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It's quite possible that the LG Lucid slipped under your radar.
And when you take an initial look, you can see why. It doesn't run the up-to-date Ice Cream Sandwich version of the Android OS (although it can be upgraded to it later), so no news there. And it doesn't have any features we haven't seen before. What it does have going for it, however, is a solid performance on most counts. Running on Verizon's 4G LTE network and with a 1.2GHz dual-core processor, the handset brings more than a bit of power. Although call quality wasn't impressive and not everyone will like the purple glitter aesthetic (subtle as it may be), the handset costs just $79.99 if you purchase it online and sign a two-year contract. With that price, you get a lot, so if you're looking for a first-rate midlevel phone to start with, the Lucid is a clear contender.
The LG Lucid is 4.69 inches long, 2.45 inches wide, and 0.45 inch thick. In my small hands, it felt slightly heavy for me, weighing in at exactly 5 ounces. However, when I asked other people with a larger grip how it felt, they said the weight wasn't much of a bother. Despite its thickness, the phone is still compact; I was able to slip it into my jean pockets comfortably.
On the left side of the device are a Micro-USB port and volume rocker. Up top to the left is a 3.5mm headphone jack. To the right is the sleep/power key. The button is placed in a little groove that runs along the handset's side, making it that much easier to identify by touch.
The back of the phone has a subtle striped black-and-dark-purple pattern, which glitters in direct sunlight, Edward Cullen-style. It's made out of a plastic material that has a polish that makes the phone feel very slick. When I first got my hands on the Lucid, I thought there was a thin layer of oil coating it. It doesn't make the phone difficult to grip, though, and after a while, I grew to like its smoothness. Toward the top center of the backing is the camera lens, with the flash right next to it on the left. Below that is a narrow slit that exposes the output speaker. Via a small indentation at the bottom of the device, you can use your fingers to pry the backing off and gain access to the 1,700mAh lithium ion battery and microSD slot.
The Gorilla Glass LCD touch screen measures 4 inches diagonally, and has a resolution of 480x800 pixels. The display is one of the brightest and crispest I've ever seen on a handset in this class. Default wallpapers, text, and menu icons are clean and smooth. YouTube videos, games, and recordings shot on the phone were a little pixelated, but colors were vibrant--even more so when the brightness is cranked all the way up.
The screen is responsive, as well. There was no delay when texting, swiping through homescreen pages, or zooming into photos. While playing the swipe-heavy game of Temple Run, I didn't experience any delay in my motions. Its sensitivity, along with the internal speed of the phone (we'll get to that later), makes this device feel zippy.
Above the display on the top right corner is the front-facing camera for video chatting and vanity shots. Below are your four standard navigational keys that dimly light up in white whenever they're in use.
The LG Lucid is powered by a 1.2GHz dual-core processor and has 1GB of RAM. Considering that Ice Cream Sandwich has been out for months, it's disappointing that this phone only runs on Android Gingerbread. Yes, it can be upgraded later to the 4.0 version, but it's disappointing nonetheless. There's Bluetooth support and the handset is equipped with your usual slew of Google apps, so you get Gmail, Plus, Messenger, Maps with Navigation, Places, Talk, Books, Music, YouTube, Search, and Play.
Several task-management features are also packaged, including a contacts book, an e-mail server, text messaging with Swype, a voice dialer, a news and weather application, a Web browser, a notepad, a calculator, a calendar, and a voice recorder. What's more, Verizon Wireless equips the device with its own cluster of apps. These include Amazon Kindle, games such as Let's Golf 3 and Plants vs. Zombies, a ringtone manager called V Cast Tones, its own brand of maps and app store, a data backup assistant service, a My Verizon Mobile app for checking your account and balance, and an app for managing the handset's mobile hot-spot feature.
If that wasn't enough, there are more preloaded applications like Netflix; ShareGenie and SmartShare (which let you share files and share media, respectively, between devices); a basic video-editing app called Video Producer; Adobe Flash; and the Polaris Office mobile suite.
