The LG Optimus 7 is a touchscreen bar-phone which runs on Microsoft's new Windows Phone 7 OS. It's powered by a - Windows Phone 7 typical - Qualcomm QSD8650 CPU at 1 GHz and supports quadband GSM/GPRS/EDGE as well as triband UMTS/HSDPA (7.2 Mbps)/HSUPA (5.7 Mbps) at 900/1900/2100 MHz which makes it one of the few Windows Phone 7 smartphones which can be also used with North American UMTS networks. Furthermore, the Optimus 7 features Bluetooth 2.1, WiFi b/g/n, an FM radio and the Windows Phone 7 typical aGPS receiver and sensors. With its 3.8" capacitive WVGA LCD touchscreen, it's one of the smaller sized Windows Phone 7 devices.
The 5 megapixel autofocus camera on the back, which comes with a LED flash and mirror next to the lens for self-portrait photos, also allows HD video recording at 720p.
The Optimus 7 comes with a total internal memory of 16 GB and this memory is - again Windows Phone 7 typical - not user upgradeable. Furthermore, the device comes with a removable 1500 mAh Li-Ion battery, yet one of the more powerful batteries used on a Windows Phone 7 smartphone. At a size of 125 x 59.8 x 11.5 mm, the device weights 158 g. Made of plastic and metal, it feels rocking solid and the curved design makes the Optimus 7 looking even smaller than it actually is while the design also contributes to the fact that the Optimus 7 nicely fits into the palm.
Bellow the touchscreen, the device features the Windows Phone 7-typical Back, Home and Search keys which aren't touch sensitive but physical keys. Unfortunately they aren't backlight illuminated; however since there are three keys only and they are well tactual, it's even not a problem to use the keys in the dark.
On the left, the device has the volume up/down rocker while on the right, the device features the Windows Phone 7 required camera key as well as micro USB port for synchronization and charging, which is protected by a flap. On the top, the device has located the power button as well as the 3.5 mm stereo headset jack.
Since Microsoft had a clear vision of what Windows Phone 7 should be or not, it also made some pretty strict software requirements. This means that neither manufacturers nor carriers are free to leave any Windows Phone 7 features and applications while both are free to add customization and further applications to enhance the user experience and make the device a little bit more unique as well as more carrier and manufacturer related; something LG did quite well.
Nevertheless, all Windows Phone 7 devices have two things in common: The unique tile user interface and the hubs.
Windows Phone 7's tiles are located on the Start or home screen and they are easily recognizable visual shortcuts for applications or content that users can set in an arbitrary location. Tiles, that use the Windows Phone 7 tile notification feature, can update the graphic or title text, or increment a counter, enabling users to create a personalized Start screen experience. The tile layout is customizable and can feature shortcuts to applications, contacts, web sites, music, maps locations, etc. It's pretty flexible and customizable and yet pretty unique for a mobile operating system.
The hubs bring together related content from the Web, applications and services into a single view to simplify common tasks. Windows Phone 7 includes six hubs: People, Pictures, Music & Video, Games, Office and Marketplace.
- People: This hub delivers an engaging social experience by bringing together relevant content based on the person, including his or her live feeds from social networks and photos. It also provides a central place from which to post updates to Facebook and Windows Live in one step.
- Pictures: This hub makes it easy to share pictures and video to a social network in one step. Windows Phone 7 also brings together a user's photos by integrating with the Web and PC, making the phone the ideal place to view a person's entire picture and video collection.
- Music and Video: This hub creates an incredible media experience that brings the best of Zune, including content from a user's PC, online music services and even a built-in FM radio into one simple place that is all about music and video. Users can turn their media experience into a social one with Zune Social on a PC and share their media recommendations with like-minded music lovers. The playback experience is rich and easy to navigate, and immerses the listener in the content.
- Games: This hub delivers the first and only official Xbox LIVE experience on a phone, including Xbox LIVE games, Spotlight feed and the ability to see a gamer's avatar, Achievements and gamer profile. With more than 23 million active members around the world, Xbox LIVE unlocks a world of friends, games and entertainment on Xbox 360, and now also on Windows Phone 7.
