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LG Connect 4G (MetroPCS) review: LG Connect 4G (MetroPCS)

LG Connect 4G (MetroPCS)

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Lynn La
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Lynn La

Senior Editor / Reviews - Phones

Lynn La covers mobile reviews and news. She previously wrote for The Sacramento Bee, Macworld and The Global Post.

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9 min read

At CES this year, MetroPCS announced two new smartphones that will run on its 4G LTE network. One was the Samsung Galaxy Attain 4G, and the other was the more spec-robust LG Connect 4G.

LG Connect (MetroPCS)
7.0

LG Connect 4G (MetroPCS)

The Good

The <b>LG Connect 4G</b> is a snappy dual-core phone with great in-ear audio playback and a beautiful and vibrantly bright display.

The Bad

Battery life on the Connect 4G isn't so great, and all the bloatware is a drag. Also, the camera's photo quality could be better.

The Bottom Line

The Connect 4G has a steep price tag for a reason, but you get 4G speeds, a zippy processor, and a superb touch screen.

The LG Connect 4G is the carrier's first dual-core handset, but that's not the only reason why it's tapped as its shining star. It also has one of the brightest screens on the market--complete with 700 nits of Nova glory.

Because it is a flagship phone, it also comes with a flagship price. You can purchase the device through the carrier's site for $319, after you send in a $30 mail-in rebate. Next to the LG Esteem, it is one of the most expensive current MetroPCS phones.

Since it doesn't operate on the biggest, fastest, or most reliable network available in the United States, the LG Connect 4G does come with a few cons. But it's always great to see more higher-end options for consumers who want to stick to a no-contract, pre-paid plan.

Design
At 4.59 inches long by 2.45 inches wide by 0.46 inches thick, the LG Connect 4G pulls off looking slim, without feeling too fragile. The device weighs in at 4.8 ounces, so it's easy to handle and isn't bulky, especially for someone who has small hands like me. The Connect 4G fit comfortably between my ear and shoulder, slipped easily in my jean pockets, and texting with one hand was a breeze.

The phone sports a 4-inch LCD Nova capacitive touchscreen display, which has a resolution of 480x840 pixels and a pixel density of 242 ppi. What I like most about the display is that it's bright--really bright. It has 700 nits of brightness, so when I watched videos and fussed around with the phone both indoors and outdoors, the display came out great. Colors were extremely vibrant and rich. Its display is made out of Corning Gorilla Glass, so you don't have to worry too much about being a bit rough. Even though I scratched my car keys across the screen and threw the device into my hiking bag many times, no cosmetic damages could be seen.


The LCD Nova display for the LG Connect 4G is brighter and tougher than most.

One thing I noticed was that some of the graphics weren't very smooth. When I played a typical game like Fruit Ninja, for example, the images were pixelated around the edges. Even the default wallpapers that the phone comes with appeared grainy. Watching HQ videos on YouTube yielded similar results. Considering the fact that this phone has a beautifully bright display, the mid-tier resolution was a bit disappointing.

Above the screen on the right is the front-facing VGA camera for all your video chatting and vanity-shot needs. Below, you'll find the usual four illuminated navigation buttons: menu, home, back, and search. On the top right of the phone, you have your standard sleep/power button, and on the left is the 3.5mm headphone jack. The on button is not convex, so you hardly know it's there since it doesn't bulge. At first I liked the look of this, but later on I found that the barely there power button was difficult to tactilely locate and press. Lastly, to the left side of the phone, there is the volume rocker and the Micro-USB port.

On the back of the handset, right at the center top, is the camera and LED flash. Whether it was the position of the camera or how I held the phone, my finger was always in the way when I tried to take a landscape photo. It takes only a second to square away this problem, but it was something I didn't care for.

Another thing I wasn't too keen on was the textured backing of the phone. It felt sort of plasticky and cheap. However, the backing was easy to pop off due to a small indent at the bottom of the device. Once you do so, you gain access to both the 1,500 mAh lithium ion battery and the microSD card that you must push to eject on the left hand side.


Because it feels a little cheap, the plastic backing on the LG Connect 4G does not do the feature-packed phone justice.

Even with those caveats, however, I like the Connect 4G's design. The rounded edges, simplistic shell, and the few metal accents the phone has (on its output speaker and around the camera lens) are all appealing.

Features
MetroPCS is pushing the LG Connect 4G as a flagship phone largely because it is the carrier's first handset with a dual-core CPU. Indeed, the 1.2 GHz dual-core processor makes the phone quite snappy and responsive, and it was one of the things I liked best about the handset. I didn't notice any lagging when I switched the phone from portrait to landscape mode, zoomed in on Web pages with a pinch, or transitioned to the home screen.

The phone ships with Android 2.3 Gingerbread and is packed with all the goodies from Google you know and love, including the Play Store, Google Maps with Navigation, Search, Books, Messenger, Gmail, Talk, YouTube, Plus, and Places.

There are also a handful of MetroPCS apps that some might find useful. However, because they can't be uninstalled, you're stuck with them whether you like them or not. These include: Metro's own brand of maps, mail, app market, and Web browsing; M Studio, which stores media files like ringtones; a Wi-Fi hot-spot app called MetroPCS Easy WiFi; Metro411, which searches and locates nearby businesses and restaurants; an entertainment and media app called MyExtras; and myMetro, which lets you check your account balance and plan.

You should also expect a number of basic task management applications common in most devices, such as a clock with alarm features, a calculator, a calendar, text messaging, a voice recorder, and a weather app. Uncommon apps include IM and Social, which consolidates all your social networking portals; the mobile office suite known as Polaris Office; Loopt, which let's you share your location and restaurant check-ins with friends; and the content distributor app called SmartShare. There is also a slew of Yahoo! branded apps like the sports news app, Sportacular, Yahoo Movies, and Answers.

