The saying goes that there's strength in numbers and Android certainly has that on its side. The variety of Android phones on the market is a huge bonus for consumers because it makes it easy to get a phone that matches what you want, whether it's a certain brand, certain features, or a price range. You don't have $200-300? No problem, there are several inexpensive Android phones that offer great features and performance for a low price. The LG Lucid is one of those. For eighty bucks on contract, you get a 4-inch WVGA display, a 1.2 GHz dual-core processor, a 5-megapixel camera that captures 1080p HD video, and 4G LTE on Verizon's network. There are some areas where LG has cut a few corners to lower the cost, but the Lucid offers an overall terrific experience for a low price.
Design & Features
Due to the LTE technology, the Lucid is a pretty thick phone. At .45-inches thick and weighing 5 ounces, you're going to feel it in your hand, pocket, or purse. Despite that, LG has done a great job of making the Lucid look attractive. It's made entirely out of plastic, but the back panel has an interesting dark-red gradient print that darkens towards the edges of the phone. All of the edges are rounded and curved to eliminate as much bulk as possible. The phone measures 4.69-inches tall, 2.45-inches wide, and .45-inches thick.
The volume rocker buttons and microUSB port are on the left side of the phone; the Power/Screen lock button is on the top right side of the phone; and the 3.5mm headphone jack is on the top of the phone. Underneath the battery cover is the 1700 mAh battery, a SIM card slot for the LTE card, and the microSD card slot. The phone does not ship with a card but it does include 8GB of internal storage.
On the front of the phone is a 4-inch touchscreen made with Gorilla Glass. This display has a resolution of 480 x 800 pixels. It's fairly clear and very bright, but you will notice some pixelation on text and graphics. The screen itself is responsive and I had no problems with scrolling or sliding across it. A 4-inch display is often described as the "sweet spot" between a large, 4.5+-inch display and a small, 3.5-inch display. Directly above the screen is a front-facing VGA camera.
Usability & Performance
The Lucid ships with Android 2.3 but LG says that it is upgradeable to Android 4.0. We don't know when it will be updated and there's a chance that LG is simply posturing for appearance's sake, but at least the statement has been made. On top of Android, LG has included its own UI. I'm typically more forgiving to Android UIs since I enjoy all of the colors and designs they add, whereas stock Android tends to be dull, but LG's UI is definitely one of my least favorites. Think TouchWiz 3.0 (original Samsung Galaxy S) but even less refined and more cartoonish. It's a scary thought, right? That's not to say that you won't like it. It's all about visuals and everyone is different. You may pick up the Lucid and think it looks great. However, I have a feeling that most people will relate it to a Fisher Price toy. All of the big shapes with bright colors are just too much for me.
LG has included a few custom widgets and the interface for adding shortcuts and widgets has also been customized. Among these custom widgets are App Manager, Email, Dialer, Finance, In Touch, Today+, Weather, and more. Dialer is a full-page widget that's, well, a dialer. This is definitely a unique feature. In Touch is a full-page carousel widget with thumbnails and shortcuts to Videos, Photos, and your music. Today+ aggregates news, weather, and finance info along with your calendar and a note pad. This is actually a very useful widget. The app drawer can be divided into categories or viewed as a list. The dock at the bottom of the home screen can also be customized with three shortcuts of your choice. In the notification pane, there are four toggles that can be customized. The Wi-Fi toggle is displayed as a full-length bar - somewhat oversized and gaudy if you ask me. LG has included its custom virtual keyboard and Swype.
Under the hood, you've got a 1.2 GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S3 processor along with 1GB of RAM. Performance has been great. I've experienced very little lag while testing the phone, even when running multiple applications at once. Scrolling, pinch-to-zoom, and multi-tasking are all smooth. The Lucid scored a 2,309 on the Quadrant Standard test, a 5,252 on the AnTuTu Benchmark test, and recorded 35.659 MFLOPS in 2.35 seconds on a single thread Linpack test and 68.066 MFLOPS in 2.48 seconds on a multi-thread test.
I was mildly impressed by the Lucid's camera - a 5-megapixel shooter with autofocus and an LED flash. It's certainly not the best quality lens so the pictures are slightly fuzzy and grainy, but the colors look great. For an inexpensive phone like the Lucid, you can't expect to have amazing picture quality but I felt like the photos produced by its camera were good enough. They lacked detail but made up for it in other areas. The camera also has a quick shutter. It's not the "zero shutter lag" feature that we're seeing on a lot of new phones, but it was close to it. The Lucid's camera captures 1080p HD video, but the quality was not impressive at all. The audio sounded one-dimensional with no depth and the video lacked detail. In short, don't plan on using the Lucid to replace your point-and-shoot camera like you may be able to do with other high-end phones on the market.
The Lucid is an LTE phone on Verizon's 4G network. I have a history of excellent data speeds while testing Verizon phones in the area where I live and work and the Lucid has lived up to those standards. I'm averaging 20 Mbps for downloads and 12 Mbps for uploads. These are absolutely fantastic and even the lows of 8-10 Mbps are better than the data speeds I've recorded with other phones on other carriers. Keep in mind that data speeds will vary greatly depending on coverage in your area, but I've been impressed by the Lucid in my testing.
Battery life will vary from person to person depending on usage habits. With mild use I managed to get through about one full day before I had to charge it. With heavier use, I had to charge the battery before the end of the day. LTE has a history of draining batteries pretty quickly and I fear that the 1700 mAh battery will not be large enough for power-hungry users.
For $80 on contract, the LG Lucid packs a powerful punch. You get a dual-core processor for smooth performance, 4G LTE data, and good-looking hardware. There are some obvious areas where LG has cut corners to keep the price down. For example, the display is simply mediocre, the camera doesn't provide the highest quality photos, and battery life isn't terrific. You definitely get what you pay for and maybe even more in certain areas. In this price range, the Lucid is the best phone you can get but if you have just twenty extra dollars to spare, you might want to consider the DROID RAZR - a much better phone in nearly every area - or if you want to save eighty dollars, you could go with the Pantech Breakout for free - about the same caliber of phone but for much less.
The Good: 4G LTE; smooth processor performance; good-looking hardware (though kind of on the chunky side); decent camera; excellent price.
The Bad: Mediocre display; small battery; LG's UI might be too cartoonish for some people.
Verdict: All in all, there's nothing to not like about the Lucid, especially once you consider the price. At this price point, it's hard to get anything better but if you're willing to spend a few extra dollars, it may be worth it.