bonus minutes on a 200-minute card
20457 for 40 bonus minutes on a 400-minute card
99908 for 100 bonus minutes on a 450-minute card
78253 for 250 bonus minutes on a 400-minute card

As always, if you attempt to use any of these codes, please post your experience in the comments section below this post. Thanks!

Samsung s390g Phone Review Part 2

This is part 2 in the series of Samsung s390g phone review articles courtesy of Otis 226. For links to the other segments of this review, check out the s390g index page here.

General Phone Functions

Samsung s390g - Net10, Straight Talk, and TracFoneI would say that reception on this phone is fair to good, with reception being about 7 out of 10 in general. Signal strength from my home is fair; between 1 and 3 bars, but is usually somewhat better when I’m around town. (My LG800g typically carries 3-4 bars from my home, and an old LG600g I use occasionally will always give me 4-5 bars, in way of comparison). I have never had a problem completing a call since working with this handset, though.

Call quality is mostly pretty good. It can vary somewhat, depending on the quality of the handset of the person I’m talking to. As usual, you’ll notice a drop in quality if you switch to speaker phone mode.

The volume of the ring tones, as well as the speakerphone and regular phone mode all seem adequate to my hearing. At the highest level, (#7), it can be heard as well as any landline phone I’ve used. I find that for me different ring tones are better for hearing in somewhat noisy situations than others, so some experimentation may be in order here.

Contacts may be assigned specific ring tones, and there is room for at least two phone numbers, an email address and photo ID, plus space for a short memo for each contact.

Battery life seems to be excellent, with standby times for me of up to 9-10 days. Using the WiFi, email, and browser, as well as mp3 player and regular calls, will of course shorten this time considerably, but I’d still say when considered against comparable feature phones, battery life is very good.

The Samsung s390g is available from Straight Talk, TracFone, and Net10:

Straight Talk TracFone

Display/Keypad

The screen display seems bright and crisp. You can choose between 3 different themes for the background of the menu screen. You may also choose between small, medium or large fonts for the numeric dialing display as well as several different font and background colors. I would have liked a larger screen size, but I understand the limitations with a full QWERTY keyboard on this design.

The display is about as good in full sun as any I’ve ever used. Which is to say, not very good at all. For ease of viewing in full mid day sunshine, I suggest you look to a building, tree or your hand for some shade to ease the strain a bit.

The menu is typical of recent Samsung offerings. I generally find the menu on LG handsets more user-friendly/intuitive. Samsung menus tend to have some options ‘hidden’ in sub-menus. But I suppose it’s a matter of preference and what you get used to first. In general, the menu works fairly well for me.

One thing I would really have liked is a way to reject certain calls, either by name or group. As far as I can tell, I find no way to do this other then rejecting a call as it comes in. Of course, an alternative is to change assign a “silent” tone to the caller or group you are trying to ignore, but this is not as decisive as simply blocking calls from that party or group.

I did find a way to reject MMS messages only, (not text messages). Here is where Samsung sub-menus can get tricky, at least for me. You need to go into ‘Settings’, then ‘Application Settings’ then ‘Message Settings’. Under ‘Multimedia Message’, ‘Receiving Options’ will finally bring up a checklist to reject anonymous and or advertisement MMS messages.

Not being a very avid texter, I find the full QWERTY keyboard adequate for the job. However, I have spoken to some people who do text heavily and find that this handset can very often not keep up with them, so that’s certainly something to consider. I do like the feel and positive click of the keystrokes, and although small, the keyboard works well, even with my oversized fingers.

The feel of the phone in hand is quite comfortable, and now that I’ve equipped it with a rubber ‘skin’, I have no problem with hanging onto it. I find no short cut keys except the main ‘trackball’, which if pressed when on the main screen, will bring up the Prepaid menu, and I find no way to change that feature.

Connectivity

The handset easily connects to a computer or other bluetooth capable phone. Bluetooth seems to be fully functional with the Samsung 390G, so I suspect that there would be no problem pairing this phone to most vehicle blue tooth systems.

I do not own a mini usb to usb cable, but that should allow communication between a computer and this handset as well, using it as a removable hard drive. The phone is WiFi capable and I’ll speak about that more in the “extras” section.

