Despite furnishing us with some compelling feature phones over the years, LG has been unfashionably late joining the smartphone revolution. But the Korean manufacturer has set about picking up the slack with its strongest and debut Windows Phone 7 smartie, the Optimus 7.
Under Microsoft’s strict handset protocol, the Optimus 7 follows the same basic design as its fellow WP7 devices but compared to HTC’s duo, the HD7 and Mozart, it lacks its rivals consistent build quality and subtle alluring curves.
Disappointingly, the overly plasticky front buttons are at odds with the robust metallic rear panel that underpins the bodywork. LG has decided against touch-sensitive keys as adopted by HTC, instead fitting sticky mechanised buttons that unfortunately cheapen its reassuring heft.
It’s similar in size to the Mozart with its vivid and responsive 3.8in capacitive touchscreen, but the Optimus 7 feature set mirrors the larger HD7. A snappy 1GHz Snapdragon keeps operations ticking over nicely, 16GB of onboard memory provides ample storage for your HD multimedia gubbins, and there’s a 5MP camera and 720p quality video capture.
With no license for skinning the new user-friendly and modern WP7 interface, like HTC, LG has engineered its own apps to differentiate itself from the competition. The augmented reality location-based ScanSearch and Play To are some of the most innovative we’ve seen so far, the latter easy to set up for streaming music, picture or video to your laptop, TV or DLNA compatible device via Wi-Fi.
But our favourite LG app is Panorama Shot, which adeptly removes the fiddly process of lining up a sequence of five shots by using onscreen arrows to accurately frame each photo. Once you’ve moved the handset into position it automatically captures the picture, stitching them together to form a 355x730 pixel sweeping photo.
The rest of the Optimus 7’s camera set-up is equally creative with an array of modes to smarten up your photos. Intelligent Shot automatically tweaks the camera settings to suit the scene you’re shooting while Beauty Shot will polish portraits. Anti-shake is also on hand to reduce the blur.
Review continues after the break…
Like the majority of camera phones, the LG works fine in natural light but struggles in low light and indoor environments, with the crude LED flash causing blown-out highlights. The 720p camcorder shoots at 24fps but lacks sharpness, although the overall results are watchable enough.
Web browsing with Internet Explorer is vastly improved from previous versions of Windows Mobile. Bookmarking new web pages, accessing favourites and adding or switching between web pages is very straightforward, while multi-touch pinch-to-zoom technique is smooth.
The rest of the Windows Phone 7 OS plays out very much like the HTC handsets we’ve already reviewed. There’s no multi-tasking, so switching between apps is off the menu and although it was simple to set-up via the Zune desktop software, we had no joy wirelessly syncing content across the phone and PC. Also, at this early stage the number of apps to download from the MarketPlace is limited.
Despite its ordinary design, the LG Optimus 7 is still ranks as a fine WP7 smartphone, with some cool onboard apps. Unfortunately, it’s still not a compelling enough reason to recommend it above HTC’s HD7 or Mozart.