A more significant compromise than the wealth of apps, though, is the touchscreen. It uses a resistive panel, which senses direct pressure rather than conduction, unlike the capacitive screens seen in most of today’s new touchscreen phones. Your finger has push down the top screen layer onto the one below it, so very light touches won’t register in the LG Ego. The result is that it doesn’t feel very responsive.
It’s not a problem when making larger gestures, such as sweeping through home screens, but frustrates with anything demanding greater accuracy. Some icons within the interface are tiddly, and tapping them in the correct manner can take several attempts. Working in tandem with the small size, the unresponsive touch tech makes using the Ego an occasionally trying experience.
This gruesome twosome also affects typing. When composing texts and emails, you can only use the full Qwerty keyboard in landscape orientation. Held the normal way, you either have to use keypad-style input or rely on OCR – drawing each letter on the screen, in other words. Woes surrounding touchscreen accuracy and responsiveness mostly melt away if you use a stylus, but one isn’t included here and the phone’s not really intended for use with one. There’s only one main reason why a resistive screen’s used instead of a capacitive model here – it’s cheaper.
The resistive touchscreen also rules-out using the neat pinch-to-zoom gesture when browsing. It’s because current resistive touchscreens cannot sense more than one point of contact. Instead, you have to press the menu button at the top-right of the browser, then the zoom button down the bottom. Not very quick, not very clever.
The camera is another victim of scrimping. With a fixed focus lens, 2-megapixel sensor and no flash, the shots it produces aren’t worth taking off the phone, even just to post online. You are given a few colour effects to play around with, the basics of sepia, black & white and negative, but these don’t add significantly to the camera’s usefulness.
One bonus the LG Ego can claim over the budget Android crowd is battery life. The 950mAh battery capacity is nothing special, but the simplicity of the OS running the show helps keep power usage down – it even takes evasive manoeuvres like disconnecting from Wi-Fi when the phone’s not used for a minute or two. Keep "push" features down to a minimum and it’ll last the best part of a week off a charge.
This merit only partly makes up for the many limitations and compromises that affect every-day use of the LG Ego though. Retailing for £75 on a pre-pay deal, there are several far better alternatives out there. Even the non-smart, two year-old Samsung Genio Touch trumps the overall experience of the Ego thanks to its half-decent capacitive touchscreen. We’d recommend picking a budget Android like the Samsung Galaxy Europa or Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini over this any day – shop around and you should be able to find them at a similar price.
With 3G, Wi-Fi and a touchscreen, the LG Ego appears to have everything more expensive smartphones offer. But it doesn’t. The small resistive touchscreen makes navigation frustrating and the feature phone operating system rules-out the additional levels of customisation and app-based exploits available to Android smartphone users. A year or two ago, the LG Ego would have made a lot of sense, but now it’s way behind the pack.