Review: LG Spectrum 2 for Verizon Wireless
There are several extra apps on board the Spectrum 2, in addition to the stock Google Play media services. The stock tools work well, just as they do on every other Android smartphone.
The extras include the Amazon MP3 store and player for purchasing and listening to music; Audible for listening to books; IMBd for looking up movie, tv show, and actor data; Verizon's NFL mobile app for watching live football games; V CAST Ringtones for those who still buy ringtones; and Verizon Video, which is being discontinued December 15. Verizon's Viewdini app is oddly missing (though it can be downloaded separately). I used all of these applications and found that they do on the Spectrum 2 exactly what they do on Verizon's other smartphones.
The Spectrum 2 does not have a physical camera button and includes only on-screen controls. This isn't that much of a big deal, though, since the camera can be launched from the lock screen thanks to a trusty shortcut.
The Spectrum 2's camera focuses in an instant and captures images in an instant-and-a-half. If there's something in particular you want the camera to focus on, you can touch that subject in the viewfinder, which automatically focuses and takes the shot.
An on-screen toolbar offers advanced controls, including panorama, HDR, continuous shot, "Cheese shutter" (predetermined voice commands make the shutter fire), and a Time Catch shot mode for timed bursts starting before you press the button.
The Spectrum 2 has an 8-megapixel camera. I was mostly pleased with the results. I was able to get good focus no matter how poor the lighting, and exposure and white balance were correct more often than not. As with the LG Mach, grain was the biggest issue with poorly-lit subjects. The resulting images were speckled with noise. Otherwise the images looked pretty good. Outdoor shots snagged on a bright day look pretty darned good.
The 1080p HD video I captured with the Spectrum 2 was decent. Video looked too sharp and jittery at times, and panning the device quickly will result in headache-inducing motion in the video. I thought exposure and white balance was good, though, and the clarity of video taken when standing still was quite laudable.
The Spectrum 2 uses the stock Android 4.0 gallery app. It merges together all the online images you share with your various Google accounts (Google+, Picasa, etc.) with the on-board camera roll. You cannot create new albums on the device itself, but you can move photos between albums that are listed.
The gallery lets you rotate and crop images, as well as adjust color, reduce red-eye, and apply a handful of different filters. The editing features are nice to have. There is also a simple video editing tool that lets you stitch together separate video clips into a longer clip. I thought it was easy to figure out.
Verizon has loaded plenty of its own app and services onto the Spectrum 2. Most of the Verizon-branded stuff cannot be removed, but there is plenty of room on board the Spectrum 2 for the user's own applications and content. The Verizon App Store is on board, even though Verizon is shutting that down in the coming weeks. The Google Play Store is of course also on board.
The Spectrum 2's Bluetooth 4.0 radio worked without issue. It paired easily with other devices and worked like a charm when it come to routing phone calls to headsets and hands-free systems. Call quality was quite good through mono headsets, as was the quality of music played back through stereo Bluetooth speakers.
The Spectrum 2 ships with the older Android browser and not Google's newer Chrome browser. I found that the browser performed well on both Verizon's 3G and 4G LTE networks. In fact, it was quite zippy when LTE was available.
The Spectrum 2 has a handful of different lockscreen clock options, including a large digital one that's really easy to read. Other choices include a clock with a calendar, an analog clock, and a smaller digital clock. The flexibility of the lockscreen clock is a welcome change from what other manufacturers offer.
Google Maps and VZ Navigator are both on board. Both do a good job at routing directions as well as allowing for exploring the local neighborhood. Verizon's software, which costs $10 per month to use, is better at handling real-world hiccups (getting lost), but Google Maps does well enough for a free service.
As far as the GPS radio is concerned, I found it to be fairly accurate and reasonably quick. It often found me within about 30 seconds and was as close as about 50 feet to my actual position.