LG’s users have just been branded “tech boffins” in a UK survey of cellphone users, and that kind of meshes with news of a new smart phone from the Korean company. The LG Versa, you see, is a unusual modular smart phone. Versa is shorthand for “versatility,” that means the handset will come with a number of bolt-on modules.
The first, launched alongside the phone itself, is a smart protective case. It covers the Versa’s large screen to protect it from your pocket contents, and the “smart angle” is covered with a built-in physical QWERTY keypad. Handy for entering large text documents into the device. And that’s not it for the smartness–the case also has its own small OLED display to relay vital info to you at a glance when the phone’s main screen is safely snuggled inside.
The phone’s body is similar to other post-iPhone touchscreen candybar phones, with a 3-inch display. It also features a 2-megapixel camera with face detection, VGA video-shooting, media-player functions, flashy 3D-style UI, storage expansion via microSD, stereo Bluetooth, built-in GPS and fast EV-DO data connectivity. Since it’s on Verizon, it’ll come with V Cast Music with Rhapsody, V Cast Video, VZ Navigator and visual voicemail. The homescreen is also customizable with up to three different types, and its in-built browser surpasses Apple’s Safari by incorporating Flash support.
As for the other add-ons that will be available for the device, stereo speakers, and possibly even a gaming D-pad peripheral, may both be on the horizon. Undoubtedly, these add-ons will enhance the phone’s attractiveness.
But LG will have to add a lot of utility for this phone to catch on. While the phone is visually unexciting, the current QWERTY add-on looks like it came from a Nokia design reject bin in 1989. And a physical keypad on a smart phone was ridiculed by Steve Jobs when he launched the iPhone–with even the upcoming HTC Magic Android device shunning one. This is surprising, considering LG is clearly muscling in on the ultra-smart phone game with this device.
There’s definitely an innovative approach here, but LG should have taken a lead out of the Modu design book. Though the “core” phone technology in the Modu is simpler than the Versa, its bolt-on modules really enable transforming the device in terms of functionality and stylishness. In comparison, the Versa’s modules seem ill-conceived. Still, if it’s the phone you’ve been waiting for, it’s out March 1 for around $200.