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LG Dare review

January 1, 2008

in All Articles,Cellphone reviews

The Dare is an impressive phone. When you hear about the device, some of its features may catch your ear. You may hear about the touchscreen-only interface including virtual keyboard, the auto-rotate feature based on the phone’s orientation, the “scroll with your finger” navigation, and you’ll think of the iPhone. I’ll answer the Dare / iPhone comparison question later. Realize that this phone is not meant as “the iPhone killer”, or even an “iPhone closest competitor”. Or, at least, regardless of what the marketing people intended, that wasn’t my impression. The designers have given the Dare many features similar to the iPhone, but the LG Dare is a phone in and of itself – there are reasons you’d get this instead of the iPhone. There are reasons you’d get the iPhone over the LG Dare.

First, the basics. The Dare is an elegant phone.

It’s primarily black, with silver trim around the edges and on the buttons. The case itself feels solid and robust in your hand. There is no case flex or bend, even after fairly hard muscling. The majority of real estate on the front is dedicated to the touch-screen display, with three buttons below the screen for Talk, Voice Command and End Call. The top of the phone has a jack for a hands-free microphone. The left side has buttons to lock the phone and speakerphone, as well as jacks for the USB interface and a MicroSD memory card (giving you up to 8GB of memory expansion). The right side has buttons for volume up/down and access to the built-in 3.2 MP camera. The camera and speaker are on the back of the phone, opposite the touchscreen.

LG Dare touchscreen and navigation

So, how does one use the Dare? Ninety-nine percent of navigation through calls, messaging, features and options is handled by the touchscreen interface. And since this is the sole means of controlling the phone, the touchscreen better be good! Luckily for the Dare, it is. Note that I said “good”, not “great”. So while I was mostly happy the entire time using the touchscreen, I did have a couple problems. Not big problems, but when this phone can be compared to the iPhone’s better touchscreen, they stick out in my mind. One problem with the touchscreen I had was with the scrolling. Like on the iPhone, you can “drag” your finger up or down a screen, and the screen will scroll the contents. This worked most of the time, but every once in a while the Dare would think that, instead of scrolling, I intended to select a button instead. The second issue with the touchscreen is that the screen sensitivity is lower than I’d like, making navigation is a little more “stabby” and less graceful.

Okay, enough of the whining, because those are the only two problems I had with the Dare. Everything else I liked a lot. And that includes other aspects of the touchscreen navigation.

Basic performance of the phone was great – everything was responsive and smooth, with no processing delays (seen often in phones running Windows Mobile). The graphics were clean; the screen-to-screen animation was subtle and slick.

Let’s talk about the presentation – the actual interface of the phone. Many things are customizable. Say you have a screen like this:

With just a few drags of your finger, you can rearrange the icons to something like this:

Sure, that’s not the best choice of interface I could’ve made, but it illustrates my point: most of the icons and “favorites” can be heavily customized for location, enabling you to change the phone to suit your more-frequently-accessed functions. (This applies to the Dare’s “desktop” as well – the icons on the picture at the very start of this article are there because I chose what icons I wanted on my desktop, and I dragged them to that placement.)

Let’s talk about several specific functions:


On most of the screens involving video or text presentation, you can physically turn the phone, and the screen itself will rotate the image to match the phone’s orientation. So for example, when browsing a webpage:

Physically rotate the phone, and the screen contents will rotate – more text will be available on the page for you to read. If the screen is still sized too small for the page you’re viewing, you can drag your finger to scroll the screen up, down, left and right.

The LG Dare’s camera

The Dare comes with a great camera that’s packed with features. The camera itself is 3.2 megapixels (that’s 2048×1536 resolution), which is pushing the camera-phone quality into something pretty darn respectable.

That’s certainly good enough for web and email quality, even well-lit printed photos would look pretty good up to a 5×7 picture. While using the camera tool, there are plenty of built-in camera quality settings, like brightness controls, auto-focus, self-timer, and flash. …what? Those are too boring for you? Then get a load of these advanced camera features: face detection, multi-shot, panorama photos and auto or manual ISO settings. There are also “frames” you can put on a picture – fun scenes or captions or symbols that can appear on the picture as you take it, or placed on afterwards. There’s even a drawing program to allow you to manually edit photos – draw on them, crop them, and make other edits. I’m very impressed that these features are available, since many other cellphone cameras are usually low quality and tacked on as an afterthought.

The Dare can also take video as well as still-photos (at 640×480 resolution).

LG Dare comparison to iPhone and Treo

The LG Dare is immediately better than a Treo (my comparison unit was a Treo 755p), but it’s not the iPhone. The iPhone has a better touchscreen – the hardware for this interface is simply better on the (admittedly more expensive) iPhone. And the iPhone supports Exchange email synchronization, which makes it better for corporate email networks. The LG Dare doesn’t support Exchange email sync directly, but the Dare’s “Mobile Mail” does support email sync for Yahoo, AOL, Gmail and other POP/IMAP-enabled email accounts.

The phone is physically smaller than an iPhone, and lighter. It’s also thinner and flatter than a Treo. Here’s the Dare compared to a Treo 755p:

The Dare comes bundled with features anyone familiar with Verizon’s products would recognize. These include access to Verizon’s V CAST music store and VZ Navigator. There’s a player for MP3, WMA and AAC audio files, and a player for WMV, MP4, 3GP and 3G2 video files. It’s Bluetooth 2.1+ enabled, giving you connection options for a headset, hands-free car kits, dial-up networking and data tethering, stereo audio playback, printing, and contact / calendar / file transfers. You have voice command capability, as well as voice recording. For the geekier types, you have a contact list of up to 1000 contacts, you can upgrade the Dare’s firmware over the air, and you can speed-dial up to 996 entries. The display is a 260K Color TFT, and the resolution is 240×400. Usage time is up to 280 minutes, and standby time is up to 360 hours.


The LG Dare successfully bridges the gap between cellphone and smartphone. I expect that five years from now, all cellphones will be very similar to the Dare’s feature set. There will be little or no difference between a “smartphone” or “cellphone”. All phones will be packed with features already included in the Dare, including multimedia management, applications like GPS and onboard cameras, connectivity to the Internet, email, chat, podcasts and more. Is the Dare setting a trend? I’m not comfortable calling it a trend-setter, because many of its features do overlap with the iPhone, and the case design is similar. However, the Dare does stand on its own, and is not a clone of any other phone. It’s powerful. It’s unique enough with enough great features to make me want one myself. One of my litmus tests for the devices I review is a simple question; would I want one of these myself? My answer for the LG Dare: Yes.

The Dare is available for $199.99 with a new two-year customer agreement fromVerizonWireless.

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