Verizon customer on the prowl for an inexpensive but reliable device should seriously consider the LG Lucid. For one thing, it has consistent and fast 4G LTE speeds, the latest Android 4.4.2 KitKat OS, and a sizable battery. Oh, and it's free (yes, free) when users sign a two-year contract.
True, the handset's no heavy hitter when it comes to the top-tier phones available right now -- its call quality is middling, and you're not going to be the next Ansel Adams with its meager 5-megapixel camera. In addition, Big Red carries other good and free on-contract phones with better cameras, including the Motorola Moto X and the Droid Mini.
But if camera agility is not a high priority, the LG Lucid 3 is still a strong contender. Especially since its respectable specs go hand-in-hand with its solid internal performance.
Compact and minimalist, the Lucid 3 looks more like the recently launched G2 Mini, instead of its own predecessor from last year, the Lucid 2. Indeed, gone are the thick bezels and the boxy aesthetic. Instead, that has been replaced with an attractively thin frame, slightly arched top and bottom edges, and smoothly curved corners.
At 5.2 inches tall, 2.6 inches wide, and 0.4 inches thick (131.6mm by 66mm by 9.9mm), the Lucid 3 is pocketable and easy to navigate with one hand. It's also relatively lightweight at 4.37 ounces (123.89g). On the left sits a volume rocker, while the right holds a sleep/power button. Up top is a 3.5mm headphone jack, and you'll find the Micro-USB port for charging on the bottom edge.
The rear is stylized with a subtle grey and black checkered pattern. It includes a 5-megapixel camera with its flash placed right below. On the bottom right are two narrow slits for the audio speaker. You can pry off the back plate through the opening of the Micro-USB port. Underneath, you'll see the 2,440mAh removable battery and the microSD card slot, which is expandable up to 64GB.
As for the front, the phone's 4.7-inch display features Corning Gorilla Glass 3 and a 960x540-pixel resolution. This puts the touchscreen at 234ppi, which isn't very high. Indeed, if you look close enough, you can see a bit of graininess with high-resolution wallpaper images, app icons, and texts. In general, however, the screen looks satisfyingly smooth and clear. It's also easy to view outdoors in sunlight. When the brightness level is cranked all the way on max, you can still read the display and it has a wide viewing angle. The screen is sensitive to the touch too, and responsive to my taps and slides.
Above the display is a VGA front-facing camera. Below is the physical home key, which is flanked by two hot keys for back and menu. To recall recent apps, long press the center button.
As a midrange device, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the Lucid 3 ran the most recent OS, Android 4.4.2 KitKat. And as expected, it has plenty of Google apps like Chrome, Gmail, Plus, Maps, Hangouts, Drive, and YouTube. The Google Play stores for Books, Newsstand, Movies & TV, and Music are included as well.
The handset is overlaid with LG's user interface, the Optimus UI 3.0, and comes with a few of LG's signature software features. These include the option to customize certain app icons; QuickMemo, which lets you jot down quick notes or sketches directly over images onscreen; and QSlide 2.0, a multitasking function that you can use to view and resize apps (like the calculator and video player) while using other apps or viewing the home screen.
Verizon threw in a bunch of its own apps too, like Accessories, where you can shop for mobile accessories; My Verizon Mobile, which lets you check your data use and minutes; Verizon Tones music and media store; a gaming portal; and its cloud service. The carrier also pre- loaded apps for setting up visual voice mail and your mobile hot spot, its branded navigating app, and VZ Protect.
There are also basic task-management apps, such as an alarm clock, a calculator, a calendar, a native e-mail client, a memo pad, a voice recorder, and a file manager. Other apps include several Amazon apps (the store itself, Kindle, MP3, its app store, the IMDb movie database, and Audible), NFL Mobile, and the mobile office suite Polaris Viewer 5. Lastly, you'll also get Bluetooth 4.0 and 8GB of internal storage.
Camera and video
One weak point for the Lucid 3 is its 5-megapixel camera. Although it is fast, has many features (more on that later), and takes decent scenic photos, indoor pictures look drab and washed out. This is surprising since, again, pictures taken outdoor are sharp and clear, with colors that are true-to-life. However, once you move inside, lighting is often blown out and over exposed. Colors are muted and pale, digital noise becomes more apparent, and objects have blurry edges. For more on the device's camera quality, check out the photos below. And be sure to click on each picture to see them at their full resolution.
Video recording in 1080p fared a bit better. Both moving and still objects remained in focus and I didn't notice any lag between my moving of the camera and the viewfinder feedback. During my time shooting, it was quite windy out and the microphone picked up a lot of the gusts' noises. However, the video was still able to record nearby sounds well, including my video narration.