LG Spectrum (Verizon Wireless) review:

LG Spectrum (Verizon Wireless)

Multimedia is one place where the Spectrum should soar, especially with that 8-megapixel camera capable of recording in 1080p HD video. Outdoor shots were largely excellent, with crisp edges, filled-in detail, and natural colors. Indoor shots, on the other hand, often looked as if they came from another camera entirely.

This outdoor shot is a perfect example of what the Spectrum's 8-megapixel camera can do.

Unfortunately, the same settings also produced this blurry, washed-out disaster.

Flash often didn't engage indoors in lower-light situations, which made subjects look fuzzy. Other times, sufficient natural light helped the Spectrum reproduce scenes that typically trip up other camera phones, like the picture of toys in this gallery (who says cubicles are devoid of personality?) Check out that slideshow for a closer look at the Spectrum's camera chops--and missteps.

The Spectrum takes on CNET's standard studio scene. Not bad!

The Spectrum's video-recording capabilities were pretty good when tested in well-lit situations. While it won't replace your video camera for making movies you'll want to regularly watch on large-format screens like on your 50-inch HDTV, video played back very well on the phone's 4.5-inch screen and nicely on my desktop. Colors perhaps were a hair duller than in real life, but playback and capture were fairly smooth and detailed, with good audio capture in my tests when the subjects were at close range. It goes without saying (but I'll say it anyway): the farther away from the mic they are, the harder they'll be to hear in the video.

The Spectrum hosts 4GB of internal storage and takes up to 32GB in external storage. It generously comes with a 16GB microSD card preinstalled.

I tested the LG Spectrum (CDMA 800, 1900; LTE 700) in San Francisco using Verizon's network. Call quality was bifurcated, with my call testers hearing clearer audio than I did. In all instances, callers said I sounded "very clear" with strong volume, natural timbre, and a smooth, blip-free connection. Results varied on my end. Sometimes the line also sounded clear, but voices lacked a little warmth or depth, and there were occasional digital interruptions. In other calls, the caller's voice reverberated and the call sounded echoey.

LG Spectrum call quality sample Listen now:

Speakerphone was loud enough to carry on a longer conversation in a noisier place, but to my ears, voices sounded tinny and a little shrill. My test caller reported back that volume was pretty good, but that voice quality was sort of echoey, resembling surround sound.

Response time and speed are also part and parcel of a smartphone's performance, and here the Spectrum for the most part excelled. There were no issues with the fast 1.5GHz dual-core processor. Apps opened quickly, and navigation was seamless.

Internet load times on Verizon's 4G LTE network were also good, and LTE coverage held pretty steady here in San Francisco. The mobile-optimized version of the New York Times loaded in just under 7 seconds, with the desktop site filling in its last ad in 14 seconds. CNET's mobile site appeared after a lengthier 25-second wait, but the desktop site popped up after 17 seconds.

Running the Speedtest.net diagnostic app by Ookla, I found download speeds for the Spectrum usually hovered in the 15Mbps-to-21Mbps range, but I occasionally got speeds of 5Mbps, which is still fast compared with some 3G networks.

The Spectrum's 1,830mAH lithium ion battery promises a rated talk time of 8.3 hours and standby time of 14.5 days and during our test, it lasted 8.55 hours. Anecdotally, the battery seemed pretty standard.

The Spectrum has a digital SAR of 0.86 watt per kilogram, according to FCC radiation tests.

LTE speeds, dual-core processing power, and the phone's terrific HD display add up to an excellent smartphone. And there are the LG Spectrum's other charms--the great design, the HD apps, and LG's customizable gesture support. Plus, that 8-megapixel camera takes some nice outdoor shots, and the $199.99 price tag means it's well-subsidized for a superphone. However, competition for Verizon customers is fierce, with a strong lineup that includes the country's first and, currently, only Android Ice Cream Sandwich phone and a handset with double the usual battery life. It'll be a tough fight for the Spectrum to win hearts and minds against such foes, especially when it exhibits somewhat questionable call quality and a riskier app interface, but LG fans will be very pleased with this upgrade.

This week on CNET News


Discuss: LG Spectrum (Verizon Wireless)

Conversation powered by Livefyre