What's hot: 4G LTE, large display, nice software customizations.
What's not: Battery life, reception on LTE.
Reviewed June 1, 2011 by Lisa Gade, Editor
The LG Revolution is Verizon’s third 4G LTE Android phone. If you could mingle the design esthetic of the HTC Thunderbolt with Samsung’s penchant for colorful user interface modifications like TouchWiz on the Droid Charge, you’d have the Revolution. But does the Revolution live up to its name? As LG’s first LTE phone in the US, it does, but otherwise not so much.
This high end smartphone has a bright 4.3” 800 x 480 display that’s a notch above the Thunderbolt’s but not as colorful or vivid as the Droid Charge’s Super AMOLED Plus touch screen. The display is more color saturated than the HTC, but has poor viewing angles. Text is clear and images are pleasing, though the Droid X2 has a sharper and higher resolution display that makes text much sharper.
Like the Thunderbolt and Charge, the phone runs on a single core CPU because LTE and the dual core Tegra 2 don’t seem to play together nicely. That means you get a second generation Qualcomm Snapdragon 1GHz CPU with Adreno 205 graphics. Froyo (Android OS 2.2) powers the phone with moderate LG user interface customizations that we confess to enjoy. Though the icons are a bit cartoonish and some UI touches seem very influenced by Samsung’s TouchWiz UI, we like the customization not only of the home screen but the applications screen (see our video review to see the UI in action).
The LG is a decently attractive phone that doesn’t look cheap, though it’s covered with plastics. We really like the soft touch finish and comfortable curves that make this quite large phone pleasing to hold (I do have large hands). That said, this is a large smartphone (the curse of LTE) and it’s just a hair thicker than the Thunderbolt but no thicker than the Charge. In terms of looks and materials, the HTC Thunderbolt is on top, the LG Revolution is in the middle and the somewhat oddly shaped Samsung Droid Charge comes in last. The power button and 3.5mm stereo jack are conveniently located up top, and the micro HDMI and micro USB ports live under fiddly plastic doors under the faux chrome surround on the sides.
The expected high end goodies are here: HDMI out (480/720p) with HDCP copy protection support, GPS, Bluetooth 3.0 and WiFi 802.11b/g/n. We’re slightly disappointed that the phone has LG’s 5 MP rather than 8 MP main camera but we’re happy with the front 1.3MP video chat camera. Image quality from the rear camera is good; LG generally doesn’t disappoint with camera optics.
Despite being a Google phone, Verizon ships the LG with Bing rather than Google search, but you can download Google Search and Google Maps and Navigation from the Market. The Android version of VZ Navigator is pre-installed and it works well with the Revolution's GPS. The LG ships with Netflix-- still not common on Android phones, and it performs well.
Deals and Shopping:
LG Revolution Video Review
The Revolution can act as a mobile WiFi Hotspot and share that speedy 4G LTE connection with laptops, tablets and other non-3G/4G devices. Call quality was just OK with somewhat indistinct voice on both ends that lacked clarity but was good enough to carry on conversations. Reception is a bit below average in terms of signal in db (not bars which aren’t very meaningful). A Verizon Wireless field technician said he read a -92 db 4G LTE signal in front of our building outdoors, while the phone registered -105 db. These are negative numbers, so that means the LG has a weaker signal. The Thunderbolt and Droid Charge managed a 5db better signal in our tests. 1xRTT and 3G EV-DO Rev. A were just a bit below average among Verizon phones.
Despite the relatively weaker 4G LTE signal, the Revolution managed to pull in decent data transfer speeds according to the Speedtest.net Android app. The phone averaged 8mbps down and 2mbps up with a weak -102 db/2 bar signal. In comparison, the Samsung Droid Charge averaged 11-13 megs down in the same location, and the HTC Thunderbolt averaged 8-15mbps. In stronger coverage areas with a -91db signal, the Revolution managed 12 megs down and 3.5 megs up.
Performance is good with the single core 1GHz CPU and we didn’t encounter any slowdowns or quirkiness of any kind. The phone scores a solid 2042 on the Quadrant benchmark, which is at the high end for second gen Snapdragon single core CPUs, and it gets a good 39.1 on Linpack. We did note that the phone gets very warm to the touch when playing video, gaming, and even talking for more than 10 minutes. The LG has 16 gigs of internal storage of which 12 gigs is available for your use, and Verizon ships it with a 16 gig microSD card.
LTE hasn’t been easy on smartphone batteries, and the Revolution, whose 1500 mAh Lithium Ion battery sits between the 1400 mAh Thunderbolt and 1600 mAh Charge has battery life that likewise sits between the two. The Thunderbolt has notoriously poor battery life, and spare batteries and extended batteries are par for the course, while the Droid Charge actually manages decent though not thrilling battery life. The LG Revolution is no Energizer bunny, and we found it nearly impossible to make it through a full day with 4G turned on. You can turn off 4G and stick with 3G for better battery life; this does make a significant difference. You can switch to 4G when you play streaming video or plan to do extended web browsing, but you must reboot the phone every time you enable or disable 4G.
4G LTE is the way of the future. No doubt a year from now you’ll be kicking yourself for not getting a 4G phone if you live in a large metro area where coverage exists or is coming soon and you use data frequently. Right now you’ve got just 3 choices: the HTC Thunderbolt, Droid Charge and LG Revolution. The Thunderbolt and Droid Charge are neck and neck and the Revolution comes in third. It’s not a bad phone by any means, but it lacks that special something—a compelling feature or design that might give it a competitive edge. Battery life isn’t a strong point, though it does outlast the Thunderbolt, and the display is decent but doesn’t wow us like Samsung’s Super AMOLED Plus on the Charge.That said, it's a responsive phone with a large display and the fastest form of 4G on the planet.
Display:4.3" multi-touch capacitive display. Resolution:
800 x 480, supports both portrait and landscape modes. Sensors: proximity and ambient light sensor.
Ion rechargeable. Battery is user replaceable.
Performance:1GHz Qualcomm MSM8655 CPU with Adreno 205 graphics. 16 gigs flash ROM with 12 gigs available.
x 2.63 x 0.52 inches. Weight: 6.06 ounces.
Phone:CDMA dual band digital with EV-DO Rev. A and LTE 4G on the Verizon's 700MHz band.
Camera:1.3MP front camera and 5 megapixel rear main camera with LED flash that can shoot 720p video.
GPS:GPS with aGPS and digital compass.
in speaker, mic and 3.5mm standard stereo headphone
WiFi 802.11b/g/n and Bluetooth 3.0.
Software:Android OS 2.2 Froyo with LG customized UI and software. Google apps including Android Market, Gallery, Gmail, email, YouTube player, Mobile Hotspot but not Google search or Maps and Navigation (you can download these from the Market). Verizon, LG and third party software: Bing Search, VZ Navigator, Netflix, Bitbop, VCast Apps, Blockbuster video, Adobe Reader, City ID, Connected Media (DLNA), Rock Band, Let's Golf 2, Quickoffice, Rhapsody, Slacker, Facebook for LG, Twitter for LG, V Cast Media Manager, V Cast Apps and Kindle.