LG Cosmos 2 Review: No Data Plan Required
The Cosmos 2 is almost exactly the same as the original Cosmos, which is unfortunate, since the original was already behind the times. That makes this one practically from another generation. If you imagine it as somehow heavenly, you're in for a rude awakening: it's a simple and boring, phone. Still, it's adequate if you just want to make calls and send messages.
The Cosmos 2 has a sturdy matte plastic body and a textured battery cover, which makes it easy to grip, though at 0.6-inches thick, it's pretty bulky compared to rival devices. The original Cosmos slid to the left to show the keyboard, but here, you slide it to the right. It's not any more functional, but it's a difference. Really, LG should have tried to make it slimmer. It's not unmanageably bulky, but the girth makes it look obviously out-of-date.
The 2-inch display is petite -- it can't get any smaller. I expected to dislike such a small display, but it comes with a generous 320-by-240 pixel resolution and a sharp 200-ppi pixel density. Images and text are clear on the miniscule screen, and 262,000 colors are exceptionally bright for a feature phone. The display isn't suitable to watch movies or browse the Web, but for texting, I'm impressed by the clarity and vibrancy. I've seen larger screens with pixilation and viewing angle problems, but this little screen is just quietly solid. Below, a few navigation buttons are downsized from the original, which looks better yet keeps the ease of use.
One slide of the display and the hardware four-row keyboard appears. It looks small, like the display, but I actually found it easy to type on. The dome-shaped keys -- better than flat buttons -- are well-spaced and responsive. LG did a wonderful job on the layout and your fingers will fly over the keyboard. But I had a problem with the software. It's just slow from top to bottom, so texting takes a moment to process. Oh, if you press "send" twice, looks like it cancels the text -- but that's not the case. It actually double-sends the message.
The 1.3-megapixel camera, unfortunately, is awful -- but that's to be expected. It takes low-grade photos, and the sluggish shutter and lack of auto-focus and flash means you're sure to get dark and blurry shots.
The Cosmos 2 does have two major improvements: there's a 3.5-millimeter headphone jack and a music player, so you can jam out to some of your favorite tunes. Just load up a microSD card -- up to 32-gigabytes, sold separately -- with songs and pop it in. You'll have to pry open the battery cover to get to the slot, though. But the sound quality is robust for such a simple phone.
The interface, meanwhile, is as simple as it gets. You can choose from a few themes -- I liked "Surrealism," but it wasn't as weird as I'd hoped. You'll see preloaded apps for social networks, but don't get too excited. They're not apps; it's just shortcuts to the browser. Beware: you'll have to pay data charges to use Facebook and Twitter websites. You can get updates sent via text message, which is neat, but it's a far cry from an app.
Unfortunately, there's no 3G or Wi-Fi, so you're stuck on Verizon's ancient 1xRTT service. That means you'll have to wait an excruciating amount of time to browse the Web -- the data speeds are as slow as a tranquilized manatee. I know, if you're reading this, you aren't interested in more than calling and texting, but if you have any intention of using the Internet, it's frankly cheaper in the long run to buy a budget smartphone.
The only thing fast great about a basic phone is how long the battery lasts -- and you won't be disappointed. I got over six hours of talk time, nearly a week on standby. For a smartphone, anything more than a day is amazing. But since the display is small and 3G is missing, there aren't many features to sap power.
Overall, if all you want is a bare-bones device without a required data plan, you'll like the Cosmos 2. But if you don't need the Internet, I recommend simply sticking with the original Cosmos. It's basically the same phone. But since the Cosmos is older you can probably get a better deal -- not that the Cosmos 2 is that expensive. You'll probably get it for free too. ♦
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