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LG Connect 4G for MetroPCS review


Review by Dan Seifert on Friday March 09, 2012.

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Score

3.3 stars
"Good"

(How we score)


Bright display, fast camera, low cost
Poor call quality, average battery life, too much bundled software

The LG Connect 4G is the latest 4G LTE smartphone to grace MetroPCS's network. It features a 4-inch, WVGA (480 x 800 pixel) NOVA display and runs Android 2.3 Gingerbread with LG's custom user interface on top.

The Connect 4G's hardware is more or less what you would expect from a mid-range Android smartphone these days. It's put together fairly well, but the abundance of plastic does make it feel a bit cheap when compared with other smartphones on the market. It is not the thinnest smartphone available, at 11.7mm thick, but it isn't offensively thick either. The rear panel features a textured finish, which, combined with the tapered sides, makes the Connect 4G cradle nicely in your hand.

LG Connect 4G
LG Connect 4G

The 4-inch NOVA display is very bright, as we have seen with other NOVA-equipped smartphones, but viewing angles leave a bit to be desired and the colors do not pop nearly as much as we see on Samsung's Super AMOLED displays. LG says that one advantage of the NOVA displays is power efficiency, which should translate into longer battery life, but I did not find that the Connect 4G lasted any longer than other Android smartphones. The relatively small size of the display is an advantage, however, as it is much easier to handle the Connect 4G with one hand compared to the behemoth smartphones that seem to be everywhere these days.

Under the hood is a dual-core 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S3 processor paired with 1GB of RAM. On paper, this should make the Connect 4G fly, but in real life, it was a tad disappointing. Apps did not open as fast as I expected, and I frequently ran into laggy performance when navigating the user interface. This could be due to LG's relatively heavy-handed interface, which I don't particularly care for.

MetroPCS might be one of the worst offenders when it comes to installing useless crapware on its smartphones, and the LG Connect 4G is no exception. Out of the box, there are at least 16 non-Google apps pre-installed, and most of them have negligible value. In fact, the MyExtras app will actually show pop up ads on the Connect 4G from time to time. This can be disabled, but since it is on by default, it is something that will surely annoy users for a least some period of time.

The one standout app is the Rhapsody music service, which is bundled with MetroPCS's top-end smartphone plans. Rhapsody offers over 14 million songs that can be streamed on-demand over both Wi-Fi and MetroPCS's 4G LTE network. Normally this costs $10 per month, but MetroPCS users that pay for the $60 per month smartphone plan get it gratis. The Connect 4G's external speaker is put to good use with the Rhapsody service, as music pours out of it when streamed, and it resists distortion even when cranked to full volume.

Call quality on the Connect 4G was less than impressive, however. The earpiece got loud enough for use when at full volume, but the quality of the sound was nothing short of terrible. Callers sounded thin and distant, almost as if they were speaking into a vintage microphone. On speakerphone, things were not much better, which is in stark contrast to the sound when music is played through the Rhapsody app.

LG Connect 4G
LG Connect 4G

Browsing the web on the Connect 4G is largely a pleasant experience, as pages loaded swiftly, and scrolling and zooming were smooth once a page had fully loaded. The Connect 4G does support Adobe Flash Player, but I ran into a number of issues when trying to play embedded Flash videos on websites. LG's custom switcher for jumping between websites is attractive, but it can be clumsy at times and tends to get in the way of itself.

LG Connect 4G
LG Connect 4G

LG has installed a 5 megapixel camera with autofocus and LED flash on the Connect 4G. The camera's actual performance is impressive - autofocus is very fast, it launches immediately, and there are a number of controls at your fingertips for tweaking on the fly - but the images that it captures are nothing to write home about. I'm not saying you won't be pleased with them, but they won't blow you away either. The camera is also capable of recording 720p HD (1280 x 720 pixel) video, which is detailed and smooth. Controls while recording video are very limited, however, as you cannot zoom or refocus while shooting. The Connect 4G also has a VGA quality front-facing camera that can be used for self-portraits or video calls with the Google Talk app for Android. Skype video calling is technically not supported, but it does work, albeit locked to landscape orientation and with heavily pixelated images.

LG Connect 4G
LG Connect 4G

The Connect 4G is equipped with a 1,540mAh battery, which is a tad small for today's smartphones. As a result, battery life is less than impressive, with it easily tapping out after only 8 hours of use. Hard use on LTE will likely mean that it will fail even sooner than that. LG quotes a meager 4.5 hours of talk time or 10.4 days of standby with the Connect 4G, so you should set your expectations accordingly.

LG Connect 4G
LG Connect 4G

The LG Connect 4G is a mid-range smartphone with mid-range specs to match. It does well in some areas, but falls on its face in others. Its saving grace may just be its price, however, as MetroPCS is offering it for $319 after rebate. That may sound steep, but MetroPCS does not require a contract with any of its rate plans or phone purchases, so you are essentially buying the phone outright. Speaking of plans, MetroPCS offers an unlimited plan with endless talk, text, and web services, plus unlimited streaming from Rhapsody for a mere $60 per month. Try to match that with a national carrier and you will come up empty handed. So, for the value conscious shopper, the Connect 4G might just be a suitable option. It is certainly better than the other smartphones in MetroPCS's lineup, even if it doesn't excel at everything it attempts.

 
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About the author

Dan Seifert
Dan is MobileBurn.com's Editor-in-Chief. Based in Poughkeepsie in New York, Dan can be found on Twitter as @DCSeifert.

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