Over this past Christmas holiday weekend, I posted my review of the LG QUANTUM Windows Phone 7 phone for AT&T. At the time, I realized that I was writing a review of a new technology from the perspective of someone already somewhat intimate with the Windows Phone 7 platform. Furthermore, as a “power user”, I was not necessarily the key demographic for the Microsoft’s mobile OS “reboot”. While I did keep this in mind when writing the review and I do really love using Windows Phone 7, I thought it might be interesting to perform a bit of a “controlled experiment”. What if I could have someone closer to the target demographic for Windows Phone 7 to try the LG QUANTUM on a regular basis and get their feedback and impressions? Fortunately for me, I did not have to go far for a test subject.
My lovely wife of nearly 14 years, Melissa, has been a longtime user of smartphone technology. Perhaps I should say “a longtime sufferer”, though. You see, over the years I have repeatedly convinced her to try some of the latest and greatest offerings for cell phones. For the most part, Melissa has been less than satisfied with the results. Her satisfaction level has ranged from non-existent to tolerant at best. Especially high on her frustration list has been Windows Mobile devices. Whether it was the less than stellar battery life, the occasional instability of the hardware and OS or just plain non-intuitive aspects of the device, she was always frustrated and upset – with one exception. She did have a reasonably satisfactory time with the Samsung Blackjack II running Windows Mobile 6.1 Standard Edition. However, the lack of a touch screen was a point of contention for her.
Melissa most recently was using a Touch Pro 2 running Windows Phone 6.5. While the phone seemed to be fast enough, the same frustrations with battery life and the OS remained. She was pretty much at the end of her proverbial rope, telling me on more than one occasion she sometimes thought about going back to an old Motorola RAZR. At least it worked for phone functionality she way she expected.
Melissa is someone who relies on her phone for voice calls first and foremost. However, she has come to rely on her phones for basic management of her calendar and other forms of communication (email and text). She is not one to constantly charge her phone; she typically puts a phone on a charger when absolutely necessary. Melissa also uses the Internet frequently for information and research, and has been using Facebook as a way to keep in touch with friends and family. In my opinion, she was the ideal candidate for “The Experiment”. I approached Melissa with the idea of using the LG QUANTUM as her primary device for a couple of weeks and then providing her feedback. She was open to the idea, I believe at least partly because based upon her current Touch Pro 2 experiences it really couldn’t get much worse So, the experiment began.
This was a total “end-to-end” experience, starting with the initial setup of the device. I reset the LG QUANTUM, working with Melissa to perform the initial setup. To be honest, she really did not need me for the setup; it is a strength of Windows Phone 7 to provide a simplified initial setup experience. I did want to make sure, however, that we made it past setup without Melissa having a change of mind. After the initial setup, I basically left Melissa to her own devices (pun intended). In the past, I typically has to spend a great deal of time working with her to get her phone set up with her. This time, I decided to let her discover things for herself, and only assisted when she had specific questions. Those questions were very few. I did should her how to pin items to the home screen, and that basically gave her the greatest help in making the phone her own.
This past week, I wrote some questions up for Melissa and asked her to write up some responses. She gladly agreed to participate.
Overall, what were your impressions of the LG QUANTUM?
As someone who is strictly an end user using this phone has been the best experience for me since. Most everything was easy to use and very intuitive. The phone itself is attractive, slim and not heavy. The size of the screen is great. The touch screen was accurate and responsive ~ the best touch screen I have ever used.
What were some of the things you liked most about the phone?
I love how you can pinch and zoom when reading an e-mail or browsing the internet ~ that is really awesome! The size and clarity of the screen.
Compared to your previous phone (running Windows Mobile 6.5), what was the biggest change for you?
Ease of use. It was very user friendly ~ relatively easy to navigate and figure things out. Usually when I get a new phone I don’t know how to change settings and set things up. With the LG Quantum I was able to figure out quite a bit on my own before needing assistance .
You are a big "physical keyboard" fan. How is the keyboard experience with the LG QUANTUM and Windows Phone 7?
The keyboard is very nice and easy to use. However the small buttons on the left side for special symbols or caps is difficult to use. For example, you need to use the function key for numbers ~ with short hand texting this is a bit of a pain.
Using mail was somewhat problematic for you in the past, especially with the drain on your battery. How do you like the mail experience in Windows Phone 7?
The mail experience is the best I have had with any phone. Easy to tell when I have new mail ~ easy to read and respond.
Speaking of battery, how has the battery life been on the LG QUANTUM?
The battery life is excellent! I am able to check e-mail and use the internet without needing to charge my battery during the day. That is important to me as I am often on the go and not able to recharge my phone for long periods of time.
What did you think about how you could "personalize" the device (colors, tiles, etc)?
It would be nice if there were more options for “personalizing” the device. As someone who is strictly an end user, I like to be able to change the look of my device based on seasons/moods, etc. There are not very many options for that. Most especially the colors for the text messages. I also like to have “fun” ringtones and the choices provided with this phone are not great.
What has been your biggest "dislike" so far?
Sometimes when I go into contacts and try to call a number it doesn’t work and I have to back out and re-try.
Melissa was not the only person with observations during her usage, by the way. As the person who serves as her “Familial Help Desk” and the creator of this experiment, I was keen to keep track of things. Here are some of my observations.
- I really did not have to provide Melissa with much assistance when it came to using the LG QUANTUM.
As I mentioned previously, Melissa often had issues with her previous phones. I spent time as a teacher, a “fixer” and an apologist. With this phone, I was anything but that. She was able to figure things out on her own and as for issues – there really weren’t any. For me, the LG QUANTUM was a breath of fresh air and a chance to free up time normally spent making things work. As a matter of fact, I found myself often having to “hold my tongue” in asking “Is everything OK?”
- Melissa’s usage did NOT include games or media.
When we initially set up the LG QUANTUM, I considered rushing straight to setting up the phone with music and videos, and perhaps a game or two from the Windows Phone Marketplace. I quickly decided to hold on that, figuring I would save that as a sort of “trump card” if Melissa wasn’t pleased or wowed by the phone. Melissa is a Zune user and occasionally would play games on her prior phones.
Amazingly, Melissa’s impressions of the LG QUANTUM are incredibly positive without every having fully experienced these two aspects of the device. While I did show the Music and Video Hub and the Games Hub to her initially, she has yet to really try out two aspects of the Windows Phone 7 platform that I am willing to bet will raise her satisfaction to even higher level levels. I do plan on having her try these features out – as soon as I can get her to give up total control of the phone long enough to show her
- I never heard Melissa use the words “love” and “my phone” in the same sentence – until now.
I really mean this. Melissa has always “tolerated” cell phones. When describing the LG QUANTUM to myself and others, she will invariably say “I LOVE this phone.” In my case, she has said “Have I told you how much I love this phone?” on an almost daily basis. Knowing my wife the way I do, these statements are by far the greatest compliment that can be made to both LG for the QUANTUM and Microsoft for Windows Phone 7. I often wondered if Melissa would ever come to enjoy using a smartphone; now I know she can (and does).
As someone who is deeply immersed in mobile technology as a user and a writer, it is nice to be able to really get detailed perspectives from others that are not like myself. Sure, I get the occasional feedback in brief conversations, emails or forum posts. But getting to watch someone use a technology on a daily basis and provide constant feedback really gives me the chance to objectively judge the success of a technology in the hands of a person for whom the technology is primarily intended. When it comes to the LG QUANTUM and Windows Phone 7, I can say based upon my little experiment that both LG and Microsoft have winners on their hands.