Name: LG Thrill
Price: $100 w/two-year contract
The Back Story: It was just a month ago when we got our hands on the first 3D phone released in the U.S.: the HTC EVO 3D. Suffice to say, it blew us away. We thought it was going to be a handset built around a gimmick, but the 3D and image/video capturing ability managed to impress us. Yes, HTC was the first to jump out the 3D gate on American soil, but it was electronics giant LG that introduced the mainstream to the first-ever 3D Android phone last February at Mobile World Congress: the LG Optimus 3D.
Becoming an overseas phenomenon, LG decided to repackage the handset and ship it stateside under a new moniker, the LG Thrill. Sporting similar specs which consists of a glasses-free 3D touchscreen, powerful hardware, and what the manufacturer calls "tri-dual architecture" (dual-core, dual-channel, and dual-memory), along with AT&T’s revamped 4G service and unbeatable price tag, LG gives the network's subscribers more than enough to be excited about. That said, is the Thrill an upgrade from the EVO 3D? And does it have enough artillery under the hood to take down AT&T’s Android heavyweight champ: the Motorola Atrix?
• 3D presentation and multimedia experience: It’s evident LG built the device to put 3D capability at the forefront, and it does just that, pulling the same move as the EVO 3D and exploiting the same 3D parallax technology found on the Nintendo 3DS to produce notable third-dimensional effects. Right off the jump, you’re given instant access (via touchscreen or dedicated side button) into the 3D universe with the 3D Space app. Here, users are welcomed to an eye-popping carousel of 3D multimedia options. Watch YouTube videos in 3D, play 3D games, browse through the 3D image gallery, or jump into the stereoscopic camera and shoot 3D photos/videos. But we found the phone’s most unique feature to be the ability to lower 3D effects on particular games, decreasing the likeliness of dizzy spells in the process.
And if the 3D production doesn’t scream loud enough for you, users can still enjoy a game of Angry Birds and check Twitter on the sharp 4.3-inch LCD touchscreen. The built-in speaker is impressively loud at mid-level volume and makes watching clips and listening to music satisfying. Last, but not least, the phone's equipped with an HDMI port and comes bundled with a cable to mirror 3D (or 2D) content onto any 3D HDTV.
• AT&T's first-true 4G phone: Ma Bell has been pushing the Thrill as part of its upgraded 4G rollout, and we can co-sign that AT&T’s LTE service is in full high-speed swing. Our Speedtest.net analysis clocked data speeds at about 4Mbps, but our hands-on tests proved to be remarkably faster, as we downloaded apps from the Android Market in no less than 10 seconds. For the record, that’s nearly identical to our experience with Verizon's LTE service (reference our HTC Thunderbolt review). Web pages opened fast and software updates were instantaneous, too. Even HD YouTube videos loaded faster than usual.
• Tri-dual architecture: We haven’t toyed with a high-powered behemoth of this magnitude since the Atrix. The 1 GHz dual-core lives up to its rapid production capabilities by providing fluid menu and web navigation, as well as the ability to run 10 programs simultaneously in the background lag-free. The integration of both dual-channel RAM and memory also plays a vital role in the phone’s multitasking greatness and smooth 3D execution.
• Well-built form factor: It’s slightly bigger than the manufacturer’s Verizon counterpart, the LG Revolution, but the Thrill is the lighter model—weighing in at 5.93 ounces. The streamline design and dark aluminum finish give the phone a mystique and sexy veneer, while the rear soft-touch rubber jacket provides tighter grip control and feels comfortable in-hand.
• Unbeatable price: You’re looking at a 3D Android phone with a dual-core chip and LTE service for just a Benjamin. Need we say more?
• Outdated software: Even though it boasts a monstrous spec sheet, strangely enough, the device ships with the Froyo OS (Android 2.2). A Gingerbread update is being rumored for its new Aug. 21st release date, which has led to speculation on why LG delayed its original launch of early August.
• Weak battery life: Since the Thrill is a mobile work mule that pulls triple overtime on the productivity end, are we shocked that it suffers from poor battery performance? Course not. Basking in the phone’s 3D goodness and AT&T’s LTE service will drain the power in seven hours, while moderate use will deplete the energy bar in about 10 to 12 hours. Keep your charger on hand.
• Limited viewing angles: In order to take in the phone's full 3D presentation, you’ll have to position it directly in front of you, especially when playing games. With that said, gazing at the screen from side angles makes 3D content look hazy, and in some cases, unwatchable.
• Disappointing 3D stereoscopic camera: For the most part, the 3D images and videos we captured, in both dark and bright settings, came out blurry and lacked detail. We also noticed a two-second shutter delay in the dual-5MP cameras that caused resolution and clarity issues when snapping shots. Mobile photogs should stick to 2D mode.
Final Say: At just $100, AT&T not only gives its subscribers the best back-to-school option with the LG Thrill, it also offers the best Android deal, better yet, steal, on the market. The dominant hardware, standout 3D presentation, and improved 4G speed speak for itself. In comparison to the EVO 3D, we have to give the edge to LG’s powerhouse. Not because of its slightly better 3D quality, but for its tri-dual capability, which we assert as the Thrill’s biggest selling point. Granted the absence of Gingerbread might persuade subscribers to seek other Android 2.3-ready alternatives like the Atrix. Nevertheless, with LG promising a software update in the near future (hopefully by launch), there’s a strong possibility we could be staring at Ma Bell’s new Android king. That is until the network reveals its holiday line-up.