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LG Spectrum Review – Verizon

LG Spectrum

Our LG Spectrum review, almost 3 months in the making. Why the delay? Was the device so good that we couldn’t bring ourselves to give it up? Or was it that bad that we couldn’t force ourselves to use it enough to put together a full review? If I told you up front, that would ruin the magical anticipation that is built when I attempt to leave you hanging with some fun line like, “We will find out after the break!” With that said, jump past the break to find out. 

The Good:

  • Specs:  With its 1.5GHz dual-core Snapdragon S3 processor, 1GB of RAM, 4.5″ HD display, 8MP shooter, 4G LTE capabilities, and decent sized battery, the Spectrum should be considered a “top tier” phone. LG wanted to make a splash with a high end phone on Big Red and they have done that here, at least on paper. The specs match up to the HTC Rezound, DROID RAZR and Galaxy Nexus for the most part, yet the price falls below 2 of the 3.
  • Display:  At 329ppi, the Spectrum’s 4.5″ HD display is nothing short of beautiful. As you will see in the macro shot below, this is one of the better LCD screens on the market, rivaled only by the Rezound and maybe the iPhone. The IPS displays that LG is using on almost all of their phones now should be seen by all tech obsessed consumers. When compared to the Galaxy Nexus, I found the Spectrum to have far brighter whites and overall crisper view of just about everything. This is obviously a personal take after comparing the two side-by-side.

  • Price:  At $199 on 2-year contract, this phone is priced well. Most 4G LTE phones from Verizon with these kinds of specs start at $249 and go up from there. Got to give it up to whoever made the decision to undercut everyone else on this one.
  • Cameras:  The cameras aren’t anything to write home about, but they also won’t disappoint. In the few photos I snapped, I wasn’t disappointed nor was I overly impressed. The Spectrum has a good enough 8MP shooter on the back and an upgraded 1.3MP camera in the front for video chatting. Both will get the job done while also not embarrassing you should you decide to share your photo adventures with friends.

  • Weight:  This phone is incredibly light. It feels amazing in hand as long as you try to ignore the cheap plastic materials that got it to this point. Heavy phones were once unavoidable, so I’m glad that companies have realized that tanks only belong on battlefields and not in your pocket or hand. LG did a nice job at packing in top tier specs while keeping the phone in the slim and manageable category.
  • Battery:  We have written about this more than a dozen times, but the current crop of 4G LTE radios are going to kill batteries at feverish rates. Companies like LG have realized this and started trying to pack in as big of a battery as they can into new handsets. The Spectrum boasts an 1830mAh battery that should come close to getting you through at least a work day. It won’t take you into 2 or 3 days like the DROID RAZR MAXX, but very few phones will. In our battery tests, even with the massive 4.5″ HD screen, this phone was on par with the Galaxy Nexus and Rezounds of the world.

 

  • 4G LTE:  Since Verizon has decided to not accept anymore non-4G LTE phones onto their network, we can probably stop giving props to phones that have it. Well, maybe not until other carriers finally roll out real LTE networks in more than 12 markets. Since Verizon is covering the U.S. faster than most of you can type “long term evolution” it’s definitely a selling point. Big Red’s LTE network is awesome (assuming it isn’t down for today) and the Spectrum takes full advantage of it with its HD screen and exclusive HD content, like ESPN’s Scorecenter.
  • HD Content:  Speaking of that exclusive HD content, it wouldn’t be fair to the Spectrum if we didn’t mention it specifically in its own bullet point. Watching full 720p HD ESPN highlights on this 4.5″ display is wonderful. And since no other phone currently has access to it but the Spectrum, you have to give it a +1.
  • Gaming:  With its dual-core Snapdragon processor, 1GB of RAM and big 4.5″ HD display, gaming on the Spectrum is a bonus. As devices have grown in size, playing games on them should be more fun, right? At 4.5″, this is creeping towards being a mini tablet, but gaming on tablets has replaced most handheld gaming devices, so that’s not a negative. Fruit Ninja with multiplayer, the new Angry Birds Space, and your other favorite titles will all look amazing on this phone.

