TECH TIME REVIEW: LG boosts smartphone reputation with impressive Nitro HD
AT&T is in the process of rolling out its faster 4G LTE network, and in the process has been unveiling some new phones that are capable of accessing the network.
Among these offerings is the LG Nitro HD, an extra-large phone with some impressive specs, and I recently had the chance to spend some time with one. I’ll let you know how it stacks up against the other AT&T smartphones, and the smartphone market in general, and whether LG has finally produced a phone that can hang with the big offerings from other makes like HTC, Samsung and Apple.
Before I delve inside the specs, let’s get looks out of the way. This is a big phone, with a 4.5-inch screen. This amount of real estate is great for people who want a big screen to play their games or watch videos and movies. Others will find it just too big and uncomfortable to hold. It’s a matter of personal preference, and those seeking a smaller screen have other options. I don’t mind larger screens, I like them actually, so I was not concerned with this design. The weight is low at 4.5 ounces, and the official specs are 5.27 inches x 2.67 inches x 0.41 inches (a nice, thin depth).
The back of the phone has a unique feel to it, kind of a textured or ribbed plastic, but is still pretty grippy and isn’t prone to slipping out of your hands. It’s not the best materials I’ve seen used on a phone, but not as cheap feeling as some other phones I’ve tested. In terms of overall look and style, there’s nothing that really wows about this phone, as it’s pretty standard in its design.
Regarding the touchscreen itself, you get a very good high-definition resolution – 1280x720 pixels. This is becoming the standard that new phones must meet to be considered with the best, and the Nitro falls into this category. This level of resolution means super-sharp images of your movies, games, video calls or whatever else you are watching on the phone.
In terms or responsiveness, the touchscreen on the LG Nitro HD responded well to touch commands, and important factor since everything on phones now is controlled via the screen.
Considering the size of the phone, the on-screen QWERTY keyboard seemed a bit small to me in the vertical position, but the keys are bigger and more accessible in the horizontal position. All the usual forms of messaging – text, photo, video, IM – are offered on the Nitro.
Predictive texting is included, which can help you get your messages out quicker.
I had no issue with the calls I made on the LG Nitro HD, as they all sounded clear and I experienced no dropped calls or similar concerns.
The LG Nitro HD is one of AT&T’s new phones that is compatible with its new 4G LTE Network. AT&T’s phones up until now have been capable of the slower 4G HSPA+ speeds, so this is welcome news. By all accounts, AT&T’s 4G LTE network has download and upload speeds on a level with the best networks out there – even Verizon’s LTE network, which up until now has been called the fastest.
The problem is that the LTE network is not offered in a ton of places right now, compared to competitors. This means that I did not have access to it in Southeast Michigan, where I tested the phone. So I can’t tell you from personal experience how good AT&T’s LTE network really is. Instead, I was still using the HSPA+ 4G network, which was still fast – just not AS fast.
Some people might decide to wait until the LTE network arrives in their area before springing for an AT&T phone that can access it.
In terms of the processor, you get top-notch specs. The LG Nitro HD comes equipped with a 1.5 GHz dual-core processor, on par with the best phones on the market. This means you will not have any slowdowns when multitasking, and operation of the phone is very fast overall.
Memorywise, you get 4 GB of internal memory, and a preinstalled 16 GB microSD card. You can expand the memory to 32GB with a larger microSD card.
This is another area where the LG Nitro HD keeps pace for the most part with the ever-improving phones on the market. You get an 8-megapixel rear camera, the ability to shoot full HD 1080p video (which looks very good due to its 30 frames per second video capture ability), and you get the obligatory front-facing 1.3 MP camera so you can engage in video chat.
The only thing it really lacks is some of the more advanced camera features I’ve seen on some other new smartphones that have been released recently.
The LG Nitro HD features the Android 2.3 operating system. It is very easy to use, even for people who have no Android experience, and includes the usual Google integration, with services like Google Maps, Gmail, YouTube and much more built into the phone.
There is a newer and better Android system out (Android 4.0, aka Ice Cream Sandwich) and an upgrade to Android 4.0 is in store for the LG Nitro HD in the near future, according to LG.
Changing the icons that fill your homescreens, wallpaper, widgets and more is a very simple process on the LG Nitro HD.
The Optimus user interface LG uses on top of the stock Android system is not my favorite, and I prefer the stock Android UI on some other phones, but it didn’t bother me that much and most people won’t mind it.
You get some preloaded AT&T apps, but those are easily ignored if you don’t want to use them.
The LG Nitro HD is a world phone, so if you’re going to travel and have the appropriate international plan, the phone can travel with you.
The phone is also Bluetooth capable.
While it wasn’t the worst I’ve seen on a 4G phone, I would have liked to see a little better battery life on the LG Nitro HD. It should get you through the day, just be careful about using more intensive apps that will suck the battery fast.
The LG Nitro HD will cost you $199.99 with a 2-year contract. This is slightly less than some new phones available on AT&T and elsewhere, in part likely because LG is not as big a name in the smartphone market as its competitors. And if the past is any indicator, the price will drop in the near future if you’re looking to pick it up down the road.
With specs mostly in line with other top phones on the market, it really comes down to taste. This is a strong addition to the AT&T phone lineup, but there are a lot of other strong options too from other companies. If you’re going to pick this one up, you’ll have to like the design and feel of it, be a fan of really big touchscreens, and the people who will get the most out of the LG Nitro HD are those who live in areas where AT&T’s 4G LTE network has already reached.
It’s not going to be a runaway hit and grab headlines, as LG still is not considered by everyone in the same level as its competitors, but this phone does have the goods to compete so AT&T customers should give it a shot along with the competition and see if it satisfies their wish list for their next smartphone.
Matt Myftiu can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 248-745-4617. Follow him on Twitter @MattMyftiu or become a fan of the Facebook page “OPTechTime”.
On the Web
For more information on the LG Nitro HD, visit www.attwireless.com.