Home > Android Phone Reviews > LG Spectrum
What's hot: Good LTE reception, sharp 720p IPS display.
What's not: Sometimes laggy and occasional crashes.
Reviewed January 30, 2012 by Lisa Gade, Editor
in Chief (twitter: @lisagade)
It's not easy being a Verizon Wireless phone. I mean, there's some serious competition at the high end with the Motorola Droid RAZR and RAZR MAXX, Samsung Galaxy Nexus and HTC Rezound. On paper, the LG Spectrum should fit right in with its 4.5" 720p IPS display, 1.5GHz dual core CPU and promised upgrade to Android OS 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich by mid-2012. The phone has a front video chat camera, a rear 8 megapixel shooter that can capture 1080p video, and very good multimedia performance. It has a stable LTE 4G radio that hangs onto a signal as well as the very good HTC Rezound. So what's not to like?
The LG Spectrum is the Verizon version of the LG Nitro HD on AT&T, a phone we liked quite well other than its weak battery life. The spectrum gets a casing makeover with gloss plastics and a CDMA radio for voice and 3G, but otherwise the internals are mostly the same. But the Spectrum lags where the Nitro moved along decently, and that really gets in the way of enjoying what should be a fast, high end Android smartphone. We've also found it a bit less stable, and in the week we've had it, it's spontaneously rebooted a few times (not a common occurrence with other recent Android phones). We get the feeling there's a lot of promise here, but LG needs to work out the software kinks to bring better performance and stability.
The smartphone runs on a 1.5GHz dual core Snapdragon CPU like the HTC Rezound and several recent AT&T LTE phones. Qualcomm's radio and CPU chipset integration are excellent when it comes to LTE performance. We see none of the waffling between 3G and 4G in weaker LTE coverage areas that plague us with the RAZR line and Galaxy Nexus. Now, if you're in a good LTE coverage area, or conversely have none at all and disable LTE on the phone, this won't matter to you. But if you are in marginal coverage areas, the Spectrum and Rezound are your best bet.
The display is lovely. It's an IPS panel with good brightness and much more natural and accurate colors than Super AMOLED. You won't see Super AMOLED's hyper-vivid hues and amazing blacks, but will see plenty of sharp detail, crisp colors and good contrast. The 1280 x 720 panel makes for a relatively tall but narrow phone, and that means it's easier to hold in a narrow palm, but it will likely stick out the top of all but deep pockets. There are times when the display doesn't seem to respond to a tap, but it's hard to judge if it's a display issue or lag (I suspect it's lag).
The phone has a high gloss plastic back with a fine silvery checkerboard pattern that looks lovely until you handle it: it gets noxiously gummy. The 5 ounce phone feels weighty and looks like a decent quality piece, and we like the contrasting home button that's easy to see in the dark. The phone has 3 rather than the usual 4 capacitive buttons because LG combines the menu and search buttons into one on the left, and that's fine by us. There's an option to turn off capacitive button backlighting when the display is turned on, and we turned that option off immediately because it's difficult to see the menu/search and back buttons with no backlighting.
The micro USB port is located up top under a door: I find the location inconvenient when trying to both charge and talk at the same time, and the door is fiddly. The headphone jack is up top, as is the power button. The volume controls are on the right and the microSD card slot is under the back cover. Verizon includes a 16 gig card since the phone has only 4 gigs of internal storage with approximately 1.45 gigs available. The rear door is easy to remove and snap on, and the 1830 mAh battery, LTE SIM card slot and microSD card slot are under the door. There's no word whether the Spectrum has NFC.