Fast LTE speeds where available; Bright screen; Good proprietary software tools; Affordable data plans
Back and screen smudge too easily; Limited 4G LTE network
The LG Optimus F7 on Boost Mobile offers blazing 4G speeds and some handy software features in a solid (but smudge-prone) design.
If you're in the market for a smartphone that will do it all and you don't want to commit to a lengthy contract, the LG Optimus F7 for Boost Mobile is a worthy candidate. For $299 and cheaper monthly data fees than the major carriers offer, the handsome F7 offers good performance and speedy 4G LTE browsing on a 4.7-inch HD display. You also get some of LG's handy special features, such as QuickMemo, which lets you quickly share notes, and QSlide, for multitasking. Find out if this Android device is a good deal.
The Optimus F7 is certainly sleek -- almost too sleek. The dark-metallic-gray back is made of smooth and somewhat slippery plastic, with a subtle pinstripe pattern and a glossy finish. Dark-silver chrome lines the device, giving the handset a premium look. Unfortunately, the back smudges way too easily, which cheapens the overall aesthetic.
On the front, you'll find a wide but short Home button beneath the display, flanked by a capacitive Back button on the left and a Menu button on the right.
Measuring 5.15 x 2.71 x 0.38 inches and weighing 4.7 ounces, the Optimus F7 is fairly easy to use with one hand. Those with smaller mitts will appreciate that you can move the phone dialer to one side of the screen or the other. The similarly priced HTC One SV for Boost is just slightly smaller and slimmer at 5 x 2.6 x 0.36 inches, and weighs a lighter 4.5 ounces, but that's expected, as it has a smaller 4.3-inch screen. The more expensive Galaxy S III weighs the same as the F7 but has a slimmer 0.3-inch profile.
While small, the power button on the right side of the F7 is easy to press with your thumb. The left side houses a designated QuickMemo button and a narrow volume rocker below it.
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The QuickMemo button launches LG's proprietary screen-capture and note-taking tool. It's convenient to have a designated key; we kept pressing it by accident. When in camera mode, the QuickMemo button doubles as a shutter button, so you can quickly add a note to images you take and share them. We found this feature somewhat problematic if you only wanted to take a picture with the button, and not take notes on it, but the camera also comes with a nifty voice shutter feature, so you really don't need to use the button to take a picture.
The F7's back cover is removable, and you'll find the replaceable battery and microSD card slot (placed right on top of the SIM card).
Display and Audio
Viewing angles were limited by the phone's shiny Gorilla Glass screen, which made it hard to watch the video without glaring reflections getting in the way. This issue only worsened when we brought the phone outdoors.
The Optimus F7 comes with Dolby Mobile, which is supposed to enhance sound quality by providing cinematic surround sound and enhancing high frequencies so you can "hear every detail." Despite that claim, when we listened to Kanye West's "All of the Lights" on the phone's speaker, we found that layers of instruments meshed into a clashing jumble of sound, with tinny top notes and flat drum beats. Stick to the headphones or a Bluetooth speaker.
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As with other LG phones, like the Viper and the Optimus F3, the Optimus F7 tends to get warm after some gameplay or Web browsing. After we played "Zombie Frontier 2" for five minutes, the top-left corner on the back of the phone reached a feverish 91 degrees Fahrenheit. That's a bit toasty but not above our 95-degree comfort threshold.
Software and User Interface
The F7 supports seven fully customizable home screens, of which four have been set up by LG out of the box. On the primary home screen sits a clock and weather widget. Shortcuts to Phone, Messaging, Apps, Contacts and Boost Mobile ID, a personalization app, are tiled along the bottom of every screen.
Long pressing on empty space on any home screen brings up an app drawer and customization options. You can also pinch in from any home screen to bring up an overview of your desktops, and select your default home page.
Long pressing the home button pulls up a thumbnail list of open apps, which you can close by swiping them sideways. Or, you can start fresh by tapping Clear All. From this screen, you can also access Task Manager or Google Now, a feature unique to LG's phones.
The App Menu is a bit confusing. While there's a Settings icon in the top-right corner of the screen, it actually lets you edit the App Menu instead of accessing the Settings menu. To quickly access settings, you're better off swiping down and then tapping the gear icon.
LG has packed a robust suite of helpful tools that boost the functionality of the phone. Quick Translator instantly translates words or sentences on the screen. Gesture Features allows you to pause video or snooze alarms by flipping your phone on its face.
QSlide allows users to overlay up to two resizable windows on the main screen. For instance, you can use a calculator while checking your email, or watch a video while you skim your Facebook feed. When the opacity of a QSlide app is below 100 percent, you can tap through it to use the app below.
QuickMemo lets you take a screenshot, and then scribble notes without having to launch a separate note-taking app. You can then share these notes via Bluetooth, Email, Gmail, Google+ and Hangouts, Message, Amazon Send, Picasa or Smart Share, which allows you to stream media over Wi-Fi or Bluetooth to TV or Miracast-enabled devices. However, this feature would be much more user-friendly if LG included a stylus.
