Review: LG Lancet for Verizon Wireless
The LG Lancet is a low-cost Windows Phone that's easy grasp and offers a lot of value for the dollar with Microsoft's productivity apps on board. The Lancet proves that sometimes small stands tall. Here is Phone Scoop's full review of this compact handset.
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Is It Your Type?
The LG Lancet is for a particular group of people. It's a compact, inexpensive Windows Phone that provides access to a range of Microsoft products and services. If you're in the market for an easy-to-handle, low-cost handset on Microsoft's platform, the LG Lancet checks off all those boxes.
The Lancet doesn't aspire to be much and that's just fine. LG crafted a simple, straight-forward phone that breaks a bit with the designs the Korean company uses for its high-end and specialty handsets. The Lancet is a black-and-blue block with clean lines and conservative styling. There's nothing about it that stands out as unique other than, perhaps, its size.
Compact handsets are a rare breed these days. The bulk of phones have screens measuring 5 inches or more, which make for large footprints. The Lancet has a 4.5-inch screen and this let LG keep the phone's dimensions in check. The Lancet is significantly smaller than many of today's most popular phones, which should make it appealing to those who prefer something that can easily be managed in a single hand.
The front and back halves of the phone have juxtaposed materials, something we see quite often on today's smartphones. The front is all glossy and reflective, while the back is matte and muted. The glass surface of the front almost blends seamlessly into a black plastic rim holding it in place. The glossy and matte surfaces meet along the side edges and form a contrasting seam.
I wish the Lancet were a hair thinner, but it's hardly chubby at 10.7mm. The side edges are flat, but the back surface has a nice curve to help the phone rest a bit deeper in your palm. I was able to use the phone one-handed while walking down busy Manhattan streets without problem. It should easily fit into most pockets.
LG did well with the materials. It's certainly not flagship quality, but the Lancet never feels cheap. The plastics are solid and have pleasing textures. I don't think you can ask for much better from a device in the Lancet's price range.
On the phone's face you'll clearly see the LG and Verizon logos, which are silver-colored and reflective. The user-facing camera is visible, as is the notch carved into the glass for the earpiece speaker. There are no buttons on the front, leaving the glass smooth and unbroken. The plastic frame around the glass creates a small ridge that is barely noticeable.
Button and port placement follow industry norms. The volume toggle is on the left edge. It's a large, flat button and its profile makes it hard to miss. Travel and feedback are good. The screen lock button is on the right edge of the phone. It, too, has a good profile and pleasing travel and feedback. I wish it were just a bit bigger. The headphone jack is on top and the USB port is on the bottom.
It's quite easy to peel off the rear cover of the phone. With the cover off, you can choose to remove the battery, SIM card, or memory card. You have to pull the battery to reach the SIM card slot. The cover itself is rather plain.
The LG Lancet is a fine little phone, all things considered.
The 4.5-inch screen includes 800 x 480 pixels. The screen size really helps with the pixel density, which would be rather crummy were the display physically much bigger. The screen is typically the most costly component of any handset. The smaller size and lower resolution are likely part of what helped LG keep the Lancet's price so low. Menus look clean, but that's partly because Windows Phone uses straight-edged geometric shapes for its user interface. You can see pixels along the edges of some text and non-straight UI elements. The screen is bright enough for use outdoors and the LCD panel shows accurate colors. Brightness drops significantly when the phone is viewed at an angle. The Lancet's screen suffices for this class of device.
I didn't have any trouble using the Lancet on Big Red's network in and around New York City. The phone connected all calls on the first dial and didn't miss any while I was reviewing it. It didn't drop calls at highway speeds.
As for data, the phone runs on Verizon's 4G LTE network and data speeds were generally good. I've seen faster phones, for sure, but the Lancet isn't slow by any stretch. Data speeds seemed consistent no matter what the signal strength.
Phone calls generally sounded good. The earpiece produces plenty of volume so calls can be easily heard most places you might take the phone. I noticed the earpiece was prone to a bit of distortion when set all the way up, but it wasn't too bad.
