LG Revolution

What's one more LTE phone, more or less? That almost seems to be the case with the LG Revolution on Verizon. It makes up the triad that is Verizon's LTE smartphone stable, along with the HTC ThunderBolt and Samsung Droid Charge.

We've long crowed about LG's capability as a high-end smartphone manufacturer, despite the fact that it's taken half of forever for it to break through in the United States, having until recently been limited to low- to mid-level devices. But make no mistake about it -- the LG Revolution is far from a low-end device.

But that doesn't mean we don't have questions. Where, exactly, does the Revolution fit into things? And will a single "feature" doom it to obscurity like it has other devices? Read on, past the break.

LG Revolution SpecsLG Revolution Forums | LG Revolution Accessories

Initial hands-on


YouTube link for mobile viewing

The hardware

There are black slabs, and there are black slabs. And they don't get much more black-slabbish than the LG Revolution. OK, maybe the LG Optimus Black. But that's another story.

What you've got in the Revolution is a 4.3-inch Android 2.2 device with 4G LTE data and Google services stripped out in favor of Microsoft's Bing. (Gasp!) This is hardly the first time we've seen this done -- think back to the Samsung Fascinate, the aborted HTC Merge, the Samsung Gem, and so on and so forth.

LG RevolutionLG Revolution

The front of the Revolution is made up of the touchscreen, four capacitive buttons (they're stenciled and backlit, so you can see them all the time), the earpiece and front-facing 1.3-megapixel camera. There's a hidden notification light that we find ourselves wanting to smack for bad behavior. Instead of the usual blinking you've come to know from most notification lights, the Revolution's is just on. It's a piercing blue color, too, when you've got a notification waiting. During the day, no big deal. But at night, it's damned annoying. It's as much the fact that it's just a constant beacon as it is the color and intensity.

LG RevolutionLG Revolution

The sides of the Revolution are nicely designed by LG. There's a thin chrome (OK, shiny silver plastic) strip that runs down the length of the phone. On the right-hand side you'll find the volume rocker and HDMI port. The microUSB port is on the left.

LG Revolution

Both ports are shielded by a little door, which fits quite nicely and needs a fingernail to be opened. That's a great feature for the HDMI port, so you can keep dust and dirt out when it's not in use. And chances are you might not be doing a lot of HDMI output.

LG Revolution

But one port that will be used a lot is the microUSB port, for charging the phone. As we noted, the Revolution is an LTE device. And LTE devices are well known by now for being power-hungry when sucking down all that 4G data. The Revolution is no exception. That's despite it having a 1500mAh battery, which you'll find tucked under the easily removed battery cover. You'll also find a spring-loaded 16GB microSD card and 4G LTE SIM card under there, and the rear-facing 5MP camera and flash are on the back, too.

LG Revolution

Put it this way: We managed to burn through most of the LG Revolution's battery by lunchtime one day. And then another day. And then another. Not exactly an aberration for an LTE device, but not not exactly welcome, either. And just like Verizon's other LTE devices, there's easy no way to toggle between 3G and 4G without downloading an app. Our suggestion: Connect to Wifi whenever possible.

There's really not much more to say about the hardware. It's a simple design -- no moving parts save for the covers on the microUSB and HDMI ports. The phone itself is fairly large -- LTE devices tend to be so. It's just a tad over 5 inches tall, is 2.6 inches wide and 0.52 inches thick, weighing a tad over 6 ounces. Basically, it's a slightly taller HTC ThunderBolt -- and much more black.

Under the hood, the LG Revolution sports a single-core 1GHz Qualcomm processor, with 512MB of RAM. It's certainly plenty fast enough when tooling around the user interface.

Like a few other phones we've seen, it's got an internal SD card as well as the user-removable microSD card. The former has 12 GB, while the latter has 16GB of storage. A side-effect to this is that when you connect the Revolution to a computer via mass storage mode, you'll see two drives.

Software

Speaking of the user interface on the Revolution -- it's got LG's custom UI, which looks and feels a lot like Samsung's, still. Not that that's a bad thing, and you can always install a custom launcher if you want.

LG Revolution

On the second home screen from the left, you'll find a cool scrollable widget for flipping through your media. There's one for photos, videos, music albums, artists and playlists. Pretty slick.

LG RevolutionThe Revolution also has LG's custom app drawer, which lets you sort apps by category. Apps of note that are preloaded (whether you like it or not): Amazon Kindle, Blockbuster, Let's Golf 2, Rhapsody, TuneWiki, City ID, a Voice Recorder, and the various Verizon VCAST Apps.

