Although the Marquee phone was released just last month, you might have seen it before on Sprint's network (and perhaps you saw it even before then, since the LG Marquee is Sprint's version of the LG Optimus Black).
If you're more of a prepaid, no-contract sort of person, you can get this device on Boost Mobile's 3G network for about $279. It's the most expensive phone that's available on the carrier's site (Sprint's handset is $99.99, but that's only after you sign up for a two-year contract and send in a mail-in rebate). Though it also has a lot of features, including a brilliant 4-inch Nova display, a sleek design, and a decent camera with numerous settings, the internal lag time was annoying, especially for a device that requires so much cash up front.
Editors' note: This review borrows from our LG Marquee (Sprint) review, where some of the devices' design and features overlap.
Just like the LG Marquee for Sprint, the Boost Mobile model is remarkably slim and lightweight. At 4.8 inches long by 2.52 inches wide by 0.36 inch deep and weighing in at an amazing 3.95 ounces, the Marquee is one of the thinnest and lightest Android handsets I've ever handled. Some might think it's too light, but for my petite hands, it feels great. Especially when slipping it into a jeans pocket or tucking it away in a hoodie's kangaroo pocket.
The device's plastic shell doesn't have as much of a premium feel as heftier handsets. Although the back is slightly contoured on the edges--perhaps to give the phone a better grip--I found that its matte coating made it more slippery than other handsets. However, the coating does not trap or reflect fingerprints, so that's a plus.
What really makes the Marquee shine is its 4-inch Nova display. LG reported that it has 700 nits of brightness, which makes it one of the brightest and clearest displays on the market. While I didn't measure this, the phone does appear to be just as bright as the LG Connect 4G, which also has 700 nits of brightness. The phone also looks to be on par with the Retina Display on the iPhone 4, but that's only in terms of brightness, since the iPhone 4 does have a richer resolution (960x630 pixels).
Even though the LG Marquee's display made watching videos in both indoor and outdoor lighting a breeze, graphics didn't seem as clear or sharp as expected. Images looked a little too pixelated than I would like, but they were bright nonetheless.
Comparisons aside, the Nova display does look very impressive. With support for 16 million colors and a WVGA 800x480-pixel resolution, blacks are true and deep, and images and graphics pop with color. Text appears crisp as well. The capacitive touch screen felt nice and responsive, though I did experience sluggishness during menu transitions and Web browsing. Even when a page was fully loaded, pinching the screen for zooming lagged noticeably.
The LG Marquee ships running Android 2.3 Gingerbread with a very basic user interface. It's pretty close to how the native Android UI looks, except that Boost Mobile added its own Mobile ID button in the bottom row of the home screen. With Boost Mobile ID you can customize the five home screens with certain preselected apps, widgets, and other items depending on which ID profile you choose.
For example, if you select the E! package, you'll get E! apps and widgets pertaining to the celebrity news channel. You can also choose a Professional package, which includes tools to help with business travel plans, financial investments, and office communication. Just note that deleting a Mobile ID package won't uninstall the apps that you downloaded--you'll have to remove those apps manually. I don't like that Boost Mobile made Mobile ID so integral to the phone. It appears you can't remove the Mobile ID function from the home screen's dashboard, so the only choice you have is just to ignore it.
Furthermore, the IDs themselves don't look very good. There are only nine available packs online so far, and they're all sort of...well, ugly. Especially the corporate ones that make your phone look like a walking advertisement for E! and MTV.
Underneath the display are the usual four Android shortcut keys: Home, Menu, Back, and Search. The volume rocker sits on the left spine along with a programmable shortcut key that can start up any application you choose (the default is set to the camera function). On the top are the power/screen lock key, a 3.5mm headset jack, and the Micro-USB port. One thing I love about the Boost Mobile edition is that the Micro-USB port has a tiny door your can toggle to protect the exposed area. Sitting above the display next to the Boost Mobile logo is a 2-megapixel front-facing camera, while a 5-megapixel camera with an LED flash sits on the back.
As an Android phone, the phone comes with the Swype virtual keyboard and is compatible with plenty of Google services. These include Gmail, Google Maps with Navigation, YouTube, Google Search with Voice, Google Books (with "Treasure Island," "The Three Musketeers," and "Wuthering Heights" preloaded), Google Talk, and Google Latitude.
In addition to the default Google apps, the device comes with a Boost Mobile app called Boost Zone. This app is a central place where Boost Mobile customers can manage their account--pay their phone bills, get help with their phones, and get updates about upcoming products from the carrier.
Polaris Office, which lets you write and edit Office documents, is also included. As well as SmartShare, an app that enables you to share media with other DLNA-enabled devices. Aside from DLNA, the phone has the usual Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and GPS support.
