The LG Optimus 7

The Optimus 7 is the first LG phone we've ever looked at. In fact, it's the first device we've received directly from LG. I will say that out of all of the smartphone makers, LG is at least the most forthright about its products. We got very little marketing associated with the phone, just blunt statements about what it is and what it isn't:

"Look, you already know Microsoft has put some very strict guidelines on the hardware for these smartphones so the challenge from the start was how to physically stand out in a field where specs are going to be virtually the same.

Optimus 7 has a couple points we're quite proud of, namely:

1) 1,500mAh user-replaceable battery
2) 16GB memory
3) Solid and substantial "feel"

But we recognize hardware differences aren't enough to stand out among more-than-capable competitors like Samsung and HTC. The user experience is what we think will separate one device from the next in the WP7 world.

And in this regards, we think we have a solid strategy of delivering software solutions which are unique to just our WP7 device:

1) Play To
2) Scan Search
3) Voice to Text for SMS

And we're proud of the fact that we don't load Optimus 7 with a lot of "LG apps" or a fancy animated UI which gets old in a few weeks. :-)

But Optimus 7 isn't "optimal" in all aspects, either. Maybe we should have offered a bigger screen. Which isn't to say we don't think 3.8" isn't big enough, we think it's a good trade-off for usability and long battery life. But you know how people react when they see a 3.8" next to a 4.3".

Well, it's our first attempt, I'm sure we'll learn a lot from this experience."

I have to say, if all companies behaved like LG I might just be out of a job. Other than the screen, LG's assessment of its own phone is shockingly accurate.

It does have a solid and substantial feel to it, the Optimus 7 is very well built. Weighing in at 157g, it has all of the weight of the iPhone 4, plus a bit extra. It's not what I'd consider too heavy, just hefty.

The weight is all in the materials. You get a solid metal housing and a brushed aluminum backplate. The back cover is spring loaded; press down on the release button and it'll pop up slightly.

The Focus is thin and wide. I appreciate the thickness but I'd prefer it if Samsung opted for a narrower design. LG on the other hand I believe got the form factor down pat. A lot of this is personal preference, but I do believe the sweet spot for Windows Phones may be around the 3.8-inch mark. All navigation elements in the OS are big enough where you don't need a huge screen to get around quickly. And the larger screen doesn't really add anything, particularly at the same resolution. I don't believe the same is true for Android phones, but for WP7 I don't believe bigger is necessarily better. Funny that the ideal Windows Phone size is very similar to the iPhone, given how similar Microsoft and Apple's OS design philosophies were.

LG opted for physical buttons on the Optimus 7. It's actually more like a really long rocker switch than three individual buttons, but it works well. You get confident feedback from every button push.

All Windows Phones must have a physical camera shutter release button. On the Optimus 7 this button protrudes more than I'd like. I found myself accidentally hitting the camera button while fumbling around with the phone.

As an aside, while I appreciate the requirement for a hardware shutter release, I do believe it's a mistake not to allow for a software capture button as well.

The battery is huge for the Optimus 7. The 3.8-inch HTC Surround has a 4.55Whr battery, while the 4.0-inch Super AMOLED Focus has a 5.55Whr battery. The Optimus 7 falls smack in the middle of those two. You get a 3.8-inch low power LCD display like the Surround but with the battery capacity of the larger Focus. As you may have already seen, the Optimus 7 delivers the longest web browsing battery life of any of the three Windows Phone 7 devices we've tested thus far.

The Optimus 7 ships with 16GB of internal NAND and there's no user accessible microSD slot to change things. The larger NAND capacity does work well on WP7 because of how media-focused the OS is. It arguably provides a better audio/video playback experience than the iPhone.

I'll get to the software in a moment, but LG does ship some of the more useful apps I've seen from a Windows Phone 7 OEM.

Unfortunately the Optimus 7 isn't headed for any carriers in the US. It's available in Canada, Europe and Asia.

A New Hope The Samsung Focus


View All Comments

  • inighthawki - Friday, December 3, 2010 - link

    Any news on the Omnia 7's US release date? I'd love to get my hands on one, as it's the only WP7 phone I'm really very interested in. Reply
  • Hrel - Friday, December 3, 2010 - link

    I think 4" is the minimum size I'd buy. When I use the Galaxy S I always feel like just
    a little extra room would make using it perfect. But hey, maybe you're right and that's
    not true for WP7; I've never used it. I still think 4" is the minimum size though. I'm 6'4"
    and an athletic 240lbs and I have very large hands.