The Not-so-Good:

  • LG’s Custom UI:  I’m not sure what they are calling it these days, but LG’s custom skin that has been slapped on top of Android has become the king of spam and unnecessary bloat. It’s slow, it looks like a cartoon, and will frustrate you should be forced to use it. The dock isn’t customizable at all and the app drawer’s layouts make no sense. Thankfully, LG appears to have ditched this version of their skin on their next line of phones that includes the Optimus 4X HD in favor of a much more simplified and stock-looking UI. If you do buy this phone though, you will want to install a 3rd party launcher immediately.
  • Build:  During my unboxing, I compared the build of this phone to the DROID Charge and still can’t think of a better way to describe it. The plastic back piece feels just like the one on the Charge, and that’s not a good thing. I don’t know that I’m ready to go as far as to call it “cheap,” but it is close. After using the phone on and off for a month or so, I already managed to scuff the battery cover by simply pulling it in and out of pockets. That is not a good sign for a phone that is meant to last you 2 years. I love how light the phone is, but am not a fan of the products used to make it feel this way.
  • Performance:  It’s tough to tell if the UI or something mixed into the hardware is to blame, but this phone lags like none other. And not only that, but screen presses almost always take a second or third press to make something happen. What I mean, is that if you press an icon or swipe down the notification bar, rarely does anything happen on the first press. It takes another swipe or two to get some of these basic smartphone actions to activate. Talk about frustrating on a phone that has one of the biggest and most beautiful touch displays around.
  • Gingerbread:  The phone was released in January, so it would have been difficult for LG to put Ice Cream Sandwich on it at launch. However, it’s now March and there hasn’t been a peep from the company as to when this phone might see that update to Android 4.0. We are sure it will happen, but it could be a while as LG is focused on promoting their next line of phones already, that just so happen to run ICS.
  • Bloatware:  Since LG’s custom UI groups apps in the oddest fashion, our bloatware count was super easy this time around. The Spectrum has 16 pre-installed “Verizon” apps and another 4 or 5 apps that you wouldn’t find on a stock device, bringing the total to over 20. SMH.

Unboxing:

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HD ESPN Content:

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Gallery:

The Verdict:

If we go back to our opening paragraph, we should probably give you an answer as to why this took me almost 3 months to complete. Was it because the device was so awesome that I didn’t want to have to give it up or was it so painful that I struggled to find the time to actually review it? Unfortunately for the Spectrum, it had to do with the frustrations I continued to run into while using it. After carrying the device around as my daily driver for about 4 or 5 days in January, I quickly became frustrated and had to put it down for a bit before coming back to fully review it.

The UI on here – if I didn’t make this clear enough already – is the worst in the Android game. For a device that wants you to “ooh” and “aww” over its screen, then pressing on that screen should work the first time. Swiping, pressing icons, and any sort of touchscreen movement on the Spectrum rarely works on the first try because of this awful custom skin. The phone also hated my Google Voice or contacts from Gmail for some reason, as it rarely showed the person’s name during an incoming call. It also managed to pull in contacts from all of my Gmail accounts even though I told it to stick to just one of them. It’s filled with bugs and lag on the software front that could potentially be addressed through an update, however, LG hasn’t had the best track record when it comes to making those happen in a timely fashion.

It’s not all bad for the Spectrum though. In fact, if you read all of the bullet points above, we actually rank most of the aspects of the phone pretty high. The camera is acceptable, LTE is always awesome, the screen is absolutely gorgeous, and the battery life isn’t all that shaky. At $199, this phone is at least worth a quick look if you are not quite ready to toss out 3 Benjamins for a smartphone. A third party launcher could rid you of LG’s skin for the most part, and if LG does get it together and update this phone to Ice Cream Sandwich quickly enough, it could be a decent player.

