I talked to Verizon's customer service and they decided to let me upgrade my phone a little early (I'd had the LG for a little bit less than a year). Then I headed over to the nearby Verizon store to talk to my friend (it's all about who you know after all) and he cut me a good deal and hooked me up with:
Audiovox CDM 8900
It's a pretty good phone. It works well as a phone (good volume, clear, etc...) and it has all of the assorted nifty phone features (e.g. camera, txt messaging, polyphonic ring tones, games etc....). I haven't had any problems with the battery life (yet), but that seems to be an issue with some of the reviews I've read. I'm also not thrilled with the secondary LCD display it has (the exterior display on the LG 4400 was a lot nicer and much more useful). I'm also really not digging the user interface for doing things like sending picture messages and txt messages etc... It's a bit clunky and requires a few too many key strokes (again this is relative to the LG). It also doesn't let me switch to vibrate/etiquette mode without opening the phone (although it is still done with a single key press as opposed to jumping into menus).
I dunno, I'm just not quite digging it as much as I dug the LG when I got it last year. It doesn't feel like I got all that much more new/better features this time around (and in some cases it seems like it's harder to use some of the old features I've gotten used to).
One thing I have enjoyed though (at least as a concept) is being able to do things like send text and picture messages as emails (i.e. to email addresses instead of to phones). The picture quality on the camera leaves a bit to be desired though. Here are a couple of samples:
Village Inn Window - A shot from booth #25 out to the street
Garden Decor - A random garden feature in my dad's yard.
By contrast, the Canon (i.e. my real camera), takes slightly better pictures (e.g. sample, sample)....
My friend at the store mentioned that Verizon will be getting some new Samsung phones in the next couple of weeks and he said that I could return the Audiovox and get one of these:
... if I wanted to....
Hmmm..... decisions decisions....