The LG Motion 4G is not the biggest phone in MetroPCS’s lineup but it could their best
They say good things come in small packages. But that trend is normally not the way of the modern smartphone. Big yet slim is the new norm – balancing both has been one of the shared features of all the top smart phones in the market right now. Small phones have the unfortunate stigma of being and small of specs are their foot print. The LG seems to be aiming to question that trend with the Motion 4G. A smartphone that packs great hardware in a tiny package.
The first this I have to say about the LG Motion 4G is that it is a rather nice looking phone. Sure, it is plastic and not a more premium materials like aluminum. But much like the Galaxy S3; the Motion 4G makes plastic look sexy and elegant. The bezel is a glossy piano black which is nicely accented by the silver trim around the Gorilla Glass covered screen. The back is finely textured, making the Motion 4G feel nice in the hand. The back also has more flares of silver. Rounded corners and edges helps lend more style to the Motion 4G while also making this small phone a pleasure to hold. Speaking of small, the Motion 4G measure in at 4.37″ tall, 2.39″ wide, and 0.45″ thick. It weights in at a little over 133 grams. That is about the same as the Galaxy S3 and a little less that the bigger LG Connect 4G.
Up front is a 3.5 inch display. I know, very small by current standards. And with its 480 x 320 resolution the pixel density won’t exactly WOW you. But the color reproduction on this screen is great. The panel is also uses IPS(in-plane switching) technology which gives it really good off-angle viewing for such a small screen. Responsiveness was also not an issue during my review. Even with that you may have a hard time getting around that small screen - I know it was a challenge for me.
Above the display is a earpiece that blends in nicely with the silver outline around the display. LG did a nice job except for the fact that it is not that easy to clean. As far as sensors on top you will only find a proximity one semi-visible. There is no ambient light sensor which is a normal concession for a wallet-friendly phone. Up top is also where you will find a VGA camera for your self-portrait and video chatting needs.
Below the screen are three capacitive Android buttons. Unlike the normal Ice Cream Sandwich setup with the back, home, and multitasking buttons you have the slightly more familiar(if you have used or seen a three button Android device pre-ICS) back, home, menu buttons. Like Android phones before ICS a long press of that home button will bring up your multitasking(current apps). A long press of the menu button with bring up a Google Search bar. The backlight could stand to be a little brighter but is not that bad. Just below the buttons hidden in the silver outline around the screen is a small hole when the microphone resides – I wouldn’t have realized it if I wasn’t looking.
A trip around the sides of the Motion 4G reveals a bare right spine which means no camera button.. The left spine is where you will find the micro USB port and volume rocker. The volume rocker is well-defined and responsive. Up top it a 3.5mm headphone jack – also known as the only way to take advantage of the Dolby Digital audio on the Motion 4G. There is also the power and screen lock button.
The back of the LG Motion 4G is almost as nice looking as the front. It has a nice texture to improve grip and touches of silver in the form of the LG and MetroPCS logo. Of course there is a camera around back, The Motion 4G sports a 5 megapixel camera the rear. We will get into the camera performance later on.
The LG Motion 4G was paid a visit by the ice cream man. By that I mean the it is running Android version 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. But with the LG Optimus UI 3 you will hardly notice it except for core features like Face Unlock, Google Voice Typing, and some of the redesigned Google Apps. Because it lacks NFC you will have to live without Android Beam. The first thing you need to know about the Optimus UI 3 is that there are more than a few customization options. Personally I feel like LG may have gone slightly overboard with that. I applaud their enthusiasm but some of them could have been left out.
Let’s start with the Lock Screen. You have four shortcut on the bottom by default(Phone, Contacts, Messages, and Camera). To get into the phone you touch the screen and two circles will appear. Dragging your finger to the outer circle will cause the phone to vibrate slightly and bring you to the home screen. You can change the Lock Screen in a few ways. You can set a PIN, Password, Pattern, or use your face to unlock the phone. If you really feel like living on the wild side then you can forego it all and select None. The wallpaper can be set separately from the main one. You can also change the clock on the Lock Screen; choosing between a small digital clock, large digital clock, an analog clock, and a small or large clock with a Calender. And of course, those shortcuts can be changed to your liking or you can get rid of them all together. All of these options can be found in the Lock Screen Option menu within the Settings.
Jumping in to the home screen you will find 5 panels. They come pre-loaded with widgets and app shortcuts but these can be easily removed. LG added nice transitions between panels which can be changed(more on that later). By default, when you reach the last panel you will get a screen stretching animation indicating that you have to go back. Pinching in on the screen will give you an overview of all your panels. You can rearrange, delete, and add panels from this view. This is also where you change the default home panel (which panel you will jump to when you press home while cruising the home screen).