LG Spectrum Specs | Other Spectrum Coverage

  • http://www.facebook.com/LegaultTheDragon Matthew Alexander Phillips

    i actually happen to like the lg skin i like how i can orginize all my apps and it seprates the apps that are preinstalted that i cant delete instead of others where they mix them together u just need to try and take advantage of the interface

  • Subnuke678

    I’m shocked by this review! I bought my LG Spectrum a little over 2 months ago and I have had NONE of the problems described in this review. The launcher is definitely substandard but easily replaced. I have only VERY rare occasions when something didn’t swipe or register on first press – like maybe 2 for the total time I’ve had it.  Lag? What lag? Mine is a rocket!! The screen is gorgeous and I like the bigger size and higher res than my previous phone, the Samsung Continuum – which has the fabulous AMOLED screen.  Battery life is excellent if you don’t use WiFi too heavily.  I use a battery saver program and I easily get through an entire day, although battery power is quite low if I made heavy use of WiFi that day. How many ppl don’t use a case or skin on their phone today? Does it really matter what the unprotected material is or how it feels since it’s going to be covered up anyway? My only beef is finding a belt case that actually fits the Spectrum, since it’s so big.  Most are designed to just barely fit a naked model w/o skin. Are they kidding? Anyway, I love mine and haven’t seen anything out there yet that would even make my eyes wander.

  • Recordo

    System is buggy: tap on voicemail icon and the screen usually blacks out as you try to enter an ID. Switching from portrait to landscape usually loses the screen being displayed. The keypad is twitchy, even in landscape. The camera frequently switches from rear to front. The placement of the USB on top of the phone was a terrible design decision. The UI is a total loss. If I’m lucky enough to return this, I’ll switch to a Motorola or an iPhone. No questions asked.

  • Buckgrad

    IIt’s interesting reading all the comments about the Spectrum on this and other sites. Seems like most of them come back to a general dislike of LG. The specs are great. The UI is taken care of with another launcher. A case takes care of any problems people have with the back.

    Apparently, I was the lucky one to both try the only perfect display model, and buy the only other perfect model in stock–if we are to believe all the negative commentary. No lag at all, quite fast, gorgeous screen, and all the memory I need after adding a 32gb card. Great sound quality. Dolby sound through headsets (nobody ever mentions this when comparing it to the Rezound…) and the perfect weight.

    I did an in store comparison of the Spectrum, RAZR, Rezound, and Galaxy Nexus. Spectrum was the only one for my needs that did not fall short in one way or another, thus it was my choice.

    And that’s what it comes down to…choice. Congrats to all of you who chose the RAZR, Rezound, Galaxy Nexus, or whatever. You made the right choice for your needs, just as I did. But can we get away from the constant general trashing of phones due to the manufacturer? It would be interesting to read the comments if new phones could be reviewed without the manufacturer being known..

  • Waldripranch

    Ive had the lg spectrom for a week and the first night i had it i plugged it in and the phone was 5% low. The phone shutdown and the buttons at the bottom where flashing. Cant get it back on till morning then you have to charge it and not use it to keep it from dying. The battery is not good either it would only last me 4-5 hours on a good fully charge with out using it and only last 1 hr if i text or call. That would the tthe 2 lg phone i have had that wouldnt work. I went through 7 of the lg vortex doing the same problem i have resently got the droid 4 by Motorola and i have no complaits the battery is excellent but doesent last as long as the droid maz

  • HornKirsten14

    my best friend’s half-sister got paid $13253 a week ago. she is making money on the computer and moved in a $315200 house. All she did was get blessed and apply the information explained on this web page >>>> LazyCash1.com

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

    I honestly have never seen a negative review of an Androud Device on AC. Its always “Welll It may be not be for you but imm sure those guys over there might like”…. Always trying to balance out negatives. Not sure if thats a good or bad thing.

    • Droidzilla

      This phone generally sucks, but it has the best LCD screen in the business. Some people like the iPhone screen over the GNex, and for those people this may be their phone (LG makes the iPhone’s screen). For the rest of us, this phone is a dog. So what Droid Life said is true, from a certain point of view.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pSOBeD1GC_Y

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/26PKEAGHCIUTT3C6WWPNFX2DEI Tim

    my roomate’s ex-wife earned $17760 last month. she makes money on the laptop and moved in a $391700 condo. All she did was get fortunate and follow the advice written on this web site lazycash42 c()m

  • Timbo1

    IIf I’m not mistaken this is the only LG phone on Verizon that is getting ICS. which was released in the Verizon update list a few weeks ago.

