Verizon Wireless LG Spectrum review

Recently LG released the Spectrum, which is essentially the same phone as the Nitro on AT&T and the Optimus LTE outside of the U.S. It’s LG’s follow up to the Revolution, which wasn’t one of the most popular phones on Verizon last year. The Spectrum brings many upgrades, including a dual-core processor and a 720p HD display, but can LG survive in the Verizon jungle that’s filled with DROIDs and that other popular device known as the Galaxy Nexus? This is my full review, but you can also checkout my initial hands on here.

Design

The Spectrum’s design is as simple as it gets. It’s your basic plastic rectangle slate with no sense of style. It’s plasticy, but for whatever reason, I find that it feels nice in the hands. The only problem is it doesn’t feel hip at all. Phones like The DROID RAZR and the Galaxy Nexus have more style, but of course, not everyone is a snob when it comes to how their phone looks. That’s where the insides come in…

Hardware

Spec-wise the Spectrum is top notch with its 4.5-inch 720p (1280 x 720) IPS display, 1.5 GHz dual-core Snapdragon processor, 1GB RAM, 8MP rear camera (with 1080p video recording), 1.3MP front camera, 4GB internal memory, microSD for up to 32GB (comes with 16GB), 1830mAh battery, Bluetooth 3.0, 4G LTE, and WiFi. It should be noted that the Spectrum is global capable, but probably won’t be active till later in the year.

Battery

It’s so hard to comment on battery life after reviewing the DROID RAZR MAXX because nothing comes close. 4G LTE is a known problem and although an 1830mAh battery is decent for today’s standards, it’s not going to cut it now that Motorola has upped the anti. If battery life is any concern to you, than you probably shouldn’t buy the Spectrum or any other 4G LTE phone except for the RAZR MAXX. As far as how the Spectrum performs, if you’re a light user, you might be able to get through the work day, but if  WiFi is at your disposal, it will help immensely. I also tested how long it would run with continuous video on 4G and it was about 4 hours and 45 minutes, which isn’t very good. The DROID RAZR MAXX ran for about 10 hours.

Performance

The Spectrum has a 1.5 GHz dual-core processor so it should be blazing fast. I found it to be pretty good, but it did have the occasional slowdown, which is probably more of a result of the UI skin. The AnTuTu benchmark came in at 6068 which was on par with the DROID RAZR MAXX (6006) and just below the Galaxy S II. Being a dual-core 1.5 GHz, it should have been better, but I thought the overall performance was adequate.

The 720p screen is very nice, but I don’t think the contrast is as good as the Galaxy Nexus. It’s not a deal breaker, and if you have your heart set on this phone, you will enjoy this IPS offering.

Software

The Spectrum comes with Android 2.3.5 and LG’s own UI skin. You won’t find much positive press on LG’s UI skin elsewhere, nor will you find it here. If I was a typical phone buyer that didn’t really care so much, it probably wouldn’t have bothered me. Since I get to play with a lot of phones and a lot of skins, I have to say that LG’s skin is probably my least favorite. Most of it can easily be fixed by installing another launcher from the Android Market, so it’s really not a big deal. The overall UI isn’t as intrusive as HTC’s Sense, but it isn’t that appealing either.

As far as bloatware, you will find the usual, which includes Bitbop, Blockbuster, Yahoo! Finance, Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit, Let’s Golf 2, My Verizon Mobile, Netflix, NFL Mobile, Polaris Office, Rhapsody, Richnote, ESPN Scorecenter, SmartShare, TuneWiki, V CAST Media Manager, V CAST Tones, Verizon Video, VideoSurf, and VZ Navigator.

In that above list is ESPN Scorecenter, which has a  unique feature. It’s the same app that’s available in the Android Market, but this version includes exclusive 720p HD video content such as highlights and interviews from ESPN. You can see this in my initial hands on video.

Another application that is exclusive to LG is Smart Video HD which lets you edit, store, and upload your videos. It’s not a bad application, but it’s not necessarily all that easy to use either. It allows you to trim your short videos (under 10 minutes), add photos and music, and add a style. The styles are Showreel, Dice, Sentimental, Pump It Up, Scrapbook, and Showcase. I’ve only played with it a little bit, but it seems more appropriate for putting a bunch of photos together to make a video rather than for video in itself.

Camera

The Spectrum comes with an 8MP shooter which wasn’t bad. I wouldn’t put in the class of some of the nicer cameras from HTC and Samsung, but it gets the job done. Here are some example photos (the last one required flash was very dimly lit).

Closing

Overall the LG Spectrum isn’t a bad phone at $199, but I have to ask why anyone would buy one over the DROID RAZR or DROID RAZR MAXX? I could see why someone might not choose the RAZR MAXX because it’s $100 more, but to me this is the perfect example why sometimes too many devices just don’t make much sense. I think the AT&T variant, the Nitro, makes perfect sense, but the Verizon world is Android heavy with the DROID brand, the Galaxy Nexus, and HTC’s Rezound. The Spectrum doesn’t offer anything else. Sure, it has a little faster processor and a better screen than the DROID RAZR, but do you really want to sign a 2-year contract with the Spectrum or with a company that’s about to be owned by Google? I think the choice is rather simple: Spends an extra $100 and get the DROID RAZR MAXX and enjoy being free from wires all day.

» See more articles by Robert Nazarian


  • http://www.motoask.com/ Motorola Atrix forum

    very ugly design….

  • Dfsdfd

    “Overall the LG Spectrum isn’t a bad phone at $199, but I have to ask why anyone would buy one over the DROID RAZR or DROID RAZR MAXX? I could see why someone might not choose the RAZR MAXX because it’s $100 more, but to me this is the perfect example why sometimes too many devices just don’t make much sense.”  

    The reason for choosing the Spectrum over Razr Maxx(1) You can spend the 100 you save on the price of the phone to buy a couple of the extended batteries. Also i’m around a computer or car pretty much 24/7 so charging is not a big deal.
    (2) Much better screen
    (3) Software can and will be changed
    (4) I prefer removable batteries

  • Melinzar

    Whatever you do, do NOT buy this phone!!! I have had nothing but grief since I got it. I was warned up front about battery life and how to preserve it, not an issue. What I did not expect was not being able to connect to wifi, dropped calls, missed texts, oh and best of all the 4G LTE did not work 99.5% of the time. So, they give me a “new” phone which is a Verizon certified refurbished piece of junk and it burns up on me. Yup, you heard me, I had it 2 days and it was fried. Why? because I plugged it in to recharge it. I take it back to Verizon and the manager has the gall to try and blame me for user error. Well, after she makes a fool of herself they tell me I have to order another one of these pieces of junk because it is covered under warranty. 2 phones in 3 months, absolutely ridiculous!!! BUYER BEWARE!!!