While it’s not equipped with the latest cutting-edge technology, the LG Lucid is out to prove that you don’t need a top-of-the-line spec sheet to hold your own against the wave of high-end devices rolling out from HTC and Samsung. This snappy mid-ranger is a great introductory Android phone, and also an excellent choice for doing Android on a budget. As of this writing, the device is only $79.99 (after $50 rebate) with a two-year contract, and will be updated to Ice Cream Sandwich in the near future. Let’s run through the specs.
1.2GHz dual core processor
8GB internal storage (though our model only showed 4GB)
4″ IPS display with 800 x 480 resolution
5MP rear camera with 1080p video capture
VGA front camera
Android 2.3 Gingerbread with LG Skin
Micro SD card slot
In the past, LG hasn’t presented all that many original designs. Many of their phones have been knock-offs of popular devices, like the Galaxy S II, and others. With the Lucid, it looks like LG may have found its own way. They’ve come up with a design that stands out for all the right reasons, looks great, and manages to stay thin and light. From the front the device doesn’t look much different from any other black square out there on the market, but once you start turning it on the side you’ll see where LG has added their own unique style.
The Lucid’s attractive silver stripe adds a little bit of flair to what otherwise would have been just another shiny black smartphone among a hundred shiny black smartphones. The slight teardrop is reminiscent of Sony’s Tablet S. Rather than retain the same dimensions all around, the Lucid has a slight curvature on the sides that adds a bit of extra grip, as well as style. At 11.44 mm thick, it’s not the smallest kid on the playground, but it’s also not too bulky. When compared side-by-side with the LG G2X from last year, the two devices are nearly identical in thickness, as well as weight. In the image above, you’ll see the power button at the top. We’ve had some complaints about how smartphone manufacturers have been making the power buttons nearly flush with their devices, which leads to mishaps and fumbling when trying to actually use them. Not so with the Lucid. The power button is easy to locate and press, but not flimsy in any way.
The glossy back side of the device has an attractive, subtle red hue mixed in with the black, and is easy to remove to get at the battery. The one downside we found here is that the glossy exterior will happily retain any and all fingerprints that it comes in contact with. It’s a minor complaint, certainly, but obvious none-the-less. Any smartphone user, though, is well acquainted with fingerprints all over their device, so it’s easy to look past this.
On the other side of the device, you’ll find the charging port, as well as the volume rocker. The volume rocker is essentially flush with the body, but it’s placed in such a way that you’ll never see it from the front, but it’s easy to locate with your fingers when you need it. At the top of this side is another protrusion which actually has no function, but is only there to balance the power button on the other side.
The overall design is pretty minimalist in several areas, however LG and Verizon will make sure you never forget who made your device, and which carrier you’re on. The redundant logos of both companies appear quite boldly on both the front and back.
Do a quick search for a replacement display for your smartphone. Don’t worry we’ll wait. Ok, now how much did it cost? A big portion of what you pay for your device is the display. Display tech isn’t cheap. That means that to put out a relatively cheap device, you have to make some trade-offs, and one of those is usually in the display. Size-wise, the Lucid’s display isn’t all that bad. At 4″, it’s just about the right size. When compared to the current crop of high-end phones with displays reaching nearly 5″, though, it looks downright small. The Lucid’s display is, perhaps, it’s biggest failing. That’s not to say that it’s plain bad, as it’s passable. However it’s lacking in both resolution and display type. The resolution is a mere 800 x 480, which in our minds just doesn’t quite cut it. It leads to larger, less smooth icons and rough edges around text that are, indeed, noticeable. When you look at the current crop of Verizon devices with 720p displays, it’s hard to get over this significant hurdle. Being saddled with it for the next two years would be somewhat regrettable for someone who is constantly involved in reading and watching video on their device.
Software and Performance:
Ice Cream Sandwich has been available for nearly 6 months now. Why handset makers are still loading up this current round of devices with Gingerbread is, perhaps, one of life’s great mysteries. In our minds, it does a disservice to them. Despite that, LG has promised an update to ICS in the future, but no firm date as to when you’ll see it. Add to this LG’s proprietary skin, and you have 2 strikes against the software already. LG’s skin, though, is not a terrible one for the non-modding smartphone user. The skin is very clean, easy to learn, and is very similar to the LG Spectrum. There are, however, some key differences in out-of-the-box design. The Lucid features 5 home screens with preset widgets and icons, including a dialer widget that we really enjoyed. More dialer widgets in the future, please.
