LG Incite

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INTRODUCTION

    LG brings us the Incite as their first smartphone for the US, which happens to be a mid-level Windows Mobile device. Sporting a sleek mirror-like reflective design, the Incite is the only Windows Mobile phone to sport a proximity sensor, like the iPhone. Does this deserve consideration as your next phone? Read on for our thorough review!

WHAT’S HOT

    Let’s talk specs. The LG Incite sports a Qualcomm MSM7201A processor running at 528MHz. It has 256MB ROM (95MB accessible), 128MB RAM (78MB accessible), and has a microSD/HC expansion slot for added memory. The screen is 3.0" and is WQVGA 240×400 resolution, making for a pixel density of 155ppi (the Touch Diamond’s screen is 285ppi and the Apple iPhone’s screen is 164ppi). It’s a quadband GSM (850/900/1800/1900) phone with triband UMTS (850/1900/2100) with HSDPA. It also has assisted GPS, WiFi b & g, Bluetooth 2.0 + EDR, USB 2.0, FM radio, and an accelerometer for screen rotations. It also is the first Windows Mobile device to include a proximity sensor, which will turn off the screen of the phone when you are on a call and have the phone held up to your face. The Incite uses microUSB for syncing and charging, and has a 3.5mm jack for audio. The rear camera is 3.0MP with auto focus and no flash. Powering all of this is a 1300mAh battery. For even more specs, check out PDAdb.net.

(all images link to larger versions)

In hand, the LG Incite feels quite nice. It makes good use of rounded edges and smooth materials.

As we’ll see later, the landscape keyboard of the Incite is very easy to use.

Device
Size (inches)
Weight (grams | ounces)
4.44" x 2.47" x 0.52"

132 | 4.65
4.44" x 2.27" x 0.63"

156 | 5.61
4.74" x 2.63" x 0.43"

157 | 5.53
4.33" x 2.09" x 0.59"

117 | 4.12
4.66" x 2.48" x 0.47"

130 | 4.58
4.56" x 2.33" x 0.67"

188 | 6.63
4.64" x 2.36" x 0.48"

129 | 4.55
3.96" x 2.34" x 0.67"

133 | 4.76
4.68" x 2.44" x 0.67"

188 | 6.63
4.58" x 2.42" x 0.47"

120 | 4.20
4.56" x 2.33" x 0.65"

178 | 6.28
3.92" x 2.41" x 0.60"

137 | 4.83
4.24" x 2.09" x 0.53"

117 | 4.12
4.17" x 2.00" x 0.85"

151 | 5.34
4.41" x 2.24" x 0.49"

122 | 4.30
4.57" x 1.70" x 0.64"

140 | 4.94
4.88" x 2.44" x 0.53"

130 | 4.56
4.21" x 2.20" x 0.55"

120 | 4.20
4.53" x 2.47" x 0.47"

146 | 5.15
4.63" x 2.19" x 0.67"

158 | 5.57
4.35" x 2.07" x 0.67"

158 | 5.57
4.56" x 2.41" x 0.51"

125 | 4.41
4.44" x 2.36" x 0.55"

133 | 4.69
4.01" x 1.98" x 0.55"

124 | 4.37
8.28" x 4.67" x 1.08"

640 | 22.5
4.48" x 2.52" x 0.59"

154 | 5.43
4.17" x 2.38" x 0.68"

147 | 5.18
4.01" x 2.00" x 0.71"

165 | 5.82
4.41" x 2.24" x 0.49"

122 | 4.30
4.41" x 2.28" x 0.73"

140 | 4.94
4.01" x 2.00" x 0.45"

110 | 3.88
4.56" x 2.36" x 0.70"
200 | 7.05
4.30" x 2.40" x 0.60"
120 | 4.23
4.20" x 2.30" x 0.60"
136 | 4.79
3.70" x 2.30" x 0.60"
126 | 4.44
4.48" x 2.39" x 0.51"
116 | 4.09
4.60" x 2.60" x 0.50"

134 | 4.70

4.10" x 2.10" x 0.60"
150 | 5.30
4.40" x 2.32" x 0.75"
190 | 6.70

WHAT’S IN THE BOX



Here is the unboxing video for the LG Incite.

This is the box for the LG Incite.

Here is what comes in the box. You get the device and battery, an external stylus, travel charger, sync cable, plus software and reading materials. Not included is case or screen protector.

THE DEVICE

The LG Incite is covered almost entirely in a reflective coating. It’s like one big mirror. Actually, it looks similar to the LG Shine.

The first thing you notice when turning on the screen is how small it looks relative to the front of the device. This gives the device a low-end feel. And, as we’ll find out later, the screen quality on the Incite isn’t as good as other similar devices.

