Talking of onscreen keyboards, the keypad-style keyboard that appears if you try to write with the phone in portrait mode is particularly poor – it simply can’t keep up with button presses.
Aside from the general look of the GW520, the other most obvious area of cost cutting is its screen. With a size of 2.8in and resolution of just 240 x 400 pixels, it is noticeably more cramped than that of most full-face touchscreen phones. This makes web browsing, reading emails, and any other task requiring a reasonable amount of information to be onscreen at one time somewhat cumbersome. At least it’s bright, colourful and has reasonable viewing angles (though contrast does drop off noticeably).
The touch aspect of the screen also leaves something to be desired with a general feeling of slight unresponsiveness. It’s by no means a nightmare but it can take a double prod every now and then to get an accurate response. Coupled with generally slow performance, this makes using some of the GW520’s more sophisticated features rather tiresome – you’ll get stuff done but it can sometimes take a while.
Take the Facebook app for instance. It took 40 seconds to load and that’s if it’s up to date and in a good signal area. When the app had a lot of information to load it took 110 seconds to open. This is admittedly an extreme example and most inbuilt basic apps load much quicker, but even the weather widget took 10 seconds to load.
Meanwhile, the custom web browser, which can display full web pages, failed to load the TrustedReviews website and proceeded to fire up a ‘Memory Full’ error instead. It’s also slow in general and as this handset lacks Wi-Fi, things aren’t going to get much quicker.
As for those other apps, the GW520 has a basic but adequate set of PIM, office, multimedia, and general use apps, including an email client, a music player (with full tag and album art support), a movie editor, a few pretty awful games, an FM Radio, a calendar with to do list, alarm clock, memo pad, calculator, and voice recorder.
The interface is the same one we’ve seen on LG’s handsets for a while now, comprising two desktops onto one of which can be placed shortcuts to your favourite apps or widgets (things like an analogue clock face, memo pad, and picture viewer). The other desktop brings together contacts and messages into one confusing and horrible interface that should be avoided at all costs. The rest of the interface is not the prettiest but is well optimised to be navigated using just the touchscreen.