It wasn’t that long ago when I reviewed my last LG handset, and now I’m back again with the brand spanking new LG F2400! This entry level handset brings something else to the market for first time mobile phone buyers, a feature that most entry-level handset manufacturers like to leave out. But, the time has come for Bluetooth to make its move into the cheaper and less advanced handsets – and the LG F2400 is one such handset.
Other than the obvious implantation of Bluetooth, the F2400 also has dual colour displays, a digital camera and many other fun features.
Note: The F2400 is not currently out on the Australian market yet, should be released within the next two weeks – so don’t go looking for it just yet! ;)
The F2400 is the upgraded version of the F2300 handset. The major difference between the two models is the incorporation of Bluetooth Wireless Technology in the F2400. Other than that there are only some minor upgrades which aren’t really worth mentioning. They still share the same display types, a 65,536 colour internal LCD and same quality external LCD.
The F2400 has everything the entry level user will need. By entry-level I mean those who have never had a mobile phone before, like a grandparent, or a teenager. Although the latter would probably want the latest and greatest whereas grandma doesn’t really mind ;) Entry level handsets are usually cheaper than most others but are slowly becoming more advanced in terms of features without blowing the budget. The F2400 is a prime example of this.
Java gaming, PIM applications, SMS/EMS and MMS messaging capabilities, and polyphonic ring tones are just some of the great features on the LG F2400.
The F2400 has the same physical design as the previous F2300 model. The handset measures a total of 88 x 46 x 24mm and weighs only 91 grams. It’s perfect for your pocket, bag, whatever. The front of the handset has the 96 x 96 pixel OLED LCD display, and the VGA digital camera lens below it. Around the camera lens is a clear section which is the LED lights for night time picture capture.
On opening the F2400 the 128 x 160 pixel display springs into action. It occupies most of the top flip section, except for the earpiece holes towards the top of the flip. The bottom flip has the full numerical keypad and soft/special function keys. The keys can be used in any lighting situation with a blue backlight. The keys are sunken into the handset and are very large, easy for those with less-than-perfect eyesight to use. They’re perfect for messaging.
The battery of the F2400 is behind the back cover of the handset, which is removed by pressing the button towards the top and pushing the rest down. As I’ll mention later in the article, the battery is very hard to remove. Once out, you can get to the SIM card reader which is easy to remove and insert.
The external buttons on the F2400 are as follows: two volume keys on the left hand side, and one camera “shot” key on the right hand side.
User Interface & display
The LG F2400 is brought to life with two displays, all thanks to the clamshell form factor. The external LCD is capable of 65,536 colours within a 96 x 96 pixel display. The internal LCD is reasonably larger at 128 x 160 pixels, but still sits at only 65,536 colours. The external LCD is mainly for checking out the vital information about the handset and also showing off a picture of your choice – be it your boy/girlfriend, you’re favourite pet, whatever you wish! The clock, date, battery and reception levels are shown super imposed on top of your selected image. The internal LCD also has the capability of a user defined wallpaper, which will once again be super imposed with many vital details about the state of the phone.
The user interface can be modified further with 4 different “schemes”. The default is the “clean” scheme, which is a combination of greens and blues. The next is “clear”, mainly composed of pinks, “paper” which is brown, and “metallic”, which oddly enough is purple. They do not change the user interface as far as say, a Sony Ericsson handset would, but they are still very effective at changing the handset from an LG handset to your handset.
Overall, I found the user interface very easy to use, although perhaps a little out-dated in some elements. The images used in the main menu deserve an update from those used in most of the other colour-screen models from LG for a start. I didn’t experience any problems with the interface at all, and it was considerably fast, more-so than I expected.
The F2400 uses a five-way navigational pad for most dealings with the user interface, but there are also two soft keys and two other “special” keys underneath the soft keys. These keys are the organizer (left) and downloads (right) keys. Like these keys, the 5-way navigational pad can also be used for shortcuts when the handset is idle, left will open the profile list, right will open messages, down will open the contacts, and up will open your list of favourites. 9 different functions can be defined to the favourite options.
The main menu can be launched from the idle display by pressing the corresponding soft key or pressing the “okay” key in the centre of the 5-way navigational key. If you don’t like using the 5-way navigational key you can also use the numerical keys to browse about the menu. Each item on screen has a specific digit (usually from 1-9) on the left hand side of the text label, which can be pressed on the numerical keypad and opened immediately. Many manufacturers have taken this little feature on board, but LG seem to be the pioneer. The main menu has 9 icons in a 3x3 format. The running order (left-right, top to bottom) is Profiles, Call Register, Tools, Contacts, Messaging (selected when opening the main menu), Camera, Settings, WAP Browser, and Downloads. The main menu can be launched from the idle display by pressing the corresponding soft key or pressing the “okay” key in the centre of the 5-way navigational key.
