LG’s messaging phone offerings for Verizon Wireless continues to grow. There was the LG enV and the LG Voyager series of handsets, and at CTIA 2010, Verizon welcomed the newcomer LG Cosmos to the family. It is essentially a rejiggering of the LG Rumor 2 and is therefore an entry-level product. It doesn’t come with a music player or EV-DO, but it does have your basic messaging features, a 1.3-megapixel camera, and quick access to popular social networks like Twitter and Facebook. The Cosmos is available for a very affordable $29.99 with a new two-year service agreement and a $50 mail-in rebate.
We weren’t kidding when we said the LG Cosmos looks like a remake of the LG Rumor 2. They both look like candy bar handsets on the front, but a full QWERTY keyboard slides out to the right for messaging. Measuring 4.41 inches long by 2.05 inches wide by 0.67 inch thick, the Cosmos even has almost the same dimensions as the Rumor 2. Still, the Cosmos looks a tinier bit better than its Sprint counterpart. Instead of a rather cheesy chrome border, the Cosmos is wrapped in a sleek and shiny black plastic. At 4.4 ounces, it feels sturdy yet lightweight.
We quite like the display on the Cosmos as well. The 2-inch display has 262,000 colors, with 320×240-pixel resolution, which is pretty good. Images look great; they’re both colorful and sharp. The interface is simple enough to navigate. You can adjust the backlight time, the brightness level, the display themes, the menu layout (you can even rearrange the icons), the font type, the font size, and the clock format on the home screen.
The navigation array and keypad on the Cosmos looks and feels a lot better than the one on the Rumor 2 as well. They don’t feel quite so cheap and slippery, and have a smooth, matte finish. The array consists of two soft keys, a diamond-shaped toggle plus a center OK key, a speakerphone shortcut, a Clear/Voice command key, and the Send and End/Power keys. You can also map the up, left, and down directions of the aforementioned toggle to three user-defined shortcuts. The right direction leads to a My Shortcuts pop-up box, which you can fill with up to four more additional shortcuts.
The number keypad is a little small, but not unusable. The keys are arranged like slats, or roof tiles, and therefore have enough texture for dialing by feel. You can text with the number keypad if you’d like, but we would prefer using the QWERTY keyboard most of the time.
The front of the phone slides to the left to reveal the aforementioned keyboard on the right. The slider mechanism is sturdy and slides easily without feeling too loose. The two keys to the right of the display become soft keys and the display changes orientation from portrait to landscape when you slide the phone open. We really like the keyboard; it has four rows, with one row just for numbers. You also get arrow keys on the lower right side, plus dedicated keys for messaging, emoticons, and the typical Shift and Function keys. The overall keyboard is well-spaced and the keys have a nice domed texture to them.
On the left are the volume rocker and dedicated camera key; the microSD card slot and 2.5mm headset jack sits on the right. The charger jack is on the bottom, and on the back is the camera lens and external speaker.
The LG Cosmos has a phonebook that can store up to 1000 entries, which is substantially more than the 600-entry phonebook on the Rumor 2. Each entry has room for five numbers, two e-mail addresses, a street address, an IM screen name, a picture ID, and notes. You can organize your contacts into caller groups, and pair them with one of 25 polyphonic ringtones.
Some of the basic features include a vibrate mode, a speakerphone, an alarm clock, a calendar, a calculator, a tip calculator, a to-do list, a stopwatch, a world clock, and a notepad. You’ll also find a voice recorder and voice command support, USB mass storage mode, Bluetooth, a wireless Web browser, and something called Info Search that’ll let you search for anything that’s stored on your phone. Speaking of search, the LG Cosmos also has a partnership with Bing for Mobile that’ll let you look up anything on the Bing search engine. There’s also GPS on here with support for Verizon’s VZ Navigator.
Luckily, the LG Cosmos carries over plenty of the messaging features found on the Rumor 2. It has text and multimedia messaging, of course, plus support for Verizon’s Mobile Email that lets you send and receive e-mail directly from the phone. You can use any kind of e-mail account, from Web services like Gmail and Hotmail, to your own POP3 accounts. However, you do have to pay $5 for the privilege. If you don’t want to cough up the dough, you can just go the mobile Web e-mail route and get your e-mail over the Web interface. It has mobile IM as well, with access for AOL Instant Messenger, Yahoo IM, and Windows Live Messenger. You won’t get access to your work e-mail on here, however, which you can get on the Rumor 2.
If you’re a social networking fan, you’ll also appreciate the Cosmos’ built-in quick access to popular social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace. However, these are not dedicated apps; they’re really just pre-entered numbers that you can send text messages to, so you still need to set up your phone number on the services separately. Nothing groundbreaking here, but it’s nice that you’re able to send updates and photos to these services in just a few clicks.
We were a little disappointed to see a 1.3-megapixel camera on here, but seeing as the Cosmos is billed as an entry-level phone, we’re OK with it. You can take pictures in three different resolutions (1,280×960 pixels, 640×480 pixels, 320×240 pixels). Camera settings include brightness, a self-timer, five white-balance presets, three shutter sounds plus a silent option, five color effects, photometry adjustments, night mode, and even noise reduction. Photo quality was surprisingly decent for a low-megapixel camera. There was little image noise thanks to the noise-reduction feature, and it takes pretty good photos in low light even without flash. Colors did look a little dim at times, but it wasn’t too bad. The Cosmos supports up to 16GB of removable memory.
You can personalize the Cosmos with several wallpaper and theme options. You can use your own photos if you want, and you can download more via the Verizon Store. The phone also comes with two games, Pac-Man and Tetris, and you can download more games and apps from the Verizon Store as well.
We tested the LG Cosmos in San Francisco using Verizon Wireless. Call quality was admirable on the whole. We enjoyed strong signal and great voice quality on our end. We heard our callers clearly with nary a hint of static, though there was a bit of harshness at times.
Callers also reported great quality. They said we still sounded like we were on a cell phone, but they could hear us loudly and clearly. Even when were in a noisy environment, we could carry on a conversation just fine; they did complain a little about the background noise, though. Speakerphone calls were good as well; callers said they heard more echo, but that’s to be expected.
It’s unfortunate that the Cosmos doesn’t have 3G or EV-DO, but it is really affordable and we appreciate not having to pay extra for a data plan.
The Cosmos has a rated battery life of 6 hours talk time and 24 days of standby time. According to FCC radiation tests, it has a digital SAR of 1.18 watts per kilogram.