LG Viper (Sprint)
Price Range: $0.01 - $79.99
CNET Editors' Rating: 3.5 / 5
The good: The LG Viper is eco-friendly, records superb video in 1080p HD, and comes with an NFC chip that lets you wirelessly transfer data to other NFC-enabled devices.
The bad: The LG Viper can only run on Sprint's 3G network for now, and audio quality is subpar as well.
The bottom line: Although many of its features still won't be available by the time it hits stores, the LG Viper is a reliable, environmentally conscious device with an excellent camera.
Design, Features & Performance (out of 10)
Back at CES in January, Sprint announced its first two 4G LTE smartphones, the LG Viper and the Samsung Galaxy Nexus. Both will be out April 22, but for this review we're going to focus on the Viper. Touted as an eco-friendly midrange device, it is certified platinum by Underwriters Laboratories for fulfilling the highest level of environmental and sustainability requirements. In addition, the company says it avoided using many common but environmentally sensitive materials including brominated flame retardants, polyvinyl chloride, and nickel in manufacturing this phone.
But being green isn't the Viper's only attraction. It's also equipped with an NFC chip and Google Wallet, so you can purchase items wirelessly, transmit data, and share tags with other NFC-enabled devices.
As mentioned, the handset is available, aptly enough, on Earth Day, April 22. It'll set you back an affordable $99.99 after you send in a $50 mail-in-rebate and sign a two-year contract.
Editors' note: When this piece was originally published, it was incorrectly reported that Google Wallet was not activated for users. In actuality, it was not activated only in our early demo device. We also updated this review on December 4, 2012 to reflect that the Viper can now receive an Android 4.0 update.
The LG Viper measures 4.59 inches tall, 2.44 inches wide, and 0.46 inch thick. Weighing in at a hefty 5 ounces, the device felt heavy in my hands. Although it's not very thin, it's slim enough to slide into a jeans back pocket or toss into a bag.
It has a 4-inch WVGA touch screen, which can display 16.7 million colors and has a resolution of 480x800 pixels. The display also has 700 nits of brightness, so colors, images, and video appear extra vivid. HQ YouTube videos were rich, and games like Temple Run were vibrant.
The screen was also responsive, making swiping through pages, pinch zooming, and text messaging a breeze. Above the screen in the right-hand corner is a VGA front-facing camera for vanity shots and video chatting. Below are the four standard navigational keys that light up during use: home, menu, back, and search.
On the left side of the phone, there is a volume rocker with a Micro-USB port below it. Up top are a sleep/power button and a 3.5mm headphone jack.
While the handset's casing is made out of 50 percent recycled plastics, it certainly doesn't feel cheap. The Viper has a sturdy feel with tapered edges, and its plastic backing looks much more luxurious, resembling steel or metal. The rear-facing camera sits at the top center of the back, next to the LED flash. Below, there is a thin slit for the output speaker. Using a small indent at the bottom of the device, you can remove the back casing and gain access to the 1,700mAh battery and the 4GB microSD slot, which can be expanded up to 32GB.
Despite its 1.2GHz dual-core processor, the LG Viper wasn't as swift and snappy as expected. There would be a slight but noticeable lag while I transitioned through apps, clicked back home, and autorotated. When multiple apps were opened, it took a couple of extra milliseconds to execute its task.
The device runs on Android 2.3 Gingerbread and can be upgradable to Ice Cream Sandwich starting November 2012. It's a bit disappointing that this is Gingerbread out of the box while the Galaxy Nexus is ICS. But it contains all the Google goodies you've come to expect: Google Books, Gmail, Plus, Search, Latitude, Maps with Navigation, Messenger, Shopper, Music, Talk, YouTube, and the Play Store.
The phone also is equipped with an NFC chip inside for wireless communication with other NFC-enabled devices, and Google Wallet, so you can purchase items with your handset through credit card information stored in your Google account. Unfortunately, Google Wallet was not activated on our early demo device, so I wasn't able to test-drive this feature. Until I get more information, I'll keep you posted. Another feature called Tags lets you organize all the things you tag and share through your NFC chip, like texts, URLs, and pictures.
Sprint included its selection of apps as well, with two sports apps (Nascar Sprint Cup Mobile and NBA Mobile), two media apps (one just for music, the other for TV shows and movies), and SprintZone, an app that keeps you in the loop for Sprint devices and news. If you don't want updates about random Nascar drivers, NBA teams you know nothing about, or have no interest in the entertainment industry, you can, fortunately, delete those apps.
Equipped with Sprint ID, this handset has a customization feature that lets you tailor your home screens with preselected apps, widgets, ringtones, and other items depending on which ID profile you install. There are 42 packs so far, catering to a number of interests including music (CMT and MTV have a Sprint ID pack), sports (ESPN, Fantasy Football), and colleges like UC Davis (go, Aggies!).
