As with all Android phones, the Doubleplay serves as a gateway to Google's apps and services. The phone ships with Gmail, Google Talk, Google Search with Voice, Google Maps with Navigation, Latitude, Places, and YouTube. The Webkit browser supports Adobe Flash, and you can get your own e-mail via POP and IMAP in addition to Gmail. Corporate workers will like that the Doubleplay has full Microsoft Exchange support as well.
Along with the usual PIM tools like a calendar, calculator, and voice dialer, the Doubleplay comes with a slew of preinstalled apps. They include 411 & More, Bejeweled 2, Blio e-reader, CMAS emergency alerts, DriveSmart, Cloud Text (T-Mobile's cloud-enabled messaging service), GroupText (T-Mobile's group messaging service), Lookout (a backup and security app), Polaris Office, Richnote, SimCity Deluxe, Slacker radio, T-Mobile Name ID, T-Mobile TV (T-Mobile's video streaming service), TeleNav GPS, Tetris, Facebook, Twitter, and Zinio. Unfortunately most of these preinstalled apps are not removable. You can, of course, download more via the Android Market.
The Doubleplay has the usual connectivity features like GPS, Bluetooth 3.0, and Wi-Fi (802.11 b/g/n). We're happy to see that it also has mobile hot-spot support for up to five Wi-Fi-enabled devices. But what makes the Doubleplay intriguing is that it also supports T-Mobile's UMA-based Wi-Fi calling, which lets you make calls over Wi-Fi. Calls over Wi-Fi are not deducted from your plan's minutes. We were able to switch calls between cellular airwaves and Wi-Fi seamlessly as we wandered in and out of our wireless network. It's definitely a great way to save money and minutes.
Aside from Slacker radio, the Doubleplay has the default Android music player, which works well for the most part. It separates out songs into albums and artists, and you can create playlists right on the app. The video player is decent as well, and you can stream pictures and videos via DLNA to other compatible hardware. It has 2GB of built-in memory plus a 2GB pre-installed microSD card. The phone supports up to 32GB cards.
The 5-megapixel camera on the Doubleplay is quite good. It has a several features like digital zoom, autofocus, and even face detection. The resulting photo quality was tack sharp, though we thought colors were unfortunately overcast most of the time. You probably want to do a bit of post processing to make the colors really pop. It supports 720p HD video recording too. Most of the videos we recorded were decent, but they were often shaky.
We tested the quad-band LG Doubleplay (GSM 850/900/1800/1900MHz; UMTS/HSPA+) in San Francisco using T-Mobile. Call quality was very impressive. On our end, we heard our friends very clearly, with hardly any static or background noise. They sounded loud enough as well.
On the other end, our callers reported stellar call quality as well. Both volume and clarity were great, and our voice sounded clean and natural. They didn't even hear much background sound even though we were in a relatively noisy environment. Speakerphone quality was good, too--they often couldn't tell whether we were on speakerphone or not.
LG Doubleplay call quality sample
The Doubleplay supports T-Mobile's version of 4G, which is HSPA+ 14.4 that promises a theoretical maximum of 14.4Mbps download speeds. In the real world, we encountered an average of 1.2Mbps down and 0.8Mbps up. That's still not a bad speed in comparison to most 3G handsets. The full CNET page loaded in 20 seconds, while CNET mobile loaded in around 6 seconds. This isn't bad at all, considering it also loaded all the Flash content on the page.
While some might lament the lack of a dual-core processor, we found the 1GHz Qualcomm Scorpion processor more than sufficient. There was barely any stutter or lag when scrolling or swiping through lists and screens. There was about a 2-second shutter lag with the camera app, however, and the app itself takes around 2.5 seconds to launch.
If you disregard its quirky design, the LG Doubleplay is actually a remarkably solid Android smartphone. It ships with Android 2.3 Gingerbread, and has plenty of great features like Wi-Fi calling, mobile hot-spot capability, and support for T-Mobile's 4G/HSPA+ network. We're also mostly impressed with the 1GHz Qualcomm Scorpion processor, and LG's Android overlay does not offend us. Yet, we can't help but be put off by the bizarre subdisplay set right smack dab in the middle of the keyboard. We understand the multitasking reasoning behind it, but we don't think it's necessary--it feels like a solution waiting for a problem. The dual displays might even be a big contributor to the rather lackluster battery life. If you're willing to suspend your prejudices, you're welcome to take a chance with the LG Doubleplay for $99.99 after a new two-year service agreement with T-Mobile, but excuse us if we don't share your enthusiasm.