We love getting feedback from our readers - we'd love to hear what you liked or disliked, what you'd like to see in the future, or simply what you think of IntoMobile. No suggestion or critique is too small or overlooked.Contact Us
The Holiday Season is here, and as usual, Verizon is prepared to offer shoppers cheap and affordable alternatives compared to all of its competitors. Last month, Big Red introduced the LG Spectrum 2 to grab the attention of potential customers looking for a budget-friendly mid level 4G LTE smartphone on its impressive cellular network that covers almost every area of the United States.
The LG Spectrum 2 is a follow-up to an earlier model that launched in January. What users stand to get with this smartphone is a more than modest bump in features and specs such as a bigger screen size, better quality dual-core processor, and the addition of wireless charging. Customers can snatch up all of this at an attractive price of $100 on a new two-year contract agreement. Nevertheless, allow me to give you the 411 on what my thoughts were in my review of the LG Spectrum 2.
The hardware on the LG Spectrum 2 is pretty solid. If you’re thinking of buying this phone you’ll find that it isn't built mostly of flimsy plastic-like materials (ahem, Samsung). Instead, what you will discover is the phone carries more durable plastic that feels good in the hand. For example, the back cover of the device has a harder shell that feels like rubber when you touch it. As for the chassis, LG opted to go with either a metal or aluminum material that has made the device more sturdy when holding it in the hand. It’s no question that LG (for the most part) put out a well made phone.
Under the hood of the phone holds some decent specs, including a 4.7-inch 720p display, a Qualcomm 1.5GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 processor with 1GB of RAM, 8MP rear camera with LED flash, a 2150mAh battery, NFC chip that comes with two NFC Tags, and a microSD card slot for expandable memory.
Unfortunately, the LG Spectrum 2 suffers from the same problem as other low-to-mid range phones, and that’s low-budget quality in certain areas of the handset. The best example of this is the cheap plastic covering the screen -- it’s not a smooth experience. The cover can sometimes cause your fingers to stick to the screen while scrolling, and it makes tapping on apps a chore. It’s understandable because in order for a device to be budget-friendly certain sacrifices in quality have to be made.
The hardware may be solid, but the overall design of the LG Spectrum 2 is uninspiring. It has a well put together brick look, tapered with square corners. However, the handset lacks the same kind of style and flare seen on better looking brick phones like the HTC 8x and Nokia Lumia 920. I also had a couple other issues with how this phone was designed. I don’t understand why LG felt the need to add four touch buttons below the screen, when most feature phones today only have three. The LG Spectrum 2 has a back, home, settings, and multitasking button to pull up previously run apps -- which is totally unnecessary.
My second gripe is where they placed the power button. LG decided to put the power button at the top of the phone in the right corner, which makes it wildly uncomfortable to power the phone off if you’re right handed. I tried different types of judo with my hand, whether it was using my index finger or thumb: it was awkward no matter what. The only positive with the power button is when you press it a blue light circles around it, which is pretty cool. Other than that, you’ll find the speaker on the lower back of the phone along with the volume rocker, USB port, and headphone jack on the upper left corner.
Software is one of the most important aspects of picking a phone. If any of you out there are familiar with my reviews, then you’d know that I loathe manufacturer made custom user interfaces and bloatware (pre-installed apps). In my opinion, these two unnecessary additions both suffocate the stock version OS and lessen the user experience as a whole. Anyhoo, in this case, LG tries to appeal to those with its Optimus UI.
LG’s Optimus UI offers some Samsung Galaxy-like pre-installed features such as Quick Memo, Car Mode and Office Mode. With Quick Memo, you get to screen capture web pages, photos, and videos, so they can then be written and drawn on with your finger or stylus. There’s also LG’s NFC app Tag+, which lets you edit the settings affiliated with the two NFC tags that come with the handset. One tag is designated as “Car Mode” and the other as “Office Mode.” Being that I don’t own a car, I didn't play with this feature at all. However, the settings seemed to be straightforward and easy enough to set up.
Using the phone brought some annoying occurrences, like when I noticed some lag when I quit out of apps. For example, once I closed the Google Chrome browser app the phone had a hard time loading up the apps on my screen. This happened quite a few times. This could be due to LG’s Optimus UI, the bloatware from Verizon, or a combination of both. I also had an issue when I tried to see my notifications in my drawer, as they wouldn't appear sometimes. It was weird. One thing I did like was the Spectrum 2’s awesome water effect when it’s plugged in and being charged. The screen looks like it’s filling up with water.
Besides all the things I've mentioned, there’s nothing mind blowing about the features of the phone, as you’ll see similar things on other LG devices like the Optimus G (checkout our review here) and Optimus L9.
When you’re using a 4G LTE phone on Verizon you expect blazing speeds. Well, I’m here to tell you Big Red’s LTE connectivity lives up to its hype, as I experience top notch page loads when I browsed the Internet. Testing the network on Speedtest.net, got me insane speed results of 31.44Mbps down and 11.77Mbps up! Browsing the web was more than an okay experience I’d say. I have no idea what’s powering the default browser on the Spectrum 2. My suggestion is to just download Google Chrome and make it the default browser, as it’ll give you a way better user experience anyway.
There isn’t any major multimedia features to boast about here. What you’ll find is your typical music and video player apps, with the addition of a video editing application called ‘Video Wiz’. Video Wiz is an app that lets you put pictures, music or videos together in a short presentation. It’s cute, but don’t expect to get serious video editing work done on it. Video playback on the 720p display was more than adequate for me while I was watching YouTube videos. Speaker quality on the phone is not great, but serviceable.
While on paper the specs of the camera may be 8 Megapixels, the quality of the shots didn't validate the number. Pictures came out above average when compared to other smartphone cameras, although it’s far from the best I've ever seen. The LG Spectrum 2 didn't handle taking shots well in low light which isn't so much of a surprise considering it’s a mid range device. Colors in pictures taken seem washed out, especially for those indoor shots.
In addition, the camera comes with some minor adjustments and features such as exposure, ISO, and white balance. What I found to be really cool was a feature you can activate that lets you use the voice shutter in a unique way. Before taking a picture, all you have to do is say “cheese!”, and the camera will take a photo without pressing any buttons whatsoever. This is perfect for those of you superficial types who like to take lots of pictures of yourself. Nevertheless, I found the zero shutter to be confusing at times, because it was hard to figure out if I took the picture or not.
Verizon is not only famous for its data speeds but its widespread cellular coverage in the U.S. Again, it’s not much to say here, I had no problems with drop calls nor did I have any wonky issues with reception during conversations. Signal strength was solid as well.
Battery life is above average. The phone has the same 2150mAh battery in it as the Samsung Galaxy S III, so I got a good 24 hours worth of juice out of it. Standby time was awesome, as I remember having the phone sit on my dresser for days at a time without a single charge. LG was kind enough to send its wireless charging plate to me and it made charging much more easy.
Although this may come off as a great deal; priced at $100, I’d be lying to you if I said there wasn't anything better for the same cost or less. It’s the holidays so you’ll be bombarded with deals from many places. Interestingly, Verizon is now selling the Nokia Lumia 822 for $100 and the Motorola Droid Razr M at $49.99. Both phones are good choices. And for that reason I would pass on the LG Spectrum 2 for the handsets I just named.