Review: LG Volt 2 for Boost Mobile
The first thing we see each time we pick up our smartphones in the lock screen. They are not all created equally. LG developed a unique experience for its devices that deserves comment.
Whether you just want to check the time, or see who sent that recent message, LG lets you wake the phone by tapping the display twice (called KnockON). This will show the clock, incoming notifications, and provide access to five apps of your choosing. The clock is hard to see. It's small and near the top of the screen. Notifications, which appear in shaded windows under the clock, all but obscure it. Some of the shortcuts (which run along the bottom of the screen) include their own alerts, such as the number of unread emails or messages. Notifications can be dismissed from the lock screen if you want. Tapping them opens the associated app. If you do absolutely nothing, the Volt 2's display will turn off after about 30 seconds. That's plenty of time to check the time and your notifications.
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Alternately, you can wake the phone with a special pattern of taps called Knock Code. Doing so bypasses the lock screen and takes you to the home screen. You'd use Knock Code instead of a PIN or password to safeguard your handset.
The Volt 2 runs Android 5.1 Lollipop with LG's light-weight skin on top. The home screen, app drawer, and settings tools all behave just the same as on the Stylo, G4, and other handsets released by LG this year. Perhaps the most notable aspect of LG's UI skin is the flexibility it grants users in customizing the app drawer, which supports large and small icons, and multiple ways to arrange them. The best part? LG lets you easily delete unwanted apps.
Things unique to LG include its QuickMemo tool and EasyHome configuration. LG's QuickMemo is available from the notification shade. This tool takes a screenshot and lets you mark it up with text or shapes, and share it.
LG's EasyHome home screen is for first-time users. It strips away a lot of non-essential apps and makes the phone easier to use with simpler menus. (Oddly, LG's QSlide apps — miniature, floating versions of core apps — aren't included.)
As far as performance is concerned, the phone has a 1.2 GHz quad-core Snapdragon 410 processor. That's a step up from the Snapdragon 400 in last year's phone. Together with 1 GB of RAM, it was quick and responsive enough to handle most tasks without blinking.
The camera app is somewhat stripped down and has fewer features than seen on other LG/Boost handsets, like the G Stylo.
The Volt 2 doesn't have a physical camera button, but you can launch it from the lock screen or with a long press to the volume-down button on the back of the handset. It opens relatively fast, but I was frustrated by it a couple of times.
The Volt 2 has a single shooting mode: auto. That's rather limiting. Four quick action buttons appear on the left: settings, flash, user-facing camera, and menu. These buttons cannot be customized. There are separate buttons for the camera and video camera, so you can easily snap stills while filming video. If you press and hold the screen the camera will automatically take a burst of shots for as long as you touch the screen.
The Volt 2 doesn't have many advanced modes or features, such as panorama or HDR, which is disappointing. Most phones have these features. You can choose 1080p or 720p HD video capture.
Despite the lack of features, I found the Volt 2's camera software to be relatively quick to focus and snap photos. It stores them in a blink and brings you immediately back to the shooting screen.
The Volt 2 has an 8-megapixel main camera and a 5-megapixel selfie camera. I was generally pleased with the quality of pictures captured by the main camera. The Volt 2 may lack lots of shooting features, but it manages to set focus, exposure, and white balance accurately. If it had trouble with any of these, it was exposure. I noticed lost details in some shots that were underexposed. I wasn't blown away by the quality of the images, but I wasn't disappointed, either. Low-light shots gave it some trouble, but the flash was able to clear up any problems as long as your subject was within a few feet.
The selfie camera does a passable job. I was expecting better from a 5-megapixel shooter. Well-lit shots taken outdoors were sharp and clean, but darker shots captured inside were prone to lots of grain. Moreover, backlighting behind you caused lots of glow across the sensor.
The Volt 2 can capture either 1080p or 720p HD video. The footage I captured in 1080p mode looked good for the most part. The video camera software was better able to manage focus, exposure, and color balance when compared to the still camera. This is fairly typical.
Both the camera and the video camera are fine for everyday shooting, but I'd use dedicated photography or videography gear for important occasions.
The Volt 2 has just 8 GB of internal storage, and only 3.2 GB of that is available to users. In other words, a memory card is more or less essential if you plan to shoot a lot of pictures or listen to a lot of music.
Most carriers like to cram their handsets full of bloatware. Boost added plenty of its own apps and services to the Volt 2, including 1Weather, AirG, Boost 411, Boost Music, Boost Wallet, Boost Zone, Gadget Guardian, Messaging+, NBA Game TIme, NextRadio, Scout, and Uber. Of these, perhaps Boost Zone is the most useful, as it allows people to manage their accounts. The Messaging+ app is a more robust way to manage SMS convos. You can uninstall most of the apps listed here, but not all of them. Even if you do, you won't recover that much storage space.
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