Friday, July 6, 2012

LG Viper 4G LTE Review

One of Sprint’s latest 4G smartphones is the LG Viper. It is a capable smartphone that doesn't make many major performance compromises to arrive at its $100 price tag. If the above description piques your curiosity, read on to find out how well the LG Viper performs.

Design and Hardware
Let’s take a tour around the Viper. On top, there is a power button, headphone jack, and front-facing camera. A volume rocker and micro USB port are on the left. The back of the Viper sports a 5 megapixel camera with a flash.

The front of the Viper features a WVGA screen (geek speak for a medium-high quality screen). The screen has deep, accurate colors, crisp whites, and very deep blacks.

In hand, this smartphone feels solid, though it is thicker and a bit heavier than average. The Viper is quite thick for a smartphone- strategic bevels and sculpting can’t hide it.

Maybe a couple eco-friendly features can make the LG Viper’s chunky design a little more appealing. According to LG, this phone’s casing is made with 50% recycled plastic. Even the packaging contains up to 87% post-consumer paper and is printed with soy ink.

Software and Performance
The Viper handles apps, web browsing, games, and videos easily. Its performance is certainly more than satisfactory for the average user.

Although it has the acronym “4G” in its name, this phone operates on the Sprint’s 3G network until July 15th,  2012 when the Sprint 4G network will launch in five cities.

This LG phone currently runs the (now dated) Gingerbread version of Android. Unfortunately, an Ice Cream Sandwich update does not seem imminent. In the meantime, the LG has several pre-installed apps by Sprint, but isn’t overwhelmed with apps you’ll never use. One of the interesting pre-installed apps isn’t trying to sell movies or keep you updated about the latest NBA action, however. It is called Google Wallet- Google’s mobile payment app. This app, storing your credit card’s info on your phone, allows you to make payments with your phone by touching your phone to a reader. Currently, the LG Viper is one of only three phones to support this feature.  

A picture taken with the Viper
The 5 megapixel back-facing camera performs well-most of the time. While it doesn’t have trouble with producing reasonably detailed pictures in sunny conditions, it just doesn't seem to produce sharp pictures in low light conditions. In my opinion, the camcorder function does a better job than the still picture mode. The Full HD video is very crisp and sharp.

Call Quality
To arrive at the Viper’s affordable $100 price, LG decided that a corner or two would have to be cut. Microphone quality seems to be one of those corners. During my testing, people on the other end said that I didn’t sound as clear as I had when I was using a different phone. (To be fair, it is worth noting that I live in an area with poor Sprint reception.) Speaker quality seemed to be better. Even in noisy environments, I did not have difficulty hearing the other party.

Battery Life
With light to moderate usage, the Viper can last through a day. If you will be making a lot of calls and browsing the web frequently, the Viper will probably be asking for its charger before the day is up.

In the end, your satisfaction with the Viper depends on which features you value most. If you want an all-around premium experience, the Viper probably won’t satisfy you. But if your main concerns are speedy performance, data speed, and an affordable price, the LG Viper 4G LTE will be a good fit for you.

Product Info

Price:$99.99 on contract from Sprint
    Decent screen, eco-friendly, peppy performance, Google Wallet compatible, 1080p video, inexpensive  
  • Chunky design, camera struggles in low light, battery life and call quality leave room for improvement