Smartphones

LG DoublePlay: Gimmicky, but still some things to love

Jack Wallen reviews the T-Mobile LG DoublePlay. This is an average Android smartphone with some unique features at a great price.

When it comes to LG Android smartphones, I'm often left with the feeling that they try really hard but never quite make the mark. They want to be a good maker of Android phones, but they just haven't figured it out. Well, the T-Mobile LG DoublePlay is their closest attempt yet. This smartphone has a few good ideas, executes them mostly well, and could easily be someone's first Android handset.

Let's break it down and see just what I'm talking about.

Specs

  • Display: 3.5-inch (480 x 320) main display, 2-inch (320 x 240) secondary display
  • Keyboard: Four-row, slide out QWERTY keyboard
  • Processor: 1GHz single-core Snapdragon processor
  • RAM: 512MB
  • Storage: 2GB internal storage with 2GB provided via microSD (upgradable to 32GB)
  • Camera: 5MP rear camera with 720p video recording
  • Battery: 1500mAh battery
  • Platform: Android 2.3.4

These are fairly average specs, and at $99.00, you couldn't expect more. But looking through the list, you see one unique item -- the 2-inch secondary display. That tiny feature is what makes the DoublePlay stand out. What is it exactly?

Secondary display

As far as smartphone gimmicks are concerned, the DoublePlay's secondary display might be the closest to an actual useful feature I've come across. Here's the deal: The secondary display acts as a means to quickly interact with various items on the main display and has a few special apps that run, isolated on the 2-inch screen.

Sounds crazy, I know. An app running on a 2-inch screen? Before you mock it, you should try it. The apps (such as the Social+ media app) are designed specifically for the minuscule size and work quite well. Of course, you are limited to only using certain apps (regular apps will not run on the secondary display).

But that's not what makes the secondary screen really useful. There are other regular apps that take advantage of this extra display. The app that really shines is the browser. One of the things I've always hated about mobile browsing is the horribly executed bookmarks. Generally speaking, bookmarks are cumbersome at best on a smartphone.

The DoublePlay solves that problem. When you have the browser open, the bookmarks appear on the secondary display as thumbnails. Using your thumb, you flip through your bookmarks until the desired page is on the tiny screen. Now, with the press of a thumb, that bookmark will open in the browser on the main display. It works perfectly. This is the best bookmark system by far on any smartphone I've used.

Once you get beyond the secondary display, the LG DoublePlay begins to disappear in the heap of ever-growing, average smartphones.

  • Battery life: average
  • Performance: average
  • Display: average
  • Slide-out keyboard: average
  • LG Android overlay: average
  • Camera: average

Unique apps

There are some unique apps on the LG DoublePlay. I mentioned the Social+ app, but it also includes the Group Text and Cloud Text apps. I like the Group Text app, which allows you to create different groups and then text everyone in a group simultaneously. Cloud Text lets you to use either a PC or a tablet to send and receive text messages. While these apps aren't deal makers or breakers, they do certainly add to the unique factor for this phone.

Bottom line

If you're a T-Mobile users and you're looking for a smartphone with something unique, you might enjoy the LG DoublePlay. Folks who spend more time browsing the web on their smartphones than anything else will appreciate the outstanding bookmarks tool, and the price is certainly right. However, if you're looking for a better than average smartphone, you might consider purchasing a more powerful T-Mobile device, such as the Samsung Galaxy S II, MyTouch 4G Slide, Samsung Exhibit 4G, or the HTC Amaze 4G.

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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.

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