written by: Robert Faustus•edited by: Simon Hill•updated: 5/23/2011
Released in May, 2010, the LG Ally was the first LG Android handset to hit the U.S. Featuring some lower end specs for entry level customers and a physical QWERTY keyboard, the LG Ally is a solid phone. But does it have what it takes to really break into the U.S. market?
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LG Ally Review
The LG Ally is an affordable and welcome addition to the Android heavy line up at Verizon. Released in May of 2010, the LG Ally is yet another venture by LG to target the lower end entry level customers. It also is one of the few entry level Android powered handsets to have a full physical slide out QWERTY keyboard. Not quite at the standard of the higher end Droid series of phones on Verizon, such as the Motoroid Droid X or the Droid 2 Global, but still a feature packed smartphone for both personal and corporate use. The LG Ally is a fantastic little smartphone brought into Verizon's fold.
LG Ally Specifications:
Dimensions: 4.56 x 2.22 x 0.62 inches (116 x 56 x 15.7 mm)
Weight: 5.57 oz (158 g)
Display: 3.2 inch LCD Color TFT capacitive touchscreen display, 480 x 800 pixels
Memory: 512 MB + Expandable microSD up to 16 GB
OS: Android OS 2.1
Processor: 600 MHz ARM11
Camera: 3.2 megapixel camera with flash LED
Connectivity: CDMA (850/1900 Mhz)
Data: 1xEV-DO rev.A
Bluetooth: Bluetooth 2.1
GPS: GPS with A-GPS
Battery: Li-Ion 1500 mAh
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Design and Display
The LG Ally has an extremely familiar design to other Android powered handsets. The curved corners and simple look are reminiscent of the AT&T Samsung Captivate, but there's a big difference, the LG Ally comes with a slide out physical QWERTY keyboard. The other big difference is that it's not aimed at the high level market. The LG Ally, like many other LG smartphones, is actually aimed at the entry level customers.
The front of the LG Ally is dominated by the 3.2 inch LCD capacitive touchscreen display with a resolution of 480 by 800 pixels. Below the display are the all too familiar Android shortcut buttons for back, home, menu and search, but interestingly enough there are 2 extra buttons for dialing and for ending calls. This is quite a stark contrast to the usual four button layout of most Android handsets. To the left is the volume rocker and charge port. Opposite, on the right side is the microSD slot and dedicated camera button for the LG Ally. Up top is where the 3.5 mm headphone jack resides.
Overall the design is very stylish with the black color and silver outlines. It doesn't look cheap or feel cheap, it actually feels fairly solid in the hand. For a phone that's $99 on a two year contract, the LG Ally feels solid.
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Hardware and Software
The LG Ally comes with a 600 MHz processor that runs Android 2.1 (Eclair). The 600 MHz processor actually performs very well, able to process applications and games with minimal lag. The LG Ally was even able to run live wallpapers and fairly intensive games on emulators. The Game Gripper came in handy when playing Street Fighter 2 on an emulator application for the LG Ally. It's surprising that an entry level Android powered handset faced such minimal lag.
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The LG Ally comes with the all too familiar Android touchscreen interface, with no custom UI in the way. The interface is the same as higher end Android handsets with stock Android such as the HTC G2. Multiple home screens which you can fill with application icons. Swipe left and right to swing through the screen on the responsive display. Due to it being a touchscreen phone, it's very easy to pick up and learn. If you don't fancy the virtual keyboard, you can always push the display to the side and pop out the slide out physical QWERTY keyboard.
The physical keyboard is extremely user friendly. Laid out in four rows, the LG Ally keyboard is roomy and the keys are a good size. In addition, the LG Ally keyboard has a dedicated number row across the top. The keys raise above the surface and have a very tactile feel to them. In addition, the LG Ally also had a directional keypad on the keyboard for use if you don't feel like using the touchscreen. Overall a very nice user interface.
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The LG Ally comes loaded with the standard set of Android applications. In addition, like other Android smartphones, the LG Ally has integration with Google products such as Google Maps, Google Search and Google Mail. It also can integrate with Exchange seamlessly for corporate users. The LG Ally also offers an LG specific application for social networking users called LG Socialite, which syncs your Twitter and Facebook contacts with your Google contacts. The LG Ally, of course, comes with the Android Market, allowing you to expand your applications and games over the air.
The LG Ally also comes with a 3.2 megapixel camera. The camera on the LG Ally is what you'd expect from an entry level phone. The pictures aren't crisp and they do have the 'camera phone' feel to them. It probably won't replace your digital camera, but it is adequate as a camera for emergency use or if you don't have a camera handy. The camera can also record video, not HD recording but once again, adequate if you don't have another camera handy.
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The Final Verdict
Overall, for a $99 smartphone, the LG Ally is a solid 'Good' ranking Android powered handset. Though not as powerful as other smartphones, the LG Ally doesn't need the impressive specs for their target audience. Android 2.1 runs fairly smoothly and the experience is about the same as that of a Samsung Epic 4G, except slightly slower. For entry level customers who don't want to spend too much money on a smartphone, the LG Ally is the perfect phone to pick up. For folks who do not want a physical QWERTY keyboard, Verizon also offers the LG Vortex which is similar to the LG Ally but without the physical keyboard.