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LG Thrill 4G (AT&T) review: LG Thrill 4G (AT&T)

LG Thrill 4G (AT&T)

Bonnie Cha Former Editor
Bonnie Cha was a former chief correspondent for CNET Crave, covering every kind of tech toy imaginable (with a special obsession for robots and Star Wars-related stuff). When she's not scoping out stories, you can find her checking out live music or surfing in the chilly waters of Northern California.
Bonnie Cha
8 min read


LG Thrill 4G (AT&T)

The Good

The <b>LG Thrill 4G</b> offers a glasses-free 3D display and comes preloaded with 3D content, as well as stereoscopic cameras for capturing 3D photo and video. The Android smartphone features a dual-core processor and an HDMI port.

The Bad

The smartphone is large and heavy. It ships running Android 2.2 Froyo and can be sluggish at times. Camera quality could be better.

The Bottom Line

For the price, the LG Thrill 4G makes for a decent and fun Android device that includes 3D capabilities, but if you're after power and performance, there are better alternatives.

The LG Thrill 4G has been a long time coming. First released to the European market as the LG Optimus 3D and then announced for AT&T at CTIA 2011, the Android smartphone has yet to hit the streets, but its launch seems to be imminent. With official pricing set at an attractive $99.99 with a two-year contract, the Thrill 4G offers a glasses-free 3D display, dual cameras for 3D photo and video capture, and preloaded games and video, and in a number of ways, the 3D experience is better than on the HTC Evo 3D. However, it also fails to impress in other areas, which limits its appeal.

At 5.07 inches tall by 2.67 inches wide by 0.47 inch deep and 5.93 ounces, the LG Thrill 4G is a good chunk of hardware. Not only is it tall and wide, but it's also quite hefty, so if you're not used to this size device, it will be an adjustment and, most likely, a turn-off altogether for some. That said, the phone has a very solid construction, and the tapered edges and soft-touch finish on back make for a nice overall feel.

The LG Thrill 4G is a solid device but also quite large and hefty.

There are various controls throughout the phone to help you navigate and perform tasks. Below the display are touch-sensitive buttons for the menu, home, back, and search functions. The right side features a volume rocker and a 3D button that launches the phone's 3D Space app; on the left spine, you'll find a Micro-USB port and an HDMI port, both of which are protected by an attached cover. A power/lock button and a 3.5mm headphone jack reside on top of the device.

On back, you'll find dual 5-megapixel cameras for capturing 2D and 3D photos and video. In addition, the Thrill has a front-facing 1.3-megapixel camera for video calls and self portraits. Also, though it's not immediately apparent, the phone offers limited motion gesture support, so you can simply turn the phone over to mute an incoming call or to turn off or snooze your alarm.

The LG Thrill 4G comes packaged with an AC adapter, a USB cable, a preinstalled 8GB microSD card, an HDMI cable, and reference material.

3D display
The Thrill 4G features a 4.3-inch, 800x480-pixel touch screen. It's not quite as sharp as the Evo 3D's qHD (540x960) Super LCD and is a bit of a fingerprint/smudge magnet. The display also tends to wash out a bit in bright sunlight. However, we generally found the display to be clear, bright, and responsive, and its larger size makes it great for viewing Web pages and videos. The Thrill offers two virtual keyboard options: Android or LG's own. Both are pretty easy to use, but we had a slight preference for the Android keyboard.

There's more than meets the eye when it comes to the Thrill's screen, though. Like the Evo 3D and Nintendo 3DS, the smartphone's display has a parallax barrier that allows it to display two different images on top of the screen to create a 3D effect without the use of glasses.

Overall, we found the 3D experience to be better on the Thrill 4G than on the Evo 3D because it offered more depth of field, meaning there was a bit more dimension in the background. By comparison, on the Evo 3D, it felt like only the objects in the foreground popped off the screen, while the rest of the image stayed flat.

We also liked that the Thrill comes preloaded with more 3D content and a dedicated 3D Space app. The latter acts as a hub where you can find 3D games, videos, apps, gallery, a user's guide, and camera access. Preloaded content includes 3D versions of such games as Let's Golf 2, Asphalt 6, and N.O.V.A., and a Gulliver's Travels pop-up book.

We watched a number of videos, both preloaded clips and from YouTube's 3D channel, and played a couple of games. As we noted before, the overall 3D effect was better than the Evo 3D, though the 3DS probably still offers the best 3D experience. With some content, you have the option of adjusting the 3D levels. Regardless, after a little while, we started getting dizzy and felt a headache coming on, so we had to put the phone down. To LG's credit, the phone displays a disclaimer before launching into 3D advising you to take a break if your eyes become tired or if you experience dizziness.

There are also limited viewing angles. You have to view the content pretty much dead on, otherwise you get a very blurry image and your eyes will go crazy trying to focus. We also discovered this while playing Asphalt 6. As we tilted the phone to navigate the car through the race course, the 3D effect was lost anytime we weren't driving straight, so it was kind of pointless to play the game in 3D.

The Thrill's stereoscopic cameras allow you to shoot photos and video in 2D and 3D.

