LG Nitro HD For AT&T: Hands-On

Tonight at LG’s media event in New York City, we were lucky enough to get some quality time with the LG Nitro HD. The third in AT&T’s line of LTE-capable phones, the Nitro HD was announced earlier this week with a launch date of December 4 for AT&T. Some of its spec highlights include a 4.5-inch 720p display (like the HTC Rezound), a 1.5GHz dual-core processor, an 8-megapixel rear camera and 4G LTE support from AT&T, of course.

Since the Nitro was announced before its dedicated media event (and since it’s basically the Optimus LTE we’re seeing over in Europe), there’s really no reason to hash out all the specific deets. So let’s just get down to business, shall we?

First impressions:

  • Right off the bat the first thing you’ll notice is the Nitro’s size. It’s a hefty little beast with that 4.5-inch screen and a waist line of 10.4mm. That’s not terribly thick but not what I would call thin, either. For some perspective, it’s thickness falls right between the Droid Razr and the HTC Rezound.
  • The screen, as expected, is pretty slick running at 720p. With a resolution of 1280×720 on 4.5-inches of real estate, the LG Nitro HD actually has a slightly greater pixel density than the iPhone 4, at 329ppi as opposed to 326ppi. It’s not the best display I’ve ever seen, but it can certainly compete with many other recently released phones.
  • As far as performance is concerned, we have no complaints here. The NitroHD is snappy and super responsive, and web browsing was pretty enjoyable. We haven’t gotten a chance to test out AT&T’s LTE network as New York City isn’t quite on the list yet, so unfortunately reflections on that will have to wait.
  • The textured back finish feels nice, and gives the Nitro a much pricier feel than its plastic casing would imply. Still, the strip of brushed plastic around the edge lets loose the secret that back panel was keeping.

  • The Nitro HD doesn’t take prints well at all, whether it’s the textured back panel or (most noticeably) the display.
  • The 8-megapixel rear-facing camera performed very well, handling white balance and movement between light and dark settings well. Shutter lag was a bit annoying, but it’s certainly no worse than most Android phones.
  • This particular LG device has an LG Optimus skin running over Android. It isn’t terribly obtrusive but does seem to slow things down a bit from a strictly vanilla experience.
  • I’m somewhat bothered by the fact that the charging port is square on the top of the phone, as that makes it pretty difficult to play around with in landscape mode while plugged in. It also has a plastic covering protecting the port, which will probably snap right off after a couple weeks of use.

All in all, I’d call the LG Nitro HD a fine option, but not necessarily my first pick. It packs specs that can compete on paper, but simply can’t keep up on the hardware front. The Nitro HD will show up on AT&T shelves December 4 for $249 with a two-year contract.