Really, standard fare on a smartphone.

But let's talk for a minute about the elephant in the room. The Revolution has been Binged. It's had some of its Google services -- search and maps are the most noticeable -- stripped out and replaced by Microsoft Bing. As we've said plenty of times before, we're not exactly fans of this, even if we do understand that it's a business decision made by Verizon. Question is, would an average consumer even notice? Probably not. And Bing is a perfectly capable app. And search engine. But it has no business being integrated into an Android phone.

Again, the Revolution is running Android 2.2 Froyo. That's a shame, but not really surprising, considering it was one of the phones first announced at CES way back in January 2011. We fully expect it to be upgraded to Gingerbread before it's put out to pasture.

The camera

 LG Revolution Camera app

The camera app on the LG Revolution is decent enough. You've got a quick toggle between the still and video modes, as well as the front and rear camera. The on-screen buttons rotate as you rotate the phone.

Still pictures can be taken in up to a 5-megapixel resolution (2593x1944). Video will shoot up to 720p.

Pictures below open in full resolution in a new window.

LG Revolution camera testLG Revolution camera test

LG Revolution camera testLG Revolution camera test


Youtube link for mobile viewing

Other odds and ends

The wrap-up

For all intents and purposes, the LG Revolution is pretty good Android smartphone. We just keep asking ourselves where it fits into Verizon's lineup. It's a big black slab of an LTE phone, all right. But so's the HTC ThunderBolt. So how's it different? LG's hardware build is top-notch, and we like its software customizations. But where's the selling point? Is it Bing? Is the inclusion of Microsoft's search and mapping services on an Android smartphone going to sell it? We certainly hope not.

 
There are 23 comments

mrrobotanger says:

Meh. That being said, I don't see a problem with having more choices.

WarrenMSP says:

After the G2X debacle, I would never purchase nor recommend an LG phone to anyone.

I'm not sure to blame LG or T-Mobile but the G2x was a real disappointment.And it seems T-Mobile has "moved on" and focused on the Sensation as being it's flagship Android device.

So how exactly does Maps loading Bing work? Does this mean you can't upgrade the Maps app via the Market to use any new goodies Google includes? Or does it just mean it works just like normal Maps but pulls the data from Bing instead?

And is Google Search not available at all?

threedaysale says:

And can it still do turn by turn navigation?

If I remember correctly from when I had my Samsung Fascinate (which had Bing Services), Bing Maps does not do turn by turn navigation. The reason for that is VZ Navigator was also loaded up onto the phone. However, just because it's Bing'ed, doesn't mean you can't install Google Maps with Navigation. Also, there should be a Google search APK that one should be able to load up onto the phone and you can have Google search. The problem is that the Search capacitive will always be tied to Bing Search. From what I've heard, this phone has an unlocked bootloader also, so ROM's that De-Bing/De-Bloat this guy should come pretty easy for this phone. Phil hit it on the head, Bing does not belong on a Google device...

oomatter says:

I'm pretty sure that the selling point for this phone is that it's the LTE phone with Netflix.

leoniv says:

Exactly. How on earth can there be a review of the LG Rev that doesn't test Netflix? What's up with that AC?

weasle543 says:

Played with one one theses at a VZW store, it's speedtest app results were consistantly the slowest of the 3 LTE phones. YMMV. Nice review Phil.

datboijon says:

There is an easy wash to toggle 4g without an app. It is under wireless and network settings,i first the exact menu after that, but I know it's there.

Yea,another LTE device where the first rule is:Find a WiFi network for data if you want your phone to last more than 6 hours. How can this be considered acceptable by Verizon?

Cyrilmak says:

Makes you wonder if Microcrap would be upset if Windows Phone 7 was "googleized", take out Bing and such and replace it with Google Search and Maps. I bet Microcrap would be in the court room faster than you could say court room.

Hand_O_Death says:

I was just thinking that. But I think it would be better if AT&T had a deal with them that all W7 phones were then stripped and covered in Yahoo Apps.

justinraged says:

This is the first smartphone I've ever owned and I'll say it's "Okay". Has rebooted on its own a few times, coincidentally right before I get a notification that there are updates available for my apps. Also the the scrollable media widget that Phil mentions tends to disappear & re-appear randomly. I live in a 4G area, so BL is okay as well. Visited a friend over the weekend and the 3G/4G flipping really, really sucks the BL down w/o even being used.

thaghost says:

if you are still within your buyer's remorse period, i suggest you return that phone immediately. many ppl went through that already with the LG G2x, including me. Lg has not been doing a good job with their phones. Tmobile claimed to have sold out of the G2x from their online store but we all know that it was pulled due to software issues and have yet to be restocked. Take it back to verizon.

grlla says:

ALL 4G LTE phones need to be dual core chipsets, and ALL 4G LTE phones need to be ready to handle data per their new price thumping.

