What's hot: More polished look and better build than the original model. Great reception and voice quality.
What's not: Not a great web surfing experience.
Reviewed January 20, 2010 by Tong Zhang, Senior Editor
In a competitive market of QWERTY texting phones, the original LG Lotus dared to look different. The square form stood out in a sea of candybar and slider QWERTY phones, and it found an audience among those who like their tech to look different. The Lotus Elite continues in that tradition, and the first model in the new LX610 series dresses in red and aims squarely at female phone buyers (don’t worry fellas, a black version is coming). The new Lotus Elite also adds a large QVGA external touch screen that matches the internal display in both size and resolution. You still get a 2.4” landscape screen on the inside, a built-in aGPS that works with Sprint Navigation, Bluetooth with A2DP, a microSD card slot with SDHC support, EV-DO 3G as well as access to multimedia content from Sprint Music Store, Sprint TV and games.
Design and Ergonomics
Compared to the original LG Lotus, the Lotus Elite looks more refined and better built. It has rounded corners, and the hinge looks strong and moves more freely. The keyboard and the keys also have more pleasing shapes that make the Lotus Elite look stylish. Measuring 3.43 x 2.44 x 0.73 inches, the phone is still quite wide and should be a handful for those with smaller hands. The biggest design change for the Lotus Elite from the original Lotus is the 320 x 240 pixel external touch screen. The internal display isn’t a touch screen but you’ve got the full QWERTY and plenty of hardware buttons to control the phone when the flip is open. We were glad to see that most built-in applications support touch control on the external display, and these applications include the music player, Sprint Navigation, Camera, video, Sprint TV and more. Applications that require the use of the keyboard such as the web browser, games and social networking don’t run on the touch screen. You can check your messages on the external touch screen but you’ll need to open the flip to type and send messages.
The QWERTY is spacious thanks to the phone’s wide body and the key layout is fairly standard. Since the Lotus Elite targets texters and social networking addicts, the phone has hardware buttons that can launch social networking sites, email and SMS with a single key press. The d-pad is large and works well for gaming. The microSD card slot is easy to access on the side of the phone, and there is a 2.5mm audio jack on the side as well.
The LG Lotus Elite has Sprint’s OneClick UI that launches most commonly used apps with a single click, and you can customize OneClick to include any applications you wish to see there. The carrousel of icons not only launches apps but also provides additional application related actions. For example, when you scroll to the Messaging icon on the carrousel you can actually see how many new messages, emails and voicemails you have; when you are on the Sprint Navigation icon you can go directly to options such as Drive To, Search, Maps and Traffic and Share and more.
Wirefly price (no rebate required):
LG Lotus Elite
LG Lotus Elite
Phone Features and Reception
The LG Lotus Elite has great reception and gets full bars in areas with good coverage and more than half of the full strength in areas with just OK coverage. The audio quality is excellent with very clear and loud voice on both incoming and outgoing ends, and it doesn’t have any background white noise. The Lotus Elite has a Contacts database that can store up to 600 entries with each entry capable of storing 7 numbers and full contact info. The phone can also store up to 98 speed dialing numbers and comes with excellent built-in voice dialing and voice command software. You can launch voice command by pressing and holding the Talk button or the Speaker button. The voice command software handles voice dialing, launching applications and checking the phone’s status.
The Lotus Elite supports text messaging, picture and video messaging as well as web-based IM (AIM, Windows Live Messenger and Yahoo Messenger). The phone supports popular POP3 email services including AOL, Yahoo!, Gmail And Hotmail; and it works with Exchange for email and contacts. For accessing the web, the Lotus Elite comes with the Access NetFront web browser (v3.5.1). The browser displays full HTML pages with images and columns altered from their standard desktop layout. The web pages are readable with the default font setting but the browser squeezes the page’s width to fit the phone’s 320 pixel-wide display which results in columns that are one or two words wide but incredibly long (requiring lots of scrolling down and patience).
Here's our 7 minute video review of the Lotus Elite:
GPS and Sprint Navigation
The LG Lotus Elite has a built-in aGPS that works with Sprint Navigation. The GPS gets signal and position fixes quite fast and Sprint Navigation loads quickly. Sprint Navigation has real time route calculation, re-routing and turn-by-turn directions with voice guidance. The Lotus Elite is generally quick to calculate routes except at the beginning of a real time navigation session. It takes a bit of time to catch up with the current location, but once it’s found you, it can certainly keep up with your driving. The screen looks good for viewing maps and the speakers are loud and clear for voice guidance. Sprint Navigation (powered by TeleNav) comes with a large selection of POIs and offers local searches and location sharing.