If you're interested in music, the LG Connect 4G also comes preloaded with Rhapsody's music subscription service. You can search and download thousands of albums and artists on major US record labels. Despite the fact that you can't play songs offline unless you add it onto a playlist, I found the service to be great, compared to others. Its UI is intuitive, songs downloaded quickly and played continuously. Most importantly, audio playback was superb thanks to the Dolby Mobile feature the device sports. It boosts output sound quality, and along with my Klipsh S4 earbuds, music sounded rich and full of depth. Songs played on speakerphone wasn't as clear as in-ear, however. The bass wasn't as rich and instruments bled together, but the volume was still loud and the quality was adequate.

Being an LG device, you'll find that the phone comes with gesture support that you can customize to suit your needs. For example, you can shut the alarm in your phone off or mute music by flipping the phone over, or rearrange icons by tilting your phone left and right.

Although I appreciate a phone that is chock full of features, and I certainly can find use for Rhapsody, Polaris Office, and SmartShare, most of this bloatware felt like a drag. Particularly when considering how some were redundant, nonremovable, and just plain unnecessary for me.

The 5-megapixel camera, complete with an LED flash, comes packed with features, too. But these are welcome with open arms and include: autofocus, zoom, an exposure meter, face tracking, six image size options, six scene modes (normal, portrait, landscape, sports, sunset, and night), an ISO meter, five white balance choices (auto, incandescent, sunny, fluorescent, and cloudy), four color effects (none, mono, sepia, and negative), a timer, continuous or panorama shooting, four different shutter sounds, and geo tagging.

The video recorder has similar offerings, such as digital zooming, an exposure meter, a continuous flash, the same white balance and color effect choices, five different recording options that include HD video in 720p with 1,280x720-pixel resolution, and audio muting.

Performance
Call quality on the LG Connect 4G was perfectly adequate. When I made calls, I was told that my voice was picked up perfectly fine. Calls from the receiver, however, sounded a bit muffled, as if a thin cloth were draped over the phone, but not to a point that sounds were inaudible or could not be understood. The speaker quality was much better though, as voices sounded loud and clear.

When I made a call to someone who was outside on the street, I was told there were trucks and cars whizzing by, and the wind was blowing. Fortunately, all I heard was my friend's voice and little to no background noise.

LG Connect 4G call quality sample Listen now:

Although MetroPCS was the first carrier in the United States to have LTE, it has LTE coverage only in about 14 cities. That means that for the vast majority of people not living in one of these metropolitan areas, the LG Connect 4G (CDMA 800/1900 and LTE 1700/2100 MHz) may unfortunately not feel so 4G after all.

In the case for San Francisco, however, 4G data speeds were pretty swift. I timed how fast the device could load certain pages. On average, after clearing the history and cache each time, the phone loaded our full CNET full page in about 25 seconds, the CNET mobile site in 12, the New York Times site in 24 seconds, and the New York Times mobile site in about 3. ESPN's mobile site took 12 seconds, and its full site loaded in 36 seconds. Ookla's Speedtest app, which is 2.99 MB, took 20 seconds to download, and showed me an average of 2.07Mbps down and 2.53Mbps up. The 18.34MB game of Fruit Ninja downloaded in two minutes and 25 seconds.

Because the handset comes with the Google+ app, I tested out video calling. When I made a video chat indoors while my friend was also indoors, I was told that picture quality on my side wasn't so stellar, but my video was consistent and wasn't choppy. The video feedback I saw was consistent as well. It wasn't the smoothest thing I've seen image-wise, but the video itself was not lagging or choppy.

Audio, however, could be improved. My friend's voice clipped in and out, which made it difficult to understand what was being said. I was told I could be heard perfectly well, but again, hearing my friend being muted and unmuted was not pleasant.

Both the camera's shutter and focusing speeds are great. Photo quality, however, was less than great but good nonetheless. Although the colors didn't appear to be as crisp and vibrant as in real life, the photos were still clear when it came to images taken both indoors and outdoors. As expected, in low-light environments there was some noise in the photos.


Although it was overcast in Yosemite, these trees still looked a lot livelier in real life when compared with this photo.


Used indoors, you can see that the camera added some blue hues lining the edges of our standard photo set.

The 0.3-megapixel front-facing camera, worked pretty much as expected. The picture quality was low and there was a lot of noise in the photos I took. However, the graininess isn't any worse than other camera I've seen of this class.


Not surprisingly, photos taken with the front-facing camera were grainy and dull

During our battery drain tests, the handset lasted 6.35 hours. Anecdotally, the battery life was OK. Keep in mind that the device has a Nova display, so that drains its usage time quickly. Even with that in mind, however, I could go a handful of hours playing videos, listening to music, and browsing the Web without a charge. But with this level of activity, you could definitely forget about going a full workday with at least one pick-me-up charge. According to FCC radiation tests, the LG Connect 4G has a digital SAR rating of 1.04W/kg.

Conclusion
With its dual-core CPU and 4G network, the LG Connect 4G is a zippy phone from MetroPCS. Despite some underwhelming pixel rendering, its display is vibrant and impressive. Music lovers will undoubtedly dig the Rhaspody Music tie in and superb audio playback with Dolby Mobile. Although I can definitely live without all the bloatware, the device is solid, and it's no wonder that this handset is the carrier's flagship phone for now.

LG Connect (MetroPCS)
7.0

LG Connect 4G (MetroPCS)

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 7Performance 7
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