Lucid 2.

Don't just pass this one by - Verizon's potentially got a sleeper hit on its hands with the LG Lucid 2

With a fanfare-free launch, a budget-friendly price tag, and modest specs, you wouldn’t think that the Lucid 2 means a lot for Verizon’s portfolio; in the shadow of some of the greatest Android devices ever created, it’s easy to overlook LG’s latest entry as just another filler in Big Red’s lineup.

Think again.

Not only is the Lucid 2 a spectacular device, it marks a major step in the evolution of Android. The days of having to fork over $200 for a decent Android smartphone are long gone, and the fact that this remains true even on the largest (and most expensive) wireless carrier in America is a bigger deal than you think.

The Good

The Lucid 2 shines both inside and out: the 4.3-inch display is both beautiful and pocket-friendly, while the Snapdragon S4 Plus and Jelly Bean brainpower provide snappy performance.

 

The Bad

The Lucid 2 doesn't have the premium build quality that today's flagships exhibit, and its camera is pretty bare-bones. The wireless charging capability is cool in theory but fails miserably in reality.

Conclusion

The Lucid 2 is exciting in many ways-- not only is it free on contract, but it's a great device that's free on contract. It's lacking some of the bells and whistles that other phones justify their $200 and $300 price tags with, but for the average consumer, and specifically the budget-conscious buyer, the Lucid 2 offers a well-rounded package that's hard not to recommend.

Inside this review

More info

 

LG Lucid 2 hardware

Lucid 2.

LG has made significant strides in the past year to reestablish itself as a major Android OEM, and luckily for consumers its focus has been shared between its top, middle, and bottom shelves. As impressive as the Optimus G was for a flagship device, the Lucid 2 is equally as impressive for an mid-range smartphone. This is one hell of a device, despite what its $0 price tag might imply.

On the hardware side of things, the Lucid 2 merges an eye-catching design with a healthy, albeit price-appropriate, build quality to create a device that’s easy on the eyes and comfortable in the hand. The deep black bezel lends a sense of sophistication to the Lucid 2, as does the silver grills slashed down the sides. The removable battery door is made of a textured plastic that feels both sturdy and grip-friendly, though prying it off tends to be an exercise in patience. Once removed, you’ll find the Lucid 2’s power supply,a  microSIM slot, and an SD card holster capable of handling up to 64GBs.

Where I was really impressed with the Lucid 2 was its size—at 4.82 x 2.51 inches housing a 4.3-inch display, LG has finally created a solid Android device that can be comfortably used with one hand. There’s no awkward reaching here, no accidental dropping thanks to fondling and mishandling; just a beautiful smartphone that acts, looks, and feels like a smartphone.

Lucid 2. Lucid 2.Lucid 2. Lucid 2.

Those who are shy about “downgrading” to a smaller screen size are in for a pleasant surprise—today’s 4.3-inch displays are leaps and bounds better than they were a year ago, thanks to the ever-shrinking bezel. And with a surprisingly-gorgeous 540 x 960 qHD resolution and 256ppi, the Lucid 2 isn’t going to make you yearn for more real estate. Thanks to LG’s IPS technology,  colors are accurate, viewing angles are superb, and saturation is both vibrant and balanced—this isn’t the best screen money can buy, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s simply gorgeous, and does a beautiful job for its size and resolution. I do wish direct sunlight viewing would have been better, but this is a snag that even $300 smartphones are still having a hard time avoiding.

The Lucid 2 is just as fun under the hood, packing a 1.2 GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 Plus processor paired with  a full gig of RAM and 8 GB of internal storage. Yes, that’s right—the Lucid 2 has the same brainpower as the RAZR HD and HTC One X that you paid $200 for last year. In terms of real-world performance, the Lucid 2 performs just as admirably as yesterday’s flagships: navigation is swift and stutter-free, 2D and 3D graphics are rich with texture and clarity, and multitasking is effortless. The specs may no longer be the cream of the crop, but that doesn’t mean they perform any less impressively as they did yesterday.

To power all that horsepower, the Lucid 2 ships with a standard 2,460 mAH li-ion battery, which gratefully doesn’t add much girth to the device’s slim .39-inch waistline. It performed remarkably well, too: I sailed through my entire day without a sweat with light-to-moderate usage. With the screen at 100%, background data at full-blast, and the majority of emails received and replied from the device, I was looking for a charger by around 8 p.m., having used the Lucid 2 since around 7 a.m. I didn’t set up a continuous loop of 1080p video (which the Lucid 2 plays without a hitch) to prove my findings because, quite frankly, I find that to be stupid, but for 90% of users, the Lucid 2’s battery is ample.

Lucid 2.

For those who will push the Lucid 2 to the limit, the device does support inductive charging through a separately-sold backplate and charging pad. Neither are available at Verizon stores just yet, but don’t get your hopes up: the backplate adds considerable girth to the phone, so much so that it feels almost obtrusive when compared to the standard battery door.  On top of that, charging the device from empty to full on LG’s pad takes hours longer than using a standard USB cable. While some may find fun in the novelty of wireless charging, most will recognize it for a fad not quite ready for primetime. 

Lucid 2.

LG Lucid 2 Software

Lucid 2.

The Lucid 2 ships with Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean. Take that in for a minute—a mid-range device that ships with Jelly Bean out of the box. What a beautiful world we live in. It’s nice to see OEMs taking Android updates more seriously, especially LG, who had previously been known for its slow adoption rate. Layered underneath LG’s Optimus UI, Jelly Bean performs admirably here, despite the at-times overly-animated topcoat. I’ve never been a huge fan of the Optimus UI, namely due to its less-than-sophisticated look and feel, though I’ll happily admit that it’s growing on me and seems less and less obtrusive with every revision.

LG’s built-in goodies are here, including its impressive video editor, its file share service, and its signature Quickmemo, the on-screen note taking answer to Samsung's S-Memo. While it isn’t as fun to use without a stylus, it’s just as effective and useful here, and we’re thrilled that LG has made a conscious effort to share the wealth with even the rookies in its lineup.  

Lucid 2.

On an interesting note, I did have to wonder whether the Lucid 2 made it out of the kitchen without Verizon noticing, as it’s lacking a lot of Big Red’s dreaded bloatware. Amazon’s suite is here, as is VZ Navigator and Security, but overall, a lot of bloatware didn’t make it onto the Lucid 2. 

The Lucid 2 cameras

Lucid 2.

Despite how far entry-level and mid-range smartphones have come in the past year, the divide between these products and flagship devices is nowhere more noticeable than in their cameras.  And that’s understandable—yesterday’s flagships, whose specs are finally making their way down the ladder, still suffered from less-than-stellar optics. Unfortunately, this is the all-too-true case with LG’s hardware, which has notoriously suffered from poor camera quality.

This fact rings true on the Lucid 2, though keeping the phone’s price tag in mind takes some of the sting away from its disappointing camera. It is by no means incapable; in ideal conditions, photos are saturated, color-accurate, and noise-free, and the 720p videos are relatively steady and crisp. It’s the less-than-ideal conditions that are a hurdle for the Lucid 2’s 5MP shooter—low-light situations and moving subjects consistently cause flawed photo and video.

It is worth noting that LG has done a phenomenal job with the camera’s interface and overall performance—shutter lag is absent and focusing as quick and seamless. The Lucid 2i also packs some of LG’s innovative features included on the likes of the Optimus G and Verizon’s Intuition, like the company’s now-signature “Cheese Shot” voice-activated shutter, though don’t expect to find the filters, editing software, and other high-end goodies that HTC and Samsung has spoiled us with.

 Android Central Android CentralAndroid Central Android CentralAndroid Central Android CentralAndroid Central Android Central

The bottom line

Lucid 2.

Call me crazy, but I can say with complete and utter honesty that I find the Lucid 2 to be more exciting than the Galaxy S 4 and HTC One combined. For $200-$300 on contract, the sky is the limit—the real challenge is bringing an admirable, fun-and-easy to use device to market with an affordable pricetag. LG has done just that. I’ve been screaming at the top of my lungs all year that 2013 marks a major milestone in the history of Android, and the Lucid 2 reiterates my feelings. We’ve finally gotten to a point where entry and mid-range devices combine performance and design in a way previously reserved for flagships, and that is really, truly exciting.

The Lucid 2 is hard not to recommend—it’s got lightning-fast performance thanks to its super-powered processor and up-to-date software, a stylish design, a stunning display, and a bionic battery. It’s a no-brainer for those who loved the OG Lucid thanks to the improved display and software—this is a worthy upgrade. And for those unable or unwilling to drop money on a new smartphone, you can rest assured that you can sign another upgrade and not worry about having an obsolete brick in a year.

