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LG PM-225



The good:
Outstanding battery life; solid call quality; four-digit dialing feature; speakerphone; analog roaming.

The bad:
No photo caller ID on external display; camera is only VGA quality.

What's it for:
Making phone calls; taking pictures; sending picture messages; surfing the wireless Web.

Who's it for:
On-the-go types looking for a reliable phone with decent personalization features.

Business use:
Talk hands-free with a speakerphone or use the digital camera.

Essential extras:
Leather case; vehicle power adapter; headset; syncing software; extended battery.

The bottom line:
A fairly basic but well-designed phone for those who want to add a personal touch to the task of making calls.

In the past few years, LG has had a serious makeover, transforming itself from a cell phone nobody into a provider of reliable and often stylish handsets. The LG PM-225 is representative of many of the company's line for Sprint PCS: attractive but not stunning, not overloaded with features, yet with offerings that are well implemented. We like the in-call options and some of the more businesscentric features, but plenty of folks will be drawn to the personalization options. For a limited time, Sprint is offering this phone for $50 with a two-year service agreement. Otherwise, it's a bit pricey at $219.

Features

The LG PM-225's feature list won't knock anyone's socks off, but what it does offer, it does well. The phone book holds up to 500 contacts, each of which can contain five phone numbers. You can also store up to 500 e-mail and Web addresses. The selection of in-call menu options is respectable: During a call, you can send a text message, set up a three-way call, or record up to 3 minutes of your conversation with the Record Voice Memo option. As for other features, you get a vibrate mode, 12 traditional and 18 polyphonic ring tones, text and multimedia messaging, a notepad, a calculator, an alarm clock, a scheduler, voice dialing, a world clock, and a tip calculator. The speakerphone is a great addition, but you can't turn it on before you make a call.

An Auto Answer feature answers incoming calls in car-kit/headset mode--a nice tool to use while driving. A feature called Abbreviated Dialing automatically calls a contact after you've entered the last four digits of that number. You set up Abbreviated Dialing by entering the area code and first three digits of a number. It's a solid feature for business users, since you can simply dial a four-digit extension to reach colleagues who share the same prefix.

The LG PM-225 is a camera phone, but the camera is only VGA quality, with resolutions of 640x480, 320x280, or 160x120. You also get a 5- and 10-second self-timer, four color tones, brightness and white-balance controls, three quality settings (Fine, Normal, and Economy), and a 4X zoom that varies by resolution. There's also a choice of three shutter sounds, or you can create your own or turn it off completely. Picture quality is about what you'd expect--not good--but the integration with Sprint's Picture Mail service is outstanding, and you can easily e-mail photos to contacts saved in your address book. Of course, you can set up photo caller ID with pictures saved in the phone's memory, though disappointingly, the picture appears only on the main screen during calls, not on the external LCD. When taking photos, however, a convenient meter keeps track of how much memory is left.

Performance

We tested the dual-band/trimode (CDMA 800/1900; AMPS 800) LG PM-225 in the Chicago area on the Sprint PCS network. Call quality was generally good. Callers said we sounded clear, but they could tell we were using a cell phone. They didn't complain when we talked over the integrated speakerphone; one caller even said we sounded better than in Normal mode.

Battery life was similarly impressive. We reached 4.25 hours of talk time from the lithium-ion battery, easily beating the rated 3.25 hours. Our standby time was a solid five days. According to FCC radiation tests, the LG PM-225 has a digital SAR rating of 0.9 watts per kilogram and an analog SAR rating of 1.0 watts per kilogram.

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