This concludes part 2 of the Samsung 390g review. You can check out more on this phone here, or by checking out the specs from the provider of your choice:

Straight Talk, TracFone, and Net10:

Straight Talk TracFone

Samsung s390g Review comments

Samsung s390g Review

Below is a Samsung s390g review courtesy of Otis 226. Note that in some cases we’ll reference TracFone specifically, but the Straight Talk and Net10 versions are essentially the same phone. Further, where applicable we might also refer to “America Movil,” who is the parent company that owns all three of the aforementioned prepaid brands. Finally, this is the first installment in a three-part review, broken up to make it more readable due to length. Here goes:

General Overview

The phone operates on the GSM band at 850/900/1800/1900 MHz, with either an AT&T or T-mobile SIM card. The battery is a 1000mAH Lithium ion type, rated for 12.5 days standby and 6 hrs. talk time. It is a candy bar style, with a four row QWERTY keyboard. It measures 4.41” x 2.44” x 0.47”, and weighs 3.51 oz. The color is called ‘Tech Silver’, and I think it looks very much like a typical Blackberry handset, and is attractive in my opinion.

Samsung s390g, for Net10, Straight Talk, and TracFoneThis handset features TMFL, a 2 mp camera with video capability, full blue tooth connectivity, and an external micro SD memory slot rated at up to 32 GB. The full color display screen measures 2.4” diagonally with 320 x 240 pixels. The big news for TracFone customers is that this handset also features WiFi connectivity, making it possible to connect to the web browser without having to use minutes/units from your balance. This is a first for a TracFone handset, and uncommon for Straight Talk and Net10 feature phones.

As with all Tracfone models I’ve had experience with, there are some very nice features here, especially at this price point, and there are some (very significant) shortcomings that need to be addressed. Hopefully we can help make you aware of them and then you can decide if this is the model for you.

It is very nice that there is a full user’s manual that can be downloaded for this model, but again, as in the past, when TracFone orders a model made to its specifications, a portion of the original manual doesn’t necessarily apply to the phone you have in front of you. Although I’ve heard people complaining that this phone is ‘crippled’ by TracFone, as has been the case with so many preceding phones. I’d have to say that for casual use, cruising the web on this handset is not a bad experience, which is more than I could say for any previous models, but I’ll talk more about that later on in this review.

Straight Talk TracFone

Appearance

I really like the look and feel of this handset. It looks less like a typical TracFone than most of the phones I’ve reviewed since I started doing this. Below the screen there is the TracFone swirl logo, but I believe this phone would blend in with many modern contract phones better than most TracFones, if this were important to you.

The display features pretty much all the information we’ve come to expect. The top row showing the signal strength bars, then a ‘3G’ indicator telling us our connection speed. Next is an icon indicating whether a micro SD card is installed. A small speaker icon indicates that the phone is in ring mode, and finally the battery power icon. It also shows the day, date and time, whether the phone is in home or roam area, and the minutes/service days left.

Below the screen is a send and end key on either side of the phone. Between these are three additional buttons. From left to right they are a soft key to access the menu; a center button that brings up the prepaid menu directly (but also functions as a multi-directional trackball, and is quite handy once you get used to its sensitivity); and then a second soft key that gives access to the browser. None of these buttons can be disabled or user reassigned, as far as I can tell. Below this is a 4 row QWERTY keyboard that has rather small keys for my fingers, but is usable with some practice.

This handset at first felt good in my hands, which are on the large size, but I’m afraid that even with the textured back, it was a bit too slippery for my comfort. I soon obtained a ‘gel skin’ type cover that is for another model, as skins for this model are still pretty difficult to find online or in stores in my area. It fits well enough, and I just ‘adjusted’ the areas where I needed a hole or slot that didn’t align correctly. This skin makes the phone much easier to grip for me.

The phone does feel like it is made of quality materials, but in the 5 or 6 weeks I’ve been using it as my daily phone, it has picked up a ding or two on the edge, even with the added protection of the gel skin. Again, speaking of the rubber or silicon skin I’ve added to give it a sure grip. It does make getting the phone in or out of a pocket rather difficult. Without this cover the phone’s sleek design slides easily in and out of even a tight pocket, but I don’t believe I’d be able to hold onto it for long after getting it out. Once in a pocket, it carries as comfortably as any phone I’ve tried, BUT…

I had heard some comments about this model accidentally dialing a number and connecting, even when the key lock had been engaged. Recently, I found this to be true, not only can 911 be accidentally‘pocket dialed’, but I’ve had random numbers dial in my pocket, as well as my voicemail #. This of course, always results in at least 1 min. of time being used and worst case, could potentially cost you many more. It is strongly recommended that a hard case or belt loop case be used when carrying this particular handset to avoid this problem – or avoid the phone all together.

That’s all for now. As was mentioned at the beginning of this post, the Samsung s390g review will be broken into three parts. The subsequent installments will be available in the coming days. You can also click here to access the Samsung s390g review index page, which will include links to other parts of the review as they become available.