Tapping and holding the screen will being up a customizations menu. Unlike many other Ice Cream Sandwich devices you can do things like add widgets, app shortcuts, and change the wallpaper. You can see all of your available panels while you are doing this. Though it is a little sad that you can not add panels from this view it is nice that you don’t have to jump into the App Drawer to get widgets. I like the fact that static wallpaper is changed in real-time. Live Wallpaper can not be set in real-time but when you have things like settings within the wallpapers it is understandable.
Pulling down the Notification Bar will show a Frankenstein like notification panel. I say that because it literally looks like that glued the quick settings on the ICS notification menu.. That being said, you have access to settings quickly so it is nice to see even if it isn’t the best thing to look at. You can customize these toggles – adding the setting you will use the most. I like that because it makes the phone that much more personal. Other than that, this is the ICS Notification pull down. So you get all the good thing like being able to swipe away notifications. That also means that this is where you have to go to change keyboards. When you are using apps like the Music Player you will see the album artwork and controls added to the pull down.
Jumping into the app drawer you will find that you have three different tabs. First is the App. This area covers everything for the apps you download, the copious amounts of Metro Apps, to the cool things LG adds. Next is the Downloads. Tapping this will show you only the apps you downloaded from the Google Play Store. The last tab is Widget. This will give you access to your widgets from the app drawer like found on other devices running ICS. There is a Settings icon in the right corner. Tapping it will allow you to further customize the app drawer by reorganizing the apps to your liking. Some apps will also have a “X” in a red circle in the corner of the icon. That means you can delete these apps by simply tapping it and saying okay. You can delete some of the MetroPCS apps that you don’t see yourself using like this which is awesome on so many levels. You can also take this time to make some folders if you want. Though you can do it without being in edit mode.
As far as keyboards on the LG Motion 4G you have two touch options and two voice ones. For touch you have the LG Keyboard. This is where having the small screen can make things a little hard. And it is not the screens fault on this one. LG has some small keys on their keyboard which paired with the screen size makes typing on it a bit of a challenge – not an impossible one, but a challenge. The second option will offer you a little more room. And that is the Swype Keyboard. For those who down know Swype allows you to write by sliding your fingers from letter to letter. You can also type normally with it if swiping isn’t your thing. For voice input you have the Google Voice Input and the one built into Swype. The Swype one is the run-of-the-mill you say it, it tries to figure out what you said, and it puts it down. The Google one will transcribe what you are saying while you are saying it as long as you have a data signal.
MetroPCS loves putting their name all over their phones. And this one is no exception. There is everything from mail, 411, a music app, a Wi-Fi app, even an app that will block calls. You are guaranteed not to forget that you have a MetroPCS phone. Though that is not necessarily a bad thing. Some of the apps are helpful like Easy Wi-Fi which not only lets you know if there is a free Wi-Fi connect close by but manage your known connects in a friendly way. The is MyMetro which gives you access to your account info. The web browser also has Metro’s moniker on it; though they have nothing to do with it except that it is on one of their devices.
LG throws in some fun stuff on the LG Motion 4G. You get SmartShare for your DLNA needs. But they also throw in a Video editor. It is nice to see that things like that are slowly starting to become additions on mobile phones. The editor works nicely but again may take some time to get use to due to the small screen.
One of the benefits of this phone running Optimus UI 3 is that you have QuickMemo.This is one of the stand out features from the Optimus Vu so it is great to see it here. By default you can jump into the by pulling down the notification panel where it is the first icon on the quick settings. But the faster way is to press the volume up and down buttons simultaneously. Doing so will take a screenshot and brings you into QuickMemo. It will allow you to make notes on screenshots and then share them. I would have to say my only complaint about this feature is that face that using it on a 3.5 inch screen is rather hard. I did it and it was legible but still, not an easy thing. If you have a stylus then MAYBE it will be better.
LG is behind the web browser that MetroPCS throw their name on. It works nicely. The standout feature here is the zoom gesture. There is a gray bar in the bottom with an icon in the center. Pressing and holding the icon while tilting the phone towards or away from you with zoom in or out. Because this phone was released after the cut-off date and never reserved certification you will not be able to download Adobe Flash Player from the Play Store. So if you visit a lot of flash sites you will have to do that from your computer. The Google Chrome browser is also thrown in. This will allow you access to your computer bookmarks and currently open tabs from your phone as long as you are logged into the same Gmail account.
