LG Lucid 2 (Verizon Wireless) review review: Free, fast, and fitting for first-timers
Free after users sign a carrier agreement with Verizon, the LG Lucid 2 is a handset for smartphone newbies that's equipped with a 5-megapixel camera, a 4.3-inch screen, and wireless-charging capabilities.
Despite its rather dull design, the LG Lucid 2 from Verizon is a reliable 4G LTE device that performs consistently well and is available for free with a contract. Aimed at first-time smartphone users, this handset includes a number of features that may just spoil any Android neophyte from here on in.
Sporting Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean, wireless charging capabilities (if you buy a separate $30 battery door and a charging pad), and a dual-core processor, the Lucid 2 offers a bit more than the original LG Lucid. Namely, a bump in battery power (from 1,700mAh to 2,460mAh) and a slightly bigger screen.
The device isn't without its faults, however. Specifically, I didn't care for its poor speakerphone and the low buzzing when it recorded video. But it's still an excellent handset for any penny-pincher.
Like its predecessor, the LG Lucid 2 is minimalistic and compact. It measures 4.82 inches tall, 2.51 inches wide, and 0.39 inch thick. It has an all-black design, save for a few silver-colored accents on its edges, and its plastic back plate isn't the most luxurious construction. However, at 4.16 ounces, the device is lightweight, and it can slip into front jean pockets or a small handbag with no trouble.
On the left is a thin volume rocker and up top is a 3.5mm headphone jack. The right edge houses a sleep/power button and on the bottom is a Micro-USB port for charging.
As I previously stated, the back looks a bit cheap. And while its default cover is easy to remove, you're going to need a little muscle to take out the back plate that's capable of wireless charging. That's because the cover's corners curve into the edges of the handset, and there is no indent to push your finger into.
Once it's removed, however, you'll get access to the microSD card slot that takes cards of up to 64GB, and the battery.
On the rear, you'll find the 5-megapixel camera with its LED flash right below it; on the bottom-left corner are two slits for the audio speaker.
The 4.3-inch AH-IPS display has a 960x540-pixel resolution. Though text and menu icons look crisp, its resolution doesn't compare to that of other high-end LG handsets, like the Nexus 4 or Optimus G Pro. I could see some aliasing on the edges of images, like in the blades of grass for the "Gallery" thumbnail when changing the wallpaper, and color gradients didn't look as smooth as they could. But other than to pixel nuts, the touch screen shouldn't be a problem to anyone. It's bright, clear, and responsive to touch.
Above the display is a front-facing camera and below are four hot keys that light up white when in use, for back, home, recent apps, and menu.
The phone runs Android 4.1.2 Android Jelly Bean. Because LG has its familiar Optimus 3.0 user interface overlaid on top, it won't look that much different from LG devices running Ice Cream Sandwich. However, if you press and hold down the home key, the assistant feature, Google Now, launches.
In addition to Now, the Lucid 2 comes with other Google apps -- Chrome, Gmail, Plus, Local, Maps with Navigation, Messenger, access to the Play portals (Books, Magazines, Movies & TV, Music, and Store), Talk, and YouTube.
Verizon threw in a bunch of its own apps too, like My Verizon Mobile (which lets you check your data use and minutes), Verizon Tones music and media store, its own brand of voice mail and navigating, and VZ Security.
There are also basic task management apps, such as an alarm clock, a calculator, a calendar, a native e-mail client, a to-do list, two video editors, a notepad, voice search, a weather app, and a voice dialer.
Other apps include several Amazon apps (the store itself, Kindle, MP3, its app store, and Audible), two content-sharing apps (FileShare and SmartShare), a help app, the IMDB movie database, and online shoe store Zappos.
Because it's aimed at first-time smartphone users, the handset has two UI options: Starter and Standard. Tucked in the Settings menu under "mode change," the Starter UI has a more simplified design. The home screen saves on search time, and puts favorite contacts, a few choice apps, and setting options like brightness front and center for easy access.
Additional features include Bluetooth 4.0, mobile hot-spotting, 1GB of RAM, and 8GB of internal memory.
Camera and video
The 5-megapixel camera offers a variety of options: touch and auto focus, a flash, a 15x digital zoom, four shutter sounds, face tracking, geotagging, and a timer, as well as continuous, HDR, and panoramic shooting. It also has a brightness meter (-2 to +2); five image sizes (ranging from 1,536x864 to 2,560x1,920p); seven scene modes; four ISO levels; five white balances; and four color effects. Two other features are the "Time catch" shot mode that lets users choose and save the best shot from before the shutter was pressed, and a voice command feature called Cheese Shot.