LG 505c Review Conclusion

The final section of this user review of the LG 505c by TracFone will focus on some of the “extra” features. This includes the camera function, and ease of connecting this phone to your computer, as well as a final conclusion on this phone overall. In case you missed them earlier, you can find all parts of this review by clicking here to visit the LG 505c Review index page.

As with all sections of this review, it was written specifically about the TracFone version of the 505c, but all comments here apply equally to the Net10 and Straight Talk models of the same name. The only exception here is the Triple Minutes for Life feature, which is unique to TracFone.

Connectivity

The handset can be connected to a computer either by using the blue tooth function or a micro USB cable, which is an optional piece of hardware I unfortunately, don’t own. What I can say is that this handset easily connects via blue tooth to the three computers I’ve tested it with, and transfers files back and forth without difficulty.

You may save up to 20 different blue tooth devices on the phone, and use each (one at a time). My testing has involved an iMac with built in blue tooth capabilities, a pc laptop and desktop, both requiring a blue tooth dongle to communicate with the phone. So, I imagine that use with a stand-alone blue tooth device (other than another phone or computer) should work seamlessly as well.

Camera

The camera is a basic 1.2 MP affair, and has a few options, but less than the owner’s manual would have us believe. Unless I’m missing something, I see no way to take multiple shots or to adjust the quality of the photo; besides using one of 3 resolutions offered. There is a self-timer, adjustable from off, 3, 5, and 10 seconds.

There are brightness and lighting options available but are very limited. Video mode is not offered. In these times of 10 MP phone cameras, this one is barely better than a VGA type, and definitely leaves something to be desired.

Extras

Before you read on about my experience with the extras, you might want to visit the site of your chosen “flavor” of Tracfone/Net10/Straight Talk to see what’s all available:

Straight Talk TracFone

Perhaps I’m too critical, as I rarely use my phone to browse the web. Others may find it adequate.Although the browser does not seem to be restricted by TracFone, it is very slow and very frustrating to use. I also found that using the touch screen while browsing caused me more errors than when inputting via the touch screen in other areas. Of course this could just be me, knowing I was ‘on the clock’, so to speak. But I wouldn’t want to be surfing the web using this phone except in a rare instance or emergency situation. The integrated web browser leaves a lot to be desired as far as I could tell.

As for the scheduling and organizer functions, I found most to be adequate and similar to those on my LG290c. The notepad function on the LG505c allows 300 and not 150 characters, which is an improvement. The alarm function allows the setting of up to 10 alarm times. I did like the voice activation and voice dialing capabilities. It doesn’t work perfectly, but it does seem to be as functional as others I’ve used on recent TracFone models. One of the big disappointments for me was the voice recorder, which doesn’t allow the user to pause the recording or the play back, making this feature next to worthless as far as I’m concerned.

There are 25 ring tones included, along with an additional 10 message tones. Of course additional tones can be purchased, (some costing over 30 units, when I checked).

When I first checked the games, I assumed 3 Java games were included, but only a short demo of each was available. The free mode and career mode were both disabled and need to be purchased.

Other tools included are the same as most recent TracFone offerings with the exception of one called drawing panel, where you can use your finger to doodle on the touch screen in different colors. You can save these doodles and actually send them to someone if you so desire.

Internal memory of the LG 505c is 90 MB, and it will accept up to a 16 gig micro SD card. The music player supports MP3, WMA, ACC and ACC+ formats. Sound, in general, from this phone’s speaker is tinny to my hearing, so using a pair of ear buds to listen to music is definitely recommended. The MP3 player does allow for the creation of playlists, which is nice.

LG 505c Review Conclusion

LG 505c, for TracFone, Net10, and Straight Talk

In conclusion, I’d say that it is nice that TracFone has decided to bring out a touch screen phone at a reasonable price, for its customers who, like me, are more the ‘casual’ cell phone user. I believe that hard-core types won’t settle for less than Straight Talk handsets, and most of the younger people I know want, or already own, iPhones! There is a 60 page user’s manual available for this handset, but don’t count on all the details being correct. As in the past, TracFone apparently had the manufacturer tweak certain features to its own specs.

I mostly compared this handset to the LG290c, which is still my TracFone of choice for CDMA, and the LG500g, on the GSM side. For someone wanting to try a reasonably priced touch screen phone, this will be a good starting point. The other really positive thing I can comment on is the nice sized and responsive QWERTY keyboard, making it great for all who text a lot.

Finally, the triple minutes for life is a very positive and motivating feature. For myself, I believe I will stick with the 290c at this point and keep waiting for TracFone to come out with what I consider the ideal pre-paid phone. But I can see how others would be happy with this phone, as long as you know what to expect (which you will after reading the preceding pages of this review).

