About 4 months ago I received a call from my best friend, asking me if I wanted to buy his Windows Phone 7 (WP7) phone. I was really surprised, because a) I knew how much he loved his phone and b) I already had a fully working mobile phone that I also loved (an HTC Touch HD – Blackstone, with Windows Mobile 6.5). However, since I wanted to have at least a back up mobile phone, just in case, I decided to give it a try.
After a few days, the LG Optimus 7 was in my hands, in its original box and with all original stuff in it. In fact, my friend also gave me a long hands-on with the mobile, since I was fresh in the WP7 area and I had no experience with this OS. The interface was so easy to use that I could not believe that! Only three main screens: The home screen with the tiles/shortcuts, the app list and the settings screen. That’s all. No file browser needed for digging up the files, no complicated menus leading you in hidden settings, nothing. Access to almost everything with a slide or with a click.
The phone has three hardware buttons: The left one is for back, the center one is the Home button and the right one is the Search button. They work flawlessly, no matter what you are doing. It also features a micro-usb port, a dedicated camera button (works even with the phone in hibernation), the volume buttons and of course a power button on the top. Unfortunately no micro-SD card slot… it would be really useful but it just doesn’t exist
The specs of the phone are quite interesting for its price: 3.8-inch capacitive screen (480×800), 512MB of RAM / 512MB ROM and 16GB of storage. Yeap, that’s plenty of storage of a mobile phone, trust me! The CPU is a Qualcomm QSD8650 Snapdragon @ 1GHz supported by an Adreno 200 GPU. In practice, the mobile phone works smoothly, with no lag noticed at any time, no matter what. And this is what matters.
Apart from that, it also sports a number of connectivity features, like Bluetooth, GPRS/EDGE/HSDPA, and of course Wifi. In addition, it has a 5MP camera (2592 x 1944) with autofocus, shooting video at 720p and a LED flash! Yes, it is my first mobile phone to feature a camera with a flash after more than 15 years! Amazing…
But enough with the theoretical stuff… what about how the phone behaves in every day use? Well, it is fast. Apparently Microsoft got the message from Apple, where hardware and software is seamlessly combined and the other one from Google, where software tries to make up for any hardware that can be available (not always successful, though) and the result is excellent: The phone is snappy and it never crashes! I don’t know how this happens, but I had seen no crash or app not working since I bought it (almost four months now). No need to soft reset and of course no need to hard reset. Tweaking is only for the brave at heart, since jail-braking your phone needs some work (much harder than in Android) so most of the users are happy with what they have: A fully working mobile phone!
The camera is also nice, better than the ones of my previous mobiles (sorry HTC!). Not only 5MP but also high quality, with vibrant colors and sharp details. Videos look pretty nice, too and the flash is often more than welcome (even though brighter than I would like).
The phone is also really durable: It has been through a series of drops on asphalt, cement etc and I only noticed some minor scratches on the hard plastic body. The screen does not have a single scratch yet, despite my careless usage – thanks to its Gorilla Glass coating! The battery life is also great, especially for a used phone: It will take me more than a day of use before I need to plug the charger in. During weekends, when things are more relaxed, there is no need for me to charge it.
As for the software: WP7 may be the last in line (the newest OS compared to iOS and Android) but it has a Marketplace populated with an ever-growing number of apps, most of which are free. I have found all my favorite apps there (Skype, YouTube, news reading apps, photo apps like Instacam etc.). I had no problem finding nice free apps for the recent Euro 2012 as well as for the London Olympics, navigation apps, tools, converters etc. I am currently not missing any of my Android apps.
So, what’s the bad side of the phone? Well, it is not the phone to blame, it is the OS. First of all, I have a terrible problem with the vibration pattern: Microsoft’s view on “Vibrate & Ring” is “vibrate three times and then let the ringtone begin”! For me it is a bug; for them it is a feature… that cannot be fixed in any way. I have lost quite a few calls when I am on the road and I cannot even hear the ringtone, while the vibration stops very quickly…
In addition, there is a total lack of Greek support (unicode) when composing SMS. This will only allow Greek users to compose an SMS of 70 characters instead of 160, due to the lack of support for unicode languages. Since free solutions are not compatible with LG Optimus 7, the only solution is a commercial application, for which one has to pay. Is this also a feature Microsoft?
Last but not least: Ok, we’ve got Skype. It is a Microsoft app anyway. Can you please make it work in the background? Otherwise it is useless. Or is this also a feature?
My overall impressions from this mobile are really nice. It is very easy to use, nice to hold and sturdy. It has all the features I need, it is a real tool. Would I ever go back to my Blackstone? Well, I may miss some things but no, I wouldn’t. I understand that this would be one step backwards. Hoping that the rather annoying issues will be fixed in the next OS update (7.8 – there will be no WP8 upgrade for the existing devices), I will stick to my Optimus 7.
::Edit:: While I was working on this post, I got a message that there is an update for my phone to v.7.10.8112.7. As soon as the update completed and the phone rebooted, I was also informed that there was another update to v.7.10.8773.98. I am not sure what exactly was updated (and I cannot recall the latest version of my Optimus 7 (before the update) but updates are usually more than welcome!