By GeoffreyFarinha | January 14, 2012 10:49 PM
The LG Nitro on AT&T is among the first shipping Android phones to pack a full 720p display. Not only that, it’s among the first shipping AT&T phones to do LTE, which promises speeds far greater than what is offered over AT&T’s HSPA+ 3G network. Sadly, LG has a shaky history of delivering high-end devices, and we also know that there is still a limited amount of cities in the United States that take full advantage of AT&T’s 4G LTE Network. Some early adopters of devices with similar specs and enhanced connectivity are even wondering if it’s really worth it to pay the extra premium of an LTE capable phone when the user experience is threatened by the limited battery life. Are the high-resolution screen and data download speeds enough to have the LG Nitro HD deliver to the best of your needs? Read our full review to find out!
The LG Nitro HD comes packaged in typical AT&T fashion. Living inside this box with the phone is a standard microUSB cable with USB wall adapter, a 16GB microSD card, 1830mAh battery and the phone itself.
As if the LTE arms race wasn’t enough, manufacturer are now starting to construct their devices with high definition screens to not only add bragging rights to their spec lists, but to increase the clarity, vibrancy and overall experience for the end-user.
The LG Nitro HD is powered by a 1.5GHz Qualcomm APQ8060 dual-core processor and 1GB of RAM. With 4GB of built-in storage and the ability to upgrade the included microSD card to 32GB, users will be able to max the Nitro HD out at 38GB. Sporting a 4.5″ 720p screen with a resolution 1280×720 and 329 ppi the LG Nitro HD is one of the first phones to own an impressive HD screen. However, LG opted to utilize an LCD display, rather than AMOLED. For hard specs, the Nitro HD is rocking:
3 hours talk-time (3G)
252 hours Stand-by time
5.27 x 2.67 x 0.41 (134 x 68 x 10 mm)
4.50 oz (128 g)
4.5-inch HD LCD display
720 x 1280 pixels
1.5GHz dual-core processor
16GB Sandisk Class 4 microSD card
Bluetooth 3.0, WiFi (802.11 b/g/n)
GSM: 850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz
UMTS: 850, 1900, 2100MHz
LTE: 700 (Class 17), 1700, 2100 MHz
One new element of the Nitro HD is that LG has completely eliminated the dedicated search button. Instead, it is now combined with the menu button. A short press will bring up the menu option in typical fashion, but a long press will serve as the search key function and bring up contextual universal search.
Starting at the right side of the device, we find the volume rocker. Moving to the top of the Nitro HD we locate a 3.5mm headphone jack, microUSB port and the power/lock button. A flap covers the charging port, you may like these protective flaps or you may not. Finally, the right side of the device is free of any buttons whatsoever.
LG’s user interface maintains a resemblance to Samsung’s TouchWiz 3.0. This gives the icons a very iOS-like appearance.
LG has added a set of quick actions to the pull-down notification bar. This gives users the ability to quickly enable or disable silent mode, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS connectivity and Airplane Mode. Carrier bloatware does (unfortunately) exist on this device; however it’s not overly intrusive or obnoxious. You’ll see your typical AT&T represented FamilyMap, Navigator and liveTV, but you’re also exposed to other pre-loaded apps like MOG Music and Zynga Poker HD.
CAMERA TEST PICTURES
As mentioned, LG has equipped the Nitro HD with an 8MP rear camera paired with an LED flash that is also capable of recording 1080p video. The front-facing camera rings in at a standard 1.3MP and can be used for simply taking pictures to video chat or recording. Below are some shots we took with the LG Nitro HD
VIDEO RECORDING CAPABILITIES
Here we have a video recording test of the back camera at full 1080p.
Now we have a video recording test of the front facing video camera being used for more than just a simple video chat.
In these two videos we took a quick look around a New Hampshire public park during the winter months using both the Nitro’s rear-facing 1080p camera and it’s front-facing camera. It was a bright and sunny day, which showed off the camera ability to adjust to changing light levels fairly quickly. The videos appeared to have decent quality with what one may come to expect from a HD recording capable phone, but overall they were nothing to write home about.
With that being said, these two videos show that the LG Nitro HD’s camera has a problem with stabilization in a similar way that the Motorola DROID RAZR had in its testing. The video appears to be choppy as possess a “jello” effect. We hope this is something that manufacturers can better remedy, especially as more HD capable devices enter the market.
CALL QUALITY AND NETWORK SPEED
Voice calling on the Nitro HD was primarily clear and echo-free. There were a handful of phone calls with extremely low volume from the caller on the other end however. Despite this, we did not experience a single dropped call over AT&T’s network.
AT&T has most of MA and NH blanketed with 3G data coverage. While browsing the web on the go we never experienced a single time out or connection drop. Emails always arrived as they pinged the server and apps downloaded relatively quickly.
In running speed tests we landed results of about 2Mbps down and .5 Mbps up. This is unfortunately a disappointment and a surprise as the speeds we received while performing everyday tasks never seemed slower than normal. Your mileage may vary here based on your geographical location.
AT&T certainly has not built out their 4G LTE network to the capacity of Verizon Wireless. However, major metropolitan areas are starting to see little lights of 4G joy on their AT&T coverage maps. We took a ride into Cambridge, MA to test AT&T’s 4G in the Boston area. Needless to say, we had our socks blown off with a download speed of 19Mbps and an upload speed of 10Mbps. While the ping time was right around 60ms, you will see that these results are actually better than our speed tests on Wi-Fi below.
We expected the 1830mAh battery secured inside the Nitro HD to easily get us through our day. However, we received the “connect to charger” alert on our screen just after lunchtime. This was on average of spending 15-30 minutes talking on the phone, various email viewing and responding and light Twitter activity. Being in a 4G LTE area certainly does not help this devices battery life, yet simply being in a 3G area does not add much promise either.
If you’re going to make it through a typical day with the LG Nitro HD, you will need a car charger and possibly a second AC adapter to keep in an office or second room of the house.
PURCHASING AND AVAILABILITY
The LG Nitro HD is currently available from AT&T for $249.99 on a two-year contract.
+ High Definition screen
+ Fantastic feel in the hand
+ Solid build quality by LG
+ 1080p video recording
+ 8MP Camera
+ Extremely fast AT&T LTE data speeds
+ Fantastic speeds when over home Wi-Fi compared to Galaxy Nexus
- LCD screen
- AT&T’s LTE coverage is not nationwide yet
- Battery dies quickly despite large 1830mAh size
The LG Nitro HD offers a great package of features in a form factor that is extremely comfortable to hold in the hand.
With its fast processing, response times, connection speeds and beautiful HD screen the Nitro HD is an impressive Android device from a manufacturer that is relatively newer to the Android scene. Paired with its current version of Android 2.3.5 and promised upgrade to Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich coming in the future, we truly believe the Nitro HD is a strong contender in the Android stratosphere. When compared side by side with AT&T’s flagship Android phone, the Samsung Galaxy SII Skyrocket, it’s a very hard decision to make. While the LCD screen on the Nitro does somewhat steal from its vibrancy and saturation potential, the very fact that is holds a true High Definition screen in its grips should differentiate it from its brethren.
We rate the LG Nitro HD a solid 4/5.