We see a lot of budget smartphones here at CNET (see our, for example), and they all straddle that fine line between cutting costs and delivering a satisfying amount of functionality. The LG Volt is a prime example: it's available without a contract on Boost Mobile for just $100 (about £65, or AU$130). That gets you LTE connectivity and great battery life. But you're also stuck with middling cameras and a low-resolution display.
If you're looking for a smartphone that'll impress your friends, play the latest games or take great pictures, this is not the phone for you. The Volt is aimed squarely at folks with tight budgets, or who simply don't want to spend all that much on a cell phone. The Volt is not an especially impressive device, but LTE connectivity at a low price coupled with long battery life could make for a satisfying experience for folks on tight budgets.
Design and build
- 4.7-inch, 960x540-pixel resolution TFT (234ppi)
- 5.18 inches by 2.6 inches by 0.41 inch (131.6 x 66 x 10.4 millimeters)
- 4.8 ounces (136.1 grams)
The LG Volt is a generic black plastic slab with a 4.7-inch display. There's nothing in the way of glitz or adornments: the squat, oval home button sits on the front, flanked by capacitive back and menu buttons. The volume controls sit on the right side, while the lock button is on the left. The headphone jack and an infrared emitter sit up top, while the Micro-USB charging port, flanked by stereo speakers, lives on the bottom.
The screen has a paltry 960x540-pixel resolution, which rules out watching HD videos or ogling high-resolution images. But the display is otherwise just fine: off-axis viewing angles aren't especially wide, but colors look clear and consistent, even as the phone shifts around. A pixel density of 234 pixels per inch means that text from Web pages and messages looks rather crisp, too.
The uninspired design is right in line with the price, but if you're a Boost Mobile customer, I'd personally lean toward the. That phone is little smaller and lacks a removable battery, but is offered at the same price and it's charming, in its own chubby little way.
Software and features
This is a Boost Mobile phone, which means you're going to have to wade through a lot of preinstalled apps. Most of them are just shortcuts to the Google Play Store, so you'll be left with a fairly clear device if you spend a few minutes clearing off the junk.
The phone is saddled with the older Android 4.4 KitKat operating system, which is a bit of a bummer. Google has made efforts to keep apps and features separate from the operating system, so you can still use things like Google Now or the latest versions of the Mail app. But you're still missing out on the snazzy design changes Google has made with.
You'll be getting the LG Optimus UI instead. It's not a dramatic departure from stock Android, and primarily focuses on swapping out icons and tweaking the color scheme a tad. LG's own apps are also fairly useful. There's Quick Remote, which turns the phone into a universal remote for your TV, care of the aforementioned infrared emitter. There's also QSlide, which allows you to plop select apps onto your display in their own floating windows, for a bit of impromptu multitasking. The Volt also offers NFC connectivity, so onceyou should theoretically be able to use it.
Performance and battery life
- 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 400
- 8GB of storage
- 1GB of RAM
- 32GB of expandable storage
- 3,000mAh removable battery
The 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 quad-core processor isn't going to win any awards, but it's right in line with the price. You'll run into trouble with more hardware-intensive games, but I've been revisiting Grand Theft Auto 3 and it works fairly well here. Casual games and most ofwork just fine too.
LG Volt benchmark results
|3DMark Ice Storm||2,873|
|Geekbench 3 (multicore)||1,153|
|Geekbench 3 (single-core)||341|
|Camera boot time||1.7|
The Volt's performance on synthetic benchmark tests was right in line with competitors, too. These synthetic tests don't translate directly into real-world performance, but they offer a general idea of how you can expect the phone to perform in the real world.