The speakerphone, on the other hand, distorts like crazy when you turn it all the way up. Understanding calls via speakerphone in the car was hard. You have to turn it up all the way to hear it, but then you have to deal with background noise and speaker distortion. It works best when placed on a hard surface in a quiet room.
Ringers and alerts were able to grab my attention most of the time. I didn't miss any calls for not hearing the phone. The vibrate alert is a bit weak.
LG gave the Lancet a 2,100 mAh battery. This might seem a bit small compared to many of today's phones, but it's more than adequate for the Lancet. The Lancet's smaller, lower-resolution screen helps here. The phone easily blasts through an entire day with no trouble at all. I never reached the danger zone (10%) at any point while testing the phone. I kept the Bluetooth, WiFi, and GPS radios on at all times, and set the screen to auto brightness. It did really well.
The Windows Phone platform has a basic battery life saver tool that can be set to come on automatically when the battery reaches 15%. It dims the screen, dials back notifications, and reins in the processor a bit to lower power consumption.
The Lancet runs Windows Phone 8.1. LG hasn't said if the phone will be updated to Windows 10. LG's Windows Phone handsets lack some of the extra features found on Microsoft (Nokia) Lumia handsets, such as Glance Screen, but most features are intact.
The lock screen includes the clock, date, calendar appointments, and notification previews. There are no app shortcuts, but you can jump directly to your notifications. The lock screen on Windows Phones supports various, changing backgrounds, such as the local weather or recent Facebook photos. You can wake the phone via LG's KnockON feature, which can turn the screen on or off with a double tap.
Windows Phone employs one infinitely tall home screen. The Start screen is populated by Live Tiles, which act like both app icons and widgets. The Tiles come in three sizes and you can arrange them in any style grid you like. One of Windows Phone 8.1's cool tricks are transparent tiles. They let you see the wallpaper underneath, which is kinda neat. You can also create app folders on the home screen.
Swipe the Start screen to the left to access the full app menu. This main menu is always arranged alphabetically. It can sometimes be a pain to scroll through if you have a large number of apps. Windows Phone includes a drop-down notification panel, though it isn't quite as well-developed as those on Android and iOS. The notification panel includes toggles for the WiFi and Bluetooth radios, airplane mode, and so on.
Windows Phone 8.1 makes a bit more sense of the Settings tools than previous versions. Basically, the system controls are packaged together in categories (networks, personalization, accounts, system, time/language, input/accessibility, privacy, updates, and extras), which increases the utility of the extensive tools available for customizing the phone's behavior.
LG selected Qualcomm's 1.2 GHz quad-core Snapdragon 410 processor and paired it with 1GB of RAM. The combination provided more than enough oomph for the LG Lancet, which felt light on its feet at all times.
Calls and Contacts
The phone app is simple and easy to master. Call history is the default view when you open the app, but there are buttons along the bottom to access voicemail, the dialpad, your contacts, or search. The speed dial function can be a huge time saver. The Lancet lets users control call rejection behaviors, set automatic message responses, make use of call forwarding, and so on. The phone doesn't support Verizon's HD Voice service.
The People app merges your contact list with Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. It can pull recent activity from those sources to create a three-network feed within the contact app. I have always liked the social aspect. Otherwise, you can sync it with myriad contact databases. Contact cards hold plenty of data and make it easy to call or message your friends/family.
The Lancet, like all Windows Phones, requires you to have a Microsoft account of some sort. The native email app in Windows Phone is not as strong as Gmail, but it's still capable enough for managing email. It works well with any internet-based email service, including Outlook, Google, and Yahoo. It also supports Exchange for business users.
The SMS app is a basic tool for basic messaging only. Like the phone app, it's spartan to a fault. It can handle threaded conversations that include pictures and videos, but it feels a bit barren. (The SMS app used to incorporate both Facebook and Skype messaging. Now it only supports SMS/MMS.)
