LG Enact (Verizon Wireless) review

The LG Enact is one of the few keyboarded Android smartphones on Verizon and its huge battery is a major strength, but it's an otherwise mundane entry-level option.
Photo of LG Enact (Verizon Wireless)

Larger screens and smarter software have made onscreen keyboards increasingly intuitive and useful. For some, though, nothing can beat the comfort and accuracy of a real physical keyboard. The LG Enact ($19.99 with two-year contract) is among the few remaining options for those craving a keyboarded smartphone on Verizon. Its clicky and spacious keyboard will appease most purists and its huge battery can easily last you through the day, but its chunky build and uninspiring performance hold the Enact back. And while the Enact seems like a good deal at only $20, you can now grab the superior Motorola Droid 4, with its best-in-class keyboard, for free with a two-year contract.

Design, Features, and Call Quality
Any sliding keyboard is going to add some heft, but the LG Enact feels particularly squat and chunky at 0.62 inches thick. It’s noticeably thicker than the Droid 4 (0.5 inches) and the Samsung Galaxy Stratosphere II (0.53 inches), and at 5.99 ounces it’s not exactly lightweight either. The rounded edges and textured plastic back help it fit nicely into the hand, and it’s small enough for comfortable one-handed use. The sliding mechanism is smooth without being loose and opens and closes with a satisfying click you can feel and hear.

The Enact has a full, slide-out QWERTY keyboard with a dedicated number row and Android navigation buttons. The keys are raised and half of each key slopes towards the center of the keyboard making it easier to orient your fingers. It didn’t take long to get used to typing on the Enact’s keyboard, and I found the keys to be nice and clicky. It’s a solid keyboard, but it still can’t touch the Droid 4′s precise keys.

The Power and Volume buttons are on the right and left sides, respectively, with the microUSB port also along the left side so it doesn’t get in the way of typing in landscape orientation. Below the display are capacitive Back, Home, Recent Apps, and Menu buttons. I prefer the standard three-button Android setup and found myself frequently summoning recent apps when I wanted to press Home.

At 233 pixels per inch, the Enact’s 4-inch, 800-by-480-pixel LCD is average for an entry-level phone. Whites looked white, the screen gets bright enough for outdoor use, and the viewing angle is nice and wide.

The Enact supports Verizon’s CDMA and LTE networks, but it is not global-ready. Call quality is par for the course. Transmissions sound full and rich through the mic, and while the noise cancellation blocks out a wide swath of outside noise, there’s a noticeable static hiss in the background, especially when in louder environments. Calls sound clear through the earpiece, with a lot of volume to spare, but distortion creeps in at maximum volumes and makes things a bit harsh. The speakerphone also gets sufficiently loud for outdoor use, but the back ported speaker is easy to cover with your hand when holding the phone. Reception wasn’t great in our tests, as the Enact only showed one bar of LTE service where a Samsung Galaxy S4 had nearly full signal strength. Speeds were also on the slow side for Verizon, but not much worse than the S4.

Also onboard are 802.b/g/n Wi-Fi, GPS, and Bluetooth 4.0. The Enact only supports the slower 2.4GHz Wi-Fi band, though, which is a letdown. The phone paired easily with a Jawbone Era Bluetooth headset and voice dialing worked quickly and accurately. The Enact is packing a sizable 2460mAh removable battery, which lasted for an excellent 14 hours, 39 minutes of talk time in our tests.

Performance and Android
Powering the Enact is a dual-core 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon MSM8930 with 1GB RAM. Performance on synthetic benchmarks was as expected—unimpressively average, like the wide range of similarly spec’d entry-level phones out there. It was slightly slower than the Stratosphere II, but not by a significantly wide margin. In real world usage, the Enact showed system-wide lag. Opening the app drawer took a few seconds to populate with all the installed apps. Launching apps and switching between running processors showed frequent stutters. The phone was painfully slow to redraw the screen when switching between portrait and landscape orientation, which happens every time you slide the keyboard out.

The Enact runs Android 4.1.2, but LG put a thick coat of its Optimus UI on top. Editable quick settings in the notification shade are great, and Qslide multitasking mini apps can be useful at times. They pop up small floating windows that include apps like a notepad or calculator. Unfortunately, they often lag and there isn’t enough screen real estate to really make them worthwhile. Sliding out the keyboard forces the phone into landscape orientation, which makes sense, while typing on the keys at anytime triggers a basic note taking app, which is useful for jotting down quick lists or reminders. LG also offers a “starter mode” that is becoming more and more common on Android devices. It basically simplifies the homescreen to include the most common functions up front and center. The heavy theming and visual tweaks seem to really bog down this underpowered device. There are also a bunch of pre-loaded apps here, including six from Verizon that you can’t delete. 

Multimedia and Conclusions
Of the 8GB internal storage, only 3.71GB is available to users out of the box. Media support is solid, as the Enact had no trouble with all of our audio and video files at resolutions up to 1080p. There’s a microSD card slot under the back cover, and our 32 and 64GB SanDisk cards worked fine.

The 5-megapixel rear-facing camera is a disappointment. It takes routinely soft, washed out images with dull colors. The camera has trouble locking focus, and the exposure gets tripped up, especially in challenging lighting scenarios. Low-light shots are pretty grainy, and even in ideal lighting, there isn’t a whole lot of fine detail preserved. The Enact can capture 1080p video, but framerates are wildly inconsistent, jumping around from 20 to 30 frames per second, which gives the video a jarring stop-motion feel.

There are two reasons you should consider the LG Enact: its comfortable hardware keyboard and its superb battery life. Beyond that, the Enact is a pretty average entry-level Android smartphone on Verizon. I didn’t mind the lower resolution screen or the thick design, but the subpar camera and frequent lag can be pretty frustrating. The excellent battery life may be enough to sway some, but when you consider that the superior Droid 4 is now free on contract, the Enact becomes a much tougher sell.

Specifications
Phone Capability / Network CDMA, LTE
Screen Resolution 800 x 480 pixels
NFC No
Dimensions 4.37 x 2.06 x 0.62 inches
802.11x/Band(s) 802.11 b/g/n
Video Camera Resolution 1080p
Battery Life (As Tested) 14 hours 39 minutes
Available Integrated Storage 3.71 GB
Processor Speed 1.2 GHz
CPU Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 MSM8930 Dual-Core
GPS Yes
Service Provider Verizon Wireless
Total Integrated Storage 8 GB
High-Speed Data LTE
Weight 5.99 oz
Screen Type TFT LCD
Operating System as Tested Android 4.1.2
Physical Keyboard Yes
Camera Resolution 5 MP Rear-Facing
VGA Front-Facing
Screen Pixels Per Inch 233 ppi
Bands 850, 1900, 750
microSD Slot Yes
Form Factor Slider
Screen Size 4 inches
Bluetooth Version 4.0

Verdict
The LG Enact is one of the few keyboarded Android smartphones on Verizon and its huge battery is a major strength, but it's an otherwise mundane entry-level option.
Published under license from Ziff Davis, Inc., New York, All rights reserved.
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc