Review: LG Spirit 4G for MetroPCS
The Spirit includes a basic music player application, as well as the Google Play Music app. The first works as a simple playback app for whatever files may be on the device, while the second has a richer feature set (playlist support/creation) in addition to its ties to the Google Play Music Store.
The Spirit also ships with the Rhapsody music service on board, which lets you stream music to the device for a monthly fee.
As for video playback, it includes the stock YouTube app, basic video player, and the Google Play Movies app.
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Lastly, in terms of sharing, there's an app on board called SmartShare that can be used to connect the Spirit to other DLNA-certified equipment (TVs, stereo receivers) via Wi-Fi. It worked well.
Music sounded very good via my favorite headphones, and the good display means video playback was rewarding, too.
The Spirit uses the LG's camera app. It's simple, direct, and quick. Though there's no physical camera button, there's a shortcut from the lock screen. It launches quickly.
The viewfinder fills about 75% of the screen and is framed by two control strips, one on either side. The left strip has all the settings and controls for things such as the flash. The right strip has the software shutter button and provides access to the video camera and photo gallery.
The settings can be used to adjust some of the basics, including location data, brightness, and white balance. There are several shooting modes: normal, HDR, continuous, and panorama. The Spirit also includes LG's time catch shot and cheese shutter control features. Other controls include setting several scenes (portrait, landscape, sports, sunset, etc.), face tracking and so on.
I found the camera to be quick all around. It launched quickly, and was able to focus and capture images in a blink.
The Spirit has a 5-megapixel camera with autofocus and flash. In general, I was pleased with the results. They're not astounding, but they are certainly serviceable. The images were mostly in focus, and had accurate white balance and exposure and were free of grain. Given the wide range of controls, the Spirit should give even novice users results they like.
The video camera software mirrors that of the still camera, but offers some interesting shooting modes that make for some entertaining results. The shooting modes mostly pertain to faces, and use software to exaggerate peoples' facial features, such as enlarge their eyes, or minimize their mouth, or make their smile extra huge and shiney. The quality of the results vary, but can be fun.
That said, the Spirit captures 1080p HD video and does a good job at it. It was consistently in focus, with accurate white balance and exposure. The only problem I'd call out is the presence of grain, which was more noticeable than I'd like it to be.
The gallery is the stock Android 4.0 application, which will connect with various online photo accounts and let you access them all from the device's drop-down albums tool.
When viewing individual photos, on-screen controls make deleting, sharing, or editing them a snap. Editing features include crop, rotate, straighten, flip, sharpen, and reduce red-eye. There are also a number of effects that can be applied to the images. The gallery connects with most social networks.
There are two separate video editing apps on board the Spirit, as well. One is called Video Editor and the other is Video Wiz. The first is a simple tool that can be used to trim clips and paste them together. The second is a much more advanced editing tool that lets users add images, soundtracks, titles and credits, etc.
The Spirit ships with the Google Chrome browser, as well as some MetroPCS-branded web tools (MetroWeb, etc.). Chrome works well on MetroPCS's LTE 4G network. Browsing speeds were good when compared to other MetroPCS devices. As noted in the signal section, the Spirit is one of the most consistent performers on MetroPCS's network, and that is clearly evident when browsing the web. Chrome is a solid browser that renders web sites quickly. Plenty of alternative browsers are available in the Google Play Store if you don't like Chrome.
As with all MetroPCS devices, the Spirit is laden with way too many carrier-branded apps and services (at least, for my tastes). Some include: M Studio, Metro411, MetroWeb, MyMetro, MyXtras, Metro Block-It, and the Metro-branded App Store. Some of these can be deleted; some cannot. There's still plenty of enough space left on the Spirit for you to download your own applications.
The Spirit supports mono and stereo Bluetooth headsets. I had no trouble pairing with either. Sound quality through mono headphones was barely acceptable, as the quality problems I saw with normal phone calls was exacerbated by the Bluetooth radio. Volume was good, though, and hearing calls in my car was no problem. Music pushed to stereo Bluetooth headphones was loud, if a bit thin and tinny sounding.
The Spirit, as with other LG devices, has a handful of different lockscreen clock options, including a large digital one that's really easy to read from several feet away. 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.
The Spirit includes Google Maps, but not MetroNavigation. Google Maps is a powerful set of tools when it comes to routing directions and discovering nearby points of interest. The Spirit's GPS radio performed very well, and was able to quickly pinpoint my location to within 15-25 feet most of the time.
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