Aside from the fact that the packs are unsightly, deleting an ID package won't uninstall the apps that you've downloaded. Instead, you'll have to manually remove each app. You also can't remove the Sprint ID app from the home screen's dashboard, so if you're not a fan, you'll just have to ignore it.
Other task-management apps and goodies include a Web browser, Swype typing, a calculator, a calendar, a clock, Flash Player, a news and weather app, the mobile office suite known as Polaris Office, Smart Share (where you can upload and distribute media to other DLNA-enabled devices), TeleNav GPS Navigation, and a voice dialer.
The 5-megapixel camera with LED flash has several features, including autofocus, a timer, digital zoom, an exposure meter, face tracking, GPS tagging, and four shutter sounds.
It's also equipped with numerous photo options, like eight image sizes (ranging from QVGA to 2,560x1,920 pixels); six scene modes (normal, portrait, landscape, sports, sunset, and night); five ISO choices (auto, and then a range from 800 to 100); five white-balance settings (auto, incandescent, sunny, fluorescent, and cloudy); four color effects (none, mono, sepia, and negative); and three shooting modes (normal, continuous, and panorama).
Switching the camera to the front eliminates some preferences, including the flash, the size (it can only take photos in 640x480), and several scene modes (you can only switch between normal and night). But, a mirror image choice is added that will flip the photo vertically, and there is a "beauty shot" meter that lets you adjust an image's brightness and blurriness. This is useful for softening self-portraits.
When you switch to camcorder mode, you have a choice of six different video recording sizes (ranging from full HD video to 176x144, which is convenient for sending video elsewhere). The same white-balance, exposure meter, zoom, and color-effect options are retained, and you have a choice to mute audio when recording.
If you record with the front-facing camera, the flash and zoom will be gone, and you'll only be able to choose between three video sizes (VGA, QVGA, and QCIF).
I tested the dual-band (CDMA 850, 1900MHz) LG Viper in San Francisco using Sprint's services. Audio quality was disappointing. Voices were muffled and tinny in my ear, and sometimes there would be a slight buzzing noise that came out every time someone said something. When I put my friends or music on speaker, the sharpness was really apparent. Sounds reverberated off the backing of the phone, making it harsh to the ear. My friends told me I sounded stifled while talking as well.
LG Viper call quality sample Listen now:
The device is capable of running on Sprint's 4G LTE network, but since the carrier will launch its 4G later in the middle of the year, the handset ships with its 3G capabilities turned on as the default. Once the 4G network is available in your city, you can turn on your LTE/CDMA settings by customizing your network mode in settings. Compared with the carrier's existing 4G WiMax network, browsing the Web on 3G was sluggish. Playing YouTube video on EV-DO Rev. A was a pain, since it took a while to load. Loading the CNET mobile site took an average of 45 seconds, while loading our full site took 55 seconds. Downloading the 25.75MB game of Temple Run took a whopping 10 and a half minutes. Ookla's Speedtest app, which is 2.99MB, took 2 minutes and 51 seconds to download, and showed me an average of 0.36Mbps down and 0.62Mbps up.
The 5-megapixel camera took crisp and sharp photos, but color quality was mediocre. Even though they were in focus, images loaded onto a computer did not appear as vibrant as the originals were in real life. On the phone, however, the hues looked more accurate and rich.
Video recording, however, was great. Especially when set to HD video, the video capture was fast and fast-moving items, like cars, were captured with little to no lag. Small details, like the leaves in trees, were crisp, and colors were vibrant and full of depth. Audio was recorded accurately and didn't sound muffled at all.
In our battery drain tests, the handset lasted 8.02 hours. During my general use of it, the device would lose much of its charge quickly. Texting, surfing the Web, and making calls all day required at least one charge to juice up its life. According to FCC radiation tests, the device has a digital SAR rating of 0.71/kg.
The LG Viper is ahead of its time -- literally, and not necessarily in a good way. Many of its most attractive features, like 4G LTE and Ice Cream Sandwich OS can't be used at the time of purchase. Aside from that, and a few disappointments with audio quality and processing speeds, the phone is solid in all other aspects. For a midrange device, it has a great camera, sturdy build, and it's a good fit for those who are environmentally conscious.
|OS provided||Android 2.3 Gingerbread OS|
Average User Rating: 3.5 / 5
User Rating Breakdown
5 Star: 4
4 Star: 0
3 Star: 0
2 Star: 0
1 Star: 4
AN ECO FRIENDLY SMARTPHONE
Rating: 5 / 5
on June 13, 2012
2 out of 3 users found this review helpful
Pros: This phone has great speed, limited bloatware, is made from re-cycled material so the phone didn't cost much to the manufacturer to make.
Cons: I HAVEN'T FOUND ONE@!!
Summary: This phone is similar to the LG Lucid that everyone on Verizon has come to love! It has a 5MP camera (not bad, honestly) video chat app you can use with the front facing camera, so you can talk to your friends and family far away. Wireless media streaming (can send the media to any Bluetooth source, and a Micro-SD card slot.
