Despite its rather dull design, the LG Lucid 2 from Verizon is a reliable 4G LTE device that performs consistently well and is available for free with a contract. Aimed at first-time smartphone users, this handset includes a number of features that may just spoil any Android neophyte from here on in.
Sporting Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean, wireless charging capabilities (if you buy a separate $30 battery door and a charging pad), and a dual-core processor, the Lucid 2 offers a bit more than the original LG Lucid. Namely, a bump in battery power (from 1,700mAh to 2,460mAh) and a slightly bigger screen.
The device isn't without its faults, however. Specifically, I didn't care for its poor speakerphone and the low buzzing when it recorded video. But it's still an excellent handset for any penny-pincher.
Like its predecessor, the LG Lucid 2 is minimalistic and compact. It measures 4.82 inches tall, 2.51 inches wide, and 0.39 inch thick. It has an all-black design, save for a few silver-colored accents on its edges, and its plastic back plate isn't the most luxurious construction. However, at 4.16 ounces, the device is lightweight, and it can slip into front jean pockets or a small handbag with no trouble.
On the left is a thin volume rocker and up top is a 3.5mm headphone jack. The right edge houses a sleep/power button and on the bottom is a Micro-USB port for charging.
As I previously stated, the back looks a bit cheap. And while its default cover is easy to remove, you're going to need a little muscle to take out the back plate that's capable of wireless charging. That's because the cover's corners curve into the edges of the handset, and there is no indent to push your finger into.
Once it's removed, however, you'll get access to the microSD card slot that takes cards of up to 64GB, and the battery.
On the rear, you'll find the 5-megapixel camera with its LED flash right below it; on the bottom-left corner are two slits for the audio speaker.
The 4.3-inch AH-IPS display has a 960x540-pixel resolution. Though text and menu icons look crisp, its resolution doesn't compare to that of other high-end LG handsets, like the Nexus 4 or Optimus G Pro. I could see some aliasing on the edges of images, like in the blades of grass for the "Gallery" thumbnail when changing the wallpaper, and color gradients didn't look as smooth as they could. But other than to pixel nuts, the touch screen shouldn't be a problem to anyone. It's bright, clear, and responsive to touch.
Above the display is a front-facing camera and below are four hot keys that light up white when in use, for back, home, recent apps, and menu.
The phone runs Android 4.1.2 Android Jelly Bean. Because LG has its familiar Optimus 3.0 user interface overlaid on top, it won't look that much different from LG devices running Ice Cream Sandwich. However, if you press and hold down the home key, the assistant feature, Google Now, launches.
In addition to Now, the Lucid 2 comes with other Google apps -- Chrome, Gmail, Plus, Local, Maps with Navigation, Messenger, access to the Play portals (Books, Magazines, Movies & TV, Music, and Store), Talk, and YouTube.
Verizon threw in a bunch of its own apps too, like My Verizon Mobile (which lets you check your data use and minutes), Verizon Tones music and media store, its own brand of voice mail and navigating, and VZ Security.
There are also basic task management apps, such as an alarm clock, a calculator, a calendar, a native e-mail client, a to-do list, two video editors, a notepad, voice search, a weather app, and a voice dialer.
Other apps include several Amazon apps (the store itself, Kindle, MP3, its app store, and Audible), two content-sharing apps (FileShare and SmartShare), a help app, the IMDB movie database, and online shoe store Zappos.
Because it's aimed at first-time smartphone users, the handset has two UI options: Starter and Standard. Tucked in the Settings menu under "mode change," the Starter UI has a more simplified design. The home screen saves on search time, and puts favorite contacts, a few choice apps, and setting options like brightness front and center for easy access.
Additional features include Bluetooth 4.0, mobile hot-spotting, 1GB of RAM, and 8GB of internal memory.
Camera and video
The 5-megapixel camera offers a variety of options: touch and auto focus, a flash, a 15x digital zoom, four shutter sounds, face tracking, geotagging, and a timer, as well as continuous, HDR, and panoramic shooting. It also has a brightness meter (-2 to +2); five image sizes (ranging from 1,536x864 to 2,560x1,920p); seven scene modes; four ISO levels; five white balances; and four color effects. Two other features are the "Time catch" shot mode that lets users choose and save the best shot from before the shutter was pressed, and a voice command feature called Cheese Shot.