    Closer in on the front we see the two dots for the proximity sensor which will automatically shut off the screen during a call when the phone is pressed against your face, much like the iPhone. To the right of that is the speaker, and to the right of that is a tiny LED indicator light.

    Going down to the bottom, we see that the Incite joins the ranks of Windows Mobile phones like the Touch HD that lacks a D-Pad. Here we have just a Call Start and End key, plus a mic in the center. The Call End key doubles as the Power button. And, what you can’t see is the light sensor, which is a few millimeters above the Call End key.

Flipping over to the left side, we can appreciate the flush touchscreen. On the left, under a plastic flap, we have microUSB for syncing and charging, a volume rocker, and a nicely-placed soft reset hole.

On the bottom of the device, there is nothing.

    On the other side of the device, we have a dual action camera button (press lightly to focus, and all the way to take the picture), next to a standby/lock button. To the right of that is the external microSD slot, and to the right of that, we have a springy scroller, which helps to mitigate the loss of functionality caused by the D-Pad omission.

On the top of the device we have a 3.5mm headphone jack. Nice.

    And the Incite has no stylus built in, just like the Samsung Omnia. So, if you want to use the annoying external stylus by attaching it to the lanyard hook of your phone, this is what it looks like. I decided to roll without the stylus and rely on finger input – but sadly, the Incite isn’t completely optimized to be finger-friendly. We’ll talk more about this soon.

Flipping over to the back, we see another highly reflective surface, with a 3.0MP camera on the top.

    I took this close up so you can get an idea for the level of build quality on the Incite, which is low. Look at the camera lens and how it’s slightly tilted in the recessed area. Also, what you can’t see from this view but is present are some bubbles in the paint.

Taking off the back cover reveals the 1300mAh battery and SIM card slot.

And at night, this is what the Incite looks like – the Start Call and End keys glow white.



Here’s a short hardware tour video of the LG Incite.

COMPARISONS

From left to right, we have the Verizon HTC Touch, the Samsung Omnia, LG Incite, HTC Touch HD, and Apple iPhone.

Here they are in reverse order, stacked.

And here is a profile shot.

    The Omnia and Incite are very similar – they are both slab-like devices with no keyboard, both have no inbuilt stylus, and both have a WQVGA screen (which is a pretty rare resolution for Windows Mobile). As we can see here, the screen on the Omnia is not only bigger by .3" than the Incite, but it is brighter too with more vivid colors. Both devices are on max brightness.

Click onto the next page where we’ll talk about software on the LG Incite.

    I really like what LG has done with the Incite’s Today screen. It’s very simple, but shows you a lot in one glance and gives you a lot of shortcuts. First, we have time and date on the top. Then, we have a weather icon with current temperature. Below that is the standard Windows Mobile Today screen, which you can customize as usual – right now I have wireless status, messaging status, next appointment, and missed call status turned on.

And what’s great is that you can quickly hide all of the Today screen entries if it’s a weekend and you don’t care about email or missed call status. Along the bottom we have a row of icons that we will cover.

    Because the Incite has an accelerometer, you can flip over the device and have the screen rotate anywhere in the operating system. Screen rotations were pretty fast, but sometimes not accurate (too sensitive, or not sensitive enough).

If we tap on the weather icon, this is the screen we get.

And we can quickly get a forecast.

Clicking on the Star icon along the icon bar on the bottom of the Today screen, we can customize a favorite program menu.

If we tap on the last icon on the Today screen, we get a secondary launcher.

The launcher is categorized by Phone…

…then Media (note the FM radio application which is only accessible from this screen and not Programs)…

…and here is what it looks like. The FM Radio application is super simple.

…Productivity…

…and Settings.

Ok, so this is what the Start menu looks like. Unfortunately, the items aren’t big enough to be finger-friendly, and that is the case in most sub menus on the Incite.

Here we are in the first pane of the Start menu…which shows a lot of icons thanks to the tall screen.

And here is the second pane.

If we go into Apps, we see some Java-based trialware.

And if we go into Games, we see some more Java-based trialware.

    If we go into AT&T Music, we see yet some more Java-based trialware, although two of these are interesting. First, we have MusicID which will listen to a song that you play for it, and tell you the artist and name of song. For more on that, check out this video.

    And then we have the Pandora application, which is a first for Windows Mobile. If you don’t know what Pandora is, or if you want to see more about it, check out our recent post that demonstrates Pandora on the Incite.

Just like the desktop version of Pandora, you can vote up or down songs, bookmark them, and create new stations. Sadly, Pandora costs $8/month to use after the measly 1-day trial.

The Incite has a full suite of IM clients.

