Not everyone wants the biggest, fastest smartphone – especially when such models usually come with an inflated price tag to match. If you want an Android handset offering big smartphone bang for zero bucks up front, Verizon's LG Enlighten VS700 may be just the compact handset for you.
The LG Enlighten harkens back to Android's salad days with its hardware slider QWERTY keyboard, which tucks neatly inside the modest 4.5-inch high and 2.3-inch wide frame. The handset seems a tad plump at 0.58-inch thick and 5.54 ounces when compared to recent models with software keyboards, but it feels solid in the hand and just a hair smaller than the iPhone 4S.
The big tradeoff comes with the display, a 3.25-inch slab of plastic tucked between Verizon and LG logos, packing a mere HVGA resolution at 320x480 pixels. Using the stock on-screen soft keyboard will be a bit of a challenge for beefier digits, but surprisingly, we preferred this method to the slider keyboard.
The front of the LG Enlighten features a slim earpiece near the top and four hardware buttons below for Menu, Home, Back and Search. At top is the Power/Lock key and 3.5mm headphone jack.
The right side of the Enlighten is empty save for a dedicated camera button – a rare treat from an otherwise low-end smartphone. The left side features a volume rocker positioned at top, with a micro-USB accessory/charging port near the bottom covered by protective cap.
On the back there's a 3.2MP autofocus camera which doubles for video recording, but LG had to cut corners somewhere, so like the Pantech Breakout there's no flash paired with it. A small notch on the bottom allows the entire back to be easily removed, revealing a 1500mAh Li-Ion battery; tucked away at left is a micro-SD card slot (2GB included, expandable to 32GB).
The hardware keyboard slides out from underneath the left side of the phone; it moves easily and doesn't feel cheaply made. The keys are decently sized and fans of hard keys will be pleased to have them.
The LG Enlighten can be had for absolutely free from Verizon's website with two-year commitment thanks to a pair of $50 online and promo discounts; normal contract price is $99.99 or $329.99 retail.