The output speakerphone quality, however, is pretty decent. Although calls still sounded stifled, music videos played loudly and clearly. Even a recording of a crackling campfire sounded crisp to the ear.
Listen now: LG Optimus M+ call quality sample
As for the 5-megapixel camera, photo quality was fine under natural, bright lighting conditions. Pictures taken outdoor were clear and colors were accurate. When lighting conditions lowered, the photos understandably didn't turn out as well. While still satisfactory, images were grainier and colors were dulled and bled together.
Video quality was perfectly decent. Because there is no focusing feature, extremely bright or dark colors weren't easy distinguishable. Audio was picked up well, however, and while I recorded, I noticed that the feedback didn't lag behind my moving of the camera.
The M+ operates on MetroPCS's EV-DO network, but data speeds were unusually slow and spotty, even for MetroPCS 3G standards. Our CNET mobile site took an average of 33 seconds, while our full site took anywhere from 2 to 7 minutes. The New York Times' full site took 1 minute, 34 seconds, and the mobile site clocked in at 15 seconds on average. Installing the speed test app Ookla (2.99MB) took a whopping 6 minutes and 4 seconds and showed me an average of 0.06Mbps down and 0.03Mbps up.
MetroPCS' network isn't the most robust, and a few of general speed tests show that. Although it occasionally runs on EV-DO 3G technology, most of the time the device went down to 1X. Loading the CNET mobile site, for example, took an average of 20 seconds, while loading our full site took 2 minutes and 35 seconds. The New York Times' full site took slightly shorter on average, clocking in at 2 minutes and 16 seconds, and its mobile site took 19 seconds to load. ESPN's mobile site took a minute and 4 seconds, and its full site loaded in a minute and a half. Ookla showed me an average of 0.09Mbps down and 0.05Mbps up.
During our battery drain tests, the handset lasted 6.2 hours. Anecdotally, the device had a respectable battery life. After spending half the day trudging through the Web, talking with my friends, and watching videos, the handset would only lose about a quarter of its battery life. When the screen is on maximum brightness, though, the battery drains considerably faster. According to FCC radiation tests, the phone has a digital SAR rating of 1.11W/kg.
The LG Optimus M+ is a solid update from last year's model. I welcome the new, thinner build, and the slightly boosted specs help the device remain "mid- to entry-level" in this competitive market. I also liked the snappiness of the handset, and the camera quality.
However, not everything is without its flaws. The slow network can be a real drag, even when considering that it's a 3G and not 4G device. Plus, the call quality could be better. If you're interested, the handset is available online at MetroPCS for $129.99.
But, if you can save or have a hundred or so bucks more to spare, you can easily get the LG Connect 4G from MetroPCS instead. That has a dual-core processor and, as the name implies, is a 4G device. And in today's world where speed is king, that extra oomph can be worth it.