When Sprint and LG rolled out the Nova screen-enabled, Android 2.3-enabled Marquee under the slick veneer of Fashion Week, I was there in New York City to see how you can judge this smartphone by more than just its cover(s).
With the Marquee, a phone LG admittedly targets at male and female “fashionistas,” we’re actually talking multiple covers. LG has partnered with five up-and-coming fashion designers — members of the non-profit design collective MADE — to create colorful cases for carrying — and maybe protecting — the device. Yet as I found out in a hands-on preview, the Marquee doesn’t really need those outer trappings to stand out from the crowd of other Android phones.
Yes, many of the Marquee’s specs fall into the same range as those of other recently introduced Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) phones. The Marquee’s features include a 4-inch display, 1 GHz processor, 2GB of storage on a pre-installed microSD card, a 5 megapixel (MP) front-facing camera, and a 2 MP rear-facing camera for video chat.
BUILD & DESIGN
On a literally much brighter note, though, I can say for sure that its main differentiating feature — LG’s brilliant new Nova display — definitely lights up the night. During my quick hands-on on Thursday evening, Brian Scollo, LG’s field product manager for the Northeast Region, told me that the Nova uses a proprietary screen design — based on the ITS technology which also appears in Apple’s iPhone 4 — aimed at preserving battery life while also providing enough brightness to allow for easy viewing even in sunny outdoor lighting conditions.
LG first intro’d the Nova on the Optimus Black last January, but the earlier phone never managed to reach US shores.
I played with the Marquee in the somewhat dimly lit venue of a Fashion Week party, where fashionistas were dancing and schmoozing in other corners of the room. So I can’t vouch for its performance in broad daylight.
However, LG touts the Marquee’s brightness at 700 nits. In comparison, the iPhone 4’s screen clocks at around 500 nits. The Super AMOLED screen on Samsung’s original Galaxy S and the Super AMOLED Plus screen on the Galaxy S II, come in at 300 nits, although Samsung claims to have improved the sharpness in Super AMOLED Plus. From my own experience, I know for a fact that, even at 300 nits, the original Galaxy supplies fine visibility in daylight.
LG’s Scollo contended that the Marquee is also LG’s lightest and thinnest phone to date, weighing in at 3.95 ounces and measuring only 0.36 inches in thickness.
In playing around with the Marquee on Thursday night, I found it be quite responsive to the touch. The unit seemed to be well built, with no noticeable flimsiness despite the phone’s all plastic construction.
I did voice concerns to Scollo over the Marquee’s durability, given the light and thin form factor. Scollo readily acknowledged that any phone can break. He added, though, that he’s been carrying a prototype around with him for the past few months.
“Everybody treats phones differently. But I’ve dropped my Marquee a few times, and it still looks great,” he noted, pulling his phone out of his pocket to show me the results. (Scollo didn’t mention whether he’d dropped the phone when it was inside a carrying case, or not, but I assume he meant the latter.)
The Marquee is limited to 3G access. Although the LG Thrill and LG Revolution run on Verizon’s 4G LTE network, LG appears to be approaching Sprint’s 4G WiMax hesitantly. And it doesn’t offer whiz bang bells-and-whistles like the Kyocera Echo, a Sprint phone with a dual-screen design meant to let it double as a tablet.
LG’s battery life — as in the LG Revolution — hasn’t always been that great, so if the Nova does save on power consumption, that’s all to the good, too.
Personally, I prefer a phone with a slide-out hard keyboard (which is one of the reasons why I bought the original Galaxy, to begin with). Yet if slim, light and bright are what you’re looking for, you’ll find all of that in the LG Marquee, whether or not you see yourself as a fashionista.
Sprint is pricing the LG Marquee at $100 with a two-year contract. The phone will go on pre-sale September 20, and it will start showing up in retail stores October 2.