The LG Intouch Max is a phone that bucks the current Android trend of the likes of the Google nexus one and Motorola Milestone by placing itself squarely at the budget end of the spectrum, while the Koreans are also hoping they’ve packed on enough tech to make this still a decent smartphone.
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The new phone features a number of interesting Android additions – the main one being the ability to choose between the ‘vanilla’ Android interface (like that seen on the HTC Magic) or a modified version of LG’s S-Class UI, seen on phones like the BL40 Chocolate. The proprietary UI allows user to scroll through four screens indefinitely, as well as grouping the menu by category of icons, rather than all of them in a big alphabetised jumble.
The build quality of the phone is good – it might be mostly plastic and rubber but it belies its price tag and has some nifty touch sensitive buttons at the bottom for easy navigation, as well as a whacking great menu button for when you need easier navigation.
LG has stated that its Intouch range is going to be more social networking focused, and that’s in evidence on the Intouch Max thanks to the ability to sync your Facebook, Twitter and Bebo friends onto a contact profile.
Sadly, you can’t actually message them right from the phone book, but you can still use it as an easy portal into the social networking site without having to fire up the main browser.
The Intouch Max features a resistive screen, which is a little harder to use under the finger than the silky smooth, gliding experience offered by the likes of the iPhone.
LG has clearly done this to keep costs down on the device, but the dinky 3.2-inch display isn’t the easiest to manoeuvre through at times, which is irksome on a phone with so many cool touchscreen features.
However, we’re thoroughly in love with the slide out keyboard LG has decided to put on this device – it’s just sublime. From the rounded, rubberised buttons to the smooth travel and decent space between each key, typing on the Intouch Max is a joy.
We’re sure some will find it a little plasticky to the touch, but it’s so much nicer to hold in the hand when trying to bash out a quick email rather than the Milestone, which has that unfortunate lip.
LG has told us explicitly that this is its attempt at bringing out a phone to a different market, but that doesn’t explain the reasons behind the firm thinking it’s a good idea to put an older version of Android on board, in the shape of 1.5.
Yes, it’s the same as the Hero and the Samsung Galaxy, but both of these are expected to get the snazzy 2.0 upgrade in the near future, making them much more hip and with the times. LG seems reticent to do the same, which means that users are stuck with a slower camera and an ugly looking Market app portal.
The Intouch Max does work very well under the touch though – the internet browser has been tweaked to offer more icons for easy navigation, with them living both at the bottom and the side of the screen in little pull-out tabs.
The camera – a 5MP effort with single LED flash – is also a very decent effort, and will even track and memorise different faces so you can add them to your albums or upload to Facebook with the minimum of fuss.
Video recording is also included on the Intouch Max, although this was a little lower quality than we’d been hoping for, with a little bit of choppiness in the end results – yes, you can upload to YouTube but only if your mate is doing something extremely funny – like throwing a bit of lime that’s been on the floor of a pub into another person’s glass from across the bar.
Call quality was a little lacking on the phone – we often found it a little hard to hear the person on the other end, and this meant a few too many ‘Hello? Can you hear me?’ instances when we were hoping to just to chat on and off when we wanted to. Despite all this, the battery held on pretty darn well, meaning that we often got away with recharging every other day, which is always a pleasing feature.
The overall feel of the Intouch Max is one of premium quality in a budget device – you might only be paying £20 a month for the phone, but it slides in and out with a pleasing snap and is well put-together (even surviving a few nasty impacts) – and we love the price tag. The keyboard is top notch too – if it weren’t for the slightly cheap-feeling resistive screen and the older version on Android, this would easily be a favourite for phone of the year, at least in the budget category.