LG Spectrum hits Verizon: 4G LTE and fast hardware (review)

Summary:The LG Spectrum on Verizon combines fast dual-core hardware with the 4G LTE network to make one of the fastest Android phones tested.

The LG Spectrum may seem like another Android phone on the Verizon 4G LTE network, but it is anything but mundane. The build quality is very good, and the Spectrum feels just right in the hand. The 4.5-inch True HD display makes this a great phone for watching video on the run.

Hardware

Specifications:

  • Processor: Qualcomm dual-core Snapdragon S3 1.5 GHz
  • Memory: 1GB DDR2 RAM, 4GB internal RAM,  16GB microsSD installed
  • Display: 4.5-inch True HD (1280×720) with Corning Gorilla Glass
  • Cameras: 1.3MP front, 8MP rear (LED flash), 1080p HD video capture
  • Connectivity: WiFi, Bluetooth 3.0, 3G/4G LTE
  • Battery: 1830 mAh (3000 mAh optional)
  • OS: Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) will be upgraded to 4.0
  • Dimensions: 5.33 x 2.71 x 0.41 inches, 4.99 ounces

The Spectrum looks like the LG Nitro on AT&T, which is similarly equipped. The Spectrum is not the thinnest and lightest Android smartphone around, but it feels better in the hand than most I have tried.

The glossy imprinted back picks up fingerprints if you are one who doesn't like that. The Gorilla Glass covering the front of the Spectrum give that beautiful screen the protection it needs. Beneath the screen are the three standard capacitive buttons on LG phones: Menu, Home, and Back. I like how the Home button has a silver face to make it stand out from the others.

Above the display is the 1.3MP front-facing camera, which is good for video calls. It is not a high-resolution camera compared to some, but does a decent job.

On the top of the phone is the 3.5mm audio jack, microUSB for charging and connecting to a PC, and the power button. I find the power button to be almost too flush with the top to comfortably operate by touch. The microUSB is hidden behind a door, which gets in the way. I'd rather have an open jack without a door on phones.

The volume up and down buttons are on the left of the Spectrum, and there is nothing on either the right nor the bottom of the handset.

The 8MP camera with flash is on the back of the phone, and is slightly raised up from the flat back. This camera takes decent photos, and I was impressed to find almost no shutter lag. Shutter lag is the biggest problem I have with most Android phones in taking good snapshots, but that's not the case with the Spectrum. Stills look good, and full 1080p video can be recorded.

The Spectrum can be used as a 4G LTE hotspot with the appropriate service plan. The 4G connection can be shared with up to 10 other devices. This will take quite a toll on the 1830 mAh battery as expected. In initial testing, the battery on the Spectrum won't last a full day on 4G, but it fared better than other Android 4G LTE phones I have tested. There is an optional 3000 mAh extended battery available from Verizon that should easily last all day.

Software

The Spectrum ships with Gingerbread, Android 2.3, and LG will update this to Ice Cream Sandwich "soon". LG has its own special skin on top of Gingerbread, which bridges the gap between it and ICS until the update. There are seven home screens that only display in portrait, with special LG widgets for weather and the like. There is a special live wallpaper that shows the battery level when charging by displaying water level as if the screen is filling.

LG/Verizon are shipping the Spectrum with Netflix, ESPN ScoreCenter, and Smart Movie HD installed to take advantage of the HD display. Watching HD video is a joy on the Spectrum. There is also quite a bit of Verizon software preinstalled, such as various VCast apps.

Browsing the web on the high resolution screen is a joy, with snappy performance all around. The browser is basic and works well, but is lacking the quick controls I've come to prefer in Android browsers. For this reason I installed the Dolphin Browser HD to get my bookmarks synced from the cloud.

Conclusion

The LG Spectrum is a solid phone on the fast Verizon 4G LTE network. The battery life is hit hard by the 4G, although better than any other 4G LTE phone I have tested. I really like using the Spectrum, I find it is comfortable in the hand and the big high-res display is very nice. It is available now from Verizon for $199 with a 2-year contract.

Of interest:

Topics: Mobility, Hardware, Verizon, Wi-Fi

About

James Kendrick has been using mobile devices since they weighed 30 pounds, and has been sharing his insights on mobile technology for almost that long. Prior to joining ZDNet, James was the Founding Editor of jkOnTheRun, a CNET Top 100 Tech Blog that was acquired by GigaOM in 2008 and is now part of that prestigious tech network. James' w... Full Bio

zdnet_core.socialButton.googleLabel Contact Disclosure

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Related Stories

The best of ZDNet, delivered

You have been successfully signed up. To sign up for more newsletters or to manage your account, visit the Newsletter Subscription Center.
Subscription failed.