If you're interested in purchasing the LG Marquee, you'll be glad to know that you can also take advantage of Boost Mobile's $55 Android Monthly Unlimited plan that comes with Shrinkage. Don't worry--in this case, Shrinkage is good. It's a payment program that allows your monthly unlimited plan to decrease by $5 for every six payments you pay on time. Unfortunately, the maximum your bill can go down is $40, but for that rate you still get to have nationwide talk, text messaging, and Web browsing.
Voice features include the usual speakerphone, speed dial, smart dialing, voice commands, conference calling, and text and multimedia messaging. As for multimedia, the device comes with the default Android Music player, and that's about it. It does ship with a 2GB microSD card, and is expandable up to 32GB.
The LG Marquee's 5-megapixel camera offers a number of tools and settings. They include four focus modes (auto, infinity, macro, and fixed), seven scene modes (auto, portrait, landscape, night, night portrait, sunset, and sports), six resolutions, three quality settings, five color effects (none, mono, sepia, negative, and solar), four ISO settings plus an auto setting, five white-balance presets (auto, incandescent, daylight, fluorescent, and cloudy), a 3x digital zoom, and geotagging. The camera also has an LED flash that can continuously stay on while you record 720p HD video.
I tested the LG Marquee in San Francisco using Boost Mobile's service, and call quality was great. The people I called sounded clear, both when they were indoors and outdoors, and there were no extraneous buzzing or static coming out of my receiver. Although I thought the maximum volume level could be higher, voices came out clear. On the other end, it was reported that my voice sounded fine as well, and there was no difficulty experienced when hearing me.
The speaker quality was also good. Voices came out cleanly and loudly, and there was no sound muffling or reverberating, which happens sometimes when noises coming out of phone speakers bounce back and forth from the backing of the phone. Watching videos and playing games on speaker was also perfectly adequate. Although it can be just a tad bit louder, there was a lot of clarity with the audio.
Boost Mobile's LG Marquee call quality sample Listen now:
Video chatting with Google+, however, did not go well. Although the connection was fine, audio was awful. There was an odd constant bubbling sound in the background that made it difficult for me to hear my friend, and voices would cut out intermittently. Although video quality was adequate, trying to hear each other was bothersome, and the continuous popping and gargling sound became too much to handle.
The photo quality on this phone was impressive, however. For some reason, though, when I looked at the phone for live camera or video feedback, the color quality and clarity appeared fuzzy and extremely blurry. But once the shutter was snapped or the video finished recording, lines became crisper and colors popped out more vividly. This isn't a good thing, because you never know what your picture will look like since the feedback versus your actual photos are of such different quality--but at least the results you'll get will always look better in the end.
Because the device runs on Boost Mobile's 3G network, it isn't the fastest phone on the market. Downloading the 8.50MB Google+ app, for instance, took 6 minutes and 24 seconds. Loading the CNET mobile site took an average of 46 seconds, while loading our full site took a minute and a half. The New York Times' full site took shorter on average, clocking in at 37 seconds, and its mobile site took 14 seconds to load. ESPN's mobile site took 18 seconds, and its full site loaded in 43 seconds. Ookla's Speedtest app, which is 2.99 MB, took 1 minute and 3 seconds to download, showed me an average of 0.37Mbps down and 0.74Mbps up.
Fruit Ninja, at 18.34 MB, took a whopping 8 minutes and 2 seconds. Playing Fruit Ninja wasn't also very pleasant. Yes, the graphics were bright and vibrant (albeit pixelated as previously mentioned), but I could really tell the phone was barely trudging along to run the app. One time the screen went black while the app still ran and the swiping of my finger still made noises, and another time the app froze up altogether. Furthermore, when I played the game, the handset got very warm, very quickly.
The lag time on the LG Marquee was a real bother for me. Its 1GHz processor worked well when it came to the bare-bones basics of making the phone function. But I noticed slight delays when launching apps, multitasking, transitioning back to the home screen, Swyping in the Web browser, switching between landscape and portrait mode, and pinch zooming. Sometimes the phone had its good days when things ran a little zippier than usual, but other times it was a total drag.
The reported talk-time battery life on this phone is 5.67 hours. During our battery drain tests, the phone took 8.98 hours to fully die. Furthermore, I noticed that using the phone with the bright Nova display lit up eats a lot of battery, though, and you'll find yourself charging your LG Marquee often. Of course, there are things you can do to preserve battery usage, like dimming the screen or using an app like JuiceDefender, but it's still something to keep in mind.
According to FCC radiation tests, the LG Marquee has a digital SAR rating of 0.57W/kg.
Aside from its beautiful display, svelte design, and adequate camera, the LG Marquee for Boost Mobile doesn't have a lot of things going for it. We can even look past the fact that it doesn't run on 4G because a lot of other top-notch phones don't run on it either. But with its slow performance, unattractive Mobile ID customization option, and subpar screen resolution, its price tag doesn't merit its worth. Sure, you could argue that since it makes good calls (and indeed, it does) then it must be a great phone. But if calling is all you care about, and this phone goes for $279, you can get something just as adequate for much less.