The 3D photos and videos taken with the phone's stereoscopic camera were pretty decent, if not a bit pixelated. Interestingly, the Thrill allows you to apply 3D effects to a 2D image, but we found the quality is much better if you shoot in 3D from the get-go.

Though the 3D experience on the Thrill 4G is better than the Evo 3D, we still think the feature is simply a fun extra rather than a compelling reason to buy the phone. The handset might come preloaded with some more games and video, but 3D content is still pretty limited and so is the experience. So, what else does the Thrill 4G have to offer, then?

First and foremost, it is a phone, and the Thrill 4G's voice features include quad-band world roaming, a speakerphone, conference calling, voice dialing, and text and multimedia messaging. Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and A-GPS are all available, as well as support for AT&T's HSPA+ (14.4Mbps) "4G" network.

The smartphone ships running Android 2.2.2, which is disappointing, but AT&T says it will be upgraded to Android 2.3 Gingerbread in the future. The phone uses LG's proprietary user experience, and though it's not particularly offensive, it's not great, either. You can customize seven home screen panels with various widgets and shortcuts, and adjust the layout of the apps menus, but it lacks of bit of the sophistication seen in other skins like HTC Sense.

In addition to the standard Google services, the phone comes preloaded with a number of extra apps and services. These include Polaris Office, Amazon Kindle for Android, Qik Lite, AT&T FamilyMap, AT&T Code Scanner, and AT&T Navigator. You can't uninstall all of the preloaded titles, but you can uninstall some of them. Also, thankfully, the carrier now allows you to download and install non-Market apps.

The smartphone offers 8GB of onboard memory and comes preinstalled with an 8GB microSD card, which is great. The expansion slot can support up to 32GB, so you can always upgrade to a bigger media card if you plan on using the phone to listen to a lot of music or to watch a lot of video. Media playback is handled through the standard Android player and includes basic player functions and support for most standard music and video formats.

Picture quality was a bit disappointing.

In 2D mode, the Thrill's 5-megapixel camera app offers various scene modes, white-balance controls, color effects, geotagging capabilities, and more. Unfortunately, picture quality wasn't all that impressive. Even with flash, images taken in low-light conditions came out looking soft and slightly blurry. Photo quality was much better on pictures taken outdoors. In video mode, the camera can shoot 1080p HD video in 2D and 720p in 3D. Video quality was quite good for a camera phone, with very little graininess or pixelation. A nice bonus is the built-in HDMI port and included cable, which allows you to easily view and share the contents of your phone to your HDTV.

We tested the quad-band (GSM 850/900/1800/1900) LG Thrill 4G in New York using AT&T service and call quality was good. Voices sounded true to life, and the audio was mostly clear. We noticed a faint hissing in the background during lulls in the conversation, but it wasn't distracting enough to be a problem. Friends were mostly positive in their feedback, but we got several complaints that call quality was a bit muffled on their end.

LG Thrill 4G call quality sample Listen now:

Speakerphone quality was impressive. The audio was sharp and not as hollow-sounding as some speakerphones. There was also plenty of volume to hear our callers in a louder environment. We paired the smartphone with the Logitech Mobile Traveller Bluetooth headset and the Motorola S9 Active Bluetooth Headphones and were able to make calls and listen to music without problem.

We didn't experience any dropped calls during our review period and got reliable coverage throughout Manhattan. However, data speeds on AT&T's HSPA+ network, which the carrier calls 4G, was rather inconsistent. Using Ookla's Speedtest.net app, we saw download speeds ranging from 1.13Mbps up to 6.28Mbps and upload speeds in the 0.05Mbps to 1Mbps range, with the average around 3.22Mbps down and 0.83Mbps up. In real-world tests, CNET's full site loaded in 16 seconds, and the mobile sites for CNN and ESPN coming up in 5 seconds and 6 seconds, respectively. Flash video loaded within a few seconds and played back without interruption, as did high-quality YouTube videos.

The Thrill 4G is powered by TI's dual-core 1GHz OMAP4430 processor and has 512MB RAM. The smartphone was generally responsive, but we did experience some sluggishness when launching and using some apps, such as the camera and some of the 3D games. The delays were minimal but when comparing with some other dual-core phones, it was noticeable.

The LG Thrill 4G ships with a 1,500mAh lithium ion battery with a rated talk time of 6 hours and up to 13 days of standby time. The smartphone exceeded the rated talk time by an hour in our battery drain tests, and in a real-world setting, we've been able to get close to a full day's use on a single charge with moderate usage. Using the 3D capabilities, however, does drain the battery quicker. We will update this section as soon as we have final results.

The LG Thrill 4G is a decent smartphone. It offers an affordable price tag, nice hardware, and a respectable feature set. The problem is, aside from the 3D capabilities, it's not a standout among today's devices. It doesn't have the latest software (yet), battery life and general performance could be better, and its large design can be a turn-off. The Thrill 4G makes for a fun and budget-friendly option, but for the same price, we think the Motorola Atrix 4G and HTC Inspire 4G are the better all-around performers. Also, if you can wait, the U.S. version of the Samsung Galaxy S II should be coming soon.


LG Thrill 4G (AT&T)

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 8Performance 8