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Review: Verizon’s LG Spectrum offers speed, long life — and weird UI customization

Jan 30, 2012 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — views

Verizon's LG Spectrum phone — equipped with 4G LTE, a great 4.5-inch screen, and a dual-core, 1.5GHz processor — provides speed and impressive battery life, according to this eWEEK review. However, author Clint Boulton adds, the touchscreen was sometimes unresponsive, and the customizations LG has layered on Android 2.3 aren't much of a success.

The LG Spectrum smartphone (pictured), available now from Verizon Wireless for $200 on contract, is the latest in a long line of multimedia-friendly Android handsets that flaunt large screens, big battery life and powerful application processing.

This Android 2.3 4G Long Term Evolution smartphone — powered by Qualcomm's 1.5GHz dual-core Snapdragon S3 processor — might just have the nicest, most crystal-clear screen yet seen on an Android handset. That's because the 4.5-inch, in-plane switching (IPS) display, boasting 1280 by 720 pixel resolution and a 16:9 aspect ratio, features the same display technology LG employs for its HDTVs.

Think of Spectrum as possessing an HDTV screen, only vastly scaled down to fit in the palm of the hand, which it does well at 0.40 inches thick. The display is also made of Corning's Gorilla Glass, making it incredibly tough and scratch-proof.

I watched numerous YouTube clips, whole TV episodes on Netflix (which was preloaded on the phone) and other video content. Applications such as Angry Birds, Facebook and Twitter all looked gorgeous on the phone. There is also a Smart Movie HD app to add and edit photos and videos.

Speed is also a key asset of this phone. I downloaded applications such as Ookla's Speedtest in five seconds flat. Speaking of Speedtest, the speeds the app showed me ranged from an incredible 19Mbps to 24Mbps download speeds, and 7.4Mbps to 9.6Mbps upload speeds. So, yes, this phone is a speed demon, in case you're wondering.

Making and receiving calls via the phone worked well enough, sans tinniness or echoes. The eight megapixel main camera worked quite well, especially paired with the 1.3MP front camera, which enables video chat. Video recording and playback are in full HD at 1080p. The phone has 1GB of internal memory and a 16GB microSD card preinstalled, expandable to 32GB.

One of the knocks I've had on Verizon's 4G LTE phones, starting with the HTC Thunderbolt and Samsung Droid Charge earlier last year, was that the 4G radio and network slurped down battery life much too rapidly for my taste. Verizon and Android OEMs have corrected those issues, offering batteries with longer lives.

I first saw this with the Motorola Droid Razr and the Samsung Galaxy Nexus. The Spectrum is no different. The 1840mAh battery allows users to watch a lot of video, field a lot of calls and return text messages for a nice full workday before a recharge is required.

Not everything was simpatico during my experience using this phone. LG did some weird user interface stuff on top of Gingerbread. For example, the application launcher is split into app genres, such as apps for communication, tools, HD and the requisite bloatware from Verizon.

The media home screen has something of a virtual Rolodesk menu for photos, videos, albums, artists and music playlists that would look better on a tablet.

The social media widget aggregates users' email, Twitter, Facebook and, yes, MySpace accounts in a way that is not terribly kind to the eye or finger. LG's skinning won't be mistaken for Samsung's TouchWiz, HTC's Sense and Motorola's Motoblur UIs.

One thing that was odd was that the touch screen could sometimes be unresponsive to taps. This was especially true for the menu, home and back buttons, which, while not virtual, were tucked under the display. I often had to tap these icons multiple times to get them to respond. I simply started tapping the touch screen more precisely and harder than I would other phones.


I can recommend this phone for users wanting a device that lets them watch a lot of video, play games, make calls, and do plenty of other necessary communications and entertainment tasks without burning down the battery in a few short hours.

It's certainly LG's best Android phone to date, and should be even better when its gets the update to Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich this year. It gives Verizon another powerful 4G LTE phone in its already well-stocked portfolio.

More information on the Spectrum may be found on Verizon's Spectrum product page.

Clint Boulton is a writer for eWEEK.

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