For more details on this model, click on one of the links below to visit the brand of your choice:

Straight Talk TracFone

LG 505c Review Part 2

Below you will find a detailed user review of the LG 505c. Section 2 will take look at the phone function of this touch screen model, as well as the details of both the display and keypad.

General Phone Function

Now, all the extras and gadgets aside for a minute, how does this TracFone stack up when using it as a phone? I’m going to need to call on my experience using other models over the past 7-8 years. As for signal strength, I regularly get 3, sometimes 4 bars from my home on my LG 290c. With the LG 505c, it’s 1, maybe 2 bars at most. I’ve updated the handset’s roaming capabilities via Verizon’s toll free number several times, and this hasn’t seemed to make any difference. Since the reception hasn’t been that bad, I’m not overly concerned with the signal strength bars shown on the display, which I realize are just an approximation of true signal strength.

Touch-Screen Display on the LG 505cI still tend to measure call quality in TracFones against the trusty old Motorola 376. Whatever can be said of its shortcomings in other areas, I feel it is still the gold standard in call quality as far as TracFone is concerned. That being said, I would rate the LG 505 at 8 out of 10 for reception and transmission. This could probably be dropped back to 7 out of 10 when using the speakerphone.

In all my test calls, every one of the callers told me they could detect a difference when the speakerphone was engaged. It may have been a slight echo, some minor static or a momentarily dropped signal, but it was there. We could still be understood, but there was a definite drop in call quality on speakerphone. In all my testing thus far, I’d have to say general call quality/clarity is acceptable.

The volume of the ring tones is quite adequate for my hearing. It is adjustable from ‘all sounds off’, through alarm only, vibrate only, and 5 levels from low to high. I’d also say that the volume in noisier situations seems as good to me as any of the earlier TracFones I’ve had experience with.
It’s also easy to assign specific ring tones to an individual contact. There are also quite a few other options here, including room for email and other addresses, message tones, groups and a short 28 or 30 character memo.

I purposely left the battery evaluation until I had a chance to charge/discharge it a couple of times. I suppose the rated 10-day standby and 2.5 hours talk time are within reason. My experience shows it to be more like 7-day standby and 1.5-2 hours talk time. Of course, depending on your usage of power-consuming features, such as blue tooth connectivity or web browsing, your battery life may be a bit less or more.

Display & Keypad

The quality of the display seems as good as most any of the recent TracFones I’ve seen. I again need to compare it with the phone I currently use, the Tracfone LG 290c. I have to give the LG 505c the edge, since its display is a little larger. It’s pretty crisp and doesn’t leave anything to be desired in my opinion. If pressed, I’d say the display quality on both handsets is about equal.

There are 12 main menu options as opposed to the 290c only having 9. I do like that they are numbered on my 290c, but being a touch screen phone, that would be pretty much useless using the 505c. You can access the same basic information on both but given the ability to add or remove 9 differeLG 505c Keyboardnt function icons to the main screen with the LG505c, certainly gives it the edge for versatility. Being able to see the display comfortably in full sun is as much a problem with this phone as any I’ve ever used. I pretty much have to find something to shield the display from full sunlight, or use my free hand to do this.

The phone feels a bit chunky when held, more so even than the fairly bulky 290c. I think this may be due to the fact that it is slightly shorter. For those of us with large hands, it does give a bit more to hang onto. As I mentioned earlier, the rounded edges and smooth finish makes it easy slipping this handset into and out of a pocket. I prefer a bottom slider mechanism as opposed to this one, which slides out of the left side. However, it is a nice, positive sliding motion and the keys are a good size; so I believe with continued use this would not be an issue.

The QWERTY keyboard is a really nice feature, for those who text quite a bit. I found it simple and quick to become familiar with, and so much easier to use than the alphanumeric keypad on my 290c. It is also nicer than the LG 500g QWERTY keyboard, because it is somewhat larger. To get more specs about the LG 505c, click on one of the links below:

Straight Talk TracFone

To continue reading more about this model, check out additional segments of this review, which can be accessed on the this index of the LG 505c review index page.

LG 505c Review – Part 1

Well, after a long hiatus, I am back to blogging. Starting things off here is a review of the LG 505c for TracFone, Straight Talk, and Net10. I realize this phone is not exactly new as it has been out since the spring of this year, but hopefully this review will still be helpful to some of you especially since it is the most feature-rich Verizon-based phone on TracFone.

This review is another collaborative effort between myself and fellow phone guy, “Otis 226.”

