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First impressions of LG Thrill 4G

The LG Thrill 4G will be the U.S.'s first ever 3D smartphone. We take a hands-on look at it to see if it's worth the hype.

The LG Thrill 4G is the Optimus 3D repackaged for AT&T
The LG Thrill 4G is the Optimus 3D repackaged for AT&T. Nicole Lee/CNET

ORLANDO, Fla.--LG is definitely making a bigger name for itself in the U.S. market by bringing two hot European phones to these shores. The LG Optimus 2X was repackaged as the T-Mobile G2X, and now the LG Optimus 3D is coming stateside in the form of the LG Thrill 4G. We traipsed down to the AT&T media event at CTIA 2011 earlier today to get a closer look at the phone that will be the first-ever 3D smartphone in the country.

If our impressions sound similar to the ones we had of the Optimus 3D, it's because the Thrill 4G is really the same phone. Like the Optimus 3D, it has a very capable 1GHz dual-core processor along with dual-channel and dual-memory architecture. Design-wise, it has a generous 4.3-inch WVGA display, and feels decidedly solid in the hand. This is heightened by the matte rubbery surface, which provides a nice grip when held.

The big attraction, of course, is that the Thrill 4G is capable of showing 3D without the need for glasses. Press the 3D button on the side (or select the shortcut via the touch screen), and you'll come to a rotating hub of 3D content. The hub itself appears three-dimensional, and we could definitely see the icons jump out at us. From here, you can look at 3D images, go to YouTube 3D, or start up the 3D camera so you can, yes, shoot photos and videos in 3D. The Thrill 4G can do this because it actually has two 5-megapixel cameras on the back. It can record 3D video in 720p, and 2D video in 1080p.

Though we can't imagine using the phone in 3D mode all the time, we have to say that it does have its appeal. We played the Let's Golf game in 3D, and it was quite fun to see the ball fly off into "the distance." The 3D effect is certainly there, in a way similar to how it is with the Nintendo 3DS. After a few minutes playing with it, though, we think the 3D apps and games might be more of a fun thing to demonstrate at parties rather than something we would use on a daily basis. We'll have to evaluate it further once we get a review unit to test.

After recording those 3D videos, you can either share them on YouTube 3D, or plug in a cable connecting the phone's Micro-HDMI port to a 3D television so you can see it on the big screen. Of course, you can do this with non-3D content as well. The Thrill 4G also has DLNA support so you can stream that content wirelessly through other DLNA-compatible devices.

As the name suggests, the Thrill 4G has support for AT&T's HSPA+ network, which is the carrier's current definition of "4G." Theoretically, this gives it faster speeds, though some of AT&T's customers might beg to differ.

Other features of the phone include a front-facing camera for video calls, and the usual Wi-Fi, GPS, and stereo Bluetooth. The Thrill 4G ships with Android 2.2 Froyo with a UI that's not quite stock, but AT&T promises the phone will be upgradeable to 2.3 Gingerbread. As for pricing and availability, that information is unknown for now. Check out our gallery of the LG Thrill 4G.