The LG Optimus 7 is a smartphone that joined the small circle of phones carrying the Windows Phone 7 (WP7) OS. Here in the Philippines, only a few phones bears Microsoft’s new mobile OS. There’s HTC with their HD7, and Mozart, and LG’s Optimus 7 which we currently have for review. The WP7 mobile OS was only released last October 2010 so it’s only understandable that there are only less than a handful of smartphones available for now but Nokia will soon add up to the numbers.
Let’s see how the LG Optimus 7 which runs on WP7 hold its own in a market dominated by Android phones and the iPhone.
The WP7 imposes strict hardware specifications particularly on the navigational keys which consists of only the back, home and search keys. We think its Microsoft’s’ way of branding itself and the three main keys do tend to be frequently used when navigating through the user interface.
The Optimus 7 is on the longer side with its 3.8″ WVGA resolution (480 x 800 pixels) screen which is designed for the WP7’s UI portrait orientation. Although the screen resolution is not of the best there is but its of above average with the colors and graphics being pretty much pleasing. It weighs in at a hefty 157 grams due to the overall metal chassis and it feels really solid which is a plus for us.
At the front we have the loudspeaker and the proximity sensor while the power button as well as the 3.5mm jack are neatly placed at the top. At the left side you’ll find the volume rocker while the right side is where the camera key and the micro-USB port are located.
A 5 megapixel camera with LED flash is located at the back. The camera also supports auto-focus and the volume rocker may be used for zooming in on your subjects.
You may have noticed that there is no slot for micro SD cards and that is one of the limitations that Microsoft has imposed on WP7 phones but in exchange, the internal storage on the Optimus 7 is at 16GB.
It is important to note that the WP7 UI also mandates phone manufacturers to run the WP7 OS as it is with a few exceptions on the pre-installed apps. It’s no surprise then that other phone manufacturers running WP7 will function and look exactly the same. This could mean that there’s a very limited room for phone manufacturers to customize the UI.
The WP7 user interface takes on the Zune approach with its metro-ish look and apparently, the famous Start button from WinMo is now gone. 2D tiles made of color and text make up the homescreen and these serves as the widgets of Android. This means you can add app shortcuts to the homescreen and make it easier for you to access your favorite apps. You can also change the color of the tiles and rearrange them to your liking or change the background color or image and that’s just it. For Android users who have the frequent advantage of customizing their homescreens with flashy widgets may not be happy then with Microsoft’s set-up. But then again, it will appeal to the minimalists out there.
Clicking on the right arrow on the top-right of the homescreen takes you to the app list. Now the list of apps is only scrollable in a portrait orientation unlike iOS and Android which are scrollable sideways and in pages. This may prove to be a bit of a hassle if you got lots of apps lined up in a list although pressing the search key and typing your desired app will save you some time. Or add your favorite apps to the homescreen.
Here are more screenshots of the WP7’s UI. Looking at some of the screenshots may not be that impressive due to some texts being cut off on purpose but the animation it takes when scrolling through the pages is impressive enough to easily ignore it. It’s kind of edgy and unique for a UI design which is also effective in a way.
Connectivity has Limitations
Another hardware spec limitation from the WP7 is the lack of Bluetooth connectivity and as mentioned before, it lacks support for memory cards. You will need to install the Zune app to sync your phone. Similar to Apple’s iTunes but the Zune software offers a lot of eye candy for a media player and we definitely recommend you to check it out.
Syncing with the Zune software is the only way you can transfer your files as Microsoft doesn’t support Mass storage mode. Although, apart from your 16GB internal storage you can also upload your files on Microsoft’s cloud, which is SkyDrive giving you free 25GB of cloud storage.
The LG Optimus 7 packs a 1GHz CPU and a 512MB RAM which does perfectly well in running the WP7 OS as the animations were pretty smooth with the tiles and apps being responsive to your touch. The transition from the homescreen to the app list, scrolling through the apps, changing from portrait to landscape orientation, and pretty much going through the WP7’s UI all prove to be really smooth on our end.
Surfing the net with the WP7’s browser was a fluid experience thanks to the high specs of the Optimus 7. Panning along the pages even with heavy content and pinch zooming was a breeze for this phone. It also supports tabbed browsing and cycling through the tabs was of no difficulty either. One downer though is that it doesn’t support Flash as of now, or even Silverlight but the upcoming WP7 Mango will remedy that big time.
Unlike Android, WP7 doesn’t do multitask as Microsoft wants to prolong the battery life and not cause too much stress on the processor. It may be beneficial for the phone’s overall performance but for those who were playing games or even listening to third party music apps may cause the application to stop once closed or even when the phone is locked. Microsoft however, will grant permissions on some apps to run on the background as long as the app is battery efficient.
The Marketplace is where you can try out or purchase your apps. It is divided into four main sections namely, the apps, games, music and the . You can also update your existing apps there.
The sound quality of the Optimus 7 was to be desired which has produced a clean output throughout the testing and it also supports FM radio. Watching video is quite pleasant on its widescreen although video format support will depend on what Zune can play. Ordinary AVIs, MP4s and WMVs are safe or you could check out the list of video file formats for WP7.
The 5MP camera does a fair job of producing photos which is acceptable if you want to take a quick shot of things. The camera UI is pretty simple with some settings you can tinker like color, brightness, white balance, etc. LG has also added an app called the Panorama Shot in which as the name implies, enables you to shoot panoramic shots.
Here are some sample shots taken with the LG Optimus 7:[nggallery id=17]
The phone lacks a front-facing cam but then again, all WP7 as of now doesn’t have it either so if you need video chatting then this one may not be for you.
The LG Optimus 7 is the first WP7 phone we’ve reviewed but we could expect other brands to be pretty much the same except for some minor hardware differences and on the preinstalled apps. That is why throughout the review we’re mainly focused on the Windows Phone 7 OS itself.
It was a daring move for Microsoft in redesigning their mobile OS from scratch but that could mean a fresh start particularly on the number of WP7 applications in the market. Not to mention the hardware and software limitations mentioned throughout this review may be a deal breaker for consumers and we haven’t even mentioned the price yet. How does Php 29,990 for the Optimus 7 sound?
On the lighter side, the sheer smooth performance was the best we’ve encountered since the iPhone. The visually appealing UI was to be desired and the Optimus 7’s screen quality was pleasing enough in rendering the visuals.
It may be too early though to be purchasing a WP7 phone as the OS itself has to keep up with the big leagues particularly on the number of apps. But then again, if you’re sick of iOS or Android, or if you are looking for a fast, fluid and a fresh user experience then the Optimus 7 might just be for you. You don’t have to worry about updates because once a WP7 update is available, all phones will get it at the same time.
LG E900 Optimus 7 Specs:
- 1 GHz Scorpion processor, Adreno 200 GPU
- Qualcomm QSD8650 Snapdragon chipset
- 3.8-inch display @ 480 x 800 pixels
- Gorilla glass display
- 16GB internal storage
- 512MB RAM, 512MB ROM
- WiFi 802.11 b/g/n w/ DLNA
- Bluetooth 2.1
- HSDPA 7.2 Mbps, HSUPA 5.76 Mbps
- 5MP autofocus camera w/ LED flash
- 720p video recording @ 24fps
- GPS w/ aGPS
- Windows Phone 7 (upgradeable to 7.1)
- Li-Ion 1500mAh battery
- SRP: Php29,990