qwerty

The QWERTY keyboard slides out to the left with a satisfying thunk to reveal four lines of 40 decently spaced keys.

It's very neatly laid out too, with a coloured square highlighting the numeric keys and the same colour scheme around the arrow keys.

The alt key is a different, bright colour (red on our black model) to help it stand out. The raised, rounded keys are nicely distinctive under the thumbs and backlit too, so you'll have no trouble typing in dim light conditions.

Social networking

LG is pushing the social networking aspect of the GW520, and not just with the enticement of extra long messages using the QWERTY keyboard.

Livesquare is a new offering and lives on an alternate home page you can access by brushing across the screen. It's a way of organising your contacts and messages, laid out like a field, zoo or park, and populated by animated characters which could be human or cartoon animal avatars.

livesquare

Each displays the number of messages you have waiting from each contact, and even people who aren't in your contacts book. You can set it so that it refreshes each day and tapping a slider near the bottom of the screen brings up a list of your communications history.

It looks cute, and works well, though we soon found ourselves wishing there was a greater variety of avatars.

livesq

There's a Facebook app on board too, which is easy to set up with your online account. Unfortunately, updates won't be pushed to your phone, so you'll need to manually log in on a regular basis to keep up with the latest updates, which, considering the presence of push email, seems like a trick missed.

Messaging

Setting up email is easy enough in most cases, with just email address and password required. There's also the option of push email with a range of email servers for easy set-up, including Hotmail, Google mail, Yahoo! and AOL, though others are supported too.

contacts

You'll need to keep the push option open for it to work, but it will notify you as soon as new mail arrives, which makes it more immediate than most non-Blackberry devices. It supports threaded messaging too, so SMS conversations show up like an extended IM chat.