It's been a long time between drinks for LG, especially when you look at the company's smartphone range across the last two years. Like HTC, Samsung and Motorola, LG's previous attempts at smartphones were held back by a very cumbersome piece of software, Windows Mobile 6.5. Despite this, LG has backed the latest mobile OS from Microsoft and is among the first to launch a Windows Phone 7 (WP7) handset. Will this gamble pay off?
As soon as we got the Optimus 7Q in our hands we were surprised by its weight. Its matte black finish and 3.5-inch screen tricked us into assuming this smartphone would feel the same in the hand as a multitude of other phones we've reviewed, but it's considerably heavier. At 176 grams the 7Q is almost 50 per cent heavier than the (admittedly lightweight).
The extra weight goes into the partial metal body of this phone. There's a soft-touch plastic surrounding the screen, but the battery cover and the sections of the phone concealed by the slider are all made from a lightweight metal. The weight and materials give this handset a premium finish missing from so many LG phones of recent memory.
With five Windows Phone 7 handsets launching in Australia over the next six weeks, comparisons are inevitable, and one area where both the Optimus 7Q and its companion device, the Optimus 7, will struggle against is in the quality of HTC and Samsung's displays. LG has opted for TFT LCD panels, presumably to save on costs, and the results are far less impressive than the 4-inch AMOLED screen on the Omnia 7 or the Super LCD displays used by HTC.
In its favour, the 7Q sports a full QWERTY keyboard. This pad has four rows of keys, with the top row of letters sharing their place with numerals, and a very handy collection of directional cursor keys at the bottom right. The keyboard is larger than you might expect, with each key afforded a generous horizontal spacing, but the keys are also quite shapeless which can be troublesome if you're used to typing quickly. The size, shape and position of the Shift and Function keys are also a miss for LG, as the two steel studs on the left-hand side of the keyboard are far from our ideal for buttons that you'll likely use frequently each day.
On the back of the 7Q is a 5-megapixel camera and flash, and below the tin is a 1500mAh battery pack, but no microSD card or slot is to be found thanks to restrictions from Microsoft.
Hardware-wise, LG is restricted by the minimum specifications outlined by Microsoft to all of its manufacturing partners. LG just meets the minimum spec for WP7, packing a 1GHz Snapdragon processor and 512MB RAM, and going a little beyond the call of duty with 16GB of storage (where the minimum spec is 8GB).