At first glance, the plastic-smooth and podlike LG Imprint for MetroPCS looks akin to the Kin One slider, though it’s actually a twin to Sprint’s LG Remarq, right down to the stylish leaf-shaped speaker punched into the phone’s back cover and the Energy Star-rated charger. Interestingly, unlike the Remarq, MetroPCS isn’t billing the Imprint as an eco-phone. For one, LG didn’t build it with recycled plastic and it doesn’t come in the Remarq’s soy ink packaging.
With a full QWERTY keyboard and room to spread out, the Imprint matches its design strengths as a texting phone with SMS and MMS capabilities. While its camera is mediocre, its onboard MP3 player and strong call quality make the $109 LG Imprint a sturdy and comfortable handset for texters and e-mailers at a price that won’t break the bank.
The Imprint’s design is easily the best thing about the phone. With generously rounded corners, the 3.5 inch long by 2.5 inch wide by 0.6 inch thick Imprint is a compact little number. Shiny and smooth, the 3.8-ounce phone feels hearty in the hand, but gentle on the ear, with a sturdy, tightly constructed slider. The square, strong phone is a pocket-friendly and purse-portable, and its girth will ensure it won’t get lost among your keys and loose change.
LG paints the Imprint with a simple, but stylish brush. A silver band caps the face of the phone’s glossy, black body, then cuts across 45 degrees to cloak half of the spine and most of the back cover.
The 2.2 inch, 320×240-pixel display supports 262,000 colors, though we wish MetroPCS took better advantage of the crisp and clear resolution with more interesting menus and default wallpaper. In our opinion, few displays prove victorious when contending with direct sunlight, and the Imprint is no exception. It helps that you can adjust the screen’s backlight time, though not its brightness or contrast. Below the screen lies the navigation array–the ubiquitous four-directional pad with central OK button, two soft keys, and speakerphone and “back” buttons that double up with Talk and End functionality.
Slide the phone face up to reveal a roomy QWERTY keyboard with tall, narrow keys that are fully separated (we like this) and slightly domed surfaces. All it lacks are backlit keys. A dedicated messaging button on the keyboard fast tracks you to the texting window, and another button opens the music player.
On the phone’s left spine is a camera button that flicks on the 1.3-megapixel shooter. Above it sits the Micro-USB slot. The right spine sports the volume rocker, the microSD card slot, and an unfortunately nonstandard 2.5mm headset jack–we prefer a standard 3.5mm jack.
The LG Imprint is socially inclined, with threaded text and multimedia messaging. Fittingly, its phone book stores 1,000 contacts, with room in each entry for seven phone numbers, two e-mail addresses, a photo ID, and a custom ringtone. You can also create caller groups. For ringtones, the Imprint ships with 33 polyphonic tunes. You can also give them all the kibosh and switch to a silent, stealth mode.
MetroPCS keeps things simple, maybe too simple in the case of its absent instant messaging functionality. There is, however, set-up support for POP3 and IMAP e-mail. There’s no standalone Web browser, which is fine for this type of phone, but the Imprint does address your Internet needs by supplying the WAP-based MetroWeb and a branded @Metro app store for buying and downloading apps, pictures, ringtones, and games.
On the organizer side, you’re looking at a calendar, calculator, tip calculator, alarm clock, world clock, notepad, stopwatch, and unit converter. You can also set up speed dial and voice commands, and the Imprint has Bluetooth, and speakerphone. Voice dialing is a go on the Imprint, as are voice memos up to five minutes long that you can save as ringtones (for all your freestyle songsters.)
The Imprint’s 1.3-megapixel camera is just fine for this basic phone, though photo quality will never be superb. Still, a multishot mode, three resolutions night mode, a self-timer, 10x digital zoom, and simple image editor go a long way toward framing and beautifying your shots. We should note that the highest resolution–1,280×960 pixels–won’t support zooming. You can adjust the brightness and resolution from the photo interface before taking the shot.
When you’re done shooting, you can immediately send photos to friends or via Bluetooth, create a slideshow, and save pictures as wallpaper, a photo ID, or as the main image on your lock screen. As we mentioned, there’s an editor that can zoom in, rotate, flip photos, and adjust elements like white balance and brightness. Photo effects include practical filters like antiquing and gray sketch alongside wackier effects that add glow, convert to a cartoon, and mirror the image.
The Imprint has an MP3 music player, which is accessible from the main menu or the dedicated music player button on the QWERTY keyboard. In addition to the microSD card slot, which can hold up to a 16GB card, the phone offers a fairly minimal 23MB of internal storage.
Two other features we’ll mention include an airplane mode for shutting down data service while aloft and GPS support for a MetroPCS navigator service. Keep in mind that for the latter you’ll need to subscribe to certain MetroPCS rate plans.
We tested the 3G-capable LG Imprint (CDMA 1x 800/1,900MHz; AWS Band 1,700/2,100MHz) in San Francisco using MetroPCS. We enjoyed good call quality using the Imprint. Voices sounded clear, strong, and natural. We noticed very few blips and beeps and other distortion that’s telltale of a wireless service. If we concentrated on it, our caller’s voice did sound slightly muffled, but that was not apparent in the course of a casual conversation.Once in our tests we did hear a strange faded ring in the background on our end, which our caller did not hear. Our callers agreed that the overall high voice quality, noting at one point that it wasn’t obvious we were on a mobile phone.
Its speakerphone yielded predictably poorer call audio quality than holding the phone up to your ear. On our end, calls maintained consistent volume, but sounded tinny. On their end, callers could tell we were on a speakerphone but thought our voices sounded strong overall.
The Imprint has a rated battery life of up to 5 hours of talk time, with 170 hours of standby time. According to FCC radiation tests, the Imprint’s digital SAR is 1.22 watts per kilogram.