Wednesday

LG Motion 4G (MetroPCS)

We spent some time with LG's new affordable 4G LTE phone for MetroPCS. In the Motion, LG has packaged some decent hardware with some advanced camera software and all kinds of extra apps and Android customizations. See how it stacks up as we go hands-on.

The LG Motion is designed explicitly to meet MetroPCS's goal of offering 4G LTE Android phones for $149 this year. As MetroPCS doesn't do contracts, that's the full, true price of the phone. Considering that MetroPCS sells some phones for well over $400, the Motion's price is easily its most attractive feature.


Design



The Motion's hardware is about what you'd expect for a phone of this class. It's a smallish plastic slab. The plastic back has a light texture to it, although unfortunately it doesn't help make the phone easier to grip. The side keys are small and not easy to find by touch alone, but work well enough. The screen is bright, but otherwise average. The build quality seems decent overall. 

The three touch keys below the screen look like Android 3.x keys, even though this is an Android 4.0 phone. LG has joined a growing number of manufacturers in rejecting Google's guidelines for a recent-apps key. Instead, on the Motion, you'll find an old-school menu key. Pressing that for a second brings up the (even older) search function. Pressing the home key for a second is how you access Android 4.0's recent app switcher. 

The lock screen has four shortcuts, for things like messaging and camera. The Motion offers extensive customization. Special LG tweaks let you easily customize the home screens, app menu, and even notification shade shortcuts. The main app menu includes a tab for downloaded apps. Things likes the home screen editor are a little redundant, but the ability to customize lock screen shortcuts and notification shade tools are a major boon. There are a relatively huge amount of Android customizations made by LG, especially for Android 4.0, and for a relatively low-end phone.

Interface



The camera software is where the real magic is. I've never seen such advanced camera software on a phone so affordable. I would have been pleased to see a fully-automatic sweep panorama mode and touch-to-focus. Those are there, and work well. 

But I was floored to see HDR mode, and a "Time catch shot" mode that works a little like a time machine; in this mode, when you touch the shutter button, you get a choice of shots, including several from before you touched the shutter button. Both features work as advertised, if a little slow; there's no special chip to speed up the camera on a phone at this price. But the features are there, they work, and they're unprecedented in this class. 

There's also a useful twist on the self-timer function: instead of counting down, it simply waits until you say "cheese!", then snaps that awesome photo of you and your cat. Your cat couldn't care less, but the web will be better for it. Maybe.

Camera



The surprises continue in video mode, where you'll find 1080p HD video and included video editing software. The editing software lets you mix in video, stills, and music, together with "themes" that apply effects. The themes are a bit over the top and don't give you much control. Nonetheless, any kind of video editing is interesting on a phone like this.

Apps



Then there's "QuickMemo", which is accessed by holding down the up and down volume keys at the same time. This takes a screen shot, essentially, and then lets you draw on it, then share it, via MMS, email, or any other sharing option Android gives you. It's an easy way to share a web page or a photo, and draw a quick arrow or circle or smiley face, for example. Good luck writing text with your finger any longer than "LOL", though. 

You'll also find DLNA, and a bunch of extra apps for social sharing and messaging. If you still use AIM or Yahoo! Messenger, you're in luck. 

In all, the Motion looks promising, for what it tries to be. We look forward to doing our full review.

Specs

Manufacturer                           LG
Part Number                           MOTION4GMETRO

General
Packaged Quantity                           1
Product Type                                    Smartphone
Form Factor                                     Touch
Resistance                                       Gorilla Glass (scratch resistant glass)
Integrated Components                    Voice recorder,
                                                          2nd camera,
                                                          Digital camera,
                                                          Digital player
Width                                                2.39 in
Depth                                                0.45 in
Height                                               4.37 in
Weight                                              4.7 oz
Image Color Disclaimer                 The image of the product displayed may be of a different color
SAR Value                                      1.24 W/kg (body) / 1.03 W/kg (head)

