With solid performance, gorgeous design and some great software features, the Lucid 3 proves that LG hasn't forgotten the entry-level market.
With this week’s unveiling of the super-spec’d G3, it’s easy to forget that LG made a name for itself in the Android world with budget-friendly, entry-level devices. Even today, despite its status alongside Samsung and Apple as one of the leading names in mobile technology, LG hasn’t forgotten the budget-conscious market that catapulted it to success.
Enter the LG Lucid 3, the third addition to the Verizon-exclusive Lucid line that blends the high-end style of LG’s G flagship series with lower-end components and internals. The result is a solid, well-built smartphone that costs nothing with a two year contract.
But the Lucid line has always been a victim of its own design – impressive for its price tag, yet disappointing compared to its better-equipped siblings – and the Lucid 3 is no different. It might be just the LG you and your wallet are looking for, as long as you haven’t spent the week drooling over the G3.
Inside this review: Hardware review | Software review | Camera review | Conclusion
LG has always put some TLC into the Lucid’s design, and I’m glad to see they’re continuing the tradition. This time, however, LG opted to overhaul its design language entirely, and the result is a device that’s gorgeous and sturdy while never revealing its budget-friendly background.
Borrowing cues from last year’s G2, the Lucid 3 has a sleek, rounded back (without the rear buttons) made of a sturdy, albeit smudgy plastic. It’s a departure from the boxy and flat design of the Lucid and Lucid 2, and puts to good use the lessons learned from last summer’s popular flagship. This is the most gorgeous Lucid yet.
This is the most gorgeous Lucid yet.
Around front, the Lucid 3 introduces a physical home button ala its G Pro, a refreshing addition that adds both functionality and, with its colorful light-up notification capabilities, style. Flanking the button are the back and menu soft keys that similarly priced devices still can’t seem to shake.
The Lucid line’s Achilles heel has always been its display, and here on the Lucid 3, it’s more noticeable than ever before. At 4.7 inches, up from the 4.3 inches of the Lucid 2, it’s incredibly comfortable to navigate with either one or two hands; at a paltry qHD 960x540 resolution, it’s incredibly pixelated and washed out. We would have really liked to see a bump in pixel density here, though the inclusion of Gorilla Glass 3 soothes our disappointment ever so slightly.
Underneath the hood is a different story entirely. Sure, corners were cut, but with a 1.2 GHz quad-core processor and 1GB of RAM that produce remarkably speedy performance, it’s difficult to be too disappointed. The Lucid 3 can handle multitasking, HD gaming, photo editing, and video processing with agility that’s both surprising and welcome.
Finally, the Lucid 3 packs a 2,440 mAh removable battery rated for up to 12.5 hours of usage or 15 days in standby. Real time usage was impressive and easily blows past Lucid models out of the water: I was able to make it through a long workday, a post-work happy hour, and some at-home TV time before needing to plug in. That’s about 15 hours of moderate usage without needing a charge. This is the type of stamina that LG does very, very well.
While LG will be updating its custom skin with the release of the G3, the Lucid 3 still packs the previous version, which we found both capable and accessible on last year’s G2, G Pro, and G Pad.
Atop Android 4.2 KitKat and powered by the quad-core processor, LG’s software is as smooth as ever here on the Lucid 3. And while LG hasn’t added any software features, it hasn’t dropped any, either: you’ll find all of LG’s flagship worthy tricks, including QSlide, Quick Memo, and even the wonderful Knock Knock, present on the Lucid 3.
Most will agree that LG’s skin is overdue for an upgrade, and though it isn’t certain at this time whether or not the Lucid 3 will receive a bump up to the G3’s newest software suite, rest assured that what it’s currently packing gets the job done quite well.
The gap between LG’s flagship optics and its non-flagship optics is wide, which is bad news for shutterbugs considering the Lucid 3. With only 5 megapixels and no optical stabilization to work with, the Lucid 3’s camera struggles to produce passable photos in anything less than beautiful lighting conditions. The good news is that when conditions are ideal, the Lucid 3 is actually capable of some vivid, crisp, impressive shots.
What makes the Lucid 3’s camera disappointing, though, is knowing what LG is capable of in this department. We’ve seen incredible performance on its last two flagships, so we were hoping in vain that some of the technology would trickle down the pipeline. That’s simply not the case here.
Ask Samsung, Motorola, HTC and Apple and they’ll likely all agree: success isn’t ade with flagships alone, but with a strong lineup of budget-friendly devices aimed at the millions of customers who aren’t willing to drop $200 on a smartphone every year. This is a philosophy that LG has subscribed to since it entered the Android market, and I’m happy to say they still believe in it.
The Lucid 3 is an excellent device that proves that even without fanfare and major marketing campaigns, LG can still impress. It’s a gorgeously built device that blurs the line between premium and budget design language, borrowing all the right parts from last year’s G2 to completely revamp and revitalize the Lucid line. This is LG’s best-looking budget smartphone yet.
The Lucid 3 is an excellent device that proves that even without fanfare and major marketing campaigns, LG can still impress.
While I love the Lucid 3’s performance and battery life, its display is a bit underwhelming, despite the much-needed bump in size. I was also pretty disappointed in the Lucid 3’s camera, which I had a really difficult time tweaking to produce a decent photo.
All these things would earn the Lucid 3 a recommendation on their own, but paired with a price tag of $0 on contract, that recommendation suddenly becomes emphatic. Outside of the Moto G on Verizon’s prepaid service, this is by and large the best budget-friendly option on Big Red’s shelves today. For those willing to jump up to the next price level, the LG G2 adds a better camera and a much better display for just $100 more. For those who want a free device and aren’t afraid of signing a contract, though, the Lucid 3 simply cannot be beat.