LG Optimus Slider (Virgin Mobile) review:

LG Optimus Slider (Virgin Mobile)

I tested the LG Optimus Slider in San Francisco; Virgin Mobile phones run on Sprint's network. Though signal quality was perfectly adequate, sound quality was less than stellar. I didn't experience any dropped calls, extraneous buzzing, or audio clipping in and out, but voices sounded really muffled. At times, it was hard to make out what my friends were saying because audio blended together, and I had to ask them to repeat themselves. Even at max volume, it was difficult to make out certain words. Callers, however, said they could hear me. Though I didn't sound crystal clear, I was understood perfectly well.

The output speakerphone quality performed better than the in-ear speakers. Calls still sounded stifled, but music videos and dialogue played loudly. However, there were times when songs or dialogue sounded too harsh or sharp, but it was easy to understand nonetheless.

Listen now: LG Optimus Slider call quality sample

The 3.2-megapixel camera's photo quality was understandably mediocre. With such low megapixels, photos taken indoors looked grainy and dull. Colors bled together and the edges of objects did not look refined. Taking photos in an outdoor setting with plenty of natural light improved photo quality. Colors were a bit more vivid, though not as rich as in real life, and objects were in better focus with defined outlines.

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In this indoor shot, the pastries seemed to blend together and were blurry. Josh Miller/CNET
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In this sunny outdoor shot, the outlines of the cars are easy to distinguish, and the blue on the car is bright. Josh Miller/CNET

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In our standard studio shot, images were grainy and dull, and there is a dark hue along the edges. Josh Miller/CNET

Video quality was also subpar. Feedback lagged behind my moving of the camera. Objects were extremely blurry, even if I panned the camera as slowly as I could. White balancing also took some time to adjust -- people's skin color would be wonky (sometimes even orange) under certain lighting. After a few seconds, the color tones would finally correct. There was a low and subtle buzzing sound that I heard when listening to my recordings as well.

The dual-band (850, 1900) Slider runs on Sprint's EV-DO technology and clocked in some solid times for a 3G device. Loading the CNET mobile site, for example, took an average of 18 seconds, while loading our full site took a minute and 7 seconds. The New York Times full site took slightly shorter on average, clocking in at 48 seconds, and its mobile site took a mere 10 seconds to load. Ookla's Speedtest 2.99MB app, which took 2 minutes and 13 seconds to load, showed me an average of 0.29Mbps down and 0.72Mbps up.

During our battery drain tests, the handset lasted 6.9 hours. Anecdotally, the device had poor battery life. After spending about an hour surfing the Web, talking with my friends, and watching videos, the handset would easily lose a battery notch. And when inactive but powered on overnight, the battery would still drain. According to FCC radiation tests, the phone has a digital SAR rating of 0.48W/kg.

The LG Optimus Slider has a few things going for it. Its data connection is strong and for a no-contract phone (where bloatware seems to be forever apparent), it's refreshing to see a lack of useless preloaded apps. I was hoping for more improvements over its predecessor, however, especially with the camera.

But, even though the device Slider has a comfortable keyboard, I don't like the fact that everything else is so generously sized. The build is too bulky, especially when compared with the LG Rumor Reflex. Although smaller, the Reflex has a nicely sized keyboard as well, is on a no-contract network (Boost), and it's cheaper to boot.

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