LG Escape Review: Packed With Power, Limited by Memory
At first glance, the LG Escape looks like a great deal. The high-definition display and 4G LTE are impressive for such a cheap phone. But the drawbacks are plenty, and you can similarly-priced devices with less of a headache.
LG modeled the Escape after the higher-end Optimus G, but used plastic, rather than glass, to reflect the more affordable cost. Still, I thought the Escape did a decent job mimicking the crystal-texture back for a simple yet elegant feel. It won't shatter, but it'll definitely smudge, so prepare to keep wiping that glossy black body. For some reason, companies all like to craft low-end phones from that material. I like how the chrome accents around the battery cover -- it adds pizzazz to the otherwise minimalist design. But the matte line across the back doesn't mesh with the materials used.
At just under 0.4-inches, you can't call it fat -- it's as svelte as Gwyneth Paltrow after a cleanse. If I had to nitpick though, the bezel on the front is really the only thick part, since it takes up roughly half an inch on either side of the screen. Rather than the edge-to-edge display, you get a decidedly smaller-looking 4.3-inch screen. Still, it's one of the high points. The striking 960-by-540 pixel resolution is remarkably sharp -- the clarity surprised me for such a bargain device. At 256 pixels-per-inch, it's as crisp as you'll get for the price you'll pay. And that means streaming shows will look detailed. The viewing angle is wide as well, so don't worry about watching the game on a crowded subway -- you'll catch all the action at odd angles.
Really, my only gripe is the brightness -- it falls short of rival devices like the Motorola Atrix HD and LG Nitro HD. That's not usually a problem, unless you watch movies with especially dark cinematography, like Christopher Nolan's "The Dark Knight." I did and I missed Christian Bale's scowl looks in pivotal scenes. But otherwise, it's fine. For a better display, check out the Optimus G. It costs more, but it's worth it, in my opinion. If you're on a strict budget though, the Escape is basically the best parts of the Optimus.
I was really disappointed by the 5-megapixel camera. It's almost laughably bad -- really, I almost laughed. I expected a lens similar to the rest of the features, but what I got was one of the worst cameras I'd ever seen. And that's not an understatement. Where to begin? First, I mistook the photos for a 2-megapixel -- the quality was seriously that low -- photos are awkwardly lit and poorly colored. Next, pictures look washed out in daylight. Third, there's no LED flash, so good luck in low-light. Basically, the only place for a decent shot is inside a well-lit room, but even then, light gets distributed unevenly, so a halo effect appears near objects near lights, while the darker corners get overshadowed. Oh, and if you take a photo of a friend, and they move just an inch, they'll turn into a nearly discernible flesh-colored mass. If you have a serious passion for blurry Bigfoot shots, this is your phone.
LG tries to save the day with a slew of editing options. But what good is a panorama shot and HDR mode if the originals are blurry messes? Crap in, crap out. Sure, you can use the "Say Cheese" feature, which quickly snaps a photo once everyone yells the phrase, but since you'd have to move your mouth, you'll end up with a bad picture regardless.
The Escape runs on ICS, which is fairly standard. I usually groan when I hear the word "skin" -- but LG's Sense overlay isn't that bad. As far as skins go, it's pretty easy to ignore, and a far cry from the soggy frou-frou interfaces that HTC and Samsung often use. There's still cartoon animations, which will make you wish for vanilla software, but neat features like "Quick Memo" come in handy. You can take screenshots and write notes and doodles on it -- it's kind of like Skitch for mobile. Oh, here's another plus: you know AT&T's bloatware? You can remove it. That means you'll only have to put up with AT&T's creepy family-stalking MyFamily app for a short time before you can banish it to the land of misfit apps.
You'll need to free up every megabyte you can, because the Escape only comes with 1.7-gigabytes of memory. That's right, 1.7-, not 17-. I misread it when I first saw it too. You can store a handful of albums, which I recommend because the sound quality is excellent -- and the camera is so bad. Fortunately, there's a microSD slot behind the back cover, and if you want to pay extra, you can add up to 64-gigabytes. I recommend you pick up a few gigabytes -- at the very least -- otherwise you'll be looking at your address book to delete friends you never call. Of course, if you don't shell out, you can also download a streaming app like Pandora or Spotify for Android and still enjoy the music.
The zippy 1.2-gigahertz dual-core chip is plenty powerful. I found it remarkably quick as the Galaxy S3, though there's less software weight to carry. You'll never have to wait to open apps or scroll between home screens. And AT&T's 4G is blistering fast. Even if you can't take good photos, you can view beautiful images on sites in record time. Moreover, you can leave the charger at home; the 2,150 mAh battery keeps you ready to go for nearly a full day, even with heavy use.
Overall, consider the Escape if you're on a budget and you care about the screen and fast 4G. But take a look at the Pantech Flex too -- it has more memory and a better camera. Really, the appeal is the cheap price, and some above average features. But limited storage means you'll have to pay a little more for a microSD card to make full use of the music player and multimedia. For the added cost, I would recommend spending more upfront for a phone that comes with better memory from the get-go. You'll get a better camera as well. ♦
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October 03, 2012
Cons Over Pros
Rather than mention the pros, I'll focus on the cons that I've noticed from my time with it. The phone isn't bad, but if you're like me, you want to get to the problems.
The battery life on this phone is below average. I recommend you have a charger handy at all times, because you'll get around eight hours. Sure, you can save juice by turning off Internet, lowering the brightness of the screen, etc., but it doesn't do you much good.
You'll have to handle it with kid gloves too. I've already scratched my display, and you'll have to be careful not to scratch yours. I suggest you buy a case to protect it. It doesn't take a beating.
Lastly, people tell me my voice sounds muffled on the other end. I'm not sure if it's poor reception or just bad sound quality, but it's something to be aware of.Was this review helpful to you?
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