LG Spectrum 2 review

Spectrum2-Feature

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 Good
  • Solid hardware
  • Verizon LTE data speeds
  • Wireless charging
  • "Say Cheese!" voice shutter
The Bad
  • Power button inconveniently placed
  • Hardware design is uninspiring
  • LG's custom UI

Hardware

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.

Design

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

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.

Web Browser, Multimedia And Camera

Web Browser

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.

Multimedia

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.

Camera

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.

     

Call Quality And Battery Life

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.

The Final Take

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.

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  • http://twitter.com/ajac09 Anthony Evans

    ahem the gs3 is still better then this crap ahem

    • http://TheTrendaholic.com/ Charles West

      Captain obvious, here. Yes, the GS3 is better. That’s why I own it (hence, the Garnet Red GS3 pictured above).

  • Chris

    I’m looking for a work horse of a phone. For emailing and web browsing, making notes + phone calls/texting. This phone seems an excellent choice because it has a big sharp screen, good battery life, micro sd, removable battery and it’s cheap. The removable battery is so useful. Currently I charge spares and carry them with me. I mean, the razr maxx hd has a 3300mah battery. I charge just one spare of these and I get considerably more battery life. The razr’s are obviously non-removable and battery packs are generally a pain in arse on the move so removable batteries are the best option IMO. I love the fact it has a multi-task and settings button, so useful for me. Looks wise, it looks rather plain and understated, I love it! The bad: some lagginess and cheap screen coating. But all in all, as a work horse, this is probably my best option. FYI I’m going to buy this outright and get a giffgaff sim for unlimited data, unlimited texts and 250mins for £12 a month (monthly rolling contract). Not too shabby heh. ;-)

  • http://www.facebook.com/angela.walker.5283 Angela Walker

    The Droid Razr M can’t even touch this phone. Just look at the specs.

  • Anthony Tanchak

    This phone has the same specs as the S3 except for the ram, where this phone has 1gb and the s3 has 2gb. All the other specs are the same, and the LG has a better screen than the S3 and it doesn’t feel like its going to fall apart in your hand like the cheaply made S3. The S3 cost $199 at Verizon, while the LG is FREE at the moment. To me, not much of a difference between the two phones, and the LG is cheaper with a better screen. Too bad the author of this article is an idiot.. The LG screen is cheap plastic? Its Gorilla glass, or did you not read the specs…. Idiot..

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