Some extra features that can be mentioned here is the detailed Memory Monitor application, and also the World Time application which slides in with some of the many other PIM applications on the F2400. I wasn’t very happy when I tried to find my time zone however, (GMT +8, Perth) the application doesn’t browse to Perth! Luckily several other major centres are in the same time zone, so I could just use Singapore.
Making and receiving calls
The F2400 has wired headset, Bluetooth headset, and the standard earpiece for making and receiving calls. There is no speakerphone support unfortunately, but the sales pack does come with a wired headset. If you’re serious about hands free conversations I’d consider getting a Bluetooth headset, as they’re only getting cheaper and are much easier to use and not forgetting that they don’t have any wires!
The F2400 has two volume keys on the left hand side of the handset. You can change the volume at any time during a call or when the handset is idle. These are the same keys that are used to move around the menus on the mini-LCD when capturing images, as will be explained in the Camera Performance section.
A photo-phonebook comes standard with the F2400. Up to 200 contacts can be stored with 5 different entry fields. A small photo can be captured with the VGA digital camera for each contact. Each contact can have a defined user group and icon. The icon is displayed on screen next to the name during a call with a particular contact. Some of the icons are cartoon animal and people faces. There are a total of 7 user groups, and a different ring tone can be defined for each user group.
The quality of audio on the F2400 was fine, I didn’t have any problems except for the fact that the volume keys may be hard to press when holding the handset to your ear, as they’re reasonably far embedded into the handset.
The LG F2400 supports SMS/EMS, and MMS messaging formats. There is no native e-mail support but that isn’t to say you could download a Java application for this functionality. The handset comes with T9 predictive text support with several languages and as always the ability to add words to the dictionary is supported. There are 6 editable templates which you can leave as default or modify to your own personal templates.
With EMS the F2400 allows you to attach small melodies, pictures, and formatted text to a normal SMS message, giving it that little bit extra. It’s sort of like the old-fashioned MMS. EMS messages can only be sent to EMS capable handsets; else they will not show up properly on the receivers end. SMS messages longer than 160 characters can be composed on the handset and then sent in 160 character blocks.
The MMS capabilities of the F2400 are more than enough for the entry-level user. The handset even supports multiple page MMS messages, allowing you to add more than one picture or sound clip, given that it does not go over the maximum allowed size for a single MMS message. With the integrated VGA digital camera you can capture images personally for each message.
In terms of memory usage, the F2400 will first fill up the dedicated message memory on the SIM card and then when this is full it will start filling up the internal memory’s space. This is a great idea from LG considering the internal memory is only 4MB, so the more messages on the SIM the more space for other things!
The F2400 comes with a serial data-cable, to which I actually laughed at when pulling it out of the box. Why serial!? Surely USB is much easier to use. That said, most users should have a serial port on their computer (although more and more motherboards aren’t including these ports as a very old method of connectivity) to connect the phone to. The box also comes with PC Sync software to be used when you finally get the serial port and handset working. I couldn’t get it to work on my computer, mainly because my motherboard is quite new and doesn’t have on-board serial ports.
The handset also has what many entry-level handsets don’t have – wireless connectivity in the form of Bluetooth! There’s no infrared but Bluetooth makes up for this. A highly disappointing point about the Bluetooth capabilities on the F2400 is the inability to send files via Bluetooth (pictures, sounds, etc). You can only send contact cards (press the options key and scroll to “Send via Bluetooth”) to another handset via Bluetooth. If your Bluetooth adapter has COM port emulation, you may be able to connect to a PC via Bluetooth and use the software supplied by LG – I was unable to test this however.
You can connect a wireless headset with Bluetooth, that’s not a problem.
GPRS Class 10 is the over-the-air protocol user on the F2400 and every other handset his day and age. GPRS Class 10 can connect at around 48kbp/s maximum for fast data transfer – sending MMS messages, downloading tones and Java applications and downloading the latest news headlines!
The F2400’s battery is very hard to remove – most of the time I had to use the end of a pen to get it out. The back cover comes off easily by pressing the button ¼ of the way down on the back and sliding the other ¾ downwards. There are two little slots where I imagine your fingernail should go to flick out the battery – but unfortunately my fingers aren’t that of a fairy so I couldn’t get my finger in there (the slots are tiny!). If you put the end of a pen in there and lever the battery out it should come out relatively easy.
You may have noticed in some pictures of the F2400 a small white window next to the interface port at the bottom of the handset. At first when I held the F2400 I thought this was infrared but the handset doesn’t support infrared connectivity. I only figured out what it was when I charged the handset for the first time. There are several coloured LED’s underneath the window to indicate the level of charging. When charging the LED is red, and when fully charged it will shine bright green. This is the only time I saw the LED being used; it would have been cool if it lit up when you had a message or when the handset rings.
The battery on the F2400 is a lithium ion @ 1000mAh with up to 3 hours of talk time and 200 hours of standby time. This is quite reasonable but a longer talk time would have been nice.