Good performance and graphics; Fast 4G LTE speeds; Excellent battery life; Bright Gorilla Glass display; Inexpensive over two years
Lackluster camera; Weak audio performance
The LG Spirit offers strong performance, long battery life and fast 4G LTE with no contract.
Score one for the no-contract team. The $199 LG Spirit 4G for MetroPCS features a 1.2-GHz processor, 4G LTE speeds, and no-commitment data plans. Throw in long battery life and a bright Gorilla Glass display and you've got something to cheer for. LG's got Spirit, but should you?
Editor's Note: At the time of this review, the LG Spirit 4G is priced at $199 because of a limited time $70 rebate. Normal pricing for the Spirit 4G is $269.
Beneath the 4.5-inch screen are three capacitive buttons (Back, Home and Menu). The right side of the Spirit houses a small power button, and a medium-size volume rocker lines the left side. The headphone jack is up top, while a microUSB is on the bottom of the phone.
The Spirit 4G (4.4 ounces, 5.08 x 2.6 x 0.37 inches) is on the smaller and lighter end of the spectrum compared with the Samsung Galaxy S III (4.7 ounces, 5.38 x 2.78 x 0.34 inches), but it also has a smaller display.
The Spirit 4G's display is brighter than average, registering 340 lux against the category average of 298 lux. The HTC One X+, however, outshone the Spirit 4G, notching 462 lux. The Samsung Galaxy S III couldn't hold a candle to this device, maxing out at 213 lux.
When watching the high-quality trailer for "Iron Man 3," the Spirit 4G's screen gave us more details in shadows, but offered narrower viewing angles than the Galaxy S III, which also had . had better color saturation.
The Spirit 4G's speakers got plenty loud when watching the "Iron Man 3" trailer, filling a small office with sound. Just don't expect rich audio; the organ on Stevie Wonder's "Living For The City," sounded hollow while Wonder's vocal was tinny. In addition, due to the speaker placement, the sound is muffled when the phone is placed on a surface display-up.
Both the phone keyboard and the QWERTY keyboard provided strong haptic feedback as we typed texts and emails.
Software and Interface
There are seven home screens, providing plenty of room for apps and widgets. The home row supports up to six icons or folders that remain at the bottom of the display. Using a pinch gesture on any home screen opens the home screen editor, where pages can be added (by pressing the plus button) or deleted by dragging them to the top of the screen.
You can view recent apps and switch between them by long-pressing the home button. Long-pressing on the Menu button launches a Google search.
Courtesy mode allows users to silence alarms or pause video by flipping the phone facedown. We could also use side-to-side tilt gestures to switch between screens when moving app icons on the home screen.
Unlike higher-end LG phones such as the Optimus G, the Spirit 4G does not feature multitasking features Q Slide or Dual Screen/Dual Play.
SmartShare comes in handy for sharing multimedia content with DLNA-compatible devices. LG also included the Wi-Fi Direct-powered FileShare to transfer large documents and other files.
Both LG and MetroPCS have their own app stores. MetroPCS' AppStore deals primarily with its own branded apps while LG SmartWorld curates apps that you might not see in the vast Google Play store along with its own branded apps. MetroPCS also has M Studio, where users can purchase music included ringtones and ringback tones.
LG bundles the driver-friendly GPS navigation app Car Home, which makes it easy to find and navigate to local destinations and supports voice control.
Third-party apps include Facebook, Yahoo Movies, Polaris Office 4, Rhapsody, Yahoo Sportacular, YouTube and Pocket Express.
The Spirit 4G delivered a score of 5,328 on the CPU Benchmark, well above the 3,142 Android phone average. It also outpaced HTC One X+ (1.7-GHz Nvidia AP37 Tegra 3) and the Samsung Galaxy SIII (1.5-GHz Snapdragon S4 CPU) which notched 4,301 and 4,214, respectively.
As far as graphics, the Spirit 4G returned an impressive 7,572 on An3DBench. That's enough to beat the 7,205 category average as well as the One X+ (7,488) and the Galaxy SIII (6,994). On Quadrant, which measures CPU, graphics and I/O performance, the Spirit 4G notched 5,604. It topped the 3,398 category average and the Galaxy SIII's 4,731. However, the LG was no match for the One X+'s score of 7,568.
The LG Spirit 4G's storage can be expanded to 32GB via the microSD slot.
4G LTE and Web Browsing
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Images captured by the 1.3-MP front camera were plagued with graininess. However, our skin tone appeared nice and warm, despite the fluorescent lighting.
Overall, both cameras delivered swift camera speeds, taking less than a second to snap off photos. LG has also included the "Say Cheese" feature, which automatically snaps a picture when the phrase is uttered.
During the Laptop Battery Test (continuous Web surfing over 4G LTE), the LG Spirit 4G lasted 7 hours and 13 minutes. That's more than an hour longer than the 6:06 Android phone average. It was more than enough to top the Samsung Galaxy SIII's time of 6:55, but the HTC One X+ edged out a win with 7:19.
On Verizon Wireless, a $100 Share Everything plan snags shoppers unlimited text and talk with 2GB of sharable data. Adding in the cost of a premium smartphone totals $2,599.
For a Mobile Share plan on AT&T, you would pay $110 for 4GB of data plus unlimited talk and text, totaling $2,839 when you add in a $199 smartphone.
So, over the course of two years, you could save anywhere from $960 to $1,200 by opting for MetroPCS.
The LG Spirit 4G consistently delivered clear calls when we dialed both mobile phones and landlines. However, there was some fading in and out in our home in the Bronx. The speakerphone was nice and loud, but there were a few instances of echoing on our end.
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|Form Factor||Candybar Touchscreen|
|Operating System||Android 4.0|
|Networks||CMDA PCS, CMDA, AWS|
|CPU||1.2-GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon|
|Memory Expansion Type||microSD Card|
|Display (main)||4.5 inches|
|Bluetooth Type||Bluetooth 3.0|
|Front Camera Resolution||1.3MP|
|Camera Resolution||5 MP|
|Talk / Standby Time||Up to 7 hours/Up to 200 hours|
|Size||5.08 x 2.6 x 0.37 inches|
|SAR Rating (Head)|
|SAR Rating (Body)|