Review: LG Lucid 2 for Verizon Wireless
Mercifully, the L2 ships with little beyond the standard Google-made media apps on board. That includes Google Play Music/Books/Movies/Magazines, and the bare-bones MP3 and video player apps. The Google Play apps work on the L2 just as they do on other Android devices. They can be used to play back content purchased from the Google Play Store. The other two apps are age-old and perfunctory at best. They work, but don't offer thrills nor frills.
The only other apps/service on board are the Amazon MP3 store/app, Amazon Kindle app, and Audible for book listening. On, and of course, YouTube.
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When you want to share your media, there are two media-sharing apps on board. There's FileShare, which uses Wi-Fi Direct to push content between two cell phones. There's also SmartShare, which also uses DLNA to push content and files to other DLNA-compatible equipment, such as home theater equipment.
The L2 has a camera app that resembles the stock Android 4.1 one, with a few extras tossed in by LG. It can be opened from the lock screen and pops up quickly.
The viewfinder fills about three-quarters of the screen and is framed by control strips on either side. It supports touch-to-focus, but you still have to press the on-screen shutter button in order to take a picture.
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 L2 also includes LG's Time Catch Shot and Cheese Shutter features. Other controls include setting several scenes (portrait, landscape, sports, sunset, etc.), face tracking and so on. You can also choose which shortcuts are listed in the control strip on the left side, which is offers a nice bit of customization.
I found the camera to be quick all around. It launched quickly, and was able to focus and capture images in a blink.
The L2's 5-megapixel camera does a fine job for this class of device. I found the bulk of images were in focus, had accurate white balance, and were correctly exposed. The only real problem I saw was inconsistent white balance, which sometimes affected the results. That said, even indoor shots were sharp and clear of grain. Shots taken outdoors looked really good. You really can't ask for much more when you consider the L2's price point.
Video results are just as good as camera results. The L2 shoots at 1080p max resolution and I was pleased with video I captured. As with the regular camera, video was in focus, properly exposed, and had good color. The video was blessedly clear of wobbles and shakes when panned about, and consistently produced YouTube-worthy footage.
The gallery is the stock Android 4.1 application, which will connect with various online photo accounts and let you access them all from the device's drop-down albums tool. Photos can be viewed by album or in one massive grid that's arranged by date.
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 L2, 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 L2 ships with just the Google Chrome browser. It is a fine browser for rendering web pages and surfing the mobile internet. I like the way it organizes tabs and ties into your desktop version of Chrome. Alternatives are available for download in the Play Store. In terms of speed, the L2 never let me down. The browser always delivered web sites in a jiffy.
As with all Verizon Wireless smartphones, the L2 has its fair share of bloatware. Some of the junk Verizon stuffed onto the L2 includes the Amazon App Store, IMDb, My Verizon Mobile, Polaris Office, Richnote (a really, really toned down version of LG's QuickNote app), Verizon Tones, VZ Navigator, VZ Security, and Zappos (what?!). Some of these can be deactivated, but I was unable to fully remove them. The device still leaves a about 4.5GB of user-accessible storage, but I can't stand un-deletable apps.
The L2 supports mono and stereo Bluetooth headsets. I had no trouble pairing with either. Sound quality through mono headphones was quite good in terms of both volume and clarity. Hearing calls via my car's hands-free system was no problem. Music pushed to stereo Bluetooth headphones was loud, if a bit flat-sounding.
The L2, 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 L2 includes Google Maps and VZ Navigator. Google Maps has become quite an excellent app for free navigation. Why Verizon bothers putting its own $10-per-month app on board is anyone's guess (does it hope to score accidental one-month subscriptions by those who don't know any better?) All that said, the GPS radio, in coordination with other location services on the L2 make it an excellent navigation tool. It located me in mere seconds and was accurate to within about 25 feet.
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