The full Skype and Facebook apps are preinstalled, but Facebook Messenger and Twitter are not. Those apps are available from the Windows Store.
The LG Lancet includes several media apps and services. To start, it offers the Microsoft Music and Video apps, which both hook into Microsoft's XBox entertainment store. You can sideload your own music and videos, or buy stuff from Microsoft. I've always liked the Windows Phone music app, which does a great job with album cover art and details.
The only other media apps are Slacker Radio and Verizon's ever-present NFL Mobile. Slacker is a solid third-party music streaming service, though there are better options in the Windows Store. Verizon's NFL Mobile app is actually pretty good, but is a waste of space of you're not a football fan.
The Lancet has two camera apps: the basic Windows Phone camera app and one made by LG. There is no physical camera button and there are no shortcuts to the camera on the lock screen nor anywhere else. You have to open the camera from the Start screen. That's annoying.
The Windows Phone camera is more or less the same camera app we've seen on Windows handsets for years. The three shooting modes include auto, burst, and video. You can easily toggle the flash on/off, switch to the selfie camera, or access Lenses (third party apps that hook into the camera.) Basic settings tools let you adjust image resolution and geo-tagging, but there are no advanced options, like exposure, white balance, and so on. The Windows Phone camera app behaves well.
The LG camera app is more or less the same one it makes for its Android handsets. Anyone who's used an LG Android phone will recognize the cascading settings menus on the left side of the screen to accessing the timer, gridlines, resolution settings, and "Say Cheese!" voice shutter feature. The camera offers separate buttons for capturing pictures and video, and has a stunted selection of settings. LG took the time to add access to Lenses, but otherwise carried the camera app over directly from its Android offerings.
The only Lens pre-installed is Microsoft's Bing Search tool. With Bing Search you take a picture of something and send it to Bing, which will tell you what it is as long as it is somewhat specific. It can tell you're you're looking at the Statue of Liberty, but it can't differentiate between an oak or maple tree.
Both the Windows Phone camera app and the LG camera app offer the same essential tool set and perform at the same level. Neither is faster or easier to use than the other. LG placed its own camera on the Start screen, but you can swap that for the Microsoft one at any time.
The photo gallery app on the Lancet is the stock Windows Phone tool. It breaks photos down into three major classifications: the camera roll, all albums (including online networks), and favorites. This makes them easy to keep track of.
Editing features are few: crop, rotate, and enhance. More advanced features — such as applying filters or adjusting for exposure/brightness — are absent.
OneDrive is aboard, however, and has a great tool for backing up your photos online. It's a breeze to set up.
The Lancet has an 8-megapixel main sensor. The default 16:9 setting crops your photos down to 6 megapixels, which means you'll need to adjust the camera to shoot in the 4:3 aspect ratio to get the full pixel count.
I'd call the Lancet's camera average at best. Focus and white balance were generally accurate, but it had trouble with exposure more often than I liked. My biggest gripe centers on how the Lancet handles overly dark or overly bright areas in the frame. Details tend to be lost in darkness or washed out by light. Evenly lit scenes (like on cloudy days) led to the most balanced images. I didn't see too much grain, but I did see some.
It's a passable everyday camera, but I'd use something better for my important photos.
The 1080p HD video I captured with the Lancet was about average, too. Focus, exposure, and white balance were mostly accurate and the results were decent enough, all things considered. Darker shooting environments will definitely lead to grainier results and I saw some white balance weirdness from time to time.
The Lancet is more than adequate enough for everyday video needs, but I'd switch to dedicated video equipment for real videography needs.
It's worth pointing out that the Lancet has 8 GB of storage, of which only 3.8 GB is available to owners. That's crappy. Bloatware from Verizon is limited, but still present. You'll see My Verizon Mobile, NFL Mobile, Slacker, and VZ Navigator. There are a bunch of nearly useless Microsoft apps aboard, too, such as Finance, Health & Fitness. Like most Windows handsets, you can uninstall all the apps you don't like. Even so, I'd grab a memory card for storing photos and media. Microsoft's Storage Sense tool can help you manage your Lancet's memory if needed.