You can buy a better display, or a more beefed-up processor, or even a more eye-catching design, but all of those things require your hard earned money. The Lucid 2 does not. For a fully-subsidized device, the Lucid 2 stuns, and should be on your shortlist no matter what your budget may be.

 

Reader comments

LG Lucid 2 review

22 Comments

Actually, you forgot the best part. For people looking for a nice phone with no commitment the $350 no contract price is unbeatable (especially against it's closest competitor - the
Droid Razr M - same specs, free on contract and $549 off contract). I've been looking for a decent 4.3 inch phone since I got the GS3 which I found too large out of the box and still too large 10 months later. I don't have any upgrades, couldn't use them if I wanted since I have a grandfathered unlimited plan and was curious about this phone since it was announced. I'm definitely going to be taking a close look at this one. One question - did you try a higher quality charger like the Nokia one - it's a little larger and may cover a lot more surface area of the phone thereby improving the charging rate. How much thicker is the phone with the new back cover because I don't consider wireless charging to be a gimmick. Thanks for the review.

Agreed that wireless charging is not a gimmick. It sounds like the review author is reporting for his personal use case, one where he is out and about all day, and when home wants quick recharges. For users that are mostly in one place, near the charger, it's a luxury to just place the phone on the charger whenever it's not being used, and simply pick it up off the charger when needed.

Per some other review, the inductive charging back is thick enough that when using it, the phone won't fit in the desk charging dock. I have a similar situation with my LG Revolution's inductive charging back and desk dock. It's like having an extended battery back. Bulky, but for the convenience, I use it mostly. Going out for the day, I might switch backs.

EDIT: Re: Size of wireless charging back:
There's a picture in this review of two phones with the two different backs just above the section "LG Lucid 2 Software."

EDIT 2: Re: the power of the LG wireless charger vs. the Nokia one:
There's one Amazon customer review of the small WCP-300 LG wireless charger (sorry, this site won't let me link), that says "The charger seems to be more powerful than the Nokia Qi plate. I have measured the current draw, and it pulls up to 900mA from a good USB charger."

Me three.

The current plan for me is to hand my GSIII down to my wife and get the GSIV, but honestly I'd be fine keeping the GSIII if one of the smaller phones like the M or this one suited her better.

-Suntan

From specs/reviews (I have neither):

- Both are 8GB internal with SD slots, except the Razr M doesn't allow app-to-SD.
- Lucid 2 has a removable battery.
- Lucid 2 has inductive charging with separate (thick) back (which causes the phone to not fit in the desk charging dock).
- Lucid 2 has a full-time 4.3" display, which the Razr M's 4.3" screen has some portion (~0.3") of the bottom of the screen covered by the virtual navigation buttons that pop up in most uses.
- Razr M feels more substantial.
- both are dual core, 1 GB of RAM.

EDIT:
- Razr M has NFC.
- Raxr M has the apt-X bluetooth codec (wired-like sound if you have apt-X bluetooth headphones/speakers).
- Razr M has international-ready cellular radios.

Lucid 2 does not allow app-to-SD either. Other than that (and I consider that a major deal) it's a nice phone.

"While some may find fun in the novelty of wireless charging, most will recognize it for a fad not quite ready for primetime. "

how is it that Palm got this right half a decade ago and no one else can...

I honestly think they write jabs like that specifically to get the post-pre folk whipped up.

-Suntan

Spectrum 2 has
- Ice Cream Sandwich (vs. Jellybean),
- 16GB internal (vs. 8GB),
- inductive charging back included (and thin)
- 4.7" vs. 4.3"
- larger size (I had a [defective] Spectrum 2 for a bit and didn't like the length)
- optional leather sleeve that has a 2"x2" window that displays clock, alerts, music, incoming call. Otherwise, they both offer the same accessories, though the Spectrum 2's desk dock is hard to find.
- 8 megapixel camera (vs. 5)

Both are dual core, 1GB of RAM.

EDIT:
- Spectrum 2 has NFC.
- Spectrum 2 has international-ready cellular radios.

