The LG Nitro HD for AT&T Wireless comes with some seriously heavy expectations to meet. It was back in August, when we first reported about the award winning AH-IPS screen with HD resolution, developed by LG. The unit is reportedly better than anything else on the market, including Samsung’s Super AMOLED Plus displays, and the Nitro HD is the first device to feature it in the United States. It also stands out as the first device in AT&T’s impressive smartphone lineup to feature an HD screen.
It is the end of 2011 and all the cards are on the table. The LG Nitro HD is the last major player to enter the uber-smartphone competition. It surely has a spec sheet up to snuff: an HD screen to marvel at, LTE network capacity, 1.5GHz dual-core CPU, 8MP autofocus camera, etc. The list is long.
Spec sheets are something we’ve come to expect in the price category, where the LG Nitro HD will compete. It is the way that the components are integrated together and the user experience they create which counts. This is what we’re going to try and find out in this review.
As always, we’ll kick things off with the key features and main disadvantages of the smartphone.
- Quad-band GSM and tri-band 3G support
- 21 Mbps HSDPA and 5.76 HSUPA support
- LTE network connectivity
- 4.5" 16M-color AH-IPS LCD touchscreen with HD (720 x 1280 pixels) resolution; 326ppi
- Android OS v2.3.5 with LG custom launcher
- 1.5 GHz Scorpion dual-core CPU, Adreno 220 GPU, Qualcomm Snapdragon chipset, 1GB of RAM
- 8 MP autofocus camera with LED flash; 1MP front-facing unit
- 1080p HD video recording
- Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n support; Wi-Fi Share app
- GPS with A-GPS connectivity
- 4GB internal storage, microSD slot (16GB card included in the retail package)
- Accelerometer, gyroscope and proximity sensor
- Standard 3.5 mm audio jack
- Stereo Bluetooth v3.0
- Document editor
- Rich video format support
- Ability to remove preinstalled apps from AT&T out of the box
- No dedicated camera button
- Battery performance is questionable
- LG’s custom UI might not fit all tastes
As you can see, the LG Nitro HD has plenty on offer and hardly any serious flaws. It’s looks like a great fit for a flagship device. At a first glance, the latest and greatest AH-IPS screen is nothing short than a thing of beauty. The phone’s sleek and stylish body only adds to the appeal.
The biggest question mark is related to the battery performance of the smartphone – there is a lot of hardware that the 1830mAh unit has to deal with. The lack of dedicated camera button and the questionable UI design are mostly a matter of personal taste.Traditionally, we are going to continue with unboxing and design inspection of the LG Nitro HD
The retail package evokes mixed feelingsInside the compact AT&T branded retail box of the LG Nitro HD, you will find the phone, a charger, a USB cable, and a 16GB microSD card. The usual booklets are also present.
The retail package of the LG Nitro HD
While the 16GB card is a welcome sight in the box, we do believe that a pair of headphones would have been great as well. After all, the Nitro HD is a seriously capable multimedia device.
Design and build qualityThe LG Nitro HD is one good-looking handset. Its design is clean and clutter free, while the all black color scheme adds a touch of understatement. The textured plastic on the back looks and feels great. The camera unit has been finished with a touch of brushed metal, which looks nice. So does the LG logo right under it.
With measures of 133.9 x 67.8 x 10.4mm the phone is not the smallest you can find out there. Its 127 grams of weight however, make it feel light and easy to handle.
LG Nitro HD sized up against Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket
There is nothing to fret about regarding the build quality of the LG Nitro HD. The device is very well put together and makes use of high quality materials.
And now to the screen: the 4.5” AH-IPS screen of the LG Nitro HD lives completely up to the hype, which surrounds it. Its HD (720 x 1280 pixels) resolution gives it a pixel density, which is up there with the iPhone 4S’s. The viewing angles are superb and so is its sunlight legibility.
When it comes to contrast however, it is still not better than the Super AMOLED Plus units which Samsung makes.
The AH-IPS screen is superb • next to the Super AMOLED Plus unit of the Galaxy S II
Below the screen you will find three touch sensitive buttons. The home button is logically in the middle. On its right side is the back key. The options and search buttons are cleverly combined into one. Long pressing it will get you into Google search, while a short press gives you the options.
There are three buttons under the screen of the Nitro HD
Above the screen is the earpiece, the ambient light and proximity sensors, as well as the front-facing camera of the device.
It is business as usual above the screen
The left side of the Nitro HD is home of the volume rocker. On the right side, you will find absolutely nothing. A camera button would have been nice, we think.
The volume rocker on the left • nothing on the right
The top of the LG Nitro HD is its busiest part. There, you will find the 3.5mm audio jack, a secondary microphone for active noise cancellation, the microUSB port, as well as the power/lock button.
The top of the Nitro HD is busy
On the bottom of the device, you will encounter the battery cover latch, with the mouthpiece tucked into it.
The bottom of the handset
The back of the Nitro HD is home of the 8MP camera and its LED flash, as well as the loudspeaker.
The 8MP camera • the loudspeaker
There are no surprises under the battery cover. The microSD card of the LG Nitro HD is hot-swappable. The SIM card is not.
Looking under the battery cover of the LG Nitro HD
The 1830mAh battery is probably the weakest link of the otherwise powerful package. Its quoted standby time is 252 hours, which is quite ambitious and far from what we have encountered so far even with LTE connectivity turned off.
The LG Nitro HD achieved the lowest result we’ve encountered in our battery test do so far. Its score of 28 means that you will have to recharge your device every 28 hours if you use it for an hour each of phone calls, web browsing and video playback per day.
You can get the full scoop on our battery test of the LG Nitro HD here.
The LG Nitro HD is surprisingly nice to handle for its size. Even one-handed operation is possible. The textured plastic on the back is great in preventing accidental drops.
The phone handles very well
The LG Nitro HD delivered well in the design and build quality section. Now, it is time for the most important part of the device – its software. The experience in this section is usually a deal breaker for most consumers.