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LG Volt 2 review: Another budget phone for the cheap heap

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The LG Volt 2 is not an exciting smartphone. But at $150 on Boost Mobile -- without a contract -- it's not a very expensive one, either.

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6.2

LG Volt 2

The Good

The LG Volt 2 is cheap and will run plenty of popular Android games and apps just fine. The phone also has Android Lollipop.

The Bad

The camera churns out images that are dull and lifeless. Boost Mobile's performance in San Francisco is also sluggish. There's only about 4GB of storage space.

The Bottom Line

The LG Volt 2 is a solid performer, but there are better options to sift through at this price.

It's a device that'll do most everything a modern smartphone needs to without being especially fancy or flashy. You're getting LTE connectivity, a processor that doesn't choke on popular Android games or 720p video, and a 5-inch display that looks pretty good, in spite of a disappointing 1,280x720-pixel resolution.

If you're looking for a new device or live in an area with strong Boost Mobile service and don't want to spend very much, the Volt 2 might earn a spot on your short list. But you've got plenty of options -- and better ones that won't cost much more.

Check out the LG Volt 2 (pictures)

See all photos

Design and build

  • 5-inch display, 1,280x720-pixel resolution
  • 5.5 by 2.75 by 0.4 inches (139.7 by 69.9 by 10.2 mm)
  • 294 pixels per inch
  • 4.8 ounces (136 grams)

LG has been on a bit of a curved device kick (see: the LG Logos ), and that doesn't change with the Volt 2. I'm remain unconvinced that the gentle curve adds much in the way of added comfort or utility. It's also a very slight curve, one that you'll barely notice when it's in your pocket or your hands. The phone is otherwise rather plain: a simple black slab with a bezel that isn't too egregious.

LTE connectivity, for less. Nate Ralph/CNET

The only physical buttons are located on the spine -- the power button is sandwiched between the volume controls. They're in a good spot for your fingers and likely facilitate the phone's curves, but I still prefer buttons in a more traditional spot.

The Volt 2 has a 5-inch screen, with a 1,280x720-pixel resolution. That's not full HD, which is disappointing, but if you aren't a stickler for 1080p streaming video then you'll be fine. The pixel density clocks in at 294 pixels per inch, and text on websites looks clear and crisp. Colors in photos also remain true, and I didn't notice any contrast degradation as I twisted the phone about.

OS and apps

  • Android Lolipop 5.1.1
  • Not too many preloaded apps

The Volt 2 runs Android Lollipop 5.1.1, the latest version of the operating system (as of this writing). That's not especially common for a phone at this price point, and rather commendable -- you're getting the absolute latest that the Android operating system has to offer .

There aren't too many pre-loaded apps. Nate Ralph/CNET

LG's Optimus UI Android skin runs the show, replacing familiar icons with LG-approved alternatives and overhauling all of the operating system's menus. I prefer a pristine Android experience, but if you aren't very particular, or simply aren't familiar with Android, your experience here should be fine. There aren't too many pre-installed apps; you'll run into Boost Mobile's usual account management fare, but most everything else can simply be uninstalled.

Cameras and video

  • 8-megapixel camera
  • 5-megapixel front-facing camera
  • 1080p video recording

The LG Volt 2's 8-megapixel camera takes serviceable, if not especially exemplary shots. And it defaults to a 6-megapixel, 16:9 aspect ratio. You'll be able to fit more things into your shot, but the drop in quality is noticeable -- best to bump it up to the 4:3 aspect ratio, which shoots at the camera's highest resolution.

The 8-megapixel camera fails to impress. Nate Ralph/CNET

The images you'll capture with the Volt 2 aren't remarkable, but they'll do in a pinch. Colors look a bit flat, and whites are readily blown out in even modest sunlight, but there's still a fair amount of detail that should make this a good fit for quick social network-snaps.