The front-facing camera offers the same brightness meter, white balances, color effects, timer, Cheese Shot, and geotagging feature, but only two scene modes and three photo sizes (from 640x480 to 1,280x960 pixels). There's also a "beauty shot" meter that lets you adjust the brightness and blurriness of an image (useful for less-than-perfect selfies), and the option to save a photo flipped vertically.
Recording options consist of the same digital zoom, flash, brightness meter, geotagging, color effects, and white balance. In addition, there's audio muting and you can choose from six video sizes (ranging from MMS to full HD 1080p). Two more features are the "silly faces" mode, which will distort your face while the video records, and a background module, so you can change your background to outer space, a sunset, a disco, or your own custom image. Lastly, you can tap to capture an image while you record video.
Though front-facing video recording has fewer options, it still retains a good number of features: the brightness meter, silly faces and background options, white balances, live photo-taking, color effects, geotagging, and the audio muting feature. There are five video sizes (ranging from MMS to 720p).
Photo quality was good, and the camera would satisfy the needs of your casual, day-to-day picture taker. There was no lag between my moving of the camera and the viewfinder, and the time it takes for the shutter to snap and ready itself for the next photo was short. Pictures taken in outdoor lighting were clear and colors were true to life. Small details like several leaves from a bush or the motion of water were in focus. Understandably, photos in dimmer, indoor settings didn't look as good. There was a noticeable amount of digital noise and objects didn't appear as smooth or sharp, but were still clear.
Video quality was also respectable. Though I did hear a low, crackling noise during recordings that were either absolutely or nearly silent, in general, videos were decent. Colors were accurate, both still and moving objects remained in focus, and aside from the aforementioned buzzing, the audio from videos that had lots of noise was picked up well.
I tested the Lucid 2 in San Francisco. Call quality was good. None of my calls dropped, and audio didn't clip in and out. I did hear a bit of static with audio, but it was very slight and wasn't distracting. In general, audio was clear and maximum volume reached a reasonable level. Audio speaker quality, however, was poor. With media files (like music and videos), as well as phone conversations, the stereo speaker rendered noises tinny and harsh.
LG Lucid 2 (Verizon Wireless) call quality sample
Verizon's 4G LTE network clocked in with fast speeds, and data connection was consistent. Loading the CNET mobile and desktop sites, for example, took an average of 6 and 14 seconds, respectively. The New York Times' mobile site clocked in at 4 seconds, and its desktop site also took 12 seconds to load. ESPN's mobile site also took 4 seconds on average, and its full site loaded in 10 seconds. The 31.93MB game Temple Run 2 downloaded and installed in an average of 1 minute and 37 seconds, and Ookla showed me an average of 4.82Mbps down and 6.23Mbps up.
|LG Lucid 2
|Average 4G LTE download speed
|Average 4G LTE upload speed
|App download (Temple Run 2)
|31.93MB in 1 minute and 37 seconds
|CNET mobile site load
|CNET desktop site load
|Camera boot time
Powered by a 1.2GHz dual-core processor, the device carries out simple, daily tasks swiftly. Actions like launching the camera (which on average took 2.68 seconds), quitting apps to return to the home screen, and switching from portrait to landscape mode were performed with ease. Shutting down and restarting the handset took about 32 seconds. As for the graphics-intensive games, Riptide GP, I've seen faster frame rates and smoother animation with higher-tiered devices, but the app never stuttered or froze during my gameplay with this phone. Furthermore, it was responsive to my tilting and rotating movements.
During CNET's battery drain test, the phone lasted 9.42 hours for video playback. Anecdotally, its 2,460mAh battery was good and is an obvious improvement from the Lucid's 1,700mAh battery. It can last a few days without a charge, but that's with minimal usage and the screen brightness turned off. It has a reported usage time of up to 25 hours. According to FCC radiation standards, the phone has a digital SAR rating of 0.59W/kg.
Of Verizon's free handsets, the LG Lucid 2 is the best choice. With Android Jelly Bean under its belt, it is more up-to-date than the Samsung Galaxy Stratosphere II and the Pantech Marauder, both of which run Android Ice Cream Sandwich.
I'd only suggest the Stratosphere II if you prefer a smartphone with a physical keyboard. Other than that, however, the Lucid 2 pulls ahead of the pack with its many good features and quality performance.