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

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.

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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

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9 comments
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  • RE: LG Spectrum hits Verizon: 4G LTE and fast hardware (review)

    Nice review, can you please tell me if the LG Spectrum has an LED indicator light to notify you of emails or texts when the screen is locked? I can't seem to find that info anywhere. If it doesn't, do you know if there's a decent app with a similar function? Thanks!
    Mark
    android90210
  • RE: LG Spectrum hits Verizon: 4G LTE and fast hardware (review)

    The Spectrum does NOT have a notification LED. This is surprising (and disappointing) since the LG Revolution it's superceding has one. (Same thing goes for it's brother, the Nitro.)
    1of7627
    • RE: LG Spectrum hits Verizon: 4G LTE and fast hardware (review)

      @1of7627 I found an app(free) in the Market that I'm testing now called "NoLED" that the developer says he created for the Samsung Galaxy S (has no LED either). It's very configurable and can put dots or icons on the screen and/or give vib and/or audio feedback as well. I'll give it a fair trial and see how it goes.
      1of7627
      • RE: LG Spectrum hits Verizon: 4G LTE and fast hardware (review)

        @1of7627 Just to follow up on the app I've been using called "NoLED". It seems to work fine on the Spectrum and has eliminated one of my disappointments. This app puts a "dot" (or icon if you choose) on the screen if you miss a call, e-mail, text or even a notification from any other app on your phone if you choose. You can add a vibe or audible reminder as well. If you see the "dot" (LED simulation) on the screen, you can dismiss the screen notifcation (and reminder if you've set one) by pressing the Home button without losing the notification on the normal bar at the top of the screen which will still appear when you unlock the phone. There are a couple of caveats (like you have to use the standard Gingerbread lock screen) and a couple of options function only without others (like "blink" and vibe/audible). I've chosen to use the standard "dot" (or "dots" if you have multiple missed items), have set the initial delay to zero seconds, and have selected both a vibe and audible reminder at 300 second (5 minute) intervals. It's worked flawlessly for two days now, so I'm going to keep it. It's a free app, but you can spiff the developer with a donation if you like. - MarkC
        1of7627
      • NoLED dot

        So when the phone is in "sleep mode" (dark screen) a dot can be seen or do you have to "wake up the phone" in order to see the dot without having to slide to unlock it?
        letfah
  • Extended battery

    Does anyone have an idea what the extended battery looks like / what it will do to the phone's form factor? Is it as integrated-looking as the Razr Maxx? I have yet to see any images of it, and it's too new to see anything helpful on Verizon's website (last I checked anyway).
    jberezinski@...
    • RE: LG Spectrum hits Verizon: 4G LTE and fast hardware (review)

      @jberezinski@... Yes, it's on VerizonWireless' site now under Accessories. It looks the same as the one they created for the Revolution and consists of a fatter battery and a new back that has an obtrusive bulge in it to clear the battery. Imagination was obviously not a part of the design and like the Revolution, it pretty much dictates a custom case is needed. I'm going to pass unless I'm desperate.
      1of7627
  • Samsung already made this...

    I have one, got it months ago, and it came with more memory. Love LG monitors though, good stuff, I am brand loyal in different tech sectors, Gigabyte for motherboards, Intel for processors, Samsung for phones, LG for monitors and TV's, Linux for OS's, etc.
    tek_heretik
  • The device in general

    I've had the Spectrum for about 2 weeks and can get a day out of the regular battery with minimal web/game usage and normal texting of 50-75/day. I do have the extended battery as well and had a hard time finding a case for the behemoth. First of all, only get the extended battery if you don't have the option to charge your device throughout the day if you wanted to. It really makes it ugly, just like what it did to the fascinate. I did find one case out there that fits it and it was through Verizon with the clip and cover combo. I am not saying it's my personal choice to get that style cover but it's the ONLY choice with the extended battery. I've had the Bionic and the Charge and numerous other smartphones, but this is the best I've tried. This is the first time the 4G was actually 4G and it was really lightning fast, actually faster than my wifi at home lol. I messed with the Nexus and the Razr, and the Droid 4 doesn't have a removeable battery(like the RAZR) and it is pretty thick with that slide out keyboard. You just have to be patient enough to get the ICS update from LG. There are ICS launchers in the market that are awesome and make the user experience great. The charging door on the top is kind of a pain, but when you think about it, the charging port is ON the top, so when you get in your vehicle you put it in a cup holder or whatever to stand it up and you don't want anything to get in there(liquid/food) and ruin the device. It is a pain, but I've gotten over it after 2 weeks, you will too. Most of the top phones are near identical with a different ui. The nexus has ICS. The device isn't worth the extra $100 for the OS personally. I was spoiled with the super amoled plus screen of the Charge and the screen on the LG is darker, BUT watching movies is just amazing and actually it's a truer HD viewing experience. Never dropped 4G, never dropped a call, everything works, solid device. Faster actual dwnld speeds than any Verizon phone. You can use applications to rate the speed, but until it actually does dwnld something in the real world it doesn't matter, does it? It doesn't have the notification light, but don't be a baby about it, do you have to have a little light? When you wake it up there is a quick access icon that takes you directly to what has updated or you've missed which I quite like. I like the LG, make up your own damn mind, take the blue pill.
    shwany80