1 - Write-up and Photos
If you're looking for a nice compact flip phone, the Tracfone LG 430g not only fits the bill, but also surprises you with a nice larger screen and a 1.3 megapixel camera. It is a double minutes phone which means that minutes on an airtime card as doubled when added to this phone.
Update: The 440g is now available.
In addition to the camera, this phone has Bluetooth so that you can transfer your photos to your computer without using airtime minutes. Even the web browser is a little faster so it makes more efficient use of your airtime minutes. This successor to the LG 420g seems like a good deal at $14.99, so let’s check it out!
The 1.3 megapixel camera on the LG 430g is a nice improvement over its predecessor, so let’s take a look at the quality of the photos. In the past, I’ve been a little disappointed at flip phones (Nokia 2720 and Moto W408g) that claimed 1.3 megapixel camera resolution, so I was eager to see what the pictures would actually look like.
I took a few snaps of some trees and bushes outside some office buildings, and the photos came out pretty well. When you first get the phone, the camera resolution is set at just 320 x 240 by default (for sending picture messages). You can easily change that to 1280 x 960 (1.3 MP) or 640 x 480 (VGA). On the lower resolution settings, you can use the digital zoom to get a closer looking image.
You can use the settings to adjust the brightness and tone of the picture. You can even set it to take several shots at once in burst mode, though the resolution of the photo has to be reduced in that instance to 640 x 480 or 320 x 240 depending on how many images you want to take.
This is a reduced version of a pic taken with the camera:
If burst images are not enough, you can use the video recorder. You can take small 176 x 144 videos that are good for sending via MMS message. You can set the duration to MMS to make sure the videos won’t be too large to send via picture message, or you can set it to normal and shoot as long as there is enough memory on your phone.
If you download the videos to your computer, you can view the .3gp format files in iTunes.
There's no slot for an external memory card, so you're still stuck with using the phone's internal memory. Luckily you can at least transfer your files out via Bluetooth.
I had no problems pairing the Tracfone LG 430g with my Windows 7 Toshiba laptop. Just remember to make your phone, “Visible for 3 Mins” and you should be all set.
In addition to object push, file transfer, handsfree, and headset capabilities, there are a couple of new setting compared to the 420g. The Serial Port and Basic Printing services have been replaced by the AV Remote Control and Advanced Audio Distribution services. The first presumably lets you control a paired device such as a laptop. The second is probably for streaming music, but that’s not really relevant for this phone as you can’t really store much music on this phone since it doesn’t allow an external memory card.
Basically, it should work great for headsets and handsfree devices and for transferring your photos and videos.
The web browsing experience is great for a $15 flip phone. The pages load quickly on the screen. Once the page has loaded, the cursor moves snappily from link to link.
You can check your email at Yahoo!, Gmail, Hotmail and AOL. You can also look at Facebook, Twitter, MySpace etc. It does take a while at first, because you have to use the numeric keyboard to enter your login details. (I think you can set up some of these services so that you can login with your phone number.)
You can also check out news, sports and weather. I found the Weather page to be fast as well, and the CNN page with the headlines also loaded pretty quickly. The ESPN page was a little slower (I think it’s designed for smart phones), but the Yahoo! Sports page loaded quickly.
Web browsing does cost you airtime, so it’s nice that web pages load faster than previous models.
Call quality seems good in areas with strong signal (where I am). I had no problem hearing the person I was calling, and there were no complaints from the other end.
You can set up to eight speed dials (the first is reserved for voicemail). When you press the first number on the keypad, you are shown the assigned speed dial number. You can press and hold to dial or go on to press the next number to dial another number.
Text messages and multimedia messages seem to go through okay. Text messages cost 0.33 minutes. The cost of sending and receiving multimedia messages it depends on the size of the file and on the strength of the signal (takes longer if the signal is weak), but you can expect it to cost at least two minutes.
There are twelve text message templates with common responses. You use "Quick Reply" to access them. I think they were written by someone abroad, because one of the saved templates says “Please give me a ring!” rather than “Please give me a call!”
You can store up to 1000 entries in your contacts. You store basic info (name and number) on the main screen. You select Add Details to store additional info as long as you choose to store your contact info on the phone and not the SIM card.
I was able to transfer over a hundred contacts in a few seconds over Bluetooth after pairing the 430g with a Samsung phone.
The Tracfone LG 430g comes with two games. The first is Block Breaker 3 Unlimited, which isn’t unlimited because it’s the demo version. You have to buy the game to play the full version. The second game, Platinum Solitaire 2, also has the same restriction.
I was a little annoyed that only demo versions of the games are included. On the other hand, I do remember wasting many hours of my time playing Breakout many years ago, so maybe it's for the best.
The LG 430g has a 2.2 inch color display which is larger than the display on the 420g. The screen is easier to read, but the extra glass does make the phone (with battery) slightly heavier at 3.4 ounces when measured on a postal scale).
The small external display is black and white. It features a larger font
for reading the time, but it is a bit dim.
The Tracfone LG 430g Manual (pdf) is a 61 page quick start guide that covers the main things you can do with the phone.
The interactive tutorial is an easy-to-follow and useful.
This was a good value as a double minutes phone priced at $14.99 with some nice bonuses. You got a megapixel camera, nice screen, keypad and web browser. While it's marginally better than the 420g, it's a definitely a level above the Samsung T245g.
Since the 430g is a pretty basic flip phone, it's hard to choose from the many other flip phones as a comparison, but here are a couple of representative ones from different plans.
One cool thing about the Samsung S275g is the ability to use the phones camera without flipping it open. The external screen acts as a viewfinder and allow you to take "selfies".
The Kyocera Kona works with the Virgin Mobile plans which allow access to additional services (though at a cost). It has a big external screen, though mainly for displaying cool graphics.
The Samsung T139 is available as a prepaid phone from T-Mobile. Though a few years old, the price of this phone has mysteriously gone up over the years.