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Sure, the iPhone 5 (or iPhone 4S) is likely headed to the Now Network, but if you're firmly entrenched in the "Team Android" camp, you have a new device to get excited about.  Sprint's LG Marquee (known internationally as the LG Optimus Black) is a decent mid-range Android device that will appeal to those that don't need frills like 3D video, dual-core processors, and the like.  It's available now for $99 at Sprint, placing it squarely between the HTC EVO Shift 4G and Samsung Conquer 4G. 

I spent the weekend messing around with it.  Some thoughts:

  • It's a plasticky little bugger, and the combination of chrome and plastic makes it a lightweight device that has a slightly cheap feeling to it.  It's light - which is nice - but it's also cheap feeling.

  • The 4-inch NOVA display is a newcomer to the high-end screen market, and it has performed admirably so far.  Much like LG's LCD monitors, Marquee's display is a IPS LCD that's designed to generate more light while maintaining an energy-efficient profile.  It's pretty impressive; very easy to read in direct sunlight, and as I've said before, the 4-inch size is a nice stopgap between the gigantic 4.5-inch displays and the tiny 3.2-inch ones.
  • Marquee has a 1 GHz single-core CPU - nothing amazing by today's dual-core standards, but enough to get the job done.  I've put it through the usual paces over the weekend (downloading apps, sending a few text messages, and making phone calls), and I haven't experienced any lag or unusual slowdowns.  Where you WILL notice the single-core processor is in the browser and other media-rich places.  Pinch-to-zoom can be slow, and graphics stutter from time to time.
  • Marquee ships with a near-stock build of Android 2.3.4, which Android purists are sure to like.  Minus Sprint ID and other carrier apps like Mobile Wallet and Sprint Zone, it's a clean build, with no manufacturer-installed overlays.  
  • So far, I've been pleased with the wireless radio.  I passed through a known Sprint dead zone, and the call maintained itself, despite some static and chop.  Still testing data speeds and battery life, so stay tuned for the review.

  • Packing a 5-megapixel camera with 720p HD video recording capabilities, Marquee's camera isn't going to redefine the photography world, but is decent for the casual snapshot.  Likewise, the video quality is decent; both sound and audio quality sounded fine during my testing.
  • What is impressive, particularly given the device's mid-range appeal, is the 2-megapixel front-facing camera.  Great for taking those self-portraits or for video chatting with a friend.

Marquee isn't going to woo those looking for a superphone, but for $99 on a two-year agreement, it's a good starter smartphone for many users.  And choice is always good, right?  Check out the unboxing below, and stay tuned for the full review!

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