LG Lucid 3 (Verizon Wireless) review: Free on-contract handset excels, but stutters with the camera

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In this amply lit outdoor photo, colors are vivid. However, the dark hues above the fountain are hard to distinguish. Lynn La/CNET

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Despite lots of sunlight, the camera struggles with indoor scenes. Here, customers at Super Duper look pale and blurry. Lynn La/CNET

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In another indoor photo, the background is overexposed and colors are washed out. Lynn La/CNET

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For our standard studio shot, you can see plenty of digital noise in the white background and the edges around these objects appear jagged. Lynn La/CNET

The 5-megapixel camera and front-facing camera offer a variety of options. Both have a brightness meter, five white-balance options, four color effects, a timer, geotagging, and four shutter tones. There's also Cheese shutter, which is a voice-activated shutter function that takes photos when you say certain words, such as "cheese" and "whiskey."

Understandably though, the 5-megapixel camera has a few more features, including a digital 4x zoom, flash, five scene modes, including Panorama and Time Catch, three focus options, and five ISO settings. You can also save up to three photo sizes (from 1,280x960 to 2,560x1,920 pixels). Meanwhile, the front-facing camera has the option to save a photo flipped vertically, and has one picture size (640x480).

Video recording options for the two cameras include the same brightness meter, color effects, and geotagging functions mentioned beforehand. Both cameras can also pause recording and re-start it again in the same video, take photos while recording, and detect faces to warp them for silly (more like creepy) effects. The 5-megapixel camera also has continuous flash and the ability to record up to four video sizes (from 176x144 all the way to full-HD 1,920x1080). The VGA camera can record in three video sizes (from 176x144 to 640x480).

Performance

At our San Francisco offices, I tested the dual-band (800/1900) Lucid 3, and call quality was mediocre. While none of my calls dropped and I didn't hear any extraneous buzzing or static on my end, my calling partner's voice sounded choppy. At times, the tail end of her words clipped in and out. Her voice was also difficult to hear on a relatively medium volume level, and when I increased the volume by a few notches, audio suddenly became shrill and tinny. The rear-facing speaker also sounded unpleasantly sharp.

Meanwhile, I was told my voice sounded extremely muffled, and at times difficult to hear. My calling partner also noted that she could hear a low humming sound during the call, but it ended after a few minutes.

LG Lucid 3 (Verizon Wireless) call quality sample

Given Verizon's robust 4G LTE network, data speeds on this device was fast and consistent. In general, it took just 47 seconds to download the 48.47MB game Temple Run 2. As for Web browsing, CNET's mobile and desktop site took 6 and 9 seconds, respectively. The mobile site for The New York Times loaded in 6 seconds, while its full page appeared after 12 seconds. ESPN's mobile site took 5 seconds, and the desktop version took 9 seconds. Ookla's speed test app showed an average of 15.74Mbps down and 10.17Mbps up.

LG Lucid 3 performance times

Average 4G LTE download speed 15.74MBps
Average 4G LTE upload speed 10.17Mbps
App download (Temple Run 2) 48.47MB in 47 seconds
CNET mobile site load 6 seconds
CNET desktop site load 9 seconds
Restart time 35 seconds
Camera boot time 2.19 seconds

The 1.2GHz quad-core processor executes simple and necessary tasks easily. I had no problem launching the app drawer, calling up the keyboard, or switching from portrait to landscape mode. And while I've seen higher frame rates in more powerful smartphones while playing the graphics-intensive game Riptide GP 2, the app played smoothly on the Lucid 3, never once stalling or force quitting.

The device's highest Quadrant benchmark results out of three trials was 8,989. In comparison, the Droid Mini scored 8,905, and the Moto X scored 8,519, putting this LG handset slightly above both both Motorolas. Meanwhile, its best multithread Linpack result was 214.589MFLOPs in 0.79 seconds. On average, it took the phone 35 seconds to shutdown and restart, and 2.19 seconds to launch the camera.

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The device's LTE data times (left) and its best Quadrant result. Lynn La/CNET

Anecdotal performance for the 2,440mAh battery has been observed to be great. It easily lasted on standby over the weekend, and it was able to withstand mild to heavy usage throughout the workday without completely draining. It reportedly has a usage time of up to 12.5 hours, and during our official test for talk time, it lasted 19 hours and 12 minutes. According to FCC radiation measurements, the phone has a SAR rating of 0.78W/kg.

Conclusion

While the LG Lucid 3 isn't without its drawbacks -- for one thing, its mediocre call quality and unimpressive photos drag down user experience -- the device make up for it with its impressive data and internal speeds, an ample battery size, and free on-contract price tag. All in all, it is definitely worth considering.

I'd personally recommend it over the Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini, which has a smaller display and isn't as fast. And while the Kyocera Hydro Elite is also free and waterproof, it runs an older version of Android and its camera performed slightly worse than the Lucid 3, despite featuring an 8-megapixel lens.

But if camera prowess ranks high on your must-have list, Verizon has plenty of handsets to satisfy this need. Though they run later OS versions and have smaller battery capacities, the Motorola Droid Mini and the Moto X both have 10-megapixel cameras that take vivid and sharp pictures in a snap.

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Quick Specifications See All

  • Technology CDMA2000 1X
  • Service Provider Verizon Wireless
  • Weight 4.4 oz
  • Diagonal Size 4.7 in
  • Sensor Resolution 5 pixels
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