LG E900 Optimus 7 review: Lucky seven
A 5MP camera
The LG E900 has a 5MP autofocus camera and LED flash. Still images have a maximum resolution of 2592 x 1944 pixels, while videos go up to 720p.
The camera UI is pretty simple – you have your viewfinder and some controls on the right. From top to bottom they are the still/video camera toggle, virtual zoom buttons and an extended settings menu.
We rarely get surprised by camera UI but Microsoft has managed to pull out another nice UI stunt here as well. A side slide to the right opens the last picture shot and a slide to the right brings back the camera's live view instantly.
The extended settings have been modified a bit – the LG logo is clearly visible along with the Intelligent shot and Beauty shot modes. The rest of the settings include everything from flash and auto-focus modes, to image settings (contrast, white balance, etc.), effects, shake reduction and other options.
Interestingly the camera key will wake the phone with a single press – that is unlock it and start the camera. But that feature cleverly doesn’t trigger if there’s something in front of the proximity sensor – like the insides of your pocket or purse.
The image quality of the Optimus 7 camera is above average for the 5MP class. There’s quite a bit of noise and the noise reduction algorithm takes away from the fine details. The camera didn’t always get the exposure right and some photos showed a slight bluish tint.
Still, the camera is good enough to depend on if you didn't bring over your dedicated camera.
We tried out Intelligent shot too, but we weren’t very impressed with the results. Their effects weren’t very noticeable, so you’d be better off doing manual adjustments in your image editing app of choice.
We also gave the Panorama shot app a go. The stitching wasn’t perfect and individual photos had varying white and color balance, which resulted in color bands (especially visible in the sky, which goes from blue to purplish and back to blue between stitches).
The app takes a maximum of 5 shots and has no settings besides zoom. You take the first photo by pressing the shutter but the rest are snapped automatically. There’s a visual guide that will help you properly align each photo.
Note: we received a second Optimus 7 unit that came without the Panorama shot app – if you don’t have it preinstalled, you can easily grab it from the LG apps store (for free, of course).
Photo quality comparison
We’ve also added the LG E900 Optimus 7 to the database of our Photo Compare Tool. You can see how the LG E900 Optimus 7 image quality compares to that of some of the other handsets we have reviewed. Clicking any of the following three images will take you to our dedicated page for some pixel-peeping pleasure.
LG E900 Optimus 7 in the Photo Compare Tool
Video camera does 720p
The video camera interface is identical to the still camera one and has plenty of features too. You can calibrate contrast, saturation and sharpness, change the white balance or exposure compensation and also add image effects. You can use the LED as a video light too.
You can record in three resolutions – QVGA, VGA or 720p. The camera defaults to VGA, which is frustrating – if you forget to set it to 720p, the videos you thought were shot in HD will be at the much less impressive VGA resolution.
While 720p sounds great, the reality is a little underwhelming. Videos are recorded in .MP4 file format but the bitrate doesn’t seem enough. The amount of captured detail and colors are OK but there are noticeable compression artifacts (or possibly upscaling artifacts). The frame rate hovers around 23 frames per second, though it drops when there’s heavier motion in the scene, resulting in some choppiness.
Here's an LG E900 Optimus 7 video sample: 720p@25fps.
Video quality comparison
The LG E900 Optimus 7 was also included in our Video Compare Tool database. Check it out – the tool’s page includes a quick walkthrough on how to use it and what to look for.
And here’s a 720p video sample from our new test setup. Pay attention to the second half of the video where we lower the light to show you how the the camcorder performs in more challenging conditions.
Connectivity misses Mass storage mode
The connectivity on the LG E900 Optimus 7 covers all the bases – world-trotting quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE and fast tri-band 3G with 7.2Mbps HSDPA and 5.76Mbps HSUPA.
The local connectivity is covered by Wi-Fi b/g/n with DLNA support (via the PlayTo app) and Bluetooth 2.1 with A2DP. Bluetooth is currently limited as to what it can do – there’s no file transfer support.
Syncing with a computer is done with the Zune app. It supports syncing over USB and Wi-Fi. It’s the only way to transfer files directly between your computer and your Optimus 7 – Windows Phone 7 doesn’t support Mass storage mode.
And if you have a Mac don’t worry – the WP7 Connector for Mac will cater Mac computer users with a Windows Phone 7 mobile.
Another syncing option is the cloud. SkyDrive is a free Microsoft service that gives you 25GB cloud storage. You can even have your photos automatically uploaded as soon as you snap them.
Best Internet Explorer yet, but we wanted Silverlight
Internet Explorer is the browser many people love to hate, but the Windows Phone 7 version of Microsoft’s web browser is very good. It’s fast and easy to use – a huge step forward from Internet Explorer Mobile 6.
Page rendering is perfect and fast, as are panning and scrolling. For zoom, you have double tap and pinch zoom. As an extra guide for navigation there’s the Find on page option. Flipping the phone in landscape orientation clears the onscreen controls and gives the whole screen to the webpage.
Multiple tabs are supported and the E900 Optimus 7 didn’t break a sweat juggling several of them. This is of course thanks to the high hardware specs – which are guaranteed for each Windows Phone 7 device. There is a six-tab maximum limit though – reasonable for a mobile device, but tab-power users may find it limiting.
History and favorites are supported and you can even pin a favorite site to the homescreen. Another handy option is to let Bing suggest sites as you type in the URL and Internet Explorer will also suggest sites from the history.
There are some things missing though – Flash is one, but we were at least hoping for Silverlight, which didn’t work either. Saving files is problematic too – you can only save files that the OS can handle. Text reflow is another feature we missed – if you zoom in as much as possible to make fonts readable, you’ll have to pan left and right to read the text.
The 3.8” WVGA screen on the LG Optimus 7 provides a good browsing experience. The resolution is enough for browsing the desktop versions of sites and the 3.8 inches are adequate screen real estate.
This is usually the place where we mention YouTube – on the WP7 the support is rather limited. The current YouTube app in the Marketplace just launches the browser and directs it to the mobile YouTube site. Not any more useful than a bookmark. And the desktop version is no-go of course.