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New LG Banter...:)

I upgraded my Canadian Koodo Mobile-based cell phone this weekend.

Or perhaps that should be "side-graded". 

You see, I had a perfectly serviceable Titanium Silver LG Shine phone, no less, which had all of the requisite bells and whistles, such as a 2MP camera, Bluetooth, decent audio and video playback, plus video record features.

Here's the thing, though, the battery on my Shine, SUCKED BIG TIME.  The first battery pretty much bit the dust within 2 months, forcing me to see if I could just replace it outright.  $60 later, the memory got screwed up on it, and it has done a pretty sucky job of retaining a charge ever since, forcing me to plug the damned thing into my car charger on a nearly constant basis and to ensure that I pre-charge it before leaving the house almost every day.

Since about November of last year, I've been waiting for Koodo to adopt some new phones, ANY new phone that was reason enough for me to switch.

Despite not being wild about it at first, I've kind of gotten used to the LG's foibles.  I've had pretty much nothing but Nokia phones before then, but my last Nokia cost me so much and died so quickly (<2 years) that I've gotten somewhat jaded about them.

Also, with Koodo giving me much better value and unlimited texting and long distance for flat rates, it was time to say bye to Rogers, who'd been soaking me big time for the past nearly 5 years.

So here we are with the Banter, which is essentially an upgraded version of the LG Rumour.

The thing I noticed first about it was the Slide out keyboard for texting.  I wasn't too taken with similar phones, such as the Samsung Slyde and Motorola's Rival A455, which, while interesting, had pretty tightly spaced keys that had no tactility to them.  I couldn't really see myself taking advantage to something that hadn't really been through a few runs of any kind of design process.

The Banter not only puts some space between those keys, the entire keyboard lights up when you switch over.  Even better, the screen display tilts on its side automagically, allowing you to take advantage of some pretty awesome T9 text-predictability capabilities, including adding words to the dictionary so you can train the sucker.

How about direct symbols and function keys without having to worry about switching text modes?  Nice.

Even nicer are the extras, like being able to preview what your text will look like.

Koodo has taken about a year getting the Banter ready for Canada.  It's been in the US since about April at both AllTell and US Cellular, and I've read numerous LG forum complains about bad batches and the fact that there is no video capability on the phone.

I can say that I have NO problem with the lack of the video.  If anyone seriously thinks they are gonna use this thng as an IPhone competitor with only a 240 pixel wide screen, they need to start doing some seriously better drugs.

Besides, nobody said this was going to be a video/YouTube phone.  The battery life is gonna be extended considerably as a result.

In place of that, we have some seriously GOOD sound (MP3 playback is PHENOMENAL), downloadable ring tones and not half-bad web browsing, plus, I have to say, some seriously FAST text sending speeds. 

While not as blinding perhaps as Samsung's Omnia, it's a damned sight better than the crappy sluggishness I was slogging with on the Shine.  This is all the phone's doing, I think.  I can't imagine Koodo getting THAT much better overnight.

There are some nice improvements, too, most noticeably the ability of the Banter to recover from text sending and receiving lock-ups of picture texts, which, unfortunately happens a fair bit when texting via Internet services. 

So far my Banter has only crashed once, only to gracefully reset the phone and recover within about 4-5 seconds. 

NICE.  If this was my Shine, I'd have waited several minutes, gotten frustrated and removed the battery manually to force a power ON/OFF reset.

Some other nice touches include the very practical (and welcome) restaurant meal-tip calculator, the metric/Imperial converter, and the practical green/red LED on the phone to cue you when the phone rings, the battery charges fully, or when you turn the phone on or off. 

You can also add easy-access to the Micro-SD card (16 GB maximum, another nice extension) and a standard headphone jack as a nice move designed to perhaps take the sting out of the fact that you will need to replace ALL of your accessories when you buy this thing, from your USB cable to your car charger.

While the price is not much less than the Shine, the general build quality is good, arguably much superior to comparable phones such as the Rival and Slyde.

The audio quality is a nice improvement, particularly considering that LG has added voice recording, voice attachments, and Bluetooth sending capability to the mix.

Unfortunately, the audio recording does not default-save to a quality level MP3 format, which is something that could be improved.

The screen/display is also a decent quality, however it smudges easily.

If you can live with these few issues, the Banter might be the perfect mid-range mid-price cell upgrade you're looking for.

-PROS
Only marginally bigger than LG Shine, with full slide-out keyboard texting capabilities
Decent text send/receive/recovery speeds
Accessible ports all around, including direct micro-SD and standard headphone jack
OUTSTANDING MP3 playback - Bluetooth still to be tested, though Bluetoothing contacts works well between LG phones
Voice recording/Sending/Attaching capabilities
Practical applications including Tip and Conversion Calculators
LED status light
Downloadable ring-tones and web access
Different clock display options, many of them practical and dare I say, even useful
Phenomenal T9 text predictability and training.  
3 different face plates included with the Koodo phone (blue, silver and purple)
Screen switches from portrait to landscape mode automagically when slide out keyboard is used
Text preview and advanced sending options
More storage slots for extra phone numbers for each person in the contacts database, a welcome addition
Easy to use camera and instant-editing options

-CONS
Price only marginally less than LG Shine
Need to upgrade accessories due to new port plug type
No save-to-MP3 option for voice recordings and sound
No video record or playback options
No customizable main OK/direction button option - cannot re-map these keys like you could on the Shine
Default ring-tones a bit wimpy in places
Screen maxes out at 240 pixels, making it great for menus, terrible for video
Sliding keyboard pops out a little to easily at times
Screen is too easily smudged - make sure you invest in some protectors!
Camera is only 1.2 MPs, less than the 2.0 provided with the Shine
Limitations on photo editing that could have been fixed/solved with a better quality screen

It's only been 1 day, but I am very happy with this phone so far.  I am just crossing my fingers that build-quality issues do not migrate to this model.

-m101

marcus101 marcus101 36-40, M 2 Responses Mar 28, 2010

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Some additional points:<br />
<br />
-PROs<br />
Battery life seems pretty good so far. :)<br />
Loving the full keyboard. I can write friggin novels on this thing for texts now. :)<br />
Port is a standard USB mini port, used by many other phones, which I have accessories for! :)<br />
Loving my tip-calculator - it's awesome! :)<br />
<br />
-CONs<br />
Headphone port is NOT standard, but mini, which means that you are stuck with the LG's headphones...:(<br />
Voice recording is limited, have not tested it, but I believe you can only record about 30s to 1m on it. This sucks, as I was hoping to do song testing (up to 4-5 minutes) on it. :(<br />
<br />
Bob: :)<br />
<br />
fungirl: You haven't called some of your beautiful friends in some time, you need to text or catch up! :P

I like my cell phone too. It keeps me in contact with my beautiful friends.