As one of the initial Windows Phone 7 devices, the LG Quantum offers a 1 GHz processor, 3.5-inch display, 5.0-megapixel camera, and is one of two launch devices to sport a physical QWERTY keyboard. It's a well-rounded device, and takes LG out of the Android realm. Despite the strong feature set, the Quantum is hard to distinguish between LG's featurephone offerings, which may keep people away from the phone. With two other Windows Phone choices on AT&T, is the Quantum the device to have?
The left side of the device packs a microUSB charging port, the right side houses the volume rocker and camera shortcut button. The top contains the power button and 3.5mm headphone jack, and the front houses the usual three buttons: Back, Home, and Search. Interestingly enough, the Home button is a physical one, while the Back and Search buttons are capacitive. The Quantum has a metal battery door, and like the myTouch 4G, it gives the device a premium feel. The phone ships a medium-sized box with an AC adapter module, USB cable, earbuds, and instruction manuals.
The Quantum packs a 1 GHz processor, and held its own in every test I was able to throw at it. The 3.5-inch display is the smallest WP7 screen to date, and while it will work fine for people migrating from a featurephone to a smartphone, those used to 3.7-inch or higher displays will be frustrated. It doesn't offer anything special - it's not a high-resolution display - but colors are crisp and the display holds up well in direct sunlight.
When it comes to Windows Phone 7, the whole experience reminds me of my first hands-on time with the original iPhone in 2007. It's a ground-up revision of Windows Mobile, and as far as I'm concerned, Microsoft nailed it. Like other mobile operating systems, there are things I don't like, but all in all, it's a dramatic improvement from the crash-prone mess that was Windows Mobile 6.5. The user interface - known as "Metro UI" - is comprised of square and rectangular tiles, and from the Phone application to browsing the web, the entire interface is intuitive and very easy to use. That said, there are minor irritations that you would expect from an operating system that's in its infancy - no copy and paste, an inability to permanently display the signal strength indicator bar, a limited ability to customize, and a jumbled mess of applications, music, and songs in the Marketplace. Still, the simplicity is a refreshing change from the multitasking, widget-heavy experience found on Android.
The Quantum comes preinstalled with the typical AT&T programs - AT&T FamilyMap, myWireless, Navigator, Radio, and U-verse Mobile. Microsoft's Zune and Xbox LIVE are also integrated into Windows Phone 7. You can purchase a Zune pass for $14.99 per month, and get unlimited music streaming and 10 downloads per month. On the entertainment front, another highlight of the new OS is the web browser. Despite the lack of Flash, pages load quickly, and the pinch-to-zoom functionality is fantastic. Based on performance alone, it runs circles around Android, BlackBerry, and webOS, and gives iOS a run for its money.
Sliding the Quantum to the right side reveals the four row physical QWERTY keyboard. The island keys are large and feel great, though the position of the Shift and Function keys baffled me. Instead of being on the keyboard, they're on the plastic trim, and they're tiny circular buttons. It's uncomfortable, and left me baffled as to why LG didn't place them on the keyboard itself. Other features include four navigational buttons and a dedicated emoticon button. It's a decent QWERTY, though when comparing keyboards to keyboards, it's no match to the T-Mobile G2 and the Samsung Epic 4G.
In addition to the physical QWERTY, the Quantum comes with Windows Phone 7's on-screen QWERTY keyboard. As I've said before, it's one of my favorite virtual keyboards on the market, and is fantastic in the autocorrection department. Should you type a message and realize you misspelled a word, simply tap it and Windows Phone 7 will display a list of recommended words. It's quick, easy, and perfect for someone that wants to bang out a message as quickly as possible.
The Quantum offers a 5-megapixel camera with a flash, and while it pales in comparison to the camera on the Samsung Focus, picture quality seems to be better than the HTC Windows Phone 7 models. The camera interface is clean and easy to use, and within seconds, you can move back and forth between the camera and the photo gallery. Through the menu, you can edit the white balance, color effect, quality, and activate LG-specific features like "Intelligent Shot" and "Beauty shot." The phone shoots 720p video, and in testing, I was very pleased with the quality.
I worked with the LG Quantum in the Charlotte metro area, and call quality was good. The earpiece was very loud, and callers told me they could hear me well. When working with the Quantum in an AT&T dead spot in North Charlotte, I was able to keep the call, despite some severe audio dropouts. I (briefly) tested the speakerphone in a busy coffee shop, and callers were able to understand me, though they reported heavy background noise. I connected my Plantronics Voyager Pro Bluetooth headset to the device, and used it without any issues. AT&T's 3G network performed well throughout testing, but Wi-Fi is available for those times where you want a faster connection.
The Quantum breaks away from the other Windows Phone 7 devices by offering a 1,500 mAh battery, and after using it for a few days, I appreciated it. With moderate use including calling, text messaging, e-mailing, and use of the Windows Marketplace, I was able to make into the morning of the second day before the device powered down. For those that are constantly calling and messaging, you'll want to charge each evening, but it runs circles around the HTC HD7 and Surround.
The Quantum offers a nice physical QWERTY keyboard and packs a large (by Windows Phone standards) 1,500 mAh battery, but for AT&T customers looking for a more media-rich experience, but the smaller screen and featurephone-like design could sway prospective buyers. If media and a large touchscreen are important to you, look to the Samsung Focus or HTC Surround. The LG Quantum is available now, and can be had at AT&T for $199.99 with a two-year agreement.
What's Good: As one of the few Windows Phone 7 devices to offer a physical QWERTY keyboard, the Quantum packs a speedy 1 GHz processor, 5-megapixel camera with a flash, and 1,500 mAh battery.
What's Bad: Quantum looks a lot like a featurephone; smallish display in comparison to the other WP7 devices.
The Verdict: If you need the physical keyboard, the LG Quantum is your device. Otherwise, there's more to like in the HTC Surround and Samsung Focus.