Callers reported similar call quality, but complained that our vocal quality was a little muddy and fuzzy. Volume levels were decent enough, though they did ask us to speak up when on the speakerphone. We could carry on a conversation just fine if both callers were in relatively quiet environments. In a noisier situation, callers had more trouble hearing us. Static was an issue for our callers as well.
We experienced spotty 3G coverage during our testing period. On a good day, the CNET mobile page loaded in around 25 seconds while the full CNET front page loaded in just under 2 minutes. The CNN mobile page loaded in around 10 seconds. However, on a different day, these page-loading times were twice as long. Of course, this can differ depending on your location as well.
The Thrive's 600MHz processor doesn't seem like much, but we found the overall navigation to be quite smooth and seamless. There was the occasional jitter when starting up a YouTube video, but it didn't bother us.
The LG Thrive has a rated talk time of 7.5 hours and a standby time of 20 days. According to the FCC, it has a digital SAR of 1.23 watts per kilogram. Our tests showed a talk time of 7 hours and 35 minutes.
As far as entry-level Android phones go, the LG Thrive is certainly one of the better options out there. It's also available prepaid via AT&T's GoPhone network, which is another plus for those who don't like two-year contracts. However, if you have a choice of networks, you might consider the LG Optimus V instead, if only because Virgin Mobile offers unlimited data for just $25 a month--compare that with the 500MB you get for the same amount of money on AT&T's GoPhone data plan. But if you need a GSM prepaid Android phone, the LG Thrive is where it's at. Just make sure you get decent AT&T coverage in your neighborhood.