The LG Motion 4G sports some serious horsepower. But it almost seems like LG doesn’t want you to know that. Both MetroPCS and LG say that the Motion packs a 1.2GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 Plus SoC. That is plenty powerful, but it is not the full story. That Krait CPU is actually slightly faster than that. It is actually clocked at 1.5GHz. That may not seem like much of a speed difference but when you thing about the fact that this is the same clock speed as “high-end”(I am not fond of labeling phones like that) smartphones like the HTC One X, One S, the Galaxy Note, and Galaxy S3. There is also 1GB of RAM packed in there. As far as storage goes you have 5.72GB of storage free and a microSD card slot that can add up to 32GB of storage.
So with the slightly higher than noted clock speed how does the Motion 4G perform? It performs like a mini Galaxy S3. And that is very high praise. The Motion 4G is fast and stable. During my time with it I had it freeze once while using the camera. Even with multiple apps running I found that there was no noticeable low down. Take a look at how the LG Motion 4G did in it standardized test:
RECEPTION & DATA SPEEDS
The LG Motion 4G runs on MetroPCS’s CDMA and LTE network. As far as reception goes I found that the Motion 4G did a great job. I never found myself struggling to get a signal and rarely fell below 3 bars. Making a call was not an issue and holding it was just as easy. It is nice when a phone does its main job well.
But making called is quickly becomes a secondary job of our phones. That internet connection is very important. The LG Motion 4G runs on the nations first 4G LTE network. But it is certainly not that fastest(well, at least in my area). When compared to MetroPCS’s other data network those LTE speeds look AMAZING. But it looks quite sad when you look at Verizon’s and AT&T. That being said, I only tested in Massachusetts so in other areas you may have better luck. I managed to get around 1.40 Mbps down and 1 Mbps on the upload.
The LG Motion 4G does not disappoint in the sound department. Sure, it is not the absolute best audio experience out there but it can hold its own. The sound through the earpiece is audible even with the volume turned up all the way. Unlike my last experience with a LG device on MetroPCS I had no issues with static. Sound through the speaker is pretty good. During calls the speaker performed though it was nowhere near as loud as it was when listening to music or video.
The LG Motion 4G packs a 1700mAh battery it its small little frame. This is a good size battery especially for a small phone. I found that getting through a whole day was no issue. In fact, with light use you could possible get to two days. During my testing I have two GMail accounts, a nd my Live account being pushed to the device. My Facebook and Twitter were set to update every hour. On my heaviest usage I managed to get 14 hours before killing the phone. I did a video playback test and got 4 hours and 16 minutes before the phone could not play any more. Not that bad. Overall.
The LG Motion 4G sports a 5 megapixel auto-focus camera in the rear and a VGA camera up front. Like everything else on the phone LG put their own touch on the camera app. On the right side is the toggle to change from taking stills to video, the on-screen shutter, and the preview of the last image taken. On the right are the control to change between camera, the flash control, Time Catch Mode, Shooting mode, and the settings. For shooting modes you have HDR, Panorama, Single, and Continuous Shot. You do no have a Marco focus control and face detection is a completely different focus mode. I am still not fond of that as I like to use face detection on the fly without having to jump into the settings.
The rear camera 5 megapixel produces nicer pictures than I expected. Again, the screen becomes a weak spot as it does not completely do the pictures justice. The aperture seems to be stuck at f/2.7 so a good amount of light is let in. The focus is not that bad close up those the pictures lack the sharpness I like to see in my macro shots. Overall I found that the focus seemed to be a little on the soft side on general. It does do a good job at creating depth of field though. Color reproduction is good but a tad on the cool side when the subject is bright. That LED flash makes taking pictures a night a little easier as long as the subject is within a few feet. The front camera of course lacks focus but serves its purpose.
[fgallery id=44 w=600 h=385 t=0 title="LG Motion 4G - Sample Pics"]
The LG Motion 4G can also capture high-def video using that rear camera. Better yet, it can capture 1080p video which is something you don’t normally get from 5 megapixel sensors. The bad news here is there is no way to refocus while recording. I am also not that fond of the zooming method. Unlike other phones that utilizes the volume buttons to zoom, you have to pinch in and out on the screen to do so. Hitting the volume buttons will stop or start recording, The sound quality is very clear and color reproduction is nice. LG calls this “True-to-Life” HD. Given that you can’t refocus I am not too sure if the moniker is earned completely. But the frame rates are kept pretty high and overall the video is smooth.
If I had to get the LG Motion 4G a nickname it would have to be Small Wonder. This tiny phone sure made a huge impression on me. After may last experience with a LG device on MetroPCS I was a little jaded. The battery life and call quality were some of my biggest complains about the LG Connect 4G. And the Motion corrected all of that. I think the biggest hurdle you will have to jump before picking up a Motion 4G is that the screen is small and low-res. If you can get past this fact then what you will be rewarded with a seriously fast phone with a killer price tag!