Samsung Galaxy Victory 4G LTE review:

Budget Android phone can't outpace competition

The Victory's 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera will be just fine for video chatting, but it won't deliver the most flattering of self-portraits. That's to be expected, and in some cases, having that option is far better than not having it. Photos will look soft, but skin tones looked natural when I tested it on myself, not grayed-out or hyped up.

As with most smartphone cameras, you'll have options when it comes to shooting video, mainly full-length and quality, or limited-length for sending in messages. Your highest resolution is 720p HD video, but you can drop the resolution four steps to as low as 320x240 pixels.

Samsung Galaxy Victory
The flash went a little haywire in this studio shot, and edges weren't exactly sharp. Josh Miller/CNET

Video capture and playback were mostly good on the Victory; fairly sharp with pretty decent color accuracy and no jerky motion.

Call quality
I tested the Galaxy Victory 4G LTE on Sprint's network here in San Francisco (CDMA 800, 1900; LTE 1900.) Since my regular testing partner was out of town, fellow CNET cell phone reviewer Brian Bennett graciously stepped in on a call to New York.

Volume on my end was pretty high when the level was set to medium-high. Unlike the higher-end Samsung phones, it has no extra audio boost software, so if you're in a noisy area, you could max out. I didn't hear any background noise, but I did hear a lot of skipping and breaking up whenever Brian spoke. I kept wanting to smack the side of the phone in hopes of smoothing out the audio quality.

On Brian's side, I sounded fairly loud as well, with a slight whisper of static before and after I spoke. Brian noted that my voice came across a little flat, but not very tinny or scratchy.

Samsung Galaxy Victory 4G LTE call quality sample Listen now:

I tested the speakerphone by holding the phone at waist level. Brian sound fairly loud and a little hollow to my ears, but his voice finally smoothed out and didn't cut in and out. For his part, he said he could tell I was on a speakerphone and said that I sounded distant. He could make out a slight purr of static as well. Overall, the Victory's audio was passable, but the uneven, cutting-in-and-out quality is disturbing.

Although the Galaxy Victory has "LTE" in its name, I wasn't able to test it here in San Francisco, a market still waiting for Sprint's LTE network to kick in. That means I was surfing on 3G speeds when outside of a Wi-Fi zone., Quadrant results for Samsung Galaxy Victory 4G LTE and Quadrant results for Samsung Galaxy Victory 4G LTE. Screenshot by Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

That's unfortunate, since Sprint's 3G network isn't the speediest in downtown San Francisco. The fastest I saw in my tests was 1.7Mbps downlink and 0.95Mbps up. In the real world, it took a lengthy 3 minutes to download and install CNET's mobile app, 10.8 seconds to load our mobile site, and 40.4 seconds to load the graphically rich desktop site.

The Victory 4G comes with a 1.2GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Lite MSM8960 processor. While that's speedy enough to get stuff done, I did notice a little lagginess when I navigated around some apps, including going back to the home screen. It performed pretty well on the Quadrant diagnostic test, but far below the fastest and brawniest handsets. In the Quadrant screenshot, the fastest phones come in well above the HTC One X metric (refer to screenshot).

One kooky thing I noticed was that Wi-Fi tended to turn itself back on after I had turned it off to use the Speedtest app. This happened many times throughout my testing period, even after I turned Wi-Fi off manually from the drop-down notification menu.

Samsung Galaxy Victory 4G LTE: Performance testing
Download CNET mobile app (3.8MB) 3 minutes
CNET mobile site load 10.8 seconds
CNET desktop site load 40.4 seconds
Boot time to lock screen 29 seconds
Camera boot time 2.9 seconds
Camera, shot-to-shot time 3-3.5 seconds
Load up CNET mobile app 25 seconds

The Victory 4G LTE has a nice large 2,100mAh battery and claims a rated talk time of 7 hours, with up to 9 days of standby time. In our lab tests, the Victory put in 8.2 hours of video playback. According to FCC tests, the Victory has a digital SAR of 0.98 watt per kilogram.

The Victory has 4GB of user storage, with up to 32GB storage through a microSD card.

Final thoughts
The Samsung Galaxy Victory 4G LTE is a solid budget Android 4.0 smartphone that's worth the $50 on-contract fee for those who are watching their wallets. Since it's the same price as the LG Viper but trails behind in camera quality, I'd recommend the Viper over the Victory, now that the Viper has updated to Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. However, keep in mind that audio quality on the Viper is also problematic, and the battery is a bit smaller.

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