The LG Lotus Elite is a good music phone thanks to the front facing stereo speakers, the support for Sprint Music Store, the microSD card slot and the built-in music player. The phone’s speakers are loud and ringy; audio quality is clear though not terribly full. The Lotus Elite has touch controls for the music player on the external screen to match the outward firing speakers. The phone works well with the Sprint’s Music Store, and the built-in music player can play MP3, AAC, AAC+ and MP4A files. We tested tunes ripped in the iTunes and they played well on the Lotus Elite. The microSD card slot supports SDHC and we tested high capacity cards which worked fine on the phone. The LG Lotus Elite has a 2.5mm headset jack, but it doesn’t come with a headset in the box. The phone also works with wireless stereo headsets via Bluetooth A2DP. We tested the music playback using the Jabra HALO, and the Lotus Elite had some trouble streaming music via A2DP to the Jabra HALO though it had no problem streaming voice calls.
The Lotus Elite supports Sprint TV, a collection of on-demand TV shows, movies and music programs served over Sprint’s data network. The streaming speed is decent on the Lotus Elite, and the video playback has some frame drops but not too laggy as long as you are in an area with decent EV-DO coverage. Sprint TV videos look a little blocky, especially in the full screen mode. The external screen can play Sprint TV content with touch screen controls, which makes a good use of the front speakers.
The large keyboard and the landscape screen provide good controls and display for gaming. Most games play smoothly on the Lotus Elite with good audio and excellent controls. Games don’t usually play on the external screen.
The LG Lotus Elite has a 2.0 megapixel camera that lives on the hinge of the flip. The camera faces out with the flip closed and the external screen becomes viewfinder. Like the music player, the camera app has touch controls that works on the external touch screen. The camera lens faces in when the flip is open for taking self-portrait shots. Still images taken with the Lotus Elite are decent by 2 megapixel camera phone standards. They look reasonably sharp and bright on the phone’s 2.4” screen. They are good enough for posting snapshots on the web, but on a big computer screen the photos have a noticeable amount of noise as you would expect from a 2 megapixel camera phone. The camera application offers settings for resolution, quality, white balance, brightness and more; and it has a night shot mode.
The Lotus Elite can also capture QVGA video with audio in short length for picture mail or long for storing locally. The QVGA videos look smooth and audio is in sync with video. You can choose from three resolutions, brightness and white balance for the video clips.
The LG Lotus Elite has a rechargeable Lithium Ion battery that’s 1,000 mAh in capacity. The claimed usage time is nearly 6 hours and the claimed standby time is 16.2 days. In our battery tests, the phone lasted us two days on moderate to heavy usage including making phone calls for 30 minutes, surfing the web for 30 minutes, pairing with several Bluetooth headsets, using Sprint Navigation for driving directions for 1 hour and watching Sprint TV for 1 hour.
We are glad to see that LG and Sprint are keeping the Lotus line as these are very capable messaging phones with a unique look. The new LG Lotus Elite serves up more fluid lines in design and an excellent OneClick UI. The external touch screen is an interesting update and has great integrations with most applications. The phone has great reception and in-call audio quality, making it a great voice device as well a texting phone. It offers plenty of multimedia content and strong messaging and social networking functions. It’s not a particularly good web browsing phone as the screen resolution squeezes full HTML page layouts too much, and the phone’s 2 megapixel camera will not impress mobile photographers. Sprint is also offering the LG Lotus Elite at a lower introductory price ($99) than the original LG Lotus ($149) under the same contract terms and rebate policies. If you are looking for a 3G CDMA phone with a full QWERTY and a different look, the LG Lotus Elite is certainly worth some consideration.
Pro: More polished look and better build than the original model. Great reception and voice quality.
Con: Not a great web surfing experience.
Price: $99.99 with 2-year contract after mail-in rebate. $299.99 without contract.
Display: Internal LCD: 262K Color TFT, 240 x 320 Pixels, 2.4". External LCD: 262K Color TFT, 320 x 240 Pixels, 2.4", touch screen.
Battery: Lithium Ion rechargeable battery, 1,000 mAh. Usage time: Up to 5.9 Hours. Standby time: 16.2 Days.
Performance: Phone book can store 600 entries.
Size: 3.43 x 2.44 x 0.73 inches. Weight: 4.8 ounces.
Phone: Digital CDMA phone. 800/1900MHz. EVDO Rev. 0 for data.
Camera: 2 megapixel with night mode and self timer. Still image resolutions: 1600 x 1200, 1280 x 960, 640 x 480 and 320 x 240 pixels. Can take video with audio.
Audio: Supports Polyphonic ringers and MP3 music tones. MP3 player onboard to play music in MP3, AAC, AAC+ and MP4A formats. 2.5 mm stereo audio jack. Can record voice memo. Supports vibration alert.
Networking: Bluetooth v2.1 + EDR. Profiles supported: HSP, HFP, DUN, OPP, FTP, BPP, A2DP, AVRCP, PBAP, HID. USB 2.0.
Software: Sprint One Click UI. NetFront HTML browser and web-based IM on board. Links to Twitter, MySpace and Facebook. PIM tools include Contacts, Calendar, Calculator, Alarm Clock, NotePad, Document Viewer, World Clock and Stopwatch.
Expansion: 1 microSD card slot. Supports SDHC cards. A 1 gig card included with the phone.
In the Box: The LG Lotus Elite phone with standard battery, a red hand strap, a 1GB microSD card with an SD adapter, AC charger and printed guides.