Review: LG E900 Optimus 7 (Windows Phone 7) Hardware Impressions

Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 OS went gold recently and LG was among the first manufacturers to launch a Windows Phone 7 device. Since the first time Microsoft showed off their new smartphone OS i was really eager to get my hands on a Windows Phone 7 testdevice, because the revamped mobile OS looked like a very innovative approach which had a unique look and feel philosophy. It’s great to see Microsoft taking a completely new direction that doesn’t go the same old route as we already have seen from iOS, Android and old Windows Mobile devices. Thanks to the nice people at Vodafone germany i had the chance to check out the LG Optimus 7 smartphone for three weeks, and dive deep into the Windows Phone 7 world. As always i’m gonna start out with a hardware review and publish the Windows Phone 7 OS review as seperate article afterwards.

LG used high quality materials for their Optimus 7, as it has a stable casing and doesn’t feel cheap in your hand. Thanks to the usage of metal/aluminium parts you can really feel the difference to plastic devices like the Samsung Galaxy S. The shape of the LG Optimus 7 also isn’t your standard iPhone ripoff, as it has hard edges on the sides and curves at the bottom and the top of the device. I have to admit though that i don’t like this shape that much, it somehow feels slightly outdated and old-school like those old candybar phones.

The capacitive LCD touchscreen of the LG Optimus 7 is 3,8 inch, which is bigger than i.e. the HTC Desire or the Nexus One displays but smaller than the huge 4,3 inch screen of the HTC HD2. It’s a good compromise between having a large display and keeping the device pocket friendly. Since the display technology of the LG Optimus 7 is LCD we luckily don’t have any of the AMOLED pentile issues. Text and images are razor sharp, and therefore using the device for longer periods of time is not a big deal. Colors are also very vivid and natural looking, but the black levels are not up to par with AMOLED displays.

One thing which also immediately striked me was the prominent size of the Windows Phone 7 hardware buttons on the LG Optimus 7. Windows Phone 7 devices generally have three buttons: one for going back, a Windows button to directly jump to the homescreen and another one for searching. Quite similar to Android, the only thing missing is a menu button. The buttons on the LG Optimus 7 are way too big for my taste, which gives the phone some kind of senior-user device vibe. And they also don’t feel right, because the all Windows Phone 7 buttons are quite wobbly. I think the reason for this is the fact that they are not physically seperate hardware buttons, but all placed on a single hardware part.

On the top you’ll find the headphone jack as well as the power button, which is placed on the top-right of the device. This makes it harder to turn the display on/off for users which are holding the device in the left hand, because you cannot reach the top-right power button easily.

The left side only has volume control buttons. Both buttons work nicely and give a good feedback.

A micro usb slot as well as the camera button can be found on the right side. The usb slot has a cover which needs to be opened before plugging in the usb cable. While it’s not a big hassle to do that, i still felt that this is kind of unneccessary. Nearly all of my smartphones didn’t have a cover for the usb slot, and i never had any problem with the slots not working or collecting too much dust.

Comparing my current main device theNexus One with the LG Optimus 7 shows that the LG device is slightly larger. And while both devices have a high quality feel, the three Windows Phone 7 buttons on the LG Optimus 7 are a weak spot. I definetly like the fact that the display of the LG Optimus 7 is bigger than the Nexus One screen, but not too big like the 4,3 inch display of the HTC HD2.

On the backside you got the 5 MP camera with flashlight and the Windows Phone 7 logo at the bottom. The battery cover is made of metal and very easy to open thanks to a button which will unlock the cover. This approach is much better than most HTC smartphones, which don’t provide any elegant way to open the back cover.

LG took good hardware components and combined them with nice overall built quality. Starting with the 1GHZ CPU and 16GB internal storage to 512MB of RAM and a very sharp and clear capacitive WVGA LCD screen, everything is up-to-date, while not really groundbreaking. The formfactor of the device makes it appear bigger than it is, but the LG Optimus 7 is a smartphone that doesn’t feel like a cheap plastic toy, and instead uses metal parts which results in great haptics. The only real hardware complaint i have is regarding the Windows Phone buttons, because they don’t give a good feedback and they are just too big. Also it would have been nice to have an external memory card slot, but it seems like Microsoft doesn’t allow that at this point. The LG Optimus 7 is a good mid-range to high-end smartphone, which can keep up with the flagships of the competition. But at the same time it doesn’t bring anything new to the table hardware wise, so you shouldn’t expect any surprises. It’s primarily interesting to see how good the LG Optimus 7 fares in combination with the new Windows Phone 7 OS. This will be the second part of my review coming soon with all the details about Microsoft’s new mobile OS approach.

LG Optimus 7 hardware specification

Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon QSD 8650 1 GHz
Operating System: Windows Phone 7
Memory: 16 GB internal storage
RAM: 512 MB
Dimensions (LxWxT): 125 x 59.8 x 11.5 mm
Weight: 157 gms
Display: 3.8 inch TFT capacitive touchscreen display, WVGA 480 x 800 pixels
GPS: GPS transceiver with A-GPS support
Connectivity: GPRS, EDGE, 3G HSDPA, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n with DLNA, Bluetooth 2.1 with A2DP, microUSB 2.0
Camera: 5 MP camera, 2592 x 1944 pixels, autofocus, LED flash, 720p video recording
Sensors: G-sensor
Proximity sensor
Battery: Standard Li-ion battery, 1500 mAh
Connectors 3.5 mm stereo audio jack; Standard micro-USB

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