LG's Optimus 7 is one of five smartphones launched in Australia that run Microsoft's new mobile operating system, Windows Phone 7. The Optimus 7 is something of a rarity for LG, which is better known for its low-end, budget smartphones. The Optimus 7 has high-end specifications (albeit the standard for any Windows Phone 7 smartphone) and also boasts 16GB of internal memory — the most of any Windows Phone 7 launch device.
For a full verdict on the Windows Phone 7 platform, read our in-depth Windows Phone 7 review.
Unlike previous Windows Mobile devices, all new Windows Phone 7 smartphones are forced to meet strict hardware requirements. These include a capacitive, multitouch display with a minimum 800x480 resolution, a 1GHz or better processor, at least 256MB of RAM, a minimum of 8GB of internal storage, and a GPS receiver. All Windows Phone 7 devices must also have an accelerometer and digital compass, an ambient light sensor, a 5-megapixel camera or better, an FM radio and seven physical buttons (back, Start, search, camera, power/lock, volume up/down).
These requirements make all Windows Phone 7 devices eerily similar to use and means that physical design is the main differentiator between models. The LG Optimus 7 looks like a stock-standard Windows Phone, but it does have distinctive brushed metal casing on its rear. It is slightly heavier than the very similar HTC 7 Mozart but lacks an aluminium unibody design. It feels weighty in the hand without being too large.
Surprisingly, the build quality is a real standout. In particular we like the travel and tactility of the physical buttons below the display, the brushed metal finish on the rear and the well-positioned physical volume buttons. The back, home and search buttons deserve particular praise; we find them much more intuitive than touch-sensitive keys, though we wish they were backlit.
The LG Optimus 7 has a 3.8-inch capacitive touchscreen making it slightly larger than the iPhone 4 but smaller than the Samsung Galaxy S. The screen has good viewing angles, but lacks the vibrancy of the Samsung Omnia 7's 4-inch Super AMOLED display. We also found zoomed text in documents and the Web browser to be less crisp that we expected.
Apart from physical design and display size, the other main difference between Windows Phone 7 handsets is the quality of the camera and any extra software. LG has included Play To and ScanSearch apps on the Optimus 7. Play To lets users to wirelessly stream multimedia content from the phone to other electronic equipment (TVs, gaming consoles, stereos and PCs) via DLNA, while ScanSearch is a location-based search app that uses augmented reality and the digital compass to search for business in various categories: you simply point the phone in a particular direction. A nifty Optimus 7 feature lets you use the camera to take five photos and produce a panorama shot. Photos are automatically added to the camera roll once they are taken and you can activate the function through the settings menu in the regular Windows Phone 7 camera application. LG also has a "tool box" app in the Windows Phone marketplace; it includes a world clock, flash light, a level, unit converter and a date calculator.
The LG Optimus 7 has a basic 5-megapixel camera with single LED flash, and like all Windows Phone 7 devices, it doubles as a 720p HD video recorder. The camera produces photos with good colour reproduction and detail for a mobile phone camera, and, unlike the HTC 7 Mozart, LG has added some extra settings including intelligent shot, beauty shot, and the afore-mentioned panorama shot. However, you can't adjust any advanced image settings like ISO.
The LG Optimus 7 includes 16GB of internal memory, which is the most of any Windows Phone 7 device at launch. As there Windows Phone 7 handsets have no microSD card slot for extra storage, the extra memory compared to devices like the HTC Mozart and the Samsung Omnia 7 (both of which have 8GB of storage) may give the Optimus 7 an edge, particularly when it comes to storing a large amount of multimedia.
Battery life is about what we have come to expect from a smartphone — the LG Optimus 7 will quickly run out of juice if you use it frequently but should last a full day. For better battery life, we recommend turning off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth when not in use, keeping the screen brightness down and setting push e-mail and account updates (Facebook, Google, Windows Live, Outlook) to manual.
The LG Optimus 7 is available exclusively through Optus in Australia.