If we go into Tools, we get some interesting apps. A simple GPS utility, a Remote Desktop program, full version of Sprite Backup, a Camera app (which we’ll talk about on the next page), and a ZIP program.

The Incite has a basic stopwatch included.

And the browser. The Incite uses NetFront which is made by Access. I much rather they use a browser like Opera Mobile 9.5, because in using NetFront on the Incite, my web experience was horrible.

You can’t double-tap to zoom in and it’s difficult to see an overview of the page. You do get a nice guide on the right side that shows your progress in the overall page.

NetFront didn’t always render pages properly.

It’s easy to get lost in the plethora of menus in NetFront.

Included on the Incite is the full suite of Office Mobile 2007 apps.

Ok, let’s talk about input. On the Incite, you get two keyboards. The first is this SureType-style keyboard.

If we press the up arrow next to the keyboard selector, we see the other keyboard types. Strangely, usual Windows Mobile input options like Symbol Recognizer have been stripped out.

What you see here is called LGJavaKey which gives you an on-screen D-Pad. I much rather use the side scroll wheel then call this up, which takes too many screen taps.

    And if you flip over the device to landscape, you will get this HUGE onscreen keyboard, which is a real joy to type on. One of the big problems is that it takes up so much screen space. But, if you press the gray arrow on the bottom right…

    …the bottom bar will disappear. This is a bit better. But, if you’re in a text message or email, you have to re-press the gray arrow to reshow the bottom bar and have access to the Send button. Using this keyboard adds extra steps to entering in data.

PHONE

    You can enter the phone application in many ways: by pressing the phone icon on the Today screen, by going into the Start menu, or by hitting the Call Start button. When you enter the phone app, you are presented with a very large dialing pad.

When you are on a call, this is what it looks like.

And when a call comes through, you get the standard Windows Mobile call notifier, which will show a little picture if you have an image assigned to the person that is calling.

This is what call history looks like.

Click on to the next page as we cover Settings and talk about photo quality on LG Incite.

Ok, let’s take a look at Settings. In this panel, we’ll cover Buttons, Clock Style & Weather, Gesture, Phone and something in Sounds & Notifications. Notice that the Incite comes with MS Voice Command, which is great.

We only have two programmable hardware keys.

We can adjust the style of clock for the Today screen.

Or, we can choose to have two clocks instead of one. Good for if you’re traveling.

If we go over to the Weather tab, we can specify details on the weather application in the Today screen.

Gesture is flick scrolling, and you can adjust the sensitivity. I’d recommend leaving it on the default setting out the box, because changing the setting made the flick scrolling act strangely.

Here we can choose from a variety of color schemes.

And there are many items for the Today screen we can check off. The clock item, called LGDateTime, and the icon item, cannot be moved up or down.

Here we can specify the duration of vibrations when you tap the screen.

You can set the dialpad in the phone application to make various sounds. I left it on voice…so that when you press 2, it says "two.."

Here is the System part of the Settings. We will cover the Backlight, LG X Button, Memory, Sensor, and Video Share.

Even at max brightness, as you saw in page 2, the screen on the Incite isn’t as bright as the Omnia.

You can have the X button close the application rather than hibernate it and keep it in program memory. You should keep this on, because the Incite doesn’t have much program memory to begin with.

Speaking of memory, this is what we’re working with – just 78MB of user-accessible program RAM. This definitely impacts performance negatively, and affects the extent to which you can multitask.

In the Sensor item, you can turn on an off the three sensors. Unfortunately, you can’t adjust the sensitivity and behavior of the accelerometer or proximity sensor.

This device includes Video Share, which is AT&T’s one-way live video streaming service. It’s an extra fee to use.

And finally, here we are in the Connections tab.

This is what the Communications manager looks like.



This video shows some software features that I’ve written about so far in this review.

CAMERA

    My screen capture program wouldn’t render the camera application, so I’m not able to show you that. But anyway, the camera application performs well, and is finger friendly. You can take photos up to 3.0MP resolution, and video capture can be done up to 400×240 resolution. The camera app lets you do things like make a panorama, shoot a continuous shot, or shoot with a picture frame.

Here is a shot of a close up bright red flower. If you click on the image for the original, you’ll see that the flower really isn’t in focus.

Without a flash, low-light pictures come out noisy.

And here is an outdoor shot of a snow scene – the LG Incite had trouble with this and gave an ugly gray haze over the entire scene.

Click on to the next page as we wrap up the review with a note on performance, battery life, and talk about all the Pros and Cons of the LG Incite.

BENCHMARKS

   Spb Benchmark from has been used for the
following benchmark comparisons with LG Incite.

