At CES this year, MetroPCS announced two new smartphones that will run on its 4G LTE network. One was the Samsung Galaxy Attain 4G, and the other was the more spec-robust LG Connect 4G.
The LG Connect 4G is the carrier's first dual-core handset, but that's not the only reason why it's tapped as its shining star. It also has one of the brightest screens on the market--complete with 700 nits of Nova glory.
Because it is a flagship phone, it also comes with a flagship price. You can purchase the device through the carrier's site for $319, after you send in a $30 mail-in rebate. Next to the LG Esteem, it is one of the most expensive current MetroPCS phones.
Since it doesn't operate on the biggest, fastest, or most reliable network available in the United States, the LG Connect 4G does come with a few cons. But it's always great to see more higher-end options for consumers who want to stick to a no-contract, pre-paid plan.
At 4.59 inches long by 2.45 inches wide by 0.46 inches thick, the LG Connect 4G pulls off looking slim, without feeling too fragile. The device weighs in at 4.8 ounces, so it's easy to handle and isn't bulky, especially for someone who has small hands like me. The Connect 4G fit comfortably between my ear and shoulder, slipped easily in my jean pockets, and texting with one hand was a breeze.
The phone sports a 4-inch LCD Nova capacitive touchscreen display, which has a resolution of 480x840 pixels and a pixel density of 242 ppi. What I like most about the display is that it's bright--really bright. It has 700 nits of brightness, so when I watched videos and fussed around with the phone both indoors and outdoors, the display came out great. Colors were extremely vibrant and rich. Its display is made out of Corning Gorilla Glass, so you don't have to worry too much about being a bit rough. Even though I scratched my car keys across the screen and threw the device into my hiking bag many times, no cosmetic damages could be seen.
One thing I noticed was that some of the graphics weren't very smooth. When I played a typical game like Fruit Ninja, for example, the images were pixelated around the edges. Even the default wallpapers that the phone comes with appeared grainy. Watching HQ videos on YouTube yielded similar results. Considering the fact that this phone has a beautifully bright display, the mid-tier resolution was a bit disappointing.
Above the screen on the right is the front-facing VGA camera for all your video chatting and vanity-shot needs. Below, you'll find the usual four illuminated navigation buttons: menu, home, back, and search. On the top right of the phone, you have your standard sleep/power button, and on the left is the 3.5mm headphone jack. The on button is not convex, so you hardly know it's there since it doesn't bulge. At first I liked the look of this, but later on I found that the barely there power button was difficult to tactilely locate and press. Lastly, to the left side of the phone, there is the volume rocker and the Micro-USB port.
On the back of the handset, right at the center top, is the camera and LED flash. Whether it was the position of the camera or how I held the phone, my finger was always in the way when I tried to take a landscape photo. It takes only a second to square away this problem, but it was something I didn't care for.
Another thing I wasn't too keen on was the textured backing of the phone. It felt sort of plasticky and cheap. However, the backing was easy to pop off due to a small indent at the bottom of the device. Once you do so, you gain access to both the 1,500 mAh lithium ion battery and the microSD card that you must push to eject on the left hand side.
Even with those caveats, however, I like the Connect 4G's design. The rounded edges, simplistic shell, and the few metal accents the phone has (on its output speaker and around the camera lens) are all appealing.
MetroPCS is pushing the LG Connect 4G as a flagship phone largely because it is the carrier's first handset with a dual-core CPU. Indeed, the 1.2 GHz dual-core processor makes the phone quite snappy and responsive, and it was one of the things I liked best about the handset. I didn't notice any lagging when I switched the phone from portrait to landscape mode, zoomed in on Web pages with a pinch, or transitioned to the home screen.
The phone ships with Android 2.3 Gingerbread and is packed with all the goodies from Google you know and love, including the Play Store, Google Maps with Navigation, Search, Books, Messenger, Gmail, Talk, YouTube, Plus, and Places.
There are also a handful of MetroPCS apps that some might find useful. However, because they can't be uninstalled, you're stuck with them whether you like them or not. These include: Metro's own brand of maps, mail, app market, and Web browsing; M Studio, which stores media files like ringtones; a Wi-Fi hot-spot app called MetroPCS Easy WiFi; Metro411, which searches and locates nearby businesses and restaurants; an entertainment and media app called MyExtras; and myMetro, which lets you check your account balance and plan.
You should also expect a number of basic task management applications common in most devices, such as a clock with alarm features, a calculator, a calendar, text messaging, a voice recorder, and a weather app. Uncommon apps include IM and Social, which consolidates all your social networking portals; the mobile office suite known as Polaris Office; Loopt, which let's you share your location and restaurant check-ins with friends; and the content distributor app called SmartShare. There is also a slew of Yahoo! branded apps like the sports news app, Sportacular, Yahoo Movies, and Answers.
If you're interested in music, the LG Connect 4G also comes preloaded with Rhapsody's music subscription service. You can search and download thousands of albums and artists on major US record labels. Despite the fact that you can't play songs offline unless you add it onto a playlist, I found the service to be great, compared to others. Its UI is intuitive, songs downloaded quickly and played continuously. Most importantly, audio playback was superb thanks to the Dolby Mobile feature the device sports. It boosts output sound quality, and along with my Klipsh S4 earbuds, music sounded rich and full of depth. Songs played on speakerphone wasn't as clear as in-ear, however. The bass wasn't as rich and instruments bled together, but the volume was still loud and the quality was adequate.