The Verizon LG Lucid was a solid budget smartphone that sold like gangbusters. Now, a year later, LG brings us the Lucid 2, which is bigger and better than the original in every way. It’s even free this time around. But the times are a-changin’, and with lots of solid, well-priced options to choose from, the LG Lucid 2 isn’t quite as killer a deal this time around.
Design and Call Quality
There are some budget phones where you’d barely be able to tell the difference next to a phone that costs hundreds of dollars more. The LG Lucid 2 is not one of them. It doesn’t feel shoddy or poorly made, but the textured plastic finish gives off an unmistakably bargain bin vibe. The phone is predominantly black, with silver accents around the buttons on the sides and a glass front panel. The front feels slightly off balance, with extra bezel space at the top to make room for the pronounced Verizon and LG logos.
The phone measures 4.82 by 2.51 by 0.39 inches and weighs 4.55 ounces, which makes it light and comfortable to hold. The 4.3-inch, 960-by-540 LCD is a step up in terms of size and resolution from the original, but not in terms of overall quality. Some details, like text, can look a little jagged compared with much of the ultra-high-res competition, and there’s a faint vertical pattern that runs through the screen, which is particularly visible in lighter areas. There’s plenty of room for typing, which feels comfortable on the Swype-enabled onscreen keyboard.
The Lucid 2 taps into Verizon’s 4G LTE network where it’s available, and 3G everywhere else. Verizon LTE is very fast, and received top honors in our Fastest Mobile Networks tests last year. The phone can also be used as a mobile hotspot to connect up to 10 devices simultaneously with the proper service plan. The Lucid 2 has good reception, but sometimes had trouble pulling in a 4G signal. You can also connect the phone to 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi networks.
Call quality is mixed. Voices are understandable in the phone’s earpiece, but volume is a problem. Even at the halfway mark the phone’s case begins to rattle; at higher volumes it can be painful to listen to. Calls made with the phone sound clear but a little muted, with decent noise cancellation. And calls sounded fine through a Jawbone Era Bluetooth headset, though I had a lot of trouble using the standard Android voice dialer over Bluetooth; it often took multiple attempts before getting it right. The phone’s very large 2,460mAh battery was good for an impressive 13 hours and 43 minutes of talk time. The phone also supports wireless charging, but requires you to buy a special battery cover and a wireless charging pad.
User Interface, Hardware, and Apps
The Lucid 2 is powered by a 1.2GHz dual-core Quaclomm Snapdragon S4 MSM8960 processor, which makes for speedy, responsive performance. It’s not as fast as any of the new quad-core chips, or even the 1.5GHz processor in the Samsung Galaxy S III, but it turned in solid benchmarks scores, and is fast enough to run any of the 800,000+ apps in the Google Play store without a problem.
The Lucid 2 runs Android 4.1.2 (Jelly Bean), along with LG’s Optimus UI 3.0 customizations. There’s no word on an update to Android 4.2.2 (the most recent version of Jelly Bean), but 4.1.2 is close enough. Optimus UI is a very heavy layer over Android that won’t please purists, but will look appealing to newbies.
Speaking of newbies, LG has created a Starter mode for first-time users. It places all of your important apps on the main home screen, like your Web browser, email, and Google Play store. There’s another screen to add eight quick contacts, then another screen for your settings. It’s not a radical change from your standard Android layout, but it’s helpful to have all the important stuff up front.
Back in Standard mode, you get five customizable home screens to swipe between that come preloaded with a few apps and widgets. LG has added four themes to the phone that change your wallpaper and icons. In addition to Optimus, which is what you get out of the box, there’s Adventure, Fancy, and my favorite, the particularly weird Monsterland. Verizon has loaded the Lucid 2 with a good amount bloatware, none of which can be deleted.
You get all the usual Android goodies, like a fast Chrome Web browser, excellent email support, and voice-enabled, turn-by-turn GPS directions via Google Maps. You also get QuickMemo, which is LG’s system-wide note taking service that lets you annotate screenshots with handwritten notes and sketches, which you can then share. And SmartShare lets you display music, photos, and video on your HDTV or monitor via DLNA.
Multimedia, Camera, and Conclusions
The Lucid 2 comes with 3.74GB of free internal storage, so you’ll probably want to pop a microSD card into the slot underneath the battery cover to expand your storage options. My 32 and 64GB SanDisk cards worked fine. The phone was able to play all of our audio test files except FLAC, and sound quality was good over both wired 3.5mm headphones as well as Altec Lansing BackBeat Bluetooth headphones, though there was a faint hissing sound in the background. All of our test videos played back at resolutions up to 1080p, but audio fell out of sync over Bluetooth.
The 5-megapixel camera is decent. It can take shots automatically, but that often didn’t allow for the autofocus to lock in—better to give it a beat before pressing the shutter button. Without the sound turned on, it was hard to tell when a photo was taken, because it happens quickly and there’s no animation so it’s easy to miss it. You can hold the shutter button down and the camera will fire off a shot every 0.3 to 0.4 second. Photos show decent detail and color but tend to be noisy. The camera also records 1080p video at a smooth 30 frames per second. It’s not as sharp as I’d like it to look indoors, but video recorded outside looks quite good. The 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera is fine for self portraits and video chat.
The LG Lucid 2 gets you a lot of phone considering it won’t cost you a dime with a contract. But it isn’t quite the same steal that the original was because there are so many other reasonably priced options available. We haven’t tested it yet, but judging by the specs the Samsung Galaxy Stratosphere II looks very similar to the Lucid 2, with the addition of a slide-out QWERTY keyboard. The Nokia Lumia 822 is a solid Windows Phone 8 handset, and the Apple iPhone 4 gets you access to the best app catalog on the planet, and they’re both free just like the Lucid 2. And if you’re willing to spend a little more money, the Droid Razr M gets you a nicer display, a better camera, and a sharper design than the Lucid 2, for just $50.
|Phone Capability / Network||CDMA, LTE|
|Screen Resolution||960 x 540 pixels|
|Dimensions||4.82 x 2.51 x 0.39 inches|
|Video Camera Resolution||1080p Rear|
|Battery Life (As Tested)||13 hours 43 minutes|
|Available Integrated Storage||3.74 GB|
|Processor Speed||1.2 GHz|
|CPU||Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 MSM8960 Dual-Core|
|Service Provider||Verizon Wireless|
|Total Integrated Storage||8 GB|
|High-Speed Data||EVDO Rev A, LTE, CDMA 1X|
|Screen Type||TFT LCD|
|Operating System as Tested||Android 4.1.2|
|Camera Resolution||5 MP Rear|
|1.3 MP Front-Facing|
|Screen Pixels Per Inch||256 ppi|
|Bands||850, 1900, 700|
|Form Factor||Candy Bar|
|Screen Size||4.3 inches|
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc