Review: LG Tribute 5 for Boost Mobile
The Tribute 5 makes use of LG's innovative and helpful lock screen tools thanks to KnockON and Knock Code.
Tapping the display twice wakes the screen and shows the clock, notifications, and several app shortcuts. This is called KnockON. I wish the clock were bigger and bolder; it feels rather squished up at the top of the screen. Your app notifications appear in chronological order beneath the clock. If you've chosen to add app shortcuts (four are installed by default), each provides an unread count for calls, texts, emails, etc.
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The notifications can be dismissed or acted upon from the lock screen, though the latter of these requires you to unlock the phone first. The same goes for the unread counts on the app shortcuts. Double-tapping the display a second time will turn it off. Alternately, you can just leave it untouched for 30 seconds and it will turn off on its own.
Knock Code is one of several different ways to secure the Tribute 5. Rather than set a traditional PIN, password, or trace pattern, you can record your own, unique pattern of taps to unlock the phone. I like this option.
Like the Tribute 2, V10, and other current LG handsets, the Tribute 5 runs Android 5.1 Lollipop (why not Android 6 Marshmallow?!) and a light user interface skin from LG. The home screen experience of the T5 is practically identical to that of every phone LG has released during the last 12 months.
The home screen allows users to install as many apps, widgets, and shortcuts as they wish, as well as tweak wallpapers. Several themes impact colors, sharing, borders, and other aspects of the UI. (More themes are available to download from LG.) The app drawer is arranged in side-by-side screens, rather than a vertical list. As it has for years, LG makes it possible to change the size of app icons in the drawer, hide/show apps, as well as uninstall apps completely. The settings app ditches the stock Android appearance for fonts and colors controlled by the selected theme, but the layout and usefulness are about the same.
The Quick Settings drop-down shade includes access to toggles and other controls. I like how easy it is to edit which toggles are available in the Quick Settings shade. The shade also lets you adjust brightness and volume profiles.
LG seems to have renamed QuickMemo; now it's called Capture+, although the functionality is the same. Use the Quick Settings shade to access the Capture+ tool. A press of the button takes a screenshot and then opens a basic editing tool for adding comments and so on. Once you're done annotating the screenshot, it's a breeze to send the shot to others via MMS, email, and whatever apps you might prefer. LG's EasyHome (dumbed down home screen experience for novice users) is aboard, but QSlide apps (miniaturized for the home screen) are not.
As far as performance is concerned, the phone has a 1.0 GHz quad-core Snapdragon 210 processor with 1 GB of RAM. That's a step down from the Snapdragon 410 in the Tribute 2 and, frankly, I could tell. The Tribute 5 was sometimes sluggish and stuttery. More than a few apps were slow to open (camera, maps) and I often noticed a delay between when I pressed the screen and the Tribute 5 reacted.
There is no physical camera button on the Tribute 5, but a double press of the up volume button will open the camera. The camera is also available via the lock screen shortcut and app icon on the home screen. It's a bit too slow to open for my tastes.
LG apparently knows Tribute 5 owners aren't seeking a killer camera. This phone has a single shooting mode (standard/auto), which is really boring. Some buttons adorn the left edge of the screen for toggling through the flash, user-facing camera, and menu. There are separate buttons on the right for the camera and the video camera.
Options for adjusting the camera are severely restricted. You can adjust the aspect ratio, turn on/off LG's “Say Cheese” voice-activated shutter, and adjust the length of the timer. There are absolutely no advanced functions (HDR, dual-shot) nor even any fun tools (panorama, bokeh). HDR and panorama are fairly standard by now, even on lower-end phones, so their absence here is notable. It's as basic as a camera app gets these days.
I wish it were faster to focus and snap images.
The Tribute 5 has a 5-megapixel main camera and a 5-megapixel selfie camera. Neither is anything to write home about.
The main camera manages to set color and exposure accurately, but it suffers from soft focus and an annoying amount of grain. In spectacularly bright, outdoor shots, it does as well as any other camera, but introduce even a bit of contrast or shading and it gets confused. The flash doesn't seem to help indoor shoots, other than to overexpose people's faces.
The selfie cam doesn't do any better. Images are saturated with grain. Focus was acceptable, as was white balance, but any sort of light source in the background will smear images with nasty streaks of light.
Disappointingly, the Tribute 5's video camera is limited to 720p HD resolution. The Tribute 2 could capture 1080p HD video. The Snapdragon 210 is the culprit here. The 720p footage I captured with the T5 was mediocre at best.
The T5 is not meant to be a primary imaging device for anyone, which the results make painfully clear. If you care even a little bit about the quality of your pictures and video, use a real camera.
Boost and LG Stuff
The Tribute 5 has just 8 GB of internal storage, of which 4.2 GB is available to users. I highly recommend you enhance the T5 with a memory card. Bloatware isn't overly awful. You'll see the Amazon shopping, music, and photos apps, as well as Boost Zone, Gadget Guardian, LG Backup, and LG SmartWorld. You can uninstall these if you wish.
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