I'd recommend this phone, I can't find a bad thing to say about it. Excellent battery life. When at best buy testing this device, I played with it for almost 20 minutes, and didn't see the battery go down. Was not plugged in and was on YOUTUBE, FB, Apps, all that, and it didn't die. I'd really recommend this phone, and hope my review helps you towards getting it.
A colossal waste.
Rating: 0.5 / 5
on September 2, 2013
1 out of 1 users found this review helpful
Pros: 4G LTE Capable.
Cons: -Doesn't come 4G LTE set up (At least Sprint).
-Battery is horrible.
-Apps normally have to be forced closed in order to end the battery drain.
-Isn't popular model (aka not a lot of cases).
-Weak weak weak weak GPS transmitter.
Summary: This has had to have been one of the worst decisions of all time that I think I've ever made. This phone was nice for a month, and then it began to be terrible. So bad that the wireless transmitter literally stopped working.
After getting a "new" (refurbished) model, it was well for a month or so, but then began to experience the same issues.
I would never recommend getting this phone.
This is the WORST smartphone I have ever owned
Rating: 1 / 5
on July 31, 2013
1 out of 1 users found this review helpful
Pros: 4G LTE, Limited bloatware, bright colorful screen, ample on board storage plus sd card for increased storage
Cons: Battery life is terrible, Wifi, NFC won't stay off, serious lag time, terrible call quality
Summary: Let me start by saying that I'm not sure what phone the positive reviewers have. I purchased this phone for myself and my wife. Both of these phones have the same problems, so it is fair to say that it is likely that these issues are not oddities. The most important task of a smartphone is the telephone calling part. This phone fails miserably. When talking to each other on these phones, we often have difficulty hearing each other. Sounds are muffled on both sides. Battery life is horrid. 4 hours after taking the phone off the charger and with very limited usage (as in making one or two short calls, receiving push emails from work and gmail) and this phone has less than 30% life left in the battery. This is not the phone for power users, its not even the phone for moderate users. Part of the problem is that wifi, data, and NFC will turn themselves back on even after I have selected that they not be on. I have to do this to save the battery strength for when I need it. However, these items will turn themselves back on within 15-20 minutes after I turned them off. This phone is fairly fast due to its processor. However, there is often some heavy lag time between opening apps and when they are fully loaded. Webpages don't load very quickly when opening the browser, however, once they are open browsing is fairly quick, I've used faster phones, but this one is still ok. If your apps are receiving updates in the background, the lags get even worse and using the phone during download and installing of software becomes nearly impossible. In summary, if this is your first smartphone, you're not a power user, and you aren't going to download very many apps, then this is a decent phone for the price point. However, Sprint has other phones at the lower price points that would definitely make better choices. If you are going to actually use this phone more than a few times in a day, avoid this phone like a plague!
A huge mistake
Rating: 1 / 5
on March 4, 2013
1 out of 1 users found this review helpful
Pros: its a phone
Cons: dropped calls, lag when texting, camera is abysmal, 3g speeds are slow, battery life is horrific
Summary: It boggles my mind that someone would create a phone so poorly. Let me just start from the beginning. I got this phone back in May of 2012 instead of an iPhone just so I would be unique. It was probably the biggest mistake of my life. Right off the bat i hated the phone. I was issued the phone at about 50% of battery, and it died when I was walking out of the store. I still, to this day, cannot use the phone on 3G speeds because it drains my battery in about an thirty minutes without use. I don't have apps because they lag out my phone. I don't have music because the speakers are terrible. I don't have pictures because the camera is worse than the flip phone i had before. All in all, this phone was a terrible decision. Its now March of 2013, and I am stealing my mom's upgrade to get the iPhone 5. Please, don't make the mistake I made. Get and iPhone or a GS III.
Looks are deceiving.
Rating: 1 / 5
on December 7, 2013
0 out of 0 users found this review helpful
Pros: Looks good.
Made by LG (brand name)
Only $100 (Sprint)
No contract extension (Sprint)
Cons: Charging port (Cheap)
Charging cord (Cheaper)
Battery life (Terrible)
Processing Speed (Abysmal)
Call Clarity (Sounds like you're speaking underwater)
Summary: I would never recommend this phone to anyone, ever. Chose it because my previous phone took a swan dive into a toilet (Don't ask.) and I did not want a contract extension. Cost of the phone for a Sprint plan: $106.99. I'd say it's only worth the $.99. The phone must be on the charger at all times or it is useless. Using the charging port and cord that was provided with the box, the phone displays "Slow Charging" message constantly. As I type this message the phone was on airplane mode and plugged in for 3 hours. It's only at 63% and shut off because it overheated. If it were on any part of my skin I'd most likely have received a serious burn. Running apps on this thing? You're kidding me. Making phone calls? Impossible even when it is charged the connection is terrible.
All around a terrible device. Shame on LG. Shame on Sprint.
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