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

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 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.

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