  • mark

    I feel like a total noob, the screen convert was so transparent I didn’t know the sales person didn’t take it off! The phone’s touch response is perfect now, no having to double tap. I saw what looked like a scratch on the screen and was thinking how did that happen? Go Launcher flies on this phone!

  • http://cashhuge.com

    my roomate’s sister made $13988 the previous week. she is making an income on the laptop and moved in a $413700 home. All she did was get blessed and try the tips made clear on that web site top of this comment

  • WallyIAm

    What’s worse, the unnamed skin on this or sense on the Rezound?

    • AndroidFan2

      This for sure….

    • mustbepbs

      Sense on the Rezound is barely noticeable. In fact, it ran better than a few custom launchers for me.

  • Manuel Olague

    If you root it will be a great phone

  • Zardeath9

    oh one more thing about build quality and feel. It is light and thin and slick backed, but when a thin case is put on it becomes absolutely perfect. We have a GSII Skyrocket and when a case is put on it becomes a freaking tank. The Spectrum is still light and thin and pocket sized even with a case. The screen misses are solved by turning down the touch sensitivity a bit as the phone registers small slides instead of touches. Again. GREAT Phone once you put your favorite launcher on to hide the horrible LG skin.

  • WallyIAm

    With the current BOGO deal at VZW, the spectrum its attractive. I’d hate to pull the trigger and then see BOGO deals on the Resound and RAZR Maxx when the next round of phones are released. Anyone think that’s likely?

    • http://twitter.com/Serotheo Simon Yu

      Probably not, I think they are having a promotion on the Spectrum because it doesn’t sell as well as the others, and it could definitely pull in sales (while discounted) with specs that sound good on paper.

      • Captain_Doug

        We’ve been “selling” them for a few months and out of the 4-5 employees and a few months, I’ve sold 1. The bogo is to get it out of our inventory. I don’t think it’s a bad phone but when it’s in the same category as the rezound price wise, it’s a no brainer. And for another 100 bones, the nexus is definitely worth it. 

  • pouxonu

    I’ve had mine for a about two weeks now and have to say everything is about right on the money. Screen lag when doing normal stuf isn’t my favorite thing but playing games or typing work fine. It only seems to have the lag when I’m trying to pull down the notfication bar or tap an icon, other than that the phone is great. If you want a decent phopne and not have to spend an arm and a leg I say go for it. The only real issue I have personally is the speaker volume isn’t the greatest. I hate watching a movie and barely hear it but a good pair of headphones fixes it

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Nyitrai/636804866 Michael Nyitrai

    i remember when my LG voyager was king, LG was one of my favs, its too bad they have not taken to the smartphone world too well yet, hopefully they get it together for future phones

    • Thanassi

      I had the LG EnV, the EnV2, the Voyager and the Dare (still the best cell camera to date IMO) I was an LG whore because their phones were so good (at the time). But yea, they fell off and I jumped ship, just as I’m about to do with Moto in a couple weeks when my upgrade kicks in.

  • Socialmuse22

    Picked this phone up two months ago. Your review is spot on. I love the screen, weight, 4G.
    Hate battery life and lag….hole eff i hate the lag. Did you ever have a problem with the browser not responding at all? I type in a link and nothing happens for minutes…Minutes!!!
    Did get a 3rd party launcher so i dont deal with the ugly UI. but the lag…oh it is killing me.

    • Loki

      Sounds like a great phone, but what is the point if the UI and performance are that awful?  From people’s experience with the interface I couldn’t deal with that for 2 years with a contract.

