July 8, 2011 | by Ben Crawford
The LG Revolution from Verizon split my head. I can’t for the life of me recall the meaning of the word “revolution,” and if this device really lives up to the definition. The phone isn’t extraordinary or groundbreaking, but it’s no slouch either. The LG Revolution has its high points: 4G, camera, quickness; and it’s low points: Bing, Size, Bing, Battery… Bing.
While I can certainly overlook the size of the Revolution and trade-off the short battery with 4G/LTE, I can’t forgive Verizon for putting Bing on a phone where its competitors (Droid Charge, HTC Thunderbolt) don’t have it. That being said, as many Android enthusiasts should know, I can’t dismiss the Revolution altogether because there may or may not be ways around Bing. At $249.99 on a two-year contract, the Revolution is a quite a commitment to a great service (4G) undermined by a disservice (Tiered data).
The Revolution’s hardware is rock solid. And by that I mean, you could probably take a hammer to this thing, and it would come out the better. It is a massive, solid, brick of a phone. You can feel it in your hand, in your pocket, and, I’m guessing here, in your backpack. The screen is one of the 4.3″ giants which I think is the perfect size for phones. The casing is black with a polished bronze-ish border on the sides where the volume rocker, mini-USB slot, and mini-HDMI port are located. This gives the phone a classier look, but doesn’t generally do anything to “wow” anyone; it may be one of the plainest looking phones in history. The Revolution has no curves or any type of trademark look; it’s simply a black block casing with some trim around it. You couldn’t pick it out of a lineup. The power button is flush with the top of the phone which was semi-annoying. Sometimes I didn’t know if I had pressed the button or not.
The back of the phone has a small strip of trim in the center to show off the camera and various logos (4G, Verizon). The battery was one place that the Revolution semi-set itself apart. While the Thunderbolt is known for horrid battery life and I found the Charge to be only slightly better, the Revolution has a pretty decent battery for a 4G device. When I moved out of a 4G area and switched to 3G, I didn’t notice a great leap in battery life. I would get another 2 hours or so, but nothing seriously worth leaving the 4G off (that’s why you have the device!). Granted, I experienced my share of 7 hour recharges, I can also say I got through 15 hours without needing to charge. Again, the dichotomy of this phone is literally crazy. After handling HTC, Samsung, and Sony devices, I have to say, the Revolution is very lackluster in design. No curves, no kickstand, nothing to make heads turn on the street even slightly.
These two features were surprisingly very well built. While the screen quality isn’t up to par with an AMOLED screen, LG certainly put a little time into making colors and pictures look pretty good. It doesn’t pop exactly, but it also doesn’t wash out in sunlight or blind you when you’re sleeping at night. The camera is not something I’m usually too concerned about. The Revolution comes with semi-standard a 5MP back camera and a 1.3MP front camera. Though these are average features, I found myself really liking the pictures it took, especially with the front camera. Like I said, I’m not a photographer or camera buff, but when face-chatting, I was very impressed with the quality. I think even more important than the camera itself was the camera app LG made. It was fast, user-friendly, and exactly what I would want from any camera app. It has all the standard features of course, but it was so user-friendly, I found myself using it, and the camera, just because I hadn’t ever had the chance to use a really great camera app.
Small rant, Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) was released over half a year ago, yet the Revolution ships with 2.2 (Froyo). If I was unbiased, I would probably say, “Oh, well it will receive an update to Gingerbread soon,” but I am plenty biased so I say, “This is a very, very good reason not to support this phone.” It’s not that Froyo is bad, it’s not; it’s the time that manufacturers have had to upgrade and give their customers the best operating system possible with fewer delays in the future. Instead of waiting on Google to release a newer version of Android, we await a manufacturer/carrier, and that has proven time and again to be a terrible business practice.
With that said, the LG overlay UI is a gross wonderment in itself. Another example of a manufacturer shooting itself in the foot for no reason. Again, the overlay isn’t terrible, it’s just pointless and interrupts easy updates. It’s not a pretty good HTC Sense type of UI or even a decent Touchwiz; LG gives it’s users practically no personalization help or any convenient widgets or features. The app drawer is simply annoying and feels like it gets in the way rather than add to the experience.
Despite all these gripes, I found the GPS, cell radio, 4G radio, Bluetooth, and WiFi to be among the best I’ve used. The GPS may be my main concern with a phone, and the Revolution comes through solidly; I never once had a lock-on take forever or be wrong. I’ve also had a few gripes about the 4G signal turning off completely instead of going to 3G, and I will give LG a modest nod for this, but it’s more probable that Verizon has figured out their own problem. Regardless, the 4G signal on the Revolution worked like a dream. Cell signal and sound quality were also pretty great. I took the phone with me through Texas to Houston and had a very respectable signal throughout (the East Texas, Louisiana, and Arkansas border is a terrible place for smartphones).
Whatever you might say about the Xperia Play, it runs apps and games great; better than my Fascinate, better than the Droid Charge, better even than the Incredible 2, yet the LG Revolution was quicker. Granted, my Play’s RAM is loaded down with games, and the Revolution was pretty light on apps, but I’ll give credit where it’s do. Apps in general ran well on the device. Apps that needed a GPS signal or time to download packages were locked and downloaded in seconds, and I don’t think I had a force close at all.
The poorest part of the Revolution, of course, is the “irremovable“ Bing. It will turn many people off (rightfully) in favor of the Thunderbolt or Charge. I had to deal with this fiasco on my Fascinate, and I wouldn’t want to go through it again. I am also sad to say that this device could have been a more standout device with a dual-core processor. I don’t think having a single-core takes anything away from a phone because we’re not exactly optimized for dual-cores yet, but it would certainly help the Revolution’s perceived quality.
As I stated at the beginning, the Revolution name is a misnomer. It could be a top contender out-of-the-box if not for Verizon’s Bing and LG’s Froyo/UI. Since it’s not really on anyone’s radar, support will probably wane quickly. Despite these takeaways, I still thought the phone was a good piece of hardware. It has solid features, runs apps well, and the 4G/LTE is a great service – which, if you bought this device anytime after today, you will pay out the wazoo to use. At $250, it’s a bit of a stretch to say I would recommend getting this phone right away instead of waiting on the Bionic or SGSII. But if you like Bing, are itching for a phone today, and actually use the phone for its… phone features, it’s a pretty nice device.