Recently, my friends at LG loaned me a couple of their new smartphones running Microsoft’s latest mobile operating system, Windows Phone 7.
The one on the left, the LG-C900B (aka the LG Quantum) has a slide out keyboard and the one on the right is the LG-E900h (aka LG Optimus 7) which is a full on touchscreen model.
As with previous LG smartphones I’ve reviewed, I found the build quality to be excellent and the form factor, especially on the Quantum, to be great in the hand. The Optimus was a little large and it’s edges a little sharp for my liking.
Both smartphones have 5 megapixel cameras with flash, a dedicated camera shutter button and also a bundled app for taking panoramic photos.
I quite liked the built in panorama app that made it really easy to create images like this one by simply holding the cameraphone up and moving it in the direction you want to capture. The app will snap a photo when you are lined up and take care of the stitching automagically:
My only complaint about the panorama app is that the resolution is quite low considering the ability of the camera.
The camera itself was pretty decent although even at the highest settings, it still looks a little web cammy to me.
I didn’t have a ton of time to really put the phones through their paces but overall I quite liked them. Not unlike the Zune MP3 player, I found the user interface to be fast, responsive and very slick. It felt much more polished than I’ve seen on Android devices and even made me wish my iPhone did some of the same tricks.
During the time I had with the phone, I didn’t get to try a lot of the applications in the marketplace but all the usual suspects were there with quite polished versions of Facebook, Twitter and the like. Even Netflix was there and worked very well.
Like Android & iOS devices, using Windows Phone 7 is centered around a core user account from Microsoft. Android uses Google accounts and Apple uses iTunes. The frustrating thing on WP7 was the fact that if you enter your initial account information incorrectly (I had mistyped my Windows Live password) you are basically screwed. There is no way on the phone to delete the account and try again or even correct the mistyped password. You can add additional accounts but the primary one has to be valid and correct for ANYTHING to work properly on the phone.
The only solution was to do a complete factory reset. While I hadn’t been able to setup much on the phone yet, it was still incredible that the only way to resolve the situation of a mistyped password was to reset the phone.
Initial pains aside, I still really liked the Windows Phone 7 platform based on my brief experience with it…I think it’s an easier platform for people new to smartphones to use and understand compared to the brutally fragmented Android arena. Microsoft also has the potential to really capitalize on its Xbox integration with these devices although the current implementation was a little weak with only minor connectivity to your Xbox Live account. Using your WP7 smartphone as a controller for your Xbox 360 could be very cool indeed.
I’m still not ready to give up my iPhone 4 but I certainly welcome Microsoft and it’s partners like LG to compete on an ever increasingly level playing field. Only time will tell if they can help make things better for all consumers. As I’ve said many times, competition is great to keep Apple in check and we’re finally seeing devices that at least have a chance to compete for market share.