Verizon Wireless LG Lucid 2 Review
LG has been on a roll lately. Over the last year, they’ve consistently delivered high-quality devices and their Optimus line of flagship devices has become a great option for anyone looking to purchase a high-end, Android smartphone. Now, LG is back with their latest offering for those of you that don’t necessarily want or need the latest and greatest, high-end smartphone.
The original LG Lucid made its debut on Verizon Wireless almost exactly one year ago, and its sequel, the Lucid 2, ships with a new look, updated hardware and the latest version of Android. The Lucid 2 appears to have improved on the original in every way, yet remains very affordable. In fact, Verizon Wireless is offering the LG Lucid 2 for free with a new 2 year agreement. Can’t get any cheaper than that.
It might be easy for some to dismiss a mid-range phone as not good enough, but the Lucid 2 actually has a lot of things going for it. I personally tend to buy only high-end smartphones. My current phone is the LG made, Google Nexus 4, and I absolutely love it. I don’t see myself ever switching to a mid-range smartphone, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a market for devices like the Lucid 2. There most certainly is, and in this review, we’ll see if the LG Lucid 2 has what it takes to be the best mid-range option available on Verizon’s network.
Design & Build Quality
“This looks like a LG phone!” – that was the first thing I said after removing the Lucid 2 from its packaging. I hadn’t noticed it until then, but LG has created its own particular style when it comes to phone design and the Lucid 2 fits right in with the other LG phones I’ve used recently.
There isn’t anything overly flashy going on here, instead the Lucid 2’s design is kept clean, simple and functional. The body is very rectangular in shape with sharp edges, fans of rounded corners may be a little disappointed, but I like the design myself.
Going around the Lucid 2, you’ll find a 4.3-inch display dominating the available space up front. It is surrounded by a small, black bezel, which features a 1.3 MP front-facing camera and blue notification LED towards the top and the capacitive Android buttons (Back, Home, Recent Apps, Menu) at the bottom.
Silver highlights run along each side of the Lucid 2 and surround both the power button and volume rocker. Each of the physical buttons are made of metal, are easily located and feel good when pressed. The volume rocker has been polished to a smooth surface, while the power button features a circular groove pattern.
The Lucid 2’s 3.5mm headphone jack and secondary mic are located up top and you’ll find the micro USB port for charging and data transferring, as well as the main mic on the bottom.
The rear of the Lucid 2 features the speaker and 5 MP camera and is covered with a removable battery door that is made of solid feeling plastic that has been deeply grooved to provide a secure grip. Removing the battery door will allow access to the Lucid 2’s SIM card slot, microSD card slot and battery.
As far as build quality goes, the Lucid 2 is better than I expected for a free on contract phone. It lacks the premium materials found on some of the higher-end devices and is constructed of mostly plastic instead. That is to be expected for a free phone, but the plastic used here is rather sturdy, which gives the Lucid 2 a surprisingly solid feel. The Lucid 2’s manageable size, grippy rear surface and solid construction adds up to a phone that feels amazing in the hand.
On the software side of things, we have Jelly Bean. Yes, this free on contract phone ships with the latest flavor of Android pre-installed. No waiting for a promised update, just unbox it and being enjoy Jelly Bean on day one. That is pretty impressive. Especially once you’ve considered that a lot of recent flagship devices, including LG’s own Optimus G, didn’t launch with the latest version of Android.
All of the goodness that Jelly Bean has to offer is here and it makes for a great experience on the Lucid 2. Along with version 4.1.2 of Android, the Lucid 2 also includes LG’s Optimus UI and all of the customization options it offers. I personally prefer using Android in its vanilla form, but for a OEM skin, Optimus UI isn’t bad. It includes a huge collection of settings and options that allows users to get the most out of their device.
LG has also included most of their exclusive apps and services, including QuickMemo, which happens to be my personal favorite LG app. QuickMemo allows you to easily capture screen shots, add doodles/notes and then share them. Other built-in apps and services include LG’s powerful, yet easy to use video editor and file sharing service.
First time smartphone users might appreciate the included “Starter Mode”, which simplifies the user interface and applies helpful widgets directly to the Lucid 2′s home screen. The idea is too make the transition from a feature phone to Android as easy as possible. I used the LG Lucid 2 for a few days on Starter Mode, and can see how the feature would be helpful for inexperienced users. The Lucid 2 makes switching modes very easy and all of settings for each mode are automatically saved. Which allows users to switch from Starter to Standard Mode without losing any of their customizations.
