By Adam Z. Lein | September 20, 2011 3:09 PM
The LG Thrill 4G is naturally the AT&T version of the LG Optimus 3D, which we previously reviewed. It’s designed to compete with the HTC EVO 3D on Sprint as a GSM flavored Android phone featuring 3D imaging and display technology. The Thrill 4G also features three technologies that are “dual” in nature; a dual-core processor, dual-channel data transport and memory, and dual-memory chips. Of course, you’ve got the dual cameras for 3D photo and video recording as well as the 3D screen which displays two fields to your two eyes. As you can imagine, the 3D imaging needs a lot of power. Can the Thrill 4G handle it? Read our full review to find out!
The LG Thrill 4G comes in your average orange AT&T branded box that contains the phone, a battery, a wall charger, sync/charging cable, HDMI cable, and some guides. An 8GB microSD card is also included and pre-installed in the device. There’s nothing special or impressive about the packaging, but I like the full color quick start guide with images and instructions for basic tasks. It’s also great that the phone comes with an HDMI cable so that you can output videos and images to a big screen high-definition TV if you want to. Oddly no headphones were included with the device, though, so you’ll have to buy some of those separately.
The LG Thrill 4G features a dual-core 1GHz Texas Instruments OMAP4 processor aided by a PowerVR SGX 540 GPU, 512 MB of RAM and 8GB of ROM storage. There’s also a 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera for video calls and conferencing in addition to the usual suspects: accelerometer, proximity sensor, light sensor, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n with DLNA and hotspot capability, Bluetooth 3.0 with A2DP and EDR, microUSB and HDMI-out ports, GPS with A-GPS support, and a 1500mAh battery. The radio supports GSM 850/900/1800/1900MHz 2G and HSDPA 850/1700/1900/2100MHz frequencies.
The screen is glasses-free auto-stereoscopic 3D of WVGA 800×480 resolution and is sized at 4.3″. The buttons at the bottom are capacitive with haptic feedback, but they’re still difficult to find in the dark. Sometimes the haptic feedback doesn’t give any actual response within the operating system either.
At the top is the 3.5mm headset jack, power/lock button, and a secondary noise cancellation microphone.
On the bottom is a microphone hole and a little slot that you can use to pry the battery cover off of the back.
On the left side are two rubber flaps that you can pry open to reveal a Micro USB port as well as an HDMI port for outputting content to a larger screen. The Thrill 4G does include an HDMI adapter for this port, so you shouldn’t have any troubles connecting it to an HDTV.
The right side is where you can find the volume rocker switch. What’s not intuitive is that different applications have different volume levels in Android. For example, the volume for playing media is going to be different than the volume for playing notifications and rings. There’s also a 3D button which allows you to switch from 2D to 3D while in camera mode. It can also switch dimensions when viewing pictures, but unlike the LG Optimus 3D, the button does not launch the camera app when held. Instead, it launches the 3D Space application when pressed anywhere else within the system.
On the back there are two five-megapixel cameras and an LED flash between them. The cameras can record 1080p in 2D (30 fps) or 720p in 3D (30 fps) video. Further down there’s the speaker grill, a “3D Stereoscopic” logo embossed on the metal part, and an AT&T logo. The backing has a nice soft-touch rubbery feel to it and you can see a cool texture in the right lighting.
Underneath the battery cover you’ll find the 1500 mAh battery, SIM card slot, and microSD card slot with an 8GB memory card pre-installed.
The LG Thrill 4G is shipping with Android 2.2 Froyo out of the box, which is pretty ancient by today’s standards. However you’ll also find LG’s custom user interface running on the Thrill 4G’s version of Android and these customizations likely have not been configured for Gingerbread compatibility just yet.
The normal user interface is only presented in two dimensions and the app drawer is separated by default into 3D and 2D applications. It’s kind of an odd inconsistency that you’ll have to get used to, but then again the 3D effect can be tiring to your eyes, so it’s kind of a mixed bag. Due to the current limitations of technology, the 3D effect is only achievable in landscape mode.