When I first heard that the lucid 2 was coming out I thought "ugh, why?" But after reading more about it I'm actually really excited about it. I really didn't expect it to be so impressive and I was really surprised to hear it was coming with jelly bean. I completely agree with the first poster. The off contract price is amazing considering the specs. I'm not planning to buy this phone myself but I will definitely recommend it, especially to first time smartphone users and those who aren't interested in the world of giant screens.

Actually just got this phone for my son as his first phone. Haven't played around with it much but he's in absolute heaven with it. Not a bad phone though given it's free on contract.

It's not very useful or accurate to say that this phone has a pricetag of $0, or that high-end smartphones go for $200-300. These values aren't the price of the phone, they're the first payments due on a two-year contract for certain carriers. I think it's better to include only the off-contract price -- it makes more sense for an international audience.

You can't compare it to the HTC One in terms of innovation (metal body, camera, front-facing speakers), after all it's a level above (high-range/flagship device).

But Lucid 2 is really THE mid-range device this year, it's Optimus F5 with higher battery! It really sets a new base for other manufactures to beat.

We should not forget that phones like LG Optimus L3 II still exist unfortunately. I dream someday all entry-level price tag devices will be at least as good as F5/Lucid 2

I just picked up this phone off contract for $350. I am really surprised at the speed and compactness of the phone.

I don't have a problem keeping open 8 tabs on firefox. It's light. I went from an LG revolution which was a brick of a device but indestructible. I have an iphone 5 and gIII in front of me.

It's about as light as the iphone 5 and the screen is longer. Battery life seems really good (charges slow). It runs javascript and jquery really fast. I have built a few phone gap and native android applications and the performance is faster and more responsive compared to the s3. Also watching video in the browser window is surprisingly hiccup free.

Disadvantages. Call quality not bad but kind of tinny. Also the screen kind of has lines on it if you look closely (a feature of cheaper phones). The 4G might be kind of slow. In an unscientific test I was previously getting 30 megabits per second on the LG Revolution but only 8 megabits for second in the exact same area (should warrant some additional investigation).

Overall a great phone considering the price. I have a nexus 7 tablet and feel that it is only slightly faster with firefox. It runs my phonegap application faster than the nexus 7 there has to be some sort of javascript enhancement. Also scrolling through 100's of html div elements and images is really fast.

Great review (as was the androidcentral's). Especially relevant to me, as I'm contemplating the same off-contract move, ditching my LG Revolution for this, mainly for the 1GB of RAM and slightly smaller size. Although I'm not too eager to hear calls sound tinnier, nor 4G be (possibly) worse.

If you don't mind, what was it that made you switch (sounds like it was voluntary, since your Revo was "indestructible").

EDIT: Do you miss the slightly wider screen of the LG Revolution?

Hi thanks. I did some other tests today. My friend has an HTC DNA (quad core, hd display). Yes, it has a huge screen and faster processor. However, this is the same conundrum as a original macbook pro vs one with a retina display. The hardware has to do a significant amount of extra work to power the HD display and more viewable area. So we both used google maps at the same time. When swiping two fingers to put the map into 3d mode, the DNA lagged out slightly more than the Lucid 2 (with repeated tests). This shouldn't happen from a more expensive phone. Also, I had 14 active programs while my friend claims that the DNA limits this to 8.

Yes, initially I missed the larger screen of the Revolution but the pixel density of the new lucid 2 is much better. With the faster processor, its very easy to instantly zoom in on a webpage to read anything if its too small. The weight is another thing. Its almost impossible to tell that its in your pocket and you will appreciate the smaller size. While the camera is only 5 megapixels, by holding down the capture button, it takes multiple photos in succession faster than every second.

Yes, the Revolution is still working fine and it will make a great testing device as a large portion of android users are still using 2.2+ versions.

I switched because I wanted an upgrade. I do not regret this decision. My mobile productivity has increased at least 2 times. I am able to read word documents and write emails very quickly. I highly recommend the upgrade.

Wow, thanks once again for the great info.

You saying "My mobile productivity has increased at least 2 times" was the clincher. I pulled the trigger on one (albeit an eBay used one). It's been all too often that I'm simply waiting for my old phone to respond.

I just rooted my Revo, intending to do the very slow dance for de-bloating: freeze-single-app-for-a-week, then uninstall if no problems. But all this effort and time and tinkering spent on a device (I probably check "Running Services" a dozen times a day)? Life is too short.

Thanks again for your help, much appreciated.