  • Bryan Ott

    I think the screens are a personal thing.  I had the original Dinc1 with the AMOLD screen after about a year and a half I had to get a replacement VZW sent me one with a Super LCD screen I was very unhappy.  I switched to the RAZR for the screen (sorry I like more than the GNEX) probably just a personal thing since the screen is made by Samsung.  I know people who think that SLCD is the way to go and vice versa.  

    • JaeLim

      Yeah you may want to return your Razr then since Samsung made that screen too. Just you know, ALL SAmoled screens and most Amoled screens are made by Samsung. You can try the IPS or the Super LCD 2 for non-Samsung made screen.

      • Droidzilla

        It sounds like he says he likes the screen because it’s made by Samsung, not the other way around.

  • Atst88

    Say what you want about screens, The Spectrum has the best screen I’ve seen on a mobile phone. It looks brighter than an iPhone. BUT! I too had to get rid of it. It was too laggy just to make a phone call. And the finger presses would be up to 3/4″ off at times, and trust me, that is much more than it sounds like.

    Miss the screen, glad to see the device go, though.

    • bassman418

      what did you go to?

    • Droidzilla

      Should actually be very similar to the iPhone, since LG manufactures the IPS LCD in the iPhone 4/4S.

  • Paul

    LG should at least give their skin a name. Not a good sign that they don’t even bother with that.

    • Thanassi

      Why? so everyone can laugh at them like they do with moto,sammy and htc? lol

    • darkknezz

      the skin name is LG Optimus 2.0. It has evolved from their early Optimus handsets. I use it on the Spectrum. The screen is amazing. AH IPS TrueHD looks fantastic. It gives you the truest colors of any handset out there. I don’t mind the skin. I like being able to create custom categories in my app drawer and pinch to navigate my contact list and email.

  • Lavoisier1794

    I played with one in the store and alas like my Revolution this phone appears to be Binged. Is there anyway to turn the bing off in the stock browser?

    Basically this phone soubds like a Revolution (bad) with higher specs (good).

    • Socialmuse

      aaahhh, hate the freaking Bing. I have been trying to figure out how to change it.

      • Lavoisier1794

        On my Revolution I’ve gotten around it by using Dolphin Mini and Dolphin HD. That way when you type a search query in the URL field it goes to Google (at least in those browsers). That helps; however, it doesn’t fix some things. For instance, pressing the search soft key from home still brings up Bing. Some of the voice searches I do (even with Google Voice Search) end up getting routed to Bing too. I don’t mind Bing being pre-loaded; however, LG should let me switch it back to Google.

    • darkknezz

      no bing on the spectrum at all! That was a contract verizon had with microsoft because of the failed kin phones. Contract is expired and no bing on this phone.

      • Lavoisier1794

        Huh, maybe someone actually intentionally installed Bing on the demo model (people do weird stuff to demo phones). Or maybe the demo model was made early prior to the expiration of the contract. Still, weird. I picked up the demo, hit the stock browser, typed a search term into the url field, and was given Bing results.

  • Zardeath9

    Having just received this phone I have to agree with the assessment. If you change the launcher it is a very strong phone at a great price. Gorgeous display, snappy processor, and just overall good feel. I am very happy with the phone, but need to root and remove some bloatware, then it will be an even stronger device. Software can be removed or changed, hardware is forever, and the Spectrum is a great piece of hardware.

  • droid800

    Correction: The dock IS customizable. Sometimes reading the manual actually helps. (or paying attention to menu options) :P

  • Lacokanostra

    I win!

  • jasaero

    If it seems to get better battery life than similar speced and batteried phones I wouldn’t be surprised if some of this lag has to do with governor used on the kernal.  Probably just need a custom kernal.

  • mark

    I just got this phone and I have the same problem with the touch screen but it’s starting to get more receptive for some reason. I ditched the launcher for Go Launcher ex with ICS and it’s a big improvement. I’m not getting any lag. Once it gets ics i’m sure the camera will improve. I haven’t rooted yet but once a good ROM comes out the phone should be a beast.

    • WAldenIV

      I was going to ask Kellex if he tried a 3rd-party launcher.