You can use "Gesture Shot" to set up an easy selfie -- clench or unclench your hand in front of the phone 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 Volt 2 also records 1080p video. No frills here, but you can tap to focus while recording if you need to adjust your exposure levels or keep an eye on the action.

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The colors here are dull, and the white flowers appear splotchy, but there's still an appreciable amount of detail on the cactus' spines. Nate Ralph/CNET

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There's a wide range of colors here; they're generally flat and the whites are blown out. Nate Ralph/CNET

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Click to zoom in on this one: the details are muddled, but you can actually read the text on the planter bag. Nate Ralph/CNET

Hardware performance

  • 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 processor
  • 8GB of internal storage (4GB available); 1GB of RAM
  • Up to 32GB expandable storage
  • 2,450mAh battery (removable)

The Volt 2 has a 1.2GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 processor, paired with 1GB of RAM. That's about right for the price, if not especially impressive. Performance in newer Android games like Modern Combat 5 isn't bad, and casual fare, like the bulk of my favorite Android games, runs fine.

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The Volt 2 lasted for an average of 9 hours and 54 minutes on CNET's battery-drain tests. Nate Ralph/CNET

You'll run into far more trouble with the meager 8GB of storage space: only about 4GB is available once you factor in the operating system and so forth. If you plan on getting apps, you're definitely going to want to pick up a microSD storage card -- the phone can support up to 32 GB cards.

3DMark -- Ice Storm Unlimited

LG Volt 2 2,618Samsung Galaxy Core Prime 4,545LG Logos 2,638
Notes: Longer bars indicate better performance

Geekbench 3

LG Volt 2 466 1,446Samsung Galaxy Core Prime 387 1,153LG Logos 467 1,465
  • Single-core
  • Multi-core
Notes: Longer bars indicate better performance

Performance on these synthetic benchmarks runs right in line with the hardware and our expectations. The Volt 2 edges past both the Samsung Galaxy Core Prime and the LG Logos , but those devices cost a bit less.

Battery performance

And when you do pry off the phone's backplate to insert your storage card, you'll find the 2,540mAh battery. It's removable, so you can swap in a spare if you need more juice. The Volt 2 lasted for an average of 9 hours and 54 minutes on CNET's video-playback battery-drain test. That's down quite a bit from its predecessor -- the original Volt had a larger 3,000mAh battery and chugged along for an average of 16 hours and 21 minutes.

Call quality and data speeds

  • CDMA: 800/1900
  • LTE: 700/850/1700/1900/2500
  • Wi-Fi: 802.11 b, g, n

The Volt 2 is running on Boost Mobile, and the overall network performance isn't stellar here in San Francisco. I saw an average of 2.9Mbps down, and about 4.2Mbps up. Those speeds will vary based on your location and the time of day, so as always, be sure to check a coverage map before you make any decisions.

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Your mileage will vary, so check your coverage map. Screenshot Nate Ralph/CNET


During my calling tests I never experienced any dropped calls, and I didn't receive any complaints about static or other anomalies. I was told that I sounded a bit distant at times -- your experience will vary based on a wide range of conditions, though.

Conclusion

There are, unsurprisingly, quite a few smartphones fighting it out for the illustrious position of best cheap phone. And while the Volt 2 is not a bad phone, there are just too many competitors out there that will offer all of the same features, with little extras baked in.

If you want to stick to Boost Mobile, the GSM-only Motorola Moto E 4G starts at $99. It's a little smaller and not as feature rich but offers a satisfying, compact experience. I'd recommend the Motorola Moto G , which starts at $180 but offers a few extra benefits, like Motorola's Moto Assist functionality. Better still, you'll get a largely unadulterated Android Lollipop experience -- always a plus in my book.

If you're looking for a budget phone and settle on the LG Volt 2, you won't be disappointed -- it's not a bad phone! But look to the better options first.

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6.2

LG Volt 2

Score Breakdown

Design 6Features 6Performance 7Camera 6Battery 6