Big Red is obviously not ready for 4G with this type of product in the marketplace.

And me holding on to my freeking XOOM for the 4G goodness. They can't even deliver the o/s upgrades to those of us who subsidized their foibles as 3G buyers. WIFI first? Come on already...(end rant).

TheANARCHY says:

Consider this the Fascinate for this year. I have a Fascinate so it's a take it or leave it type scenario. Phone is actually pretty good when I played with it in store. The dev community will have a field day killing Bing on this. So custom rom action will be vigorous and plentiful. Big colorful screen and LTE speed are really the only thing that will make you notice this. Otherwise it will quickly fade away. If only Verizon would just give us a pure Goggle phone aka the Nexus.

Wicell says:

Bing... Le Gasp.

snolds says:

I've had it for about 2 months now and I like it. Rooted, de-Binged and de-Bloated. Honestly it came down to this or the Thunderbolt and I liked the feel of the Revolution and the fact that it came preloaded with Netflix.

Aain says:

I've had this phone for two weeks and was about to return it. I went back to the store and realized that there really isn't anything better for me. Now, you might not want to take me seriously as it's my first smartphone, but hear me out.

* You CAN download Google and set it as the default.
* You CAN download Google Maps and get turn-by-turn directions
* Bing Maps does NOT provide turn-by-turn directions however it does provide some useful additional information depending on where you are and does a good job of extracting phone numbers to make it easy to call nearby merchants.
* NetFlix streams perfectly. I've seen others on 3G and it's pretty choppy.
* If you're in a 4G LTE area (like I am) there is no need to use Wi-Fi.
* Even though this is a single-core device, it responds quite quickly. The only time I've noticed any slowness is when I've asked it to download/install two apps while I was connecting the bluetooth. (Yeah, I expect a lot)
* I wouldn't mind rooting it and seeing how it responds, but I'm too much of a chicken to screw with my phone.

Here's what I like:

When you compare it to the other two 4G LTE phones it does not win any categories. However, the difference is that IT JUST WORKS. The HTC has way too many freezes, and there are far too many apps that 'force close' on it. I'm not saying that LG hasn't frozen; it has, but only twice.

While the screen is not qHD or S-AMOLED, it just works well. It responds to your finger faster than the others, without the delayed response.

The speedtests put this one dead last: 7 Mbps/5 Mbps, but that is fast enough. When using the HotSpot, though, my laptop gets 15/5 which is far better than my home connection. I signed up on 7/5/11 so I was able to get the Unlimited HotSpot for $30 grandfathered to me.

The battery is terrible on all the LTE phones. For that reason alone, I don't think it will be a massive success with the general public until it is worked out. Knowing that, I'm close to a charger most of the time (night stand, desk, and car charger). You can always spend $50 and get the 3000 mAh battery so it lasts all day, but keep in mind it will make it thicker.

The only reason I didn't choose the Samsung Charge was that I don't like all the curvy design. I prefer that 'squarish' look and the feel of the LG and HTC.

My biggest gripe is that my bluetooth crackles when the HotSpot is turned on. On those occasions, when I need to talk 'n' surf on my laptop, I'll need to use a wired headset.

I also take a lot of ribbing from my family in how long it takes me to respond to a text:

1. press power button
2. slide finger down scren
3. click the message
4. start typing

while they just open their phone (LG Octane) and start typing.

Jude526 says:

I know all to well about the contract Verizon has with Bing. Keep it on the Blackberry devices but on Android.......this is completely wrong. I will not use an Android device that sports Bing. I don't like BING and I think this is completely wrong. I don't think a Google Android device should be sporting Bing.

I am glad my Incredible has Google and I know the TB sports it and that is most likely the device I am upgrading with.

maryyugo says:

A friend has one of these and it has flaky notification alerts. In particular, the email alert sound works occasionally but not consistently so she can't always tell when a new email arrives. It's pretty important for her business. Anyone know if there is a fix? Anyone have the same problem?

She contacted Verizon and, as usual, drew a blank. The people answering the phones are often as bad the traditional audio store salespeople. Anything more complicated than how to turn the device on and off baffles them.

scrub101 says:

My wife has gone through two, yes two revolotion and I.m on my second, Verizon has been a let down with in store costumer sevice and help,at leastin the auburn.Wa