Even though certain people may find use for some of these apps, I thought there was just way too much bloatware on the phone. Many of these features cannot be uninstalled, so even if you don't like them, you're stuck with them.
The 5-megapixel autofocusing camera on the rear comes with an LED flash; zooming and exposure meters; face tracking; seven image options (that range from 2,560x1,920 to 640x480); six scene modes (normal, portrait, landscape, sports, sunset, and night); four ISO options (auto, 400, 200, and 100); five white-balance options (auto, incandescent, sunny, fluorescent, and cloudy); four color effects (none, mono, sepia, and negative); a timer; continuous and panorama shooting; and GPS tagging.
When shooting with the VGA camera, white balance, color effect, timer, and GPS tagging options remain the same. However, images can be shot in only one size (640x480), and you can choose only between normal and night for scene mode. There's also a "mirror image" option, which will save a vertically flipped version of your photo. Lastly, there's a "beauty shot" meter. This lets you adjust the brightness and blurriness of an image, and is particularly useful when taking self-portraits if you want to soften the photo.
The camera can record in full 1,920x1,080 HD video, but you can choose to record in five smaller resolutions. The video has the same white-balance, color effects, and exposure options as the camera. You can also choose not to record audio. The front-facing camera also can record video, but it only has three size options (VGA, QVGA, and QCIF).
Other customizable features that I found neat were the four preloaded themes, a dialer widget, and the fact that you can change the wallpaper that appears whenever you juice up your battery.
I tested the dual-band (CDMA 850, 1900) LG Lucid in San Francisco using Verizon's services. Call quality was unimpressive. Although the connection was never lost and the maximum volume level was fine, voices were too sharp and tinny. I could hear and understand everything that was being said, but the harshness was distracting. On speakerphone, it was even worse. I could hear a light twang every time my friend spoke, which my friend could hear as well.
LG Lucid call quality sample Listen now:
Music and Web-based videos also were tinny. Although the effect was subtle, and doesn't interfere with the clarity of sound, it is noticeable and disappointing.
Video chatting with Google+ was decent. Although audio cut in and out sometimes, my friends reported that the feed coming off from my end was solid due to my robust 4G LTE network. During a Google hangout, the app didn't crash and the device didn't lag. Video chatting on slower networks was choppy, however, and again, audio was unpleasant.
Browsing the Web on Verizon's 4G LTE network was really swift. Loading the CNET mobile site took an average of 11 seconds, and our full site took about 19 seconds. The New York Times' full site was quicker on average, clocking in at 16 seconds, and its mobile site took only 4 seconds to load. ESPN's mobile site took 7 seconds, and its full site loaded in 16 seconds. Ookla's Speedtest app, which is 2.99MB, took 14 seconds to download, and showed me an average of 25.39Mbps down and 4.92Mbps up. The 25.74MB game of Temple Run downloaded in half a minute.
The Lucid's photo quality is great. The camera app and shutter were quick. Photo colors were vibrant on the phone's screen and images were crisp and clean, even after some zooming. White balance on the Lucid was admirable as well, since whites appeared true to form.
I was also impressed by the video quality. I recorded construction and traffic at 1080p HD, and sounds were picked up well. There was no lagging in the video, and images were crisp. The colors of passing cars were vivid, and there was hardly any pixilation or graininess in the playback.
The Lucid has a respectable battery life, and lasted 8.47 hours during our battery drain tests. The charge meter went down only about a quarter of the way after I browsed the Web, talked on the phone, and played games for a handful of hours. At the end of the day, the handset still had some juice in it. According to FCC radiation tests, the phone has a digital SAR rating of 1.14/kg.
The LG Lucid may not be a high-profile flagship mobile device, but it's nicely built and its performance is sound. If it's going to be your first smartphone, it'll certainly spoil you from here on out. The processor is zippy, the network is the fastest available, and the camera is satisfactory. The display is also one of the better ones I've seen in the phone's class. Speaker and call quality aren't anything to write home about, but for the reasonable price of $80, it's definitely a good buy.