In real world use, the Lucid 2 has been nothing short of satisfyingly snappy. I haven’t encountered a single situation where I wanted more power or speed. My best efforts to intentionally slow the phone down enough to create lag were always unsuccessful. And believe me, I tried. Apps open as soon as their icon is pressed, long lists and websites kept up with the fastest scrolling my finger could manage and navigating home screens and the OS is completely smooth and fluid. The combination of decent hardware, and Jelly Bean make the Lucid 2 perform far better than the free on contract price would suggest.
Internally, the Lucid 2 packs most of the commonly used hardware bits that last year’s high-end phones featured. You’ll get a Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Plus chip set, that includes a 1.2 GHz dual-core Krait processor supported by a Adreno 225 GPU and 1 GB worth of RAM. So basically, it is running the same hardware as many of the phones that would have cost you $200 a short time ago.
Bench marking software consistently placed the Lucid 2 above phones like the Samsung Galaxy Nexus and the HTC One X. In my opinion, that is fairly impressive and I’m happy to know that we’ve finally reached the point where even mid-range Android phones can be solid performers.
A user-replaceable, 2,460 mAh battery provides the LG Lucid 2 with enough power to easily last most users a full day. During my testing, the most battery draining activities were handled with ease. These tests included streaming videos and music over 4G LTE, running benchmarking software, placing phone calls and playing games. Days like that I consider my testing days, and on testing days, the Lucid 2 managed to make it through a full 8 hours worth of heavy, near constant use with almost 40% remaining battery life left. On a normal use day, which consisted of mostly emails, light browsing and instant messaging, the Lucid 2 could easily go over 24 hours without needing plugged in.
Not only does the Lucid 2’s battery last a long time, it also charges fast. That was one of the issues I had with the original Lucid. The first LG Lucid took a really long time to charge, like around 5 hours to go from 10 to 100%. The Lucid 2 however, reaches a full charge in about half that time. It is also possible to charge the Lucid 2 wirelessly, but my review unit didn’t come with the required battery door and charger. So I wasn’t able to test that feature.
Call Quality & Data
I didn’t encounter any problems while using the Lucid 2 for making or receiving calls. Calls sounded great on both ends, volume levels from the earpiece and the rear speaker were good, and I didn’t have any dropped calls. It does the “phone” part of smartphone quite well.
Verizon’s 4G LTE network hadn’t made its way to my area when I reviewed the first LG Lucid, but now it is everywhere I frequent and the Lucid 2 done a fine job of taking advantage of it. I was impressed with the data speeds I experienced while on Verizon’s 4G LTE network and the Lucid 2 didn’t have any problems finding and keeping a solid connection.
The Speedtest.net app recorded download speeds as high as 11.68 Mbps and maximum upload speeds of 6.48 Mbps, which is the typical data speeds I have experienced with other Verizon 4G LTE devices in my area.
I like to think of the Lucid 2 as a phone that is filled with surprises. I was surprised by how solid feeling it is in the hand. I was surprised by how great the display looks. And I was surprised by how well it performs. But the one area where the Lucid 2 definitely doesn’t surprise me is the camera. This is exactly what I was expecting from a free on contract smartphone camera. Not saying that it is horrible or unusable, just that it is in-line with what all the other entry and mid-level smartphone cameras.
The 5 megapixel rear camera found on the Lucid 2 is capable of recording 1080p HD videos and it will capture images that are plenty good enough for sharing via MMS and on social networks, but it probably wont make a very good choice for anyone that takes a lot of photos using their smartphone’s camera.
The Lucid 2 offers fast and smooth performance, current software, a shockingly good display, and amazing battery life in a package that is fully subsidized. Put simply, this is the best mid-range smartphone available on Verizon’s network and another great device from LG. Not only is it a great device from one particular Android OEM, it is an achievement for the mid-range smartphone market in general.
We can now get a very well equipped (both software and hardware) Android smartphone for free on contract. The original Lucid was a outstanding value as well, and I recommend it to anyone on a budget. But that phone cost $79 at the time of its release and it didn’t ship with the latest version of Android. Its successor improves on the original in every way imaginable, yet costs nothing on contract.
Consider this point for a moment, I have a friend who purchased a $200 “high-end” Android smartphone around a year ago. His phone is still running Ginger Bread right now and the manufacture has already stated that they won’t be releasing any new updates for it. The Lucid 2 is a free on contract phone that out performs what was considered high-end just a year ago and it ships with Jelly Bean. It’s kind of hard not to be impressed with what LG has accomplished here.
I feel comfortable recommending the LG Lucid 2 to anyone in the market for a new smartphone on Verizon’s network. It doesn’t matter what your experience level or budget is, take some time and play with the LG Lucid 2 the next time you are in your local Verizon Wireless store. You might be surprised by just how much smartphone you can get for nothing except a new contract these days.