Editors' note: In this review, we'll focus more on the LG Quantum's design, performance, and differentiating features. For more on its operating system and core functions, please read our full review of Windows Phone 7.
The LG Quantum is AT&T's third Windows Phone 7 behind the Samsung Focus and the HTC Surround, but it's the first one to offer a full QWERTY keyboard. To be honest, we had our doubts about the Quantum when we first saw it during the official launch event, as it felt more like a quick messaging phone than a high-quality smartphone. However, after spending some time with the device, we've changed our tune. The Quantum delivers solid performance, an excellent keyboard, and sturdy hardware, though the design is not without its flaws (heavy, smaller display, limited landscape support). We still think the Samsung Focus is the best Windows Phone 7 device overall, but that said, those who want a physical keyboard will be well served by the Quantum. The LG Quantum is available now for $199.99 with a two-year contract.
The LG Quantum is a solid piece of hardware, though its drab, quick-messaging-phone-like appearance doesn't make the best first impression. However, once in hand, the smartphone has quite a premium feel to it, partly because of the soft-touch finish and stainless-steel battery door and partly because of the phone's weight. At 6.2 ounces, it's one of the heftier smartphones we've seen to date, which is a minor put-off, but fortunately, the slide phone is compact overall at 4.7 inches tall by 2.3 inches wide by 0.4 inch thick, so it's more manageable. Plus, the curved edges and rounded corners make it comfortable to hold, and the slider mechanism is strong, so the screen doesn't move or feel loose when you're simply holding the phone.
On front, you get a 3.5-inch capacitive touch screen that supports 16 million colors and a 480x800-pixel resolution. It's sufficiently bright and sharp, so we had no problems reading text or viewing photos and videos. Admittedly, the Quantum's screen isn't as sharp or vibrant as the Samsung Focus' and the smaller size takes a bit away from the Web browsing and multimedia experience, but the touch screen is responsive, as it registered all our taps, quickly scrolled through lists, and offered smooth pinch-to-zoom support.
One area where we did have an issue was the limited landscape support. As we noted in our review of Windows Phone 7, the OS doesn't fully work in landscape mode. Currently, it's limited to the photos, video, Web pages, messages, and games, so when you slide the phone open to use the keyboard, the Start screen remains in portrait mode. Granted, you'll most likely be using the keyboard to respond to messages, but still, full landscape integration would make for a more polished OS and better use of other features, such as navigation.
Moving on to the keyboard itself, it's spacious and easy to use. The rectangular buttons are a good size, even for larger thumbs, and there's a decent amount of spacing between the keys to limit mispresses. Numbers share space with the top row of letter keys. Interestingly, the Function and Shift keys are separate from the rest of the keyboard, as the two buttons sit alone on the outer left side. We have no problems with this, except the buttons were so small and set slightly below the phone's surface so they're a little difficult to press. In additional to the physical keyboard, you can use the onscreen keyboard.
LG uses a mix of touch-sensitive and physical keys for the required Windows Phone 7 controls. The back and search buttons are of the former variety and sit right beneath the display; the Start shortcut is a physical button and is located on the bottom lip of the phone. On the left side, you get a Micro-USB port, and on the right side, there's a volume rocker and camera button. The top of the device features a 3.5mm headphone jack and power button, and the camera and flash reside on back.
AT&T packages the LG Quantum with an AC adapter, a USB cable, a wired stereo headset, and reference material.