Smartphones

LG Ally review: A budget-friendly Android smartphone

The LG Ally from Verizon Wireless is smaller and much less expensive than other Android devices, such as the Droid X and the HTC Incredible. So is it a viable option for an Android power user?

With the LG Ally, Verizon Wireless opted to go with an Android-based phone that is smaller and much less expensive than some of its other Android devices, such as the Droid X and the HTC Incredible. So the big question is: Does the Android OS suffer in this smaller package? Let's take a look and see.

Specifications

  • Carrier: Verizon Wireless
  • OS: Android 2.1
  • Dimensions: 4.56(h) x 2.22(w) x 0.62(d) inches
  • Weight: 5.57 ounces
  • Display: 3.2" touch screen at 800x400 pixels and 262K color
  • Keyboard: Slide out QWERTY
  • Networks: 800/1900 MHz CDMA, EVDO Rev A
  • CPU: 600 MHz MSM7627 chipset
  • Storage: 4 GB microSD
  • ROM/RAM: 512 MB ROM, 256 MB RAM
  • Battery life: 450 OR battery life/500 hours standby
  • Camera: 3.2 Megapixel camera with autofocus and flash (with a 3.5mm headset jack)
  • GPS: S-GPS and aGPS
  • Cost: $49.99 with a new 2-year contract
  • Photos of the LG Ally

Who is the target market?

The LG Ally is a phone for anyone who wants to experience the Android OS but cannot afford the pricier and more powerful smartphones. Being budget conscious, however, does come with a price -- and by price I mean the frustration of dealing with underpowered hardware trying to push the Android OS.

Standout features

  • Slide out QWERTY keyboard
  • Push Gmail/Exchange and Google Calendar
  • Bilingual interface (English and Spanish)
  • S-GPS and aGPS

What I like

Hardware: The LG Ally's hardware is a great size and shape, making it easy to handle and transport, although it is a bit on the heavy side for such a small device. The handset, especially the QWERTY keyboard, feels like it's built to last; with that in mind, the LG Ally might be ideal for someone who can be a bit rough on their phone. The keyboard keys have outstanding space for even medium size fingers (sausage fingers need not apply). Android OS: The LG Ally ships with a rock solid build of Android. When you combine the OS with the speed of the Verizon network, the combination can trick the user into thinking they are working with a more powerful system.

What I don't like

Lack of power: I spent about a year with an underpowered Android phone (HTC Hero from Sprint), and it was a nightmare -- simply placing a call was frustrating event due to the lack of horsepower. Push the dial button and maybe 30 seconds later the call would be placed. With smartphones shooting for big and beefy, it was an odd tact going smaller and less powerful. I understand wanting to appeal to consumers who cannot afford the big guns of the Android market, but a 600 Mhz processor running recent builds of the OS is sure to lead to agitated users.

Bottom line

It all boils down to this: If you don't want to drop the cash for the more powerful Android offerings, or you tend to be fairly rough on your phones, then go ahead and pull the trigger on the LG Ally. If, however, you can afford to go big with the Droid X or the HTC Incredible, you should go that route. And don't even bother looking at the LG Ally if you get frustrated waiting or prefer to have the most powerful toy on the block.

User rating and recommendation

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

7 comments
crucheau
crucheau

Since it doesn't come with a Sim card, how can I use it with another company that uses Sim card? Thank you

JackOfAllTech
JackOfAllTech

I've had one for about a month now and I really like it. Yes, it has a few little negatives but, since this is my first smartphone, I don't mind. I haven't noticed any problems with the speed except when turning it on - it takes longer to boot than my desktop PC. Once the warranty is over I'm going to root it and make it JUMP! As an aside, I've already written my first Android program (JAVA??? Oh well.)

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

It's not the one-time cost of the hardware that keeps me from getting a smart phone. It's the ongoing monthly service charges. Until those come down some more, I'll remain on the sidelines.

Justin James
Justin James

"The LG Ally ships with a rock solid build of Android." Both of the people I know with an LG Ally complain about it being buggy. I can confirm from using other phones that Android is buggy. J.Ja

HAL 9000
HAL 9000

This thread is about 2 years old and is very unlikely to be seen by many. Col

jeb.hoge
jeb.hoge

I got mine about a month after release, in June, and it's been just right for my needs. The phones with bigger screens are too big to easily slip in a pocket and I use mine for multi-mode communications, music, nav, and a few games. The screen is great and made with Gorilla Glass (high impact & scratch resistance), and having a physical keyboard makes the transition to Android easier, IMO. It has its fiddly moments but overall usability is consistently good.

yattwood
yattwood

For many a year, I had a POCP (Plain Old Cell Phone) - it couldn't connect to NORAD, do differential calculus or even tell me where the nearest Large Coffee Chain Store was...being that I had a package deal with Verizon for landline, DSL, wireless and DirecTV, I wanted to stay with Verizon, which eliminated the iPhone (for now) I strolled into my local Verizon Store, checked out the Droid X, but the screams emanating from my wallet caused me to put it down; a salesperson guided me to the Ally, which seemed to have all the features I wanted and was reasonably priced...with peripherals (hard-shell case, etc) and contract - it was about $250 I do like the change from my POCP, but I have to say, having a CrackBerry supplied by my employer for email (I did not opt for a voice plan, because I didn't want to get into "personal vs. business" calls drama [being on-call, however, 80% of the calls on my phone are business-related]) - I prefer the CrackBerry's keyboard to that of the Ally - the Ally keyboard, touted as one of its best features is heavy, doesn't do capitals easily like the CrackBerry, some of the keys are awkwardly placed, to me. I can also type _much_ faster on the CrackBerry than the Ally. Still, it's not bad for A Poor Woman's Droid...

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