In terms of performance, the Incite is lacking compared to other Windows Mobile devices. This is probably because of a deficiency of RAM, or poor software optimization. Moving from screen to screen is generally snappy, but there is often some lag.

BATTERY
    The battery on the LG Incite is a solid 1300mAh, and performance is pretty good. For the heavy user with a lot of calls, internet browsing and GPS use, expect to last 1 days. For moderate users, expect to last 1.5-2 days, and for light use, expect to go about 3 days before needing a charge.

BUGS AND WISHES

    In terms of bugs, the Incite was generally stable. As I mentioned above, the Incite isn’t the best performing device, probably because a lack of RAM.

    I have a lot of issues with this device. Let’s begin by the hardware design. While I like the trend from manufacturers for there to be fewer buttons and cleaner designs, this shouldn’t be an excuse to remove the D-Pad, especially on a Windows Mobile device, which necessitates the inclusion of a D-Pad. The Incite is just not finger friendly enough for there to be no D-Pad, although the scroll wheel does help in some situations when you want to move up and down.

    Build quality on the LG Incite is low. If you look closely at my Incite, which I’ve had for just a few days, you can see places where the silver metallic paint has tiny bubbles. I’d imagine that in short time, some paint would start to chip off. Also, all of the buttons on the device feel cheaply placed, like they could be picked off. There’s even some "creaking" that goes on if you press on the bottom of the device.

    The camera on the Incite is pretty bad – the colors aren’t vivid, the focus doesn’t work that well, and the lack of flash can mean lots of noise for those indoor shots.

    The included browser on the Incite, NetFront, is horrible. After a lot of time of trying to get the hang of it, I’ve decided that prospective Incite users are much better off downloading Opera Mobile 9.5 beta. It works generally well on the Incite – but I found myself having to press harder than usual to tap and drag the page around.

    The screen of the Incite, compared to a device like the Omnia, seems to have a milky white tint on it, causing colors to be dull, and brightness to be limited. Also, I wish LG would have made the screen slightly bigger to fill out more of the front of the device.

    And while we talk about the screen – I wish I could adjust the sensitivity of the automatic screen rotation. There were times when the screen would rotate too easily (like when I’d be walking up steps and thus moving the phone around a bit) or when it wouldn’t rotate easily enough.

    I’m not sure why Samsung and LG decided to not include a built-in stylus. Most Windows Mobile screens aren’t sensitive enough yet to where you can operate everything with a finger, the Incite included. There are times when a stylus is just indispensable. If you want to use the stylus for the Incite, you have to carry around the "stylus extremity" shown on the first page of this review. I can’t think of anyone that would want a stylus hanging from their phone like a piece of ugly jewelry.

    And finally – on software, the Incite has a ton of Java-based trialware, much like the Epix on AT&T. The included Pandora application is great, but it has an $8 per month subscription fee associated with it. The iPhone’s version is free – why shouldn’t the LG Incite version?

PURCHASING

    The LG Incite can be purchased from AT&T with a new two year contract for $199.99. If you buy it with no commitment, it will run you $499.99.




PROS

  • Sleek design
  • Great Today screen experience
  • Has a proximity sensor
  • Solid battery life
  • Automatic screen rotation everywhere
  • Capacious landscape keyboard
  • Lightweight
  • Includes a 3.5mm audio jack
  • WiFi/aGPS/HSDPA/FM Radio

CONS

  • Performance is lacking
  • Lacks D-Pad and enough programmable buttons
  • Poor build quality
  • Poor camera
  • Included NetFront browser is weak
  • Automatic screen rotation can be imprecise
  • Low amount of RAM
  • Mediocre screen brightness and color depth
  • Has no inbuilt stylus
  • Parts of the OS are not finger-friendly (small menus)
  • Pandora application costs $8/month
  • Includes a lot of java-based trialware
Value
Ease
of Use
Features

Overall

What
do these ratings mean
?

OVERALL IMPRESSION

    The Incite packs some great features found only in high-end smartphones, but unfortunately, the device is saddled with so many usability and quality problems that it’s hard to get excited about it. Using the Incite has made me miss the refinement that is found on HTC and Samsung Windows Mobile devices. If you’re on the AT&T network and have an extra $100 to spend, get the Fuze – you’ll be a lot happier.

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About The Author
Brandon Miniman
Brandon is a graduate from the Villanova School of Business, located near Philadelphia, PA. He's been a technology writer since 2002, and, in 2005, became Editor-in-Chief of Pocketnow, a then Windows Mobile-focused website. He has since helped to transition Pocketnow into a top-tier smartphone and tablet publication. He's so obsessed with technology that he once entered a candle store and asked if they had a "new electronics" scent. They didn't.