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LG Enact (Verizon Wireless) review:

Dirt-cheap slider marred by slow speeds

Camera and video
The 5-megapixel camera and front-facing camera offer a variety of options. Both have a brightness meter, five white-balance options, four color effects, a timer, geotagging, and four shutter tones. There's also Cheese shutter, which is a voice-activated shutter function that takes photos when you say certain words, such as "cheese" and "whiskey."

Understandably though, the 5-megapixel camera has a few more features, including a digital zoom, flash, seven scene modes, six shooting modes, Time Catch (which lets users choose and save the best shot from before the shutter was pressed), three focus options, and five ISO settings. You can also save up to six photo sizes (from 1,280x768 to 2,560x1,920 pixels).

The front-facing camera has a nifty 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. But it only has two scene modes and one size (640x480).

LG Enact (outdoor)
Though colorful, the flowers on the outer frame are blurry and the white pedals are washed out. Lynn La/CNET
LG Enact (indoor)
Despite keeping a still hand, this indoor photo is out of focus and shows a notable amount of digital noise. Lynn La/CNET
LG Enact (SSI)
In our standard studio shot, objects are out of focus and the flash casts a subtle blue hue against the white background. James Martin/CNET

Though 5-megapixel cameras on LG phones are usually satisfactory, I was less than impressed with the Enact's photo quality. I found that it took a few moments for the camera to focus, and in the end, it was more difficult to take a sharp photo (despite trying numerous times and keeping a steady hand). When I did manage to take a focused photo, however, the images turned out moderately well, though colors looked a bit muted. Oftentimes, the outer frames of pictures looked blurrier than the center point, and when I took photos indoors, I could see a lot of digital noise.

Video recording options for the two cameras include the same brightness meter, color effects, and geotagging functions mentioned beforehand. Both cameras can also pause recording and re-start it again in the same video, take photos while recording, and detect faces to warp them for silly (more like creepy) effects. The 5-megapixel camera also has continuous flash and the ability to record up to six video sizes (from 176x144 all the way to full-HD 1,920x1080). Meanwhile, the VGA camera can record in three video sizes (from 176x144 to 640x480).

Video quality with full-HD recording was also adequate, but nothing to write home about. Audio picked up well, and both moving and still objects remained in focus. But again, colors appeared a bit duller than they were in real life, and I saw a notable amount of pixelation in my footage. Moreover, I saw a subtle (almost indistinguishable if you weren't looking closely) pulsating effect from time to time whenever the camera tried to adjust for either focus or lighting.

I tested the device in our San Francisco offices using Verizon Wireless' network (CDMA 800/1900). Call quality was good -- though I could hear some static whenever my friend spoke, it wasn't overbearing and distracting. None of my calls dropped, audio didn't clip in and out, and I didn't hear any extraneous buzzing or noises. Maximum volume, however, could have stood to be a little louder, especially on speaker. With the speakerphone, my friend's volume wasn't only low, but his voice sounded tinny and pinched as well. As for my end, I was told I sounded clear, but that there was a bit of scratchiness with my voice as well.

LG Enact (Verizon Wireless) call quality sample

Listen now:

Verizon's 4G LTE network clocked in with fast speeds, and data connection was consistent. Oddly, I did find that the more trials I carried out for data speeds, speeds tended to get faster and faster. On average, loading the CNET mobile and desktop sites took an average of 7 and 19 seconds, respectively. The New York Times' mobile site clocked in at 7 seconds, and its desktop site also took 14 seconds to load. ESPN's mobile site also took 7 seconds, and its full site loaded in 11 seconds. The 35.01MB game Temple Run 2 downloaded and installed in an average of 2 minutes and 27 seconds, and Ookla showed me an average of 4.07Mbps down and 3.13Mbps up.

LG Enact Performance testing
Average 4G LTE download speed 4.07Mpbs
Average 4G LTE upload speed 3.13Mbps
App download (Temple Run 2) 35.01MB in 2 minutes and 27 seconds,
CNET mobile site load 7 seconds
CNET desktop site load 19 seconds
Restart time 34 seconds
Camera boot time 2.25 seconds

Powered by a 1.2GHz dual-core processor, the handset felt sluggish at times. True, there were some tasks that were carried out smoothly, like browsing through the app drawer or returning to the home screen pages. But more often than not, I found that the phone took a hair longer to execute other simple tasks than what I normally expected.

For instance, sometimes there was a slight lag to open up the lock screen, or load the home page up after a restart. Scanning media files upon startup also took a while, as did switching from landscape to portrait mode upon sliding out the keyboard, and even apps like Ookla Speed Test and Chrome appeared to slacken. On average, it took the Enact 34 seconds to power off and restart and 2.25 seconds to launch the camera.

During our battery drain test, the device's 2,460mAh battery lasted 13.9 hours of continuous video playback, and has a reported usage time of up to 11 hours and 40 minutes. Anecdotally, its battery life was solid, and with minimal use, it can last a weekend without a charge. According to FCC radiation standards, the phone has a digital SAR rating of 0.79W/kg.

Though it can be sluggish at times and its camera is mediocre, the LG Enact is a decent and reliable mid-range handset that's excellently priced. I prefer it over the Pantech Marauder, another one of Verizon's keyboard smartphones, due to the Enact's bigger, sharper screen and more comfortable keyboard.

If you prefer something more high-end and are willing to stretch your budget, however, consider the $99.99 on-contract Motorola Droid 4. True, it's been out for over a year now, but it's software is updatable to Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. It also has a superior 8-megapixel camera, more internal memory, and a sharper screen. And of course, it flaunts an excellent sliding keyboard that will satisfy your messaging needs.

What you'll pay

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