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Hands-On: LG Magna, Spirit, Leon, and Joy

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Mar 1, 2015, 8:45 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

LG used Mobile World Congress 2015 to kick off its new range of mid-tier devices. The Magna, Spirit, Leon, and Joy bring LG's high-end design aesthetic to affordable price points. They would do well for both pre-paid and post-paid carriers. Here are our first impressions.

LG announced a number of new devices in the week leading up to Mobile World Congress. Among them were the Magna, Spirit, Leon, and Joy smartphones. All four take queues from LG's high-end devices, like the G Flex 2, but they offer a more economical mix of materials, build quality, and features buried inside.

All four devices share the latest user interface from LG, which sits atop Android 5.0 Lollipop. The LG UI offers features such as Glance Screen, Knock Code and Knock On. All four devices have a 1.2GHz quad-core processor with 1GB of RAM and 8GB of internal storage.

The Magna is the biggest and most highly-equipped of the four. It has a 5-inch HD screen, 8-megaixel camera, 5-megapixel selfie cam, and a 2,540mAh battery. Like the LG G Flex 2, it has a subtle curve that purports to make the phone fit better in your hand. It also has LG's signature rear-mounted buttons, which means there are no controls along the outer edges. The rear-placed controls take some getting used to, but the quality was quite good. My thumb had not problem differentiating between the three and they all offered good travel and feedback. The buttons can be set to open select apps, such as the camera, with a long press if you wish. I liked the materials of the Magna overall, which are a solid mix of metals and plastics. The size and weight is certainly comfortable, and I had no trouble holding or using it. It's a bit think front-to-back, but it is hardly the fattest phone in the world. There phone tapers a little bit toward the outer edges, but only a little. The rear cover has a ribbed texture to it that makes noise when you rub your thumb up and down it. The 5-inch screen looks really good, which is something I've some to expect from LG's LCDs. The UI looks great on the bright display.


The Spirit is next in the lineup and is slightly smaller with a 4.7-inch 720p HD display. It has an 8-megapixel/1-megapixel camera configuration and a 2,100mAh battery. It is very much like the Magna, just a wee bit tinier. The Spirit's curve is more subtle than the Magna's, but still does its intended job of helping the phone sit deeper in the palm. The rear-placed buttons are identical to those of the Magna. I'm certain it's the exact same component. I liked the texture of the back surface, which was a bit different than the Magna's. Other than size, it is rather difficult to tell the two apart. I liked the screen, which is bright and sharp.


Magna and Spirit  

The Leon drops the screen down to 4.5 inches and it has an 8-megapixel/VGA camera configuration. Unlike the Magna and Spirit, the Leon is flat. It tries to fool you, though, with some curved design elements on the sides of the device. The materials are definitely a step down from those used in the Magna and Spirit, but they're not bad at all. The Leon keeps the back-mounted control buttons. They have a slightly different frame, which is smooth instead of sharp. The three buttons had a decent feel to them, but again not as solid as the buttons on the Magna and Spirit. The Leon is a good size, despite its front-to-back girth, and is nice and light. I w thought it was comfortable to hold and use, and it should fit easily into pockets thanks to its smooth back surface. LG hasn't said what the price points will be, but I imagine it will be very affordable.


Speaking of cheap, last up is the Joy, which is close to an entry-level phone. It is the smallest of the quartet with a 4-inch screen, 5-megapixel/VGA camera configuration, and a 1,900mAh battery. It is rather chunyk and uses the lowest-quality materials of the bunch. It feels much cheaper than even the Leon does, not to speak of the Magna and Spirit. The Joy's smaller, low-rez screen was plenty bright, and did a good job of making LG's user interface look nice. It was surprisingly zippy. The phone uses four capacitive buttons below the display to control the user interface, and there's an actual volume toggle on the left edge and screen lock button on the right edge. The capacitive keys all worked perfectly as did the volume toggle and screen lock buttons. This is the type of phone that will be free with a contract or very inexpensive if sold by Cricket or MetroPCS.


Leon and Joy  

About the author, Eric M. Zeman:

Eric has been covering the mobile telecommunications industry for 17 years at various print and online publications. He studied at Rutgers Newark and University of Kentucky, and has a degree in writing. He likes playing guitar, attending concerts, listening to music, and driving sports cars.


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