CNET también está disponible en español.

Ir a español

Don't show this again

LG Venice (Boost Mobile) review: Pricey but zippy and reliable 3G handset

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

The Good The LG Venice has a svelte design, a 1GHz CPU that runs swiftly and smoothly, and excellent call quality.

The Bad The Venice's audio speaker is harsh and tinny, its camera's auto white balance is inaccurate, and it only runs on 3G.

The Bottom Line Boost's LG Venice has respectable midrange specs including a snappy processor and a vivid screen, but if you want 4G data speeds, look elsewhere.

7.0 Overall
  • Design 7
  • Features 7
  • Performance 7

Outside its upcoming lineup of high-end phones such as the Nexus 4 and the Optimus G, LG has had a long history of creating decent and reliable, if somewhat unremarkable, midrange handsets.

The LG Venice is no exception. It's a variant of the unlocked LG Optimus L7 and the LG Splendor on U.S. Cellular, but it delivers the same specs (such as the 4.3-inch screen, the 1GHz CPU, and the 5-megapixel camera) on the prepaid Boost Mobile network.

At $219.99, the device is the priciest 3G phone in Boost's lineup. But you do get a lot of bang for your buck due to its svelte design, swift and smooth processor, and bright display. In addition, for a limited time, users who purchase the Venice will also receive 50GB of free cloud storage from Box. Given all this, it's easy to see why it has a slight edge over others like the Samsung Galaxy Rush and the LG Marquee.

In comparison with the LG Splendor and the Optimus L7, I like the LG Venice's slightly altered look the best simply due to its bright silver back plate, which sets it apart. Other than that, however, its design is nothing to write home about. With its sharp corners, plastic backing, and tapered edges, the device looks similar to all the other minimalist Optimus handsets that came out last summer. It measures 4.92 inches tall, 2.64 inches wide, and 0.34 inch thick, and its slim body weighs 4.41 ounces. It's one of LG's smaller phones, and can snugly fit in a front or back jean pocket. It's easy to pack into a small purse and handling it with one hand is a cinch.

On the Venice's left side is a volume rocker, up top are a 3.5mm headphone jack and a sleep/power button, and at the bottom is a Micro-USB port.

LG Venice (back)
The LG Venice's shiny silver back plate. James Martin/CNET

At the back center is a 5-megapixel camera with LED flash. Below that to the left are two small slits for the output speaker. Unlike most devices, this handset doesn't have an indentation to make it easy to pry off the back of the handset. Instead, you'll have to just insert your fingernails anywhere within the seams of the back plate. Once you remove it, you can access the microSD slot and 1,700mAh battery.

Though generally I don't mind plastic battery covers since they keep a phone light and durable, the Venice is an exception. There are ways to give plastic a more luxurious feel, by giving it a matte coating or unique texture. But this device just has lined grooves like a 3D baseball card, which makes it feel cheap and almost like a toy.

The handset sports a 4.3-inch IPS display with an 800x480-pixel resolution and 450 nits of brightness. Though these specs aren't as impressive as those of other phones, like the LG Nexus 4, the screen is still decent in its own right. App icons were crisp, text was sharp, and colors were vivid at maximum brightness. Although gradient patterns looked somewhat streaky, on the whole, images were rich and highly saturated.

Above the display in the right corner is a proximity sensor and to the left is a 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera. Below is a physical home button, with a back and menu front key on either side of it that light up when in use.

Features and OS
The Venice runs on Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, and comes with Google goodies like Chrome, Gmail, Search, Plus, Latitude, Local, Play Books, Movies, Music, and Store, Messenger, Maps with Navigation, Talk, and YouTube.

Other preloaded apps include a news and weather app; the mobile office suite Polaris Office; SmartShare, a content distribution and file sharing app; and two Boost Mobile apps. One is Boost Zone, a help portal that also lets you check your phone balance and fees.

The other is Mobile ID, which you can use to customize your device with preselected apps, widgets, and other items depending on which ID profile you choose. For example, if you select the E! package, you'll get E! apps and widgets pertaining to the celebrity news channel. You can also choose a Business Pro package, which includes tools intended to aid with business travel plans, financial investments, and backing up data. Note that deleting a Mobile ID package won't uninstall the apps that you downloaded -- you'll have to remove those apps manually. So far, there are 26 available packs available. Personally, I don't like how Mobile ID so integral to the UI. You can't remove the Mobile ID app from the home screen's dashboard, so if you don't use it, the only choice you have is to ignore it.

Basic features present are texting, a native e-mail client, a Web browser, a video player, Bluetooth 3.0 support, a calendar, a clock with alarm settings, a memo pad, a calculator, a voice dialer, and a voice recorder. In addition, there's a power saver module that lets you customize which features (Bluetooth, autosyncing, display brightness) to turn off or adjust when your battery gets low.

LG Venice (lock screen)
Though it isn't a novel feature, the Venice lets users launch apps from the lock screen. James Martin/CNET

The handset is equipped with LG's user interface, Optimus UI 3.0, which isn't as stylishly simplistic as the vanilla Ice Cream Sandwich skin. The icons are boxy (but luckily customizable) and the widgets look clunky, especially the unattractive weather widget. There are a few welcome changes, however, like the fact that you can access up to four apps of your choosing from the lock screen by simply swiping over their icons. There's also LG's signature note-taking app, QuickMemo. It lets you jot down with your finger or stylus quick notes or sketches directly over screen images, which you can then save and share. You can also customize the color and style of your pen tip.

Comparable Phones

All phones

Best Products

All best products