[Device Review] LG Viper 4G LTE
The LG Viper 4G LTE is a safe, solid phone, and we mean that in the most litteral sense. It’s almost half an inch thick, it’s heavy and the Gorilla Glass display give it a sense of being a well-built phone that’s not going to fall apart on you.It’s hard to argue with a phone that’s running LTE and only costs $100 on contract, and throw in NFC and Google Wallet and the Viper looks even better. If you are looking to get in cheap on the Now Network, and have LTE right now or will very soon, give the LG Viper a close look. You won’t be disappointed.
Reviewing the LG Viper 4G LTE on Sprint is tricky. A LG Viper review has to be taken in context. There’s always risk involved when you are first; while the romantics might wax poetic about wondering into uncharted territory and discovering the great unknown in some far off land, the reality of the situation is often far from the glory, fame and fortune that one might strive for. Being first often means making the first mistakes, and the kids in the back of the line have the luxury of watching those in from of them make mistake after mistake, and by the time it’s their turn to go, they have the benefit of learning from the ones that have gone before them, stepping over failure and claiming the prize.
The problem with going first in tech is two-fold. Things are expensive when they first launch, and my marketing professor always said this was on purpose. People that are on the bleeding edge are going to pay whatever it takes to have the latest and greatest, and the higher price tag just makes the product that more of an exclusive. Then once the newness rubs off the “market penetration” price kicks in and it goes to the general public.
The second problem is things are not always right when they first come out. Back when Verizon was launching LTE, they released a little phone called the HTC Thunderbolt. The launch was horrible, a release date was never announced, and tech sites only had rumor and conjecture to go off of. People were going absolutely crazy wanting to get their hands on a phone that turned out to only become useable upwards of six months after its release. The software and hardware combination were all brand new; battery life was horrible. While there are still those on the Thunderbolt, (I still know where mine is) you would be hard pressed to get someone with a newer phone like the Samsung Galaxy S III to go back to the Thunderbolt. So where does the LG Viper fit into this picture?
Sprint chose to go the safe route with this phone and it makes complete sense that they did. The LG Viper 4G LTE is a mid-range phone running Gingerbread, and is also Sprint’s first LTE phone. This is significant because as a whole Sprint has some work to do as far as data goes. The Viper is a the first of a new line of phones that promise to finally bring the vision that Wi-Max never did: data that is fast and reliable enough to provide the end user with an enjoyable experience. Being first is hard, and Sprint chose to go with a safe bet. The Viper is a reliable, safe phone that uses a version of Android that’s comfortable to the carrier. There’s no fighting with ICS here, (an ICS upgrade is planned, but no date for the upgrade is available at this time) all while trying to figure out a new network and hardware configuration. The battery life is great, the display really shines and the price perfect for a phone of this caliber. A $100 dual core 1.2 ghz phone with NFC, LTE and a great 4 inch display? Read on to find out more.
Don’t let looks deceive you, this is a solid phone that’s got more coming to it once the ICS update hits. While is might not be the slimmest phone out there, it has a very sturdy feel to it that in an age of super-light and plastic phones is a breath of fresh air. The phone is plastic though, and claims to be made of recycled materials throughout, even the packaging is eco-friendly and was designed to fit together without glue of any sort. Having said that, I wouldn’t get this phone if you tend to gnaw on your phone for some reason, but the eco-friendly aspect of this device shouldn’t be used against it. If it didn’t point it out (and the packaging really does) I wouldn’t have know that the phone was made from recycled materials.
The look and feel of Gingerbread is comforting, but it really feels outdated and old now. The muted greens of an OS that’s over 18 months past it’s prime is jarring. For someone that gets a review device to look at regularly, it’s hard to go back to Gingerbread. It is easy not give the phone a second glance since Android 2.3.7 is so old, but again keep in mind that not only is the Viper going to get ICS at some point, the Gingerbread is almost completely vanilla. Besides the camera app, I didn’t see any customizations in the software, and this is a good thing. Opening the app drawer gives this kinda dissolving effect, and moving around the phone was for the most part smooth considering the age of Gingerbread. Going from a Nexus 7 or Galaxy Nexus running Jelly Bean and it’s Project Butter, you are going really notice the slight lag, but keep in mind if you have one of these devices, you are not the demographic targeted here. There’s the typical bloatware on the phone, but it’s not excessive.
The camera is of the 5 MP affair, and rather standard. The colors are washed out and the flash does its job I suppose. There really isn’t much to brag about as far as the camera goes. However, for a phone running GB and not featuring the zero-lag shutter like the Galaxy Nexus, the phone did a pretty good job of getting the focus down and snapping the photo. The Viper won’t be winning any awards or accolades for the camera, but LG seems to have done it’s best with this budget shooter.
Where the LG Viper 4G LTE really shines is the display. We happened to totally be spoiled by the HTC One X, but the 4 NOVA inch (480×800) display on the Viper is a sight to behold in a mid-range phone. Also to be noted is the battery life. At 4 inches, the display seemed to both be small enough and efficient enough to sip battery, rather than guzzle it. I was able, on CDMA, to get a full day’s worth of use out of the Viper and still have 65% battery left when I plugged in at night. Impressive at the least. I am confident that with appropriate tweaking the Viper could go two days without charging. Calls were crisp and clear, however the wind did tend to interfere more than we’d like. Perhaps the noise cancellation could use a little tweaking, however we are just nit-picking at this point.
The LG Viper 4G LTE is a safe, solid phone, and we mean that in the most litteral sense. It’s almost half an inch thick, it’s heavy and the Gorilla Glass display give it a sense of being a well-built phone that’s not going to fall apart on you. There might be something here that’s worth buying. The phone does all that it’s supposed to do well, and the 1,700 mAh battery will help push the Viper to two day’s worth of use. Sprint’s LTE network is finally rolling out and promises to push Sprint back into the mainstream and help it compete with the likes of Verizon and AT&T. It’s hard to argue with a phone that’s running LTE and only costs $100 on contract, and throw in NFC and Google Wallet and the Viper looks even better. If you are looking to get in cheap on the Now Network, and have LTE right now or will very soon, give the LG Viper a close look. You won’t be disappointed.
When the USAF dropped this New Jersey boy off in Louisiana, he had no idea that the fun was just beginning. John has turned wrenches on jet engines in a Combat AGE team, raided Molten Core in the day, pwn n00bs in Battlefield 3, and can speak iOS and Android.
John has a BS degree in Culinary Arts, and is working on a Master’s in Education. Married and a father of 4 boys, John gets his screen name, Broadwayblues, from the NHL team the New York Rangers, loves the NY Giants and admits that he likes the NY Mets too. He cuddles his Galaxy Nexus at night.
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