  • RoadsterHD1

    no thanks

  • naterecording

    This is a perfect example of a terrible OS skin ruining an otherwise reasonably decent smartphone.

    • Timbo1

      Ya the skin really slows the phone down its not optimised near enough, the phone screams when the skin is taken off.

  • sgtguthrie

    I’m personally hoping for either the SGS3 on vzw, or the MOTOROLA DROID Fighter to be unlockable. I’d take either or, moto unlocking before the google acquisition is unlikely, but I can hope. SGS3 on vzw I think will happen, but we’ll have to wait and see…

    • FortitudineVincimus

      I bet no SGS3 on VZW. Not until they make a quad core that can handle CDMA/LTE/4G. IF it does come, it will be some bastardized version as VZW seems to do that.

      Believe me, this is the phone I want bad given the current known specs.. but I really doubt VZW will get it.

      • sgtguthrie

        The only incompatible processor is tegra 3 as far as I’ve heard. The rumored processor has 4G chips integrated, so there shouldn’t be an incompatibility, and it should be a whole lot easier on the battery ;-)

      • JaeLim

        Um they build the LTE chip into the processor… so yeah Exynos 4412 CAN handle 4g LTE.

      • PC_Tool

        The rumored Exynos CPU for this device has LTE radio on the same SoC.  “Built-in” pretty much guarantees “working”.

  • bassman418

    I don’t know what to say about the screen review. I’ve compared my Galaxy Nexus to the Rezound, razors(lol), spectrum and the iPhone at the Verizon store. I even played the same HD you tube movie trailer and the GNex screen was more brighter , crisper , better colors and the best contrast (especially blacks) and I did it with my skeptical brother in law who has a Tbolt and was looking at getting a new phone. Being his wife has a Rezound he was leaning torward it till he saw my phone. That’s whenwe went to Verizon to compare. He agreed that the Gnex screen looked the best overall.

    • cooksta32676

      Amoleds give you incredible contrast and black because the actually shut the pixel off for black. A true IPS LCD is a step above in color accuracy, and vividness. If the Gnex would have got the Plus designation and features, it would save energy and have brighter colors. It’s the he’s overall device on VZ, but Rezound has a screen that can’t be beat.

      • bassman418

        I understand what your saying as far as spec wise goes. We had extended comparison time with the Rezound being his wife had just got it and watching multiple videos the Gnex just looked better and crisper to our eyes. I had a tbolt before I got the Gnex. But I was up in the air between the Rezound and it when I was getting the new phone. I was torn by specs. I had a HTC phone and was kind of OK with sense. I loved the amoled screen on my incredible so I liked that in the gnex. I loved the camera in the tbolt so I was in happy about the 5 mp cam in the gnex. The thunderbolt was heavy, the Rezound being the same weight and size and I really wanted 4.0. So I went to the store and said let me compare them. I’m extremely happy with my decision.

  • http://twitter.com/kn1ghth4wk241 Mike Daniels

    can you explain how the phone has better whites than the gnex?
    i kind of understand but at the same time i dont

    • http://twitter.com/kirilv Kiril

      I have the brightness all the way down on my Nexus (because this is one of the only phones that still looks pretty good with the brightness that low). This, however, results in a lot of phones displaying better colors that my Nexus. However, if I match the brightness of my screen to those of the other phones, the Nexus whites and colors look just as good as any other phone. I’m going to assume it is something like this with the Spectrum as well.

      • bassman418

        the spectrum has a totally different screen than our Gnex. The Spectrum has a LCD screen and the Gnex has a Super AMOLD screen. i am definitly a fan of the AMOLD screens. LCD sreens never show black. its always a brite gray color. With AMOLED screen the pixels stay off for black.

  • http://twitter.com/dtriscari19 David Triscari

    LG has always had hardware to hang with anyone. Cant help but wonder what would happen if they dumped the skin altogether and stuck with stock Android…..Could be just what they need to actually compete

    • KeIIer

      The Tmobile G2x was stock android and it was trash. Not because of the stock UI but because the hardware was buggy as all get out. One of the worst phones I have ever owned.