The 3D Space launcher brings up a carousel-like screen with options to launch games, YouTube, camera, gallery, and 3D Guide. The 3D-enabled gallery app includes a few stock 3D videos for you to demonstrate the 3D effects. Your photos and videos that you create will also appear here.
As we’ve mentioned before, the Thrill 4G has dual-five-megapixel cameras on the back. Two-dimensional images are captured in five-megapixels but they max-out at three megapixels in 3D.
Here’s a sample 3D video posted to YouTube. The 3D mode supports 720p video recording at 30fps while the 2D mode supports 1080p at 30fps.
The LED flash on the back isn’t powerful enough to allow you to snap pictures of dark objects more than five feet away, but it works okay on closer objects. The white balance on screen is often very off, but after the flash goes off and it saves the photo, it seems to be corrected pretty well. Outdoor photos naturally fare much better but you’ll still notice a significant amount of noise at 100% zoom levels.
The Thrill 4G’s TI OMAP processor and GPU deliver excellent performance. The only times you’ll really have to wait is while downloading something else. Actually I noticed a bit of lagging in other parts of the operating system while downloading and installing a new app.
Here’s how it performed:
Quadrant: 2681 (compared to HTC EVO 3D: 1924)
Smartbench Productivity: 2971 (compared to HTC EVO 3D: 2541)
Smartbench Games: 2884 (compared to HTC EVO 3D: 1658)
Linpack: 46.26 (single thread)
The LG Thrill 4G’s battery life is a mixed bag. One one hand if you keep it in 2D mode, close all applications and barely use it for anything other than occasional checking of push notifications from emails, twitter, and Facebook, the device will actually last quite a long time on a single charge. I’ve had it go for about 3 days as such before I got a battery recharge notification. It seems the device goes into an extremely low power mode when suspended.
On the other hand, the 3D imaging can take up a lot of power. If you are really using the device for 3D video capture, movie playback, and 3D gaming, don’t be surprised if it asks you to recharge after a couple hours.
PURCHASING AND AVAILABILITY
The LG Thrill 4G is available online from AT&T for $99 with a two-year contract. You’ll also be able to find it in many retailers that sell AT&T smartphones.
+ Glasses-free 3D screen for 3D games & 3D Movies
+ Fast dual-core performance
+ 3D Photo and Video Recording
+ 1080p 2D video recording
+ 30fps video recording
+ HDMI output
- Poor battery life depending on usage
- Ships with 16-month-old Android 2.2 Froyo
- A bit thick
- 3D screen can make your eyes tired
- 3D effect doesn’t support head tracking or angle of incident
The big reason to get the LG Thrill 4G is not for the 4G, but for the 3D. As everyone says, it is a bit of a gimmick. You can only see it at the right distance at the right angle and in landscape mode. The 3D tends to tire out your eyes, or make you go cross-eyed, or give you headaches. Most of the other people I showed it to actually hated the effect and said that it would never catch on. I agreed at first, but once you learn how to adapt to the technology and look at it from the right spot, it’s actually kind of cool. It’s too bad you can’t really share your 3D videos and photos with others since not many people have 3D compatible phones or even TVs. Still the 3D effect is very primitive. I much prefer the Zune HD’s 3D effect which uses a 2D screen and the accelerometer to alter positions of objects in relation to your angle-of-view in order to simulate depth and dimension. Of course, the best 3D imaging implementation would be a combination of dual-image-fields and head-tracking for angle-of-incident, but the technology for that certainly isn’t there yet (for mobile devices at least).
As an Android phone, the Thrill 4G is pretty good. The performance is excellent and I only had to remove the battery once to get the device back from a full OS freeze up. I’m not a huge fan of LG’s custom version of Android, and it’s running on Froyo which was released back in May of 2010, which was 16 months ago. To give you a bit of context there, the last version of Windows Mobile Classic (6.5.3) was released a few months before that which feels like ages ago. Naturally there’s talk of a Gingerbread upgrade coming soon to the Thrill 4G, although it’s unclear when that will occur.
We rate the LG Thrill 4G a 4/5.