The LG Logos is a compact, bare-bones Android smarpthone, available on US Cellular for $99, without a contract. It's not an especially impressive device, but it offers relatively strong performance for the price, and runs the recent Android 5.0 Lollipop, so you can experience the latest that Google's mobile operating system has to offer.
No, it won't impress your friends. But if you don't want to spend very much on a smartphone and live in an area that has strong coverage from US Cellular, this could be a device to keep on your short list.
The Logos looks like a miniaturized LG G4 . The screen is ever so slightly curved, though you'll be hard pressed to notice it until you slip the Logos into your pocket. The Logos' power button is sandwiched between the volume buttons, and all three run vertically along the phone's spine. They're the only physical controls on the device, and while I'm personally not a fan of their location, they're easy enough to reach.
I'm also not sold on the curve. The original LG G Flex's curves ostensibly helped make the 6-inch phablet a bit easier to wield while you're making calls, and purportedly offers a "more engrossing" experience when you're watching videos and playing games. The G Flex 2 was a little less unwieldy at 5.5-inches, but touted similar benefits. The Logos, by contrast, is tiny -- you'll have no trouble look at videos or pocketing this device, and the curve is so subtle as to be inconsequential.
At 4.7 inches the Logos isn't exactly a burden to carry around, and it feels a lot smaller than it looks: the aforementioned 4.7-inch display has a 1,280-by-720-pixel resolution. Sure, it's not the 1080p resolution you'd expect from pricier devices, but screen looks good. There's no color shifting or contrast degradation when you're looking at it off axis, and with a pixel density of 312 pixels per inch, text looks rather crisp.
The phone is running LG's Optimus UI, which reskins Android pretty heavily. Icons for familiar apps are replaced with LG-approved variants, and the color scheme has been adjusted a tad. There are few preinstalled apps, but McAfee Security rears its ugly head and it can't be readily uninstalled -- I prefer a pristine Android experience, but if you don't mind an antivirus app scanning your files for malware, this may not be problematic.
The Logos is also running Android Lollipop 5.0.2: Android 5.1 is the latest version, but this device isn't substantially behind. And with Android Lollipop adoption rates hovering at 18% it's nice to see a budget phone keeping up with the Joneses, as it were.
The LG Logos' 5-megapixel camera is set to a 4-megapixel, wide-angle shooting mode by default. That works out to an aspect ratio of 5:3 -- you'll get a 4:3 aspect ratio when shooting at the full 5 megapixels. You'll be able to fit more objects in your frame at the default setting, but the slightly lower resolution -- 2,560 by 1,536, versus 2,560 by 1,920 -- may deter pixel peepers.
Not that you're missing much: feed the Logos camera sufficient light and you're still left with fuzzy details, dull colors and generally lifeless images. And the camera's sensor overcompensates at times, blowing out highlights and dishing out garishly oversaturated reds and purples. The 1-megapixel front-facing shooter doesn't fare much better, as its dismal resolution churns out images devoid of detail or character.
There's no HDR or macro shooting mode, but there are a few choice gimmicks to choose from. Shooting a selfie is as easy as swiping on the screen while the camera app is open, and you can use "Gesture Shot" to quickly set up a shot. Hold your first or open hand up to the camera, then clench or unclench your hand to start a selfie timer. If you prefer a hands-free approach, you can activate "Cheese Shot" and the camera's shutter will fire when you say "Cheese," "LG," "Smile," "Kimchi," or "Whiskey." The allure of shouting "whiskey" at random intervals isn't lost on me, but I'd recommend that shutterbugs spend the money saved on this budget device on a proper standalone camera.
There's a 1.2GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, and its performance is just right for the price. I had no trouble navigating about the phone, sifting through apps, or navigating the Web. Some of the more hardware intensive Android games will struggle here, but the more casual entries on the list of my favorite current Android games work just fine. I've also been revisiting Grand Theft Auto III, which runs surprisingly smoothly -- it's not the most technically impressive game these days, but there's still quite a bit of fun to be had on this budget device.
There's only 8GB of internal storage, and only about half of that is available once you account for the operating system and the miscellaneous preloaded apps. But you can pry off the back of the case and to get to the microSD card slot, which supports up to 32GB cards.
Performance on these synthetic benchmarks runs right in line with our expectations. The Samsung Galaxy Core Prime is packing hardware that's similar to the Logos, and as such is neck and neck. The LG G4 is included largely for comparison's sake, as these devices won't hold a candle to a flagship device.
The LG Logos offers a removable battery 2,100mAH battery. We saw an average of about 9 hours and 45 minutes on our video playback battery draining test; not a stellar result in light of the competition, which generally eclipses 10 hours and beyond. My own use was a bit more focused, involving lots of Web browsing, bouts of Grand Theft Auto III (strictly for testing purposes, I swear), and snapping test shots with the camera. I generally needed to reach for the charger before bed every night, but circumstances were never dire.
US Cellular's LTE coverage is nonexistent in San Francisco and the rest of the Bay Area, so we're stuck on 3G. As such, the Logos' data speeds were dismal, averaging at about 1.18Mbps down, and 0.75Mbps up. The mobile Web can be amenable to slow connections, and I found that text-heavy websites were in an average of 4 seconds, with images take a few seconds longer to load into existence.
In areas where US Cellular offers LTE coverage -- including parts of the east coast and the midwest -- you can expect better performance, so check a coverage map before you make any decisions. US Cellular has pledged to expand its 4G LTE coverage across many more states by the end of 2015 (that includes California), so connectivity may be improving soon.
Call quality is tricky to assess, as your experience will vary by a number of factors, including the time of day, the weather and your location. My own experience was generally fine: I received no complaints of static and didn't experience any dropped calls, but the people I spoke with occasionally sounded distant, and I was told I sounded a bit muffled.
The LG Logos offers solid performance and a nice display for just $99, which feels like quite a deal. But the competition in the budget space is stiff.
The GSM-only Motorla Moto E 4G starts at $99 contract-free on Boost Mobile. It has many of the same caveats and the screen isn't quite as crisp, but call quality here in California was improved. Spend a little more to get a variant running on AT&T's network, and things are much better overall. If you're willing to cross the aisle, Verizon's Microsoft Lumia 735 runs Windows Phone for $192. It's pricier, and the Windows Phone app store is a bit barren, but if you aren't demanding much in the way of apps you'll have a much more satisfying experience.
For loyal US Cellular customers, or those who live well within US Cellular's network, this budget Logos is a great value option.