The Lancet's Bluetooth radio can connect to mono headsets and cars for calls, and to stereo equipment for music. It worked well with all the devices I used for pairing. Calls via my car's hands-free system were decent enough, but not the greatest. Music sounded quite good through my Bluetooth headphones, though it's worth noting the aptX profile isn't supported. I was also able to pair with my laptop for transferring files.
Internet Explorer is capable of rendering web sites quickly and accurately on the Lancet's little screen. I've always liked that the address bar and other controls are placed at the bottom of the screen, closer to your thumb. Internet Explorer does have some useful features, too, like adjusting the font size, blocking cookies, and Data Sense to help manage your monthly data usage. Verizon's LTE network delivered sites swiftly to the Lancet.
The Lancet also comes with LG's KnockON tool. Tap the screen twice and it will display the lock screen — and the clock. Alternately, you can press the screen lock button.
Cortana is Microsoft's voice assistant, similar to Google Now and Apple's Siri. You can use Cortana to perform voice searches, dictate messages, and keep track of your flights and/or travel calendar. Cortana isn't quite as good as Google Now, but it's far better than Siri (at least until iOS 9 shows up later this year.)
Cortana parses the Internet for items related to your interests, such as news headlines, sport scores, the local weather, and more. Cortana controls quiet hours and “inner circle”. Quiet hours are used to silence notifications during set periods of time, such as at night. The inner circle represents the closest of close contacts, typically family members. You can use Cortana to offer the inner circle access to you even during quiet hours. Last, Cortana can be used to listen to a song and search for it on the internet.
In sum, Cortana is a great feature worth exploring. It worked perfectly on the Lancet.
The Lancet relies on Nokia's HERE Maps and includes the Nokia Drive+ app for navigating via car. HERE Maps is a great mapping application and matches — if not beats — Google Maps. It's fast, accurate, and lets you store entire countries' maps for offline access. The Nokia Drive+ app does a perfectly acceptable job of directing you between points. I was pleased with the speed and accuracy of the LG Lancet's GPS radio, which pinpointed the phone in quick order.
VZ Navigator is also good for traveling from A to B, but it carries a monthly fee. You're better off with Nokia HERE Maps and Drive+.
The Windows Phone versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint found on the Lancet are more than adequate for managing productivity. One critical extra available to the LG Lancet is a free year's subscription to Office 365. With this, LG Lancet owners will be able to create, edit, store, and access their documents from any Windows machine, including the Lancet.
Believe it or not, LG ported its QuickMemo app from Android to Windows Phone. It's tricky to find and use, however. For example, you have to dive into the settings menu and turn the feature on. It's hidden way down there. QuickMemo takes a screenshot (by pressing both ends of the volume control) and then loads the screenshot into a basic editing tool where you can mark up the screen shot with drawings, symbols, text, and so on. You can then share it via email, SMS, or other social networks.
At $120, the LG Lancet under-promises and over-delivers. You might be fooled into thinking a low-cost handset would be sluggish and unable to perform. That's not the case with LG's little phone.
The Lancet's hardware is more solid than other phones in this price point and the small size makes it easier to use than bulky phablets. I do wish the screen were a bit sharper. The phone ran well on Verizon's LTE network, but I would have prefered better performance from the speakers. The Lancet's battery was particularly impressive.
Windows Phone runs well on the Lancet. The media apps are good enough, but the camera is only average. The Lancet is a powerful productivity machine thanks to Microsoft Office, and it's nice to see a couple of handy LG features (QuickMemo and KnockON) added to the company's non-Android phones.
For those seeking the least-expensive Windows Phone available from Verizon, the LG Lancet is it. It's a good option if you're looking for a simple, compact phone that gets the job done.
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If the screen was higher res...