Setting up your home screens is made very easy through the long-press, which brings up a menu of various options. A grid appears that lets you better place widgets and individual icons on each screen. You’re also able customize the notification bar’s quick-access buttons. The Lucid has 4 pre-loaded themes available, as well, each with its own distinct icons, wallpapers, and looks that are completely different from one another.
On the Quadrant benchmark, the Lucid scores a 2013, which is fairly good. Understandably, it falls behind its high-end competition like the Galaxy Nexus, however it’s very much competitive with similar devices in its price range.
Being a Verizon device, the Lucid is also loaded with tons of apps. The usualy Verizon apps are all here, as well as a couple of game demos and third-party apps that are hardly necessary and eat up a lot of the internal storage that could otherwise be used for things you actually want.
Smartphone camera seem to come in only a couple of flavors. There are those are quite good, those that are horrid, or those that are just passable. The Lucid is one of the latter. The 5MP rear camera can do some decent video at 1080p, but when it comes to stills you’re not going to be impressed. The Lucid boasts auto-focus that in reality is more like auto-never-focus. The focus square turns green when the device says the lens is focused on your subject, but that never actually seems to be the case. All of our pictures, even when manually focused turned out slightly blurry. This was a bigger problem indoors, where you have less light, but also happens outdoors in a lot of cases. The Lucid also has a panorama mode that works passably, but is nothing as clean as the panorama shot in ICS. Pano photos taken with it were nothing that we’d care to present in this post, as they never quite managed to stitch together correctly. We’ve put a few sample shots below of both indoor and outdoor shots for you to look at, though.
As usual, we’re very pleased with Verizon network performance. The Lucid consistently achieved over 10Mbps download speeds, while upload speeds hovered between 1 and 2 Mbps. The LTE signal was ever-present, and over the course of the few days we had it we never noticed a time that it dropped to 3G. Call quality was excellent, and loud and clear on both ends. However, it does have a feature that you might overlook if you weren’t really thinking about it. That’s the microphone. If you use the speakerphone function a lot, like we do, you’ll notice that the microphone is really good. So good in fact that you can be heard very clearly even if the phone is several feet away. However, that same quality doesn’t extend to the speakers. The person on the other end doesn’t have near the volume that you’d want if you did have the phone several feet away. Even maxed out, the volume just never gets that high.
The battery life on this device is sort of a mixed bag. LG has packed the Lucid with a 1700 mAh battery, which is an improvement over some other devices, but nowhere near that of others like the RAZR Maxx. With heavy use, we saw about 6-8 hours out of it. Standby times were much better, and had no trouble lasting through the day. Naturally, LTE is going to drain your battery a lot faster than a device without it, but with standard use you should still get several good hours out of this device. If you make a few changes to notifications, updates, and other battery-draining features, you’ll have no real complaints. Also, we recommend using wifi whenever you have it available to save yourself even more juice.
For the price, you could do far worse than the LG Lucid. It’s among the cheapest of Verizon’s smartphones, and also packs a spec sheet that’s just slightly under other, more expensive devices. It does suffer on a few fronts, most notably the display, camera, and LG’s skin. However, that’s no reason to blow it off completely. It performs very well in most cases that will matter to the average user, and that’s the key. This is a device for the average user, not the power user. If you’re looking to do smartphones on a budget, or introduce a family member to the world of smartphones, this is a low-cost way to do it. LG’s skin makes some features unnecessarily complicated, like the app drawer, but also makes some things easier to navigate, like customization. That’s the market LG will need to play to in order to make this device a success. That said, there are alternatives you may want to consider. Verizon also sells the HTC Rezound for $30 less, which will net you both Beats Audio and a 720p display. Add onto that HTC’s much more timely update process, and you have an instant alternative. If you can afford to drop a little bit more, you can also get the iPhone 4 for only $99, no rebate required.