    I think EVERY phone should have an SD slot, prefferably not micro, but if they must.
    I mean, is it really that hard to fit a full size SD card slot in there? THey're not
    very big.

    I like the brushed metal design of the LG over plastic any day on any electronic anything.

    A good screen can never be understated, good on ya Samsung. AMOLED FTW!

    I like the 3 main buttons to be physical, personal preference here.

    I really like the apps LG includes.

    I want all the camera option of LG and Samsung Standard on all WP7 phones.

    You dogs like to eat plants:) Hahaha, that one runs off with the stick so the other just keeps on
    eating grass.

    Have you guys ever looked into reviewing anything from Archos. They make a bunch of handheld
    smart phone like devices that would be great for people who don't wanna be locked into
    paying 100+ per month to use it. I've never used any of their stuff so I'd like a
    good thourough review, who else could I ask really? They also have Windows 7 Tablet
    that if it's done well could combat the ipad and galaxy tab.
  • strikeback03 - Monday, December 6, 2010 - link

    There are reviews of Archos units around, just have to look a little more. General opinion (which I agree with based on my Archos 5 IMT) is great hardware paired up with flaky software. They also have a bad habit of promising things in software and then never delivering.

    And yes, a full-size SD slot would be huge on something smartphone sized, I would much rather have the microSD slot and have she space saved over SD used for a thinner device or a larger battery or something.

    I like the ability handset makers currently have in Android to customize the OS, IMO allows it to be much better tailored toward individual markets. For example, on Windows phone I would have no interest in the Zune anything or Xbox anything, so it would suck to have a significant portion of the UI devoted to that. What I would love is if Android phones were able to (without rooting) dual-boot whatever the current vanilla flavor of Android is as well as whatever the customized version their phone maker came up with, have the choice of which experience they want. I do like that carrier programs can be easily removed in Windows phone though.
  • Voldenuit - Saturday, December 4, 2010 - link

    The lack of mountable storage on WP7 is a deal killer for me.

    Anyone who's used a phone has probably experienced times when the on board (micro or otherwise) SD card simply refused to read. On a normal phone, you can usually fix this by removing and reinserting the card, or cleaning the contacts.

    If a WP7 phone ever loses touch with its SD card storage (dust, dirt, loose contact, etc), it will corrupt your whole filesystem. This is a major failure in robust design.

    Right now, I'd go so far as to avoid any WP7 phones that have an SD slot.
  • MGSsancho - Saturday, December 4, 2010 - link

    You can remove and reinsert the same SD card no problem, the issue you are referring to is booting the phone with out the original SD card.

    I will agree with you sometimes you need to force reboot the phone but usually a simple removal works and others you need to remove/reinsert the memory card.
  • Voldenuit - Saturday, December 4, 2010 - link

    Cool, that's good to know.

    I'm still waiting for the Nokia N8 review on Anandtech. We're on AT&T, and their phone selection is rubbish, so I'm thinking of buying my own unlocked phone and adding it to the plan.
  • strikeback03 - Monday, December 6, 2010 - link

    Well, wasn't the internal card on the HTC Surround under a cover? Reply
  • bobjones32 - Saturday, December 4, 2010 - link

    Thanks, Anand, as usual. Great reviews on WP7.

    I've owned a Samsung Focus for about two weeks now and in general agree with everything said here and elsewhere.

    I've been an iPhone user for more than 2 years, and loved it. I know iOS inside and out, and thoroughly enjoy the application ecosystem. But my contract was up, I was going to spend ~$200 either way, so I figured I'd give WP7 a shot and keep my iPhone to use as an iPod Touch so I could continue using all my games and applications.

    For all the bitching and moaning about the obvious things lacking, or how the back button behavior is "confusing", it's been nearly perfect for me. The back button always does exactly what I want it to do at a certain time, and even after using iOS for 2+ years, I don't really miss copy+past, fast app switching, or certain background processes at all.

    Here's hoping that the updates are fast and significant next year!
  • ryedizzel - Saturday, December 4, 2010 - link

    Another excellent review and the video was really helpful in understanding the navigation/ visual effects you talked about. Keep up the good work and hopefully MS adds the ability to do WiFi tethering- that's the only reason I would choose Android right now over Win7 and iOS. Reply
  • popej_ - Saturday, December 4, 2010 - link

    "AMOLED displays are truly off when displaying black, so you technically get infinite contrast ratio."

    Well, no. You simply don't include reflected light into measurement. That way you can't measure AMOLED, transflective LCD, e-ink or compare matte with glossy screen. So what does remain? Maybe it is time to change your measurement to something more usable, that will correlate with real life?

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