Cellular
Technology                                    CDMA
Band                                              CDMA2000 1X 1900/800 / AWS 1700/2100
Mobile Broadband Generation      4G
Service Provider                            Metro PCS
Operating System                         Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich)
Input Device(s)                              Touch sensitive screen (multi-touch)
Messaging & Internet
Cellular Messaging Services                      SMS,MMS
Instant Messaging Services                        Yes
Supported Social Networks and Blogs       Yes
Mobile Services                                            Google Play

Communications
Data Transmission                                         EV-DO
Wireless Interface                                          IEEE 802.11,
                                                                        Bluetooth,
                                                                        LTE
Communication Features                               Internet browser,Mobile Email client


Phone Features
Phone Functions                Call timer,Conference call,Flight mode,Speakerphone,Vibrating alert
Sensors                              Proximity sensor
Additional Features             TTY compatible,
Widgets support, Speech-to-Text (speech recognition),  
                                            
QuickMemo function, DLNA Certified,   Face Unlock  


Organizer
Personal Information Management                      Synchronization with PC,
                                                                              Calendar,
                                                                              Calculator,
                                                                              Reminder,
                                                                              Alarm clock
Media Player
Supported Digital Audio Standards                   MP3

Processor
Clock Speed                                    1.2 GHz
Processor Core Qty                         Dual-core


Memory
RAM                                                        1 GB
Bult-in Memory                                        5 GB
Supported Flash Memory Cards            microSDHC - up to 32 GB


Digital Camera
Sensor Resolution                           5 megapixels
Still Image Resolutions                    2560 x 1920
Focus Adjustment                           Automatic
Special Effects                                Normal,HDR
Camera Light Source                      LED light
Video Recorder Resolutions           1920 x 1080 (1080p)
Features                                          Video recording,Multi-shots


Navigation System
Navigation Software & Services      Google Maps


Display
Type                                                 LCD display - Color
Technology                                     TFT
Diagonal Size                                 3.5 in
Display Resolution                         320 x 480 pixels
Color Depth                                    24-bit (16.7 million colors)


Connections
Connector Type                            HDMI,Micro-USB,Headset jack - Mini-phone 3.5 mm


Battery
Capacity                                    1700 mAh
Run Time Details                      Talk ( CDMA ) - up to 324 min,
                                                   Standby ( CDMA ) - up to 290 hour(s)


Miscellaneous
Included Accessories             Power adapter 

Performance
I tested the tri-band (850, 1900, 2100) LG Motion 4G in San Francisco. There were no problems with signal quality -- I didn't get any dropped calls, extraneous buzzing, or audio clipping in and out. Sound quality, however, was disappointing. Voices were audible, but muffled, as if my friends were speaking underneath a thin sheet. Though turning up the volume helped a bit, the maximum volume wasn't very loud. Likewise, my friends told me that I sounded muffled, too.


The output speakerphone quality was also disappointing. Calls, as well as music, were muffled and low, though I didn't hear any harsh tinniness. Turning the volume down helped somewhat; you can still hear what's being said, but it sounded stifled regardless.

MetroPCS' 4G LTE network isn't the most robust, but data speeds were impressive. Loading the CNET mobile site, for example, took an average of 8 seconds, while loading our full site took 19 seconds. The New York Times' full site took slightly shorter on average, clocking in at 14 seconds, and its mobile site took 5 seconds to load. ESPN's mobile site took 8 seconds on average, and its full site loaded in 16 seconds. The 22MB game Temple Run downloaded and installed in an average of 4 minutes, and Ookla showed me an average of 1.10Mbps down and 1.62Mbps up.

Although we haven't finished our battery drain test yet, its reported talk time is 5.4 hours. And according to FCC radiation tests, the phone has a digital SAR rating of 1.03W/kg.

Conclusion
Though it comes with a lot of bloatware and doesn't take the highest-quality pictures, the LG Motion 4G is still a solid handset to consider. With its 4G LTE connection, zippy dual-core processor, and affordable price, the phone packs a lot of punch into a tiny frame. In addition, it's perfect for anyone who wants one of the latest Android OS phones without a contract.