- Office: This hub brings the familiar experience of the world's leading productivity software to the Windows Phone. With access to Office, OneNote and SharePoint Workspace all in one place, users can easily read, edit and share documents. With the additional power of Outlook Mobile, users stay productive and up to date while on the go.
- Marketplace: This hub allows the user to easily discover and load the phone with certified applications, high quality games and Zune music.
Other Windows Phone 7 applications and services include Messaging with SMS and MMS support, Bing Search, Bing Maps, Alarms, Calculator, Calendar and Internet Explorer.
However, LG went even further and preinstalled three Windows Phone 7 unique and LG exclusive applications: Play To, Panorama Shot and ScanSearch.
- Play To is LG's own multimedia sharing feature based on DLNA technology. This application allows to stream photos, music and videos from the Optimus 7 to a TV, stereo or Windows 7 PC or any other DLNA certified and compatible electronic device.
- Panorama Shot is a LG exclusive add-on to Windows Phone 7's inbuilt camera user interface and allows the user to take a panoramic picture by pressing the camera button only once and then just move the camera in one direction. While the user moves the camera, pictures are automatically taken and after the last one is taken, all the photos are stitched together.
- ScanSearch is a yet - for Windows Phone 7 - unique AR (augmented reality) application which also uses the Optimus 7's inbuilt camera and connects the user with a real world view and information from the Internet. By holding the phone toward products or landscapes and view through the screen, ScanSearch shows local business information, including locations and contact information. And by turning the camera towards the sky, it shows real-time weather information.
Furthermore, LG's Optimus 7 features its own app category within the Windows Phone 7 Marketplace where LG offers exclusive content for Optimus 7 owners. This will - for instance - also include soon another unique Windows Phone 7 application called Voice to Text which allows users to transcribe their voice into text, bringing a new level of convenience to send E-Mails, tweets and Facebook updates as well as taking notes.
On the first sight, the LG Optimus 7 might look like any other Windows Phone 7 smartphone and as a matter of fact, that's what Microsoft had in mind when it created its new mobile OS. Doesn't matter which Windows Phone 7 device a customer is using, he or she should always find a minimum set of applications and services by always using the same user interface. Therefore Microsoft isn't allowing graphical user interface modifications anymore, as it was possible with Windows Mobile. On the other hand, Windows Phone 7 leaves enough room for manufactures and carriers to enhance this experience and make their own Windows Phone 7 device an even better one.
The LG Optimus 7 comes with the minimum set of required specs by featuring a 1 GHz CPU, 2.8" WVGA capacitive touchscreen and 5 megapixel autofocus camera. But the design is quite good; in reality the LG Optimus 7 looks even better than on any marketing shots I've seen and it fits very well into the palm. The stainless steel battery cover feels rocking solid like the rest of the device feels high quality. The only exception might be the power on/off button on the top which became a little bit too small; twice as big wouldn't hurt.
However, the real strength are the software enhancements LG added to the benefit of the device. It should be noticed that Microsoft is yet not officially providing the camera and compass API to developers except hardware manufactures and LG took the opportunity to develop a unique argument reality application which is both - handy and fun! Also I'm a big fan of the Optimus 7's DLNA support which worked quite well in my tests, doesn't matter if I tried it with Windows 7 PCs or TVs. Sure, I would like to see a deeper integration into the main OS, for instance into the music, video and picture hubs but it's a start making the Optimus 7 a great multimedia companion!
Last but not least I'm addicted to use my smartphones as a camera and the 5 megapixel camera makes sufficient photos. Quite handy is the inbuilt mirror for self portrait photos - a feature which isn't widely used anymore.
The strong 1500 mAh battery really does well and it shouldn't be a surprise at all that such kind of powerful smartphones need a recharge every night. However, the battery lasts long enough for a (working) day and even leaves some more power for the night which means that the Optimus 7 has to be rarely charged during the day.
All together I was more than pleased to test and use LG's first Windows Phone 7 smartphone during the past 3 weeks and best of all - one lucky the::unwired reader can also win one Optimus 7, courtesy of LG. Just follow the link bellow and follow the instructions!
Cheers ~ Arne