The Revolution by LG arrived on Verizon without a great deal of fanfare, perhaps due to a case of 3rd child syndrome. Verizon just couldn’t manage to get excited for yet another 4G LTE phone after having hyped the HTC Thunderbolt, followed by the Droid Charge with all its Gs. Regardless, the Revolution is here. And it features a specs list comparable to that of its more lauded siblings. Should the Revolution be the 4G LTE phone that gets you to whip out that credit card and commit yourself to 2 years with Verizon? Read on for our take after a couple weeks living with the Revolution.
You’ll notice with this review that we’re testing out a new review format, wherein we choose 10 topics that cover a broad array of the phone’s features, challenging us to rank them up or down. This will allow us to compute a final score for the device by counting the number of good characteristics vs the bad (usually out of 10). Let us know what you think of the new format in the comments. You’ll also notice that this review was tag-teamed by two staffers, you’ll find the final thoughts of both reviewers at the end of the article.
4G LTE SpeedsOne of the LG Revolution’s main selling points is Verizon’s 4G LTE network. It’s only the third phone to support this network. Like the Samsung Droid Charge and HTC’s Thunderbolt, the Revolution delivered impressive data speeds ranging from 12-20 mbps download, with upload speeds ranging from 3 to 6 mbps. Verizon’s LTE is undoubtedly the fastest network out there today, and you’ll be sure to notice the speed boost when dealing with internet-heavy applications.
VoLTEThe LG Revolution is one of the first devices to support Voice over LTE, which essentially acts as a VoIP line with bandwidth dedicated to phone calls. This results in a higher-quality call experience while allowing simultaneous voice and data. Essentially, VoLTE sets aside an amount of bandwidth for your phone call, so the phone connection is not competing for data with other running applications.
Android 2.2Here we are six months after the release of Android 2.3 Gingerbread, and feature phones are still being released with Android 2.2 (Froyo). Though Froyo brought significant performance improvements over Éclair (2.1), the LG Revolution lacking the latest and greatest operating system grants a negative rating in this category.
BingWhere do I even start with this one? Bing belongs on Windows Phone 7 and should stay away from Android. Personally, I went Android because I use Google services religiously, and I don’t want my device to be pre-loaded with Bing by default. Yes, users can easily replace Bing by downloading Google Search from the market, but having Bing preloaded by default feels like a slap in the face to Google and Android. If you want Bing that badly, it has a market application, too. (Take note, Verizon).
LG SkinThe argument for and against the LG skin, to me, is simply that there isn’t much to it. On the one hand, that means LG tries to stay out of the way and let you use your phone. On the other hand, they aren’t contributing much to the experience and are guaranteeing at least a somewhat delayed upgrade path to Gingerbread and beyond. The main differences you’re going to notice are changes to a set of four static icons across the bottom of your homescreens, an app tray that’s sorted by category and a tweaked notification bar that features some of the common connectivity on/off widgets along with a music player. I’m not suggesting these are useless additions, but they are needless additions. It would take a matter of minutes to add similar functionality via the Market.
While LG has a solid reputation for their products in many areas of consumer electronics, the build quality on their phones has not always been exemplary.  Those, however, were the feature phones of yesteryear; the Revolution is very much a smartphone of today–well, of this year anyway–and it can certainly hold its own with all but the unibody devices (which are hardly the norm). There’s no flex in the frame, and the device just has an excellent feel in the hand. Superior, in my opinion, to that of the HTC Thunderbolt or Droid Charge. The port covers may contribute to this impression slightly, as they leave the device quite seamless to the touch. Of course, the trade-off is you have to deal with port covers anytime you may want to use HDMI or charge the phone.
Battery LifeMy first impression of the Revolution’s battery life was quite good, but after about a week I found myself only marginally positive about it. One of my initial tests with the phone, as I didn’t have time to set it up right away for normal usage, was to just run Netflix on a loop and it managed to eke out almost 6 hours of play before needing to hit the juice. That seemed like a fairly impressive feat to me, considering my Thunderbolt has occasionally not lasted that long during my normal daily routine.  I imagine a constant video stream to be much more strenuous. Once I got into the flow of using the Revolution as my daily driver, I found it adequate for a day of use (approximately 9-12 hours), but it won’t be setting any records. This is a fairly timid thumbs up as I would really like to see more. But it’s at least matching, and in some cases besting, its peers .
Anthony has spent some time with the Revolution in an LTE-active area, and found performance to (sadly) be on par with that of the Thunderbolt and Charge.
DisplaySamsung’s Super Amoled Plus found in the Droid Charge and Galaxy S II is the current hero of this category, but the Revolution’s old fashioned LCD definitely doesn’t disappoint. It performed well under normal conditions, just letting auto brightness do its job. When cranked to full brightness, I had no difficulty reading in the full glare of the sun. The colors may be pushed a tad vibrant, but a large portion of that is the color selection on LG’s skin. Unless you’re a color purist, then I don’t see this as a problem. Again the Revolution isn’t best in class here, but it is punching its weight.
CameraThe Revolution comes equipped with a 5 MP rear-facing and a 1.3 MP front-facing camera. Based on the strength of the front-facing camera, I have to give the Revolution positive marks in this category. From a pure numbers standpoint, the 5 MP rear camera is a disappointment and the lack of an LED flash is also a bit of a step backward. But if you use your smartphone camera as most people do, you aren’t going to notice a difference. I’ll boil it down to this: If your primary (or even secondary) concern when buying a smartphone is the camera, then you shouldn’t be opting for this phone. But if you want something to take the occasional snapshot and like the idea of being able to video conference on your phone — whenever that actually takes off — you’ll be perfectly well served by the Revolution.
1GHz SnapdragonThe LG Revolution isn’t packing the latest version of Android, and it’s also touting the previous generation of processors. A device released just a few weeks ago not carrying either NVIDIA’s Tegra 2 or Qualcomm’s dual-core Snapdragon processor is a bit baffling to me, even if the second-generation Snapdragon found in the Revolution still performs fairly well. Another notable device touting the second-generation Snapdragon (HTC’s G2) has reached the end of its life and has been discontinued on T-Mobile.
Maybe I’m a bit biased here, but I think most people are expecting dual-core processors at this stage of the game.
Anthony: The LG Revolution is a solid device, which blew me away with its unexpectedly high benchmark scores. The Revolution was able to churn through all the tasks I asked of it without any lag. That being said, the fact that the Revolution has last year’s operating system as well as last year’s processor are two significant negatives against this phone. And if that’s not enough to get you to avoid the Revolution, just remember that it has Bing preloaded.
We should start to see Android devices with dual-core processors and LTE support hit Verizon’s network as early as July. Assuming you’re not desperate for a new device, you probably want to skip the LG Revolution and wait for the next generation of “does.”
Sean: The Revolution by LG is an enjoyable phone. It feels great in the hand, and I never had issues with its performance during my usage. But it certainly doesn’t manage to live up to its name. Like the HTC Thunderbolt and Samsung’s Droid Charge, it is only marginally upgraded hardware from devices that we have had on the market for almost a year now (4G LTE aside), and the OS is in need of an upgrade that we don’t have a timeline for yet.
If you’re being forced to buy a 4G LTE phone in the next month, which would be a little weird, I’d give the Droid Charge the edge due to its Super Amoled Plus screen. But if the somewhat offbeat styling of the Charge isn’t your cup of tea, then the Revolution is a perfectly reasonable option. If you have a little wiggle room and can wait until late July – September, you’re guaranteed to have at least one, and more likely a few, dual-core 4G LTE options on Big Red to ponder.