By Brandon Miniman | March 28, 2011 2:47 PM
The LG Fathom on Verizon is one of the few devices on the market right now with Windows Mobile 6.5.3. This upgraded version of the OS brings a higher level of finger-friendliness thanks to buttons that are placed on the bottom bar and not the top. The Fathom competes with the Touch Pro2, also on Verizon, since it sports a slide out keyboard and a high resolution resistive touchscreen. Read on for our full review of this Windows Phone!
Inside the box we find no accessories. Pre-installed is a SIM card, since the Fathom is a world-phone and can operate in countries where there is only GSM.
Let’s talk specs. The new LG Fathom is sporting a Qualcomm Snapdragon CPU running at 1GHz, which is faster than what you’ll get on the Touch Pro2 on Verizon. It’s supported by 256MB of RAM, and 512MB of storage ROM, though you can upgrade this with a microSD card up to 32GB. The resistive touchscreen is 3.2″ and has 800×480 WVGA resolution. It has all the expected radios like Bluetooth, WiFi, and aGPS. Powering everything is a 1530mAh battery. For even more specs, check out PDAdb.net.
The facade of the Fathom is mainly charactarized by plastic materials. The front casing is made from a fake brushed metal material. The device has sharp edges (unlike the Touch Pro2), thus giving it a brick-like appearance.
Some people think that the Fathom is Windows Phone 7 upgradable because it has these three buttons on the bottom. Well, the Fathom smartphone is not upgradeable, because in fact, the buttons required for Windows Phone 7 are back, start, and search. The Fathom has call start/end, and start. Also, Windows Phone 7 will only work on devices with capacitive touchscreens; the Fathom has a resistive touchscreen.
The screen slides to the right to reveal a four-row QWERTY keyboard. I like how the phone’s keyboard has a dedicated number row, but this is no consolation for the other problems with the keyboard. First, the keys are arranged in an awkward grid, unlike the Touch Pro2 which has keys arranged more ergonimically. Second, in order to get to the comma and period keys, you must press and hold the function button in the bottom left corner of the keyboard.
To the right of the keyboard is a handy D-Pad which can be used to operate the device without having to touch the screen. That’s a nice touch.
On the left side of the Fathom, we find a 3.5m headphone jack, volume rocker, and port for microUSB which is used for syncing and charging. There’s also a soft reset hole placed to the left of the charging port.
And on the right side, we have a dual-action camera button (which is nice to have), a programmable hardware button (which by default opens the task manager), and an external microSD card slot. One of the highlights of the new LG Fathom is that there are five programmable hardware keys. This has become very rare on newer smartphone hardware, and it’s a missed feature: being able to launch a program by hitting a hardware button saves a lot of time.
Holy moly, is that a stylus? Yes, it is…don’t forget that the Fathom has a resistive touchscreen. The stylus, which is collapsible, is located in a perfect spot if you’re using the phone in portrait. If you open the keyboard, the stylus becomes hidden, but again, LG gives you a lot of tools to control the screen when you have the keyboard open, so this isn’t much of a program.
The back of the Verizon LG Fathom is covered in a polkadot pattern, which in my opinion, is hideous. Back here you can see the 3.2MP camera which has no flash. More on photo quality later in the review. The speaker is to the left of the camera, which I found to provide ample volume while using the speakerphone.
Overall, the quality of the screen is good. Outdoor visibility is satisfactory, as long as you leave automatic brightness turned on.
LG has done very little to customize the experience of the Fathom. It feels like an out of the box installation of Windows Mobile 6.5.3, meaning that there aren’t any interesting added programs, nor is there a nice-looking interface like Samsung’s TouchWiz or HTC’s Sense. If you’re a power user, you may appreciate this, but if you’re someone that enjoys some eye candy, you’ll be dissapointed.
One feature that has been added is the gesture pad on the home screen. It’s great! You draw a letter with your finger, and it will open a program that is linked to a letter. You can program up to seven such gestures.
In terms of web browsing, you should download Opera Mobile 10, Skyfire, or another Windows Mobile third-party browser, because the Fathom comes only with the stock Internet Explorer Mobile, which I don’t like too much. Using Opera Mobile 10, internet browsing was a fair experience. Even with the 1GHz CPU, at times it felt as if the Fathom smartphone couldn’t keep up with fast browsing or multi-tab browsing.
The LG Fathom has a rear camera that can takes photos at 3.2MP and video at VGA resolution. Above is a sample of the VGA video, which you’ll find to be poor in quality. For photo samples, check an indoor low-light shot here, and an outdoor shot here.
The new LG Fathom is a snappy device, and I didn’t run into a situation where the system became frozen. That Snapdragon CPU helps a lot, but it doesn’t help enough in web browsing. The Fathom smartphone is a less capable web browsing machine compared to the Touch Pro2, which is also on Verizon. I think it could benefit from more RAM.
Reception and call quality of the Fathom with Verizon was terrific. No problems with dropped calls.
The Fathom has a 1530mAh battery. The battery life was quite good. With moderate usage, you can get 1.5-2 days of use. With heavy use, you’ll get through a long day, and with light use, you may go a bit more than 2 days.
PURCHASING AND AVAILABILITY
You can buy the LG Fathom phone from Verizon for $149.99. This is about two times more than the better-equipped Touch Pro2.
+ Snappy performance
+ Keyboard has a D-Pad
+ Five programmable hardware buttons
+ Good battery life
- No upgrade path to Windows Phone 7
- Feels cheap in-hand
- Poor camera
- Period and comma keys on keyboard aren’t easily accessible
Generally speaking, the LG Fathom phone from Verizon is a dud. It’s a phone that would have been acceptable a year ago, but today, with Windows Phone 7 looming and a host of fantastic smartphone choices on every carrier, the Fathom just doesn’t stand a choice. This review has absolutely nothing special or interesting to note about the device from a hardware or software perspective. If you’re looking for a Windows Phone with a slide out keyboard, why not get the Touch Pro2, which is half the price, and several times better. You’ll be happier.
I give the LG Fathom a 2/5.