Verizon Wireless has released another of the rare breed of keyboarded Android phones, the LG Enact, selling for only $19.99 with a two-year contract ($349.99 on a month-to-month plan).
The Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean) LG Enact offers a slider keyboard with a nice tactile feel and a top number row. The keyboard slides easily and locks firmly into place, as it should. The onscreen keypad has the now-standard multi-function keys, so you can hold in a letter to type a number or symbol.
As with competing Android phones, voice recognition works really well, too, for emails and texts. You'd probably want something more robust, like Dragon Naturally Speaking, for dictating longer documents.
The Enact's 5 MP rear-facing camera takes nice photos, but the default auto white balance setting makes for yellowish or greenish tinted indoor photos without flash. You'll either want to make sure to set the flash to "on" (rather than "auto") for indoor photos or change the white balance setting to "incandescent" or "florescent."
I've been impressed by the "say cheese" camera function since the first time I saw it, but on the Enact, it's a bit too sensitive. I recommend turning it off unless you need it to take a particular photo so you don't keep taking unintentional photos. The camera has some other nifty features, too, such as Time Catch Shot (a.k.a. continuous shutter, for taking a bunch of photos back to back without repeatedly pressing the button).
The Enact can take nice HD videos up to 1080p with the rear-facing camcorder. However, the front-facing camera and camcorder record VGA, and the display shows VGA rather than HD. You can edit your videos right on the phone, with the included Video Wiz and Video Editor apps.
The 4" display looks great for reading messages and articles, playing games or watching videos, and the touchscreen maneuvers smoothly. I was able to easily read messages and play games in bright sunlight, with or without sunglasses, on the Enact, after disabling auto brightness and jacking up brightness to the highest level.
The Enact's 1.2 GHz dual-core processor gives it peppy performance, and 8 GB of internal memory should provide plenty of app space. You can add a microSD card of up to 64 GB for storing your pictures and videos.
A slider keyboard unavoidably adds a bit of thickness, but at 4.37" by 2.06" by .62" and 5.99 oz, the Enact still fits nicely in a pocket. The smallish display helps keep the phone's weight comparable to its non-keyboarded competition.
The Enact comes loaded with plenty of software, though I like how the Amazon apps are bundled into their own widget, and not all of them are already installed. The included Polaris Office app lets you work with MS Office compatible files on the go. With Wireless Storage, File Share Wi-Fi Direct and Smart Share, you can share your files with compatible devices and even manage files from your computer using Wi-Fi instead of USB. The included Q Translator app lets you take a photo of a text document in any of 44 different languages and translate it.
The Enact sports some impressive battery life, going a couple of days without charging under moderate usage. Significant video watching or game playing can suck battery life, as can numerous picture or video uploads to Dropbox. If you plan to take a lot of pictures, you can turn off Dropbox auto-upload temporarily and turn it back on later, when you can connect the phone to its charger.
Launching the Mobile Hotspot app generates a warning message that the feature can drain battery life, but connecting one device for light usage for around two hours barely budged the battery meter.
While all mobile carriers have some dead areas, Verizon's zippy 4G LTE service covers just about everywhere. If you live in a rural area far removed from a city, you may pick up no mobile signal other than Verizon's.
The LG Enact offers an excellent choice among the slim pickings of keyboarded smart phones. It adeptly handles common smart phone tasks while holding onto battery life better than many of its peers.