The $39.99 LG Attune is an easy way to get a QWERTY texting phone on the cheap. Its low up-front price, combined with U.S. Cellular’s inexpensive monthly plans, makes it a decent choice for anyone in the regional carrier’s coverage area. That said, the Attune is terrible at multimedia, so only buy this cell phone if you want something small for texting, occasional voice calls, and little else.
Design and Call Quality
The Attune measures 4.1 by 2.1 by 0.7 inches (HWD) and weighs 4.4 ounces. It’s made of an attractive combination of metallic red and matte black plastic. The 2.8-inch touch screen is a decent size for a relatively small slider phone, and offers 240-by-400-pixel resolution, but it still feels cramped to navigate the various menus. Slide out the QWERTY keyboard, and you’re treated to four rows of oversized red keys that are a little flat for fast typing, but easily usable.
Attune View SlideshowSee all (4) slides
- Attune Service Provider
- US Cellular
- Screen Size
- 2.8 inches
- Screen Details
- 240-by-400-pixel, 262K color, TFT plastic resistive touch screen
- 850, 1900
- High-Speed Data
The Attune is a dual-band 1xRTT (850/1900 MHz) 2G device with no Wi-Fi. The LG Attune doesn’t sound good on voice calls. Callers sounded overly muffled through the earpiece, as if they were speaking into a towel, no matter where I positioned the phone against my ear. Transmissions through the microphone had a similar problem; callers could still understand me just fine, but a back-to-back comparison with the LG Envoy ($9.99, 2.5 stars) proved that the Attune sounded poor in the other direction as well. Reception was average.
Callers sounded clear through an Aliph Jawbone EraBluetooth headset ($129, 4 stars). Voice dialing worked over Bluetooth, but it took two or three tries before it recognized each of my commands through the headset. The speakerphone went very loud; it sounded a little thin, but it’ll easily cut through just about any background noise short of a jackhammer. Battery life was solid at 6 hours and 26 minutes of talk time.
Apps, Multimedia, and Conclusions
The home screen offers three panels you can swipe between, but they’re each set to different tasks. For example, one contains customizable slots for favorite icons, while another is a shortcut to messaging. The touch screen defaults to short, “medium” bursts of haptic feedback; I appreciated the different configuration options, but eventually turned it off to smooth out the experience. Four icons lay across the bottom of the main screen; press the Menu key, and you’ll see a grid of 12 additional icons, some for irritating bloatware.
The Myriad 6.2 browser takes three key presses to start up, and thanks to the 2G data radio and clumsy interface, it takes forever to navigate to and load pages. U.S. Cellular needs to get with the program and adopt Opera Mini to speed up page loads like Verizon and AT&T have done. WAP sites looked fine, though. There’s no accelerometer; you’ll want to slide out the keyboard to enter URLs. I found myself tapping the equivalent of OK several extra times for practically every task, which was frustrating. Text messages are threaded, with a nifty, iPhone-like bubble look. There are no email or instant messaging clients, though, which are bizarre omissions on a texting phone.
The side-mounted microSD card slot and standard-size 3.5mm headphone jack help make this a good music player, but only if you stick with the included, wired stereo earbuds. My 32GB SanDisk card worked fine, and there’s 70MB of free internal memory. Music tracks sounded a little muddy through Samsung Modus HM6450 Bluetooth headphones ($99, 4 stars). A weird bug set the volume to zero at the start of every track I cued up manually, which was annoying. Unlocking the screen while listening also caused hiccups in the audio. Both of these problems disappear with the wired buds, which sound terrible but at least work reliably.
The 1.3-megapixel camera has no flash or auto-focus. Nearly all of my indoor test photos were too blurry, no matter how still I kept the camera, even with sunlight streaming through the windows. Dark shadows were also a big problem, although colors were pretty vibrant, and outdoor shots were at least usable. There’s no standalone camcorder or video player.
All told, the Attune is a middling choice if you’re focused on texting, and don’t particularly care for multimedia or voice quality. I’d rather give the nod here to the Samsung Character ($39.99, 3.5 stars), which has a smoother touch-based interface and much better call quality. A less expensive alternative is the LG Saber (Free, 3 stars), which lacks the Attune’s good looks and higher resolution screen, but is much easier to use. Our Editors’ Choice feature phone remains the LG Wine 2 UN430 ($39.99, 4 stars), although it’s a flip phone that’s laser-focused on voice quality and style, and lacks a QWERTY keyboard.
Related Technology Reviews