This is a review of the LG 505c from TracFone – the first touch screen model offered by this division of American Movil. It is a CDMA handset, working on the Verizon Wireless network. It is the first time; to my knowledge, that Tracfone has offered a CDMA phone in my zip code. This eliminated having to order from a CDMA only zip code, and then having the phone shipped to my home zip.

LG 505c

LG 505c With Triple Minutes for Life

This handset features a slide-out, full QWERTY keyboard, giving you the option of inputting data via the touch screen or the physical keyboard. The phone measures 4 x 2 x .65” (3.25” wide when keyboard is slid open). It weighs in at a fairly hefty 4.37 oz., and the screen is approx. 2.75”, measured diagonally.

Accessories include an AC battery charger and a LGIP 520N, 1000 mAh, 3.7 V battery. It is rated for 10 days of standby time, and up to 2.5 hours of talk time. This handset uses the same battery charger (Micro USB) as many other LG models – 231; 100; 220; 420; 500 & 290 to name some I own and checked it with. The LG 505c is available from TracFone, Net10 or Straight Talk for $89.99:

Straight Talk TracFone

A big plus is that the phone features “triple minutes for life,” which works out to be a great bargain for most users. Additional features include blue tooth capability, call waiting, 1.2 MP camera (no video mode), a color, resistive touch screen, games, graphics, downloadable ring tones, hearing aid compatibility, speakerphone, mobile web, MP3 player, text and picture messaging.

External/Appearance

I don’t think anyone seeing this phone will confuse it with an iPhone or other smart phone. In my limited experience with the latter, the screens are noticeably larger. Another big difference is that TracFone has opted to place its swirl logo just under the screen. It makes no pretense of being anything other than a TracFone, and I’d say it looks pretty much like a TracFone.

The external display seems fairly standard, with the exception of a clock and coin icon. When touched, it shows the airtime balance and service end date. There is also an arrow on the left hand side of the screen. If this is touched, you have the option of customizing the external display with choices such as clock, calendar, memo pad, alarm clock, drawing pad, text messages, camera, or images. You may simply drag any of these icons onto the main screen and they will stay there. It took me a minute to figure it out, but by dragging these icons over to the arrow, which then turns into the trashcan icon, these same functions can be deleted from the main screen.

Finally, there are 3 dots near the top center of the display. If you ‘swish’ your finger to the left, you are given the option of adding up to 11 contacts or groups here that will be available immediately the next time you go there. If you ‘swish’ to the right, you are brought to your text messages and you may send, reply to or delete messages. You can get back to the main screen by either ‘swishing’ to the center position or using either of the ‘pwr/end’ or ‘cancel’ buttons.

For a quick rundown of the external buttons, there are only 3 on the handset face: send, cancel/spkr, and pwr/end. On the top left side of the phone, there are holes for a lanyard, below this is the micro USB port for charging the phone and communicating with a computer, if you have the proper cable. Below this are the volume up and down buttons. This is also the side that the QWERTY keyboard slides out from.

On the top right side is the standard headset jack, then a button that allows the phone to be locked or unlocked, a very handy feature on a touch screen model. Next comes the covered mini SD card port, (nice to have this out in the open instead of under the battery!), and finally a camera button, that actually takes you to the multimedia section. Here, you can use the voice recorder, go to ‘my stuff’ (for images or sounds), go to your music selections or take a photo. On the back is the camera lens on top and the speaker output at the bottom.

The 505c seems to have good quality construction, on a par with my LG 290c, which I’ve been using for over a year without any problems whatsoever. The slider here pulls out nicely, there seems to be very little play in the component parts, and it slides back in with a positive click. The keyboard has a good feel to it with what I’d consider the proper amount of pressure needed to activate individual keys as well as good ‘recoil’ when released.

The touch screen is more responsive than I at first expected it to be, in general. I found that sensitivity dropped off slightly in the upper area of the screen. There is a calibration mode in the settings section for use in adjusting the touch sensitivity. How well that works is a matter for discussion, but all things considered, I generally like the touch screen function, even with my large thumbs.

The rounded edges and smooth finish on the phone makes it rather easy to slide in and out of jeans pockets and such. I have little doubt that this model will be as durable as any of the TracFones I’ve used in the past years. I’m the guy who is still happily using a Nokia 1100b because I like the free incoming texts, and I can get free weather reports daily that way. Basically, if you’ve ever carried around the LG 290c, you’ll have no problem at all getting used to this model.

That concludes the first section of this review. I’ll be posting three more segments of the review on this blog in the coming days. To jump to other segments of the review, check out the LG 505c review index page, here.