Affordable; Solid performance and graphics; Blistering 4G LTE speeds; Above-average battery life; Slick user interface
Plain design; Relatively dim display; Lackluster camera
The budget-friendly LG Escape offers long battery life and blazing 4G LTE speed in a thin design.
Hoping to hit the sweet spot between power and affordability, the $49.99 LG Escape for AT&T offers a 4.3-inch qHD display, 4G LTE speeds and dual-core power. The design is also thinner than you'd expect at this price, and you get some of the same innovative features inside the more premium LG Optimus G. Is this one of the best bargain smartphones on the market?
DesignMotorola Atrix HD (4.9 ounces) and almost as thin (0.33 inches). The Samsung Galaxy Victory 4G LTE for Sprint is 0.5 inches thick and 4.9 ounces.
The plastic back of the Escape has an attractive but somewhat slippery patterned design, but the ridged black plastic band that surrounds the device ensures a firm grip. This band has chrome accents on either side, which gives the Escape a more premium vibe. Beneath the display are three capacitive buttons (Back, Home, Menu).
A pair of speakers sits along the bottom of the device along with a micro USB slot, and the headphone jack sits up top. The power button is on the left while the long volume rocker is on the right.
Display and Audio
The handset's display measured 279 lux on our light meter, falling below the 300 lux Android phone category average. The Nitro HD and the Atrix HD were considerably brighter at 324 and 561 lux, respectively.
When we watched the definition trailer of "The Master," color was rather dark. Phillip Seymour Hoffman's character's face was oversaturated, giving him an angry visage even while happily hugging a woman. In addition, pixilation was rampant during darker scenes. Viewing angles were shallow, with color inversion with a slight move to the left or right.
The Escape's twin speakers can fill a small room, but that doesn't mean you should crank them up. Azealia Banks' "Liquorice" was overcome by painfully brassy cymbals and distorted synthesized instrumentals. We struggled to hear the artist's bombastic flow and flowery alto over the din.
Users can also customize the seven home screens. The main home screen features a Google search bar, a Yahoo! widget with date, weather and time and space for 8 apps. Pinching a home screen took us to another screen where we could change the default home screen.
A small thin line toward the bottom of the display marks the current page. It also separates the apps from the omnipresent shortcuts (Phone, Messaging, Web and Apps) bar at the bottom of the display. We liked having the ability to swap out apps in the shortcuts bar, which made personalizing the device easy.
AT&T has added a welcome twist to Web browsing in the form of the Browser Bar. Located at the bottom of the display or right above the keyboard, the bar is comprised of two pages. The first page primarily deals with social networking and sharing. There are buttons to recommend pages on Facebook, tweet links to Twitter and share via email or text messaging. There's even a button to launch a mini-Facebook browser. The second page launches Yahoo! affiliated news such as Sports, Entertainment and Popular articles.
We appreciated the convenience of the bar when sharing a few GIFs with our Facebook friends and Twitter followers. Our favorite component of the Browser Bar is the ability to create buttons for our favorite Web pages.
On the LG side of things, there's Note Pad, which comes in handy for jotting down a quick note or two. There's also VideoWiz, a fun and easy-to-use video editor. After importing a clip, we chose a backdrop from one of LG's six choices and added a music track. SmartShare comes in handy for sharing media files between DLNA-capable devices.
QuickMemo, one of our favorite LG apps, is also included. The app takes a screenshot that you can then doodle on with one of four pen types in 16 colors. You can then easily share your creation via email or social networking.
Third-party apps include Twitter, YouTube, Qik Lite, Amazon Kindle and YP Mobile.
The phone and its 1.2-GHz dual-core Qualcomm MSM8960L processor with 1GB of RAM performed well during our benchmark testing. On Benchmark CPU, the Escape notched 4,756, well above the 2,782 Android phone average. That was more than enough to defeat the LG Nitro HD's 1.5-GHz ARMv7 dual-core processor, which scored 1,482. The Motorola Atrix HD and its 1.5-GHz dual-core Qualcomm processor scored a slightly higher 4,857.
The Escape also offers solid graphics performance. The device scored 7,279 on An3DBench, slightly above the 7, 138 average. The Atrix HD and Nitro HD notched 7,214 and 7,353, respectively.
4G LTE and Web Browsing
AT&T's 4G LTE network continues to impress with its blistering speeds. Mobile sites such as CNN.com, NYTimes.com and ESPN.com took an average of 2.3, 3.1 and 4 seconds to load on the Escape. Loading the desktop version of Laptopmag.com took only 5.4 seconds. On Speedtest.net, the Escape delivered an average download speed of 24.1 Mbps and an average upload speed of 12.4 Mbps.
Images captured by the 1.3-MP front camera were plagued with graininess. However, our skin tone appeared nice and warm, despite the fluorescent lighting.
Overall, both cameras delivered swift camera speeds, taking less than a second to snap off photos. LG has also included the "Say Cheese" feature, which automatically snaps a picture when the phrase is uttered.
During the LAPTOP Battery Test (continuous Web surfing over 4G LTE), the LG Escape lasted a pretty impressive 6 hours and 32 minutes. That's 34 minutes longer than the 5:58 category average. The Motorola Atrix HD and the LG Nitro clocked in at 4:52 and 3:53, respectively.
VerdictMotorola Atrix HD. Overall, though, the LG Escape is a great choice for bargain hunters who don't want to skimp on performance.
|Form Factor||Candybar Touchscreen|
|Operating System||Android 4.0|
|Networks||GSM 850/900/1800/1900, WCDMA 850/1900/2100, LTE 700/AWS|
|CPU||1.2 GHz dual core Qualcomm MSM8960L|
|Memory Expansion Type||microSD Card|
|Bluetooth Type||Bluetooth 4.0 LE|
|Front Camera Resolution||1.3MP|
|Camera Resolution||5 MP|
|Audio formats supported||AAC|
|Audio formats supported||WMA|
|Audio formats supported||WAV|
|Audio formats supported||MP3|
|Audio formats supported||MIDI|
|Audio formats supported||eAAC+|
|Audio formats supported||AMR|
|Talk / Standby Time||Up to 8 hours/Up to 13 days|
|Size||4.96 x 2.54 x 0.37 inches|
|SAR Rating (Head)|
|SAR Rating (Body)|