LG's Video Wiz app is pretty impressive, which makes it easy to create professional looking videos with preloaded templates. Just select the clip, the style you want (show reel, scrapbook, etc.) and your music (preloaded or your own track) and press Save.
LG also allows you to set home-button LED notifications, so your home button lights up in different colors depending on the type of notification. For instance, the button will light up in green for missed calls or messages.
Other preloaded apps include Polaris Viewer 4, an office suite app for viewing documents, spreadsheets, presentations and PDFs. Boost Mobile's Mobile ID allows you to download personalization packs to skin your phone.
On synthetic benchmark tests such as Quadrant -- which measures CPU, graphics and I/O performance -- the F7 scored 5,634. That result is significantly better than the scores for the Galaxy S III (4,888) and the HTC One SV (5,021).
The F7 lagged slightly behind its competitors on the An3DBench graphics test. Its score was just 7,079, compared with the Galaxy S III's 7,266 and the One SV's 7,243.
Though it's listed as having 8GB of internal memory, users only have 4.1GB onboard for files and apps. You'll want to invest in a microSD Card.
We first snapped shots of a rainbow-colored scarf with a chair in the background. Although the deep purple and blue of the scarf rendered beautifully, corners of the picture appeared grainy.
LG added some special features to the camera, including Panorama, Continuous Shot, Scenes and Color Effects. We like the Cheese Shutter feature, which allows voice-activated snapping of pictures when you say the words "Cheese," "Kimchi," "Whisky" or "LG." You can also define which words you want to use as triggers.
Although the F7's camera launches quickly and doesn't lag between shots, to focus, it took a little longer than we would have liked. The HTC One SV, in contrast, offers a continuous shooting feature.
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The F7 captured gorgeous 720p HD video of people and cars on the busy evening streets of Manhattan. Cabs, cars, people and buildings were sharp and were bathed in the golden hues of the setting sun. Objects in the distance succumbed to overexposure, however, as the camera was unable to accommodate extreme lighting differences.
Boost Mobile's 4G coverage is powered by Sprint, which is currently rolling out its 4G LTE network across the U.S. and reaches some 110 markets.
Sprint's 4G coverage is still spotty in New York City, but when the network was accessible, the F7 delivered fairly fast speeds. Using Speedtest.net, the F7 averaged 14.4 Mbps downloads and 5.9 Mbps uploads on the Upper West Side.
In our Lower Manhattan office, 3G speeds were sluggish, with downloads averaging 1.0 Mbps and uploads averaging 920 Kbps.
Voice-call quality on the Optimus F7 was average. We called people in New York City and Texas, and could hear our friends clearly for the most part. Although we sometimes had to get our contacts to repeat themselves, overall, we were pleased. It was also easy to hear people on Speaker from a short distance within a room, and they reported being able to hear us just fine.
On the LAPTOP Battery Test, which involves continuous Web surfing with the display on 40 percent brightness, the F7 lasted 5 hours and 56 minutes. That's on a par with the smartphone category average (6:06).
Plans and Pricing
The Optimus F7 is available on Boost Mobile for $299 with either its daily or monthly unlimited no-contract plans. For $55 a month, the Android Monthly Unlimited plan gives you unlimited talk, text and data on Sprint's nationwide network.
You can also shrink your monthly payment by $5 with every six on-time payments, for up to $15 off your bill. If you make 18 on-time payments, you would pay $1,439.99 over two years. That's pretty cheap compared to what the major carriers offer. For instance, if you were to purchase the Optimus G for free on a contract with Sprint, you'd pay $80 per month for an Unlimited My Way plan that includes unlimited text, voice and data, or a total of $1,920.
For $20 less, you can get the HTC One SV. It has a better design and a faster camera, but a slower processor and a smaller and lower-res 4.3-inch 800 x 480-pixel screen. For $100 more, you can get the Galaxy S III on Boost, which offers a more vibrant AMOLED display and S Beam for easy content sharing. But overall, the Optimus F7 is a solid midrange Android phone.
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|Phone Display Size||4.7|
|Form Factor||Candybar Touchscreen|
|Operating System||Android 4.1.2|
|Networks||Hepta-Band (LTE Quad, CDMA Tri-Band) / Tri-Mode|
|CPU||1.5 GHz Qualcomm dual-core ARMv7 processor|
|Processor Family||Qualcomm Snapdragon S4|
|Memory Expansion Type||microSD Card|
|Display (main)||4.7 inch IPS LCD True HD IPS TFT, 1280 x 720 pixels|
|Bluetooth Type||Bluetooth 4.0|
|Front Camera Resolution||1.3MP|
|Camera Resolution||8 MP|
|Audio formats supported||AAC|
|Audio formats supported||WMA|
|Audio formats supported||WAV|
|Audio formats supported||Ogg vorbis|
|Audio formats supported||MP3|
|Audio formats supported||AAC+|
|Video formats supported||3G2|
|Video formats supported||WMV|
|Video formats supported||MP4|
|Video formats supported||Divx|
|Video formats supported||3GP|
|Talk / Standby Time||17 hours / 12 days and 12 hours|
|Size||5.15 x 2.71 x 0.38 inches|
|SAR Rating (Head)|
|SAR Rating (Body)|