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If you're experiencing a bit of deja vu right now, don't fret. The LG Thrive does look exactly like the LG Phoenix--they're actually the same phone, except that the LG Phoenix is available paid from AT&T, while the Thrive is strictly a prepaid handset. This means the Thrive is yet another addition to the LG Optimus line of entry-level Android phones, and looks and feels a lot like the rest of its affordable cousins.
The LG Thrive is also the first smartphone available for AT&T's GoPhone prepaid service. Other prepaid Optimus phones include the LG Optimus M and the LG Optimus V, but the Thrive is the first GSM model to be offered prepaid. It does require a GoPhone smartphone data package--$25 for 500MB, $15 for 100MB, or $5 for 10MB--which doesn't seem like a lot of data. You might want different prepaid phone like the LG Optimus V if you want to save money on data. Still, for an entry-level product, we think the Thrive is a good start for those who want to try out an Android phone without spending a lot of money. The LG Thrive is available for $179.99 without a contract.
As the LG Thrive is the same exact phone as the LG Phoenix, we'll point you to the LG Phoenix review for most of the design and feature details; for this review, we'll focus mostly on performance. The only exception is that the LG Thrive does not have mobile hot-spot capabilities or data tethering support, while the Phoenix does.
We tested the LG Thrive in San Francisco with AT&T Wireless. Call quality was decent, though it wasn't perfect. We heard our callers clearly; their voices were loud without being blown out. We couldn't escape the occasional static, however.
LG Thrive call quality sample Listen now:
Callers reported similar call quality, but complained that our vocal quality was a little muddy and fuzzy. Volume levels were decent enough, though they did ask us to speak up when on the speakerphone. We could carry on a conversation just fine if both callers were in relatively quiet environments. In a noisier situation, callers had more trouble hearing us. Static was an issue for our callers as well.
We experienced spotty 3G coverage during our testing period. On a good day, the CNET mobile page loaded in around 25 seconds while the full CNET front page loaded in just under 2 minutes. The CNN mobile page loaded in around 10 seconds. However, on a different day, these page-loading times were twice as long. Of course, this can differ depending on your location as well.
The Thrive's 600MHz processor doesn't seem like much, but we found the overall navigation to be quite smooth and seamless. There was the occasional jitter when starting up a YouTube video, but it didn't bother us.
The LG Thrive has a rated talk time of 7.5 hours and a standby time of 20 days. According to the FCC, it has a digital SAR of 1.23 watts per kilogram. Our tests showed a talk time of 7 hours and 35 minutes.
As far as entry-level Android phones go, the LG Thrive is certainly one of the better options out there. It's also available prepaid via AT&T's GoPhone network, which is another plus for those who don't like two-year contracts. However, if you have a choice of networks, you might consider the LG Optimus V instead, if only because Virgin Mobile offers unlimited data for just $25 a month--compare that with the 500MB you get for the same amount of money on AT&T's GoPhone data plan. But if you need a GSM prepaid Android phone, the LG Thrive is where it's at. Just make sure you get decent AT&T coverage in your neighborhood.