In the future, features such as wireless charging and tapping your phone to change its settings will be standard, but for now these features are cutting edge on smartphones. With the LG Spectrum 2 you can have these features and more on an Android phone that costs less than $100.
The design of the phone is minimalist, but contemporary. The glass screen extends nearly to the edge of the phone, with a thin strip of chrome framing the sides. The backside is tapered with a textured surface.
The bottom row of buttons are not physical buttons but glow blue when touched. A fourth menu button is included, always a welcome addition to an Android phone.
The Spectrum 2 weighs in at 5.16 ounces, and is built with a solid feel. The phone is substantial, but not hefty. The phone measures 5.31″(h) x 2.69″(w) x 0.36″(d).
The Spectrum 2 is a 4G phone that runs Android 4.0, (Ice Cream Sandwich) and has a large 4.7″ screen that makes watching videos, playing games and viewing photos a pleasure. While the 4.7″ screen might seem a bit large for someone with small hands or narrow pockets, the extra screen real estate may be too enticing to pass up. If the lure of playing Angry Birds on your phone without having to swipe to see the target is especially tempting, you will like the screen size of the Spectrum 2.
The phone comes with 16 GB of storage, with about 11.5 GB available for use, around 4.5 GB is taken up with pre-installed software and apps. You can expand the storage by adding a micro SD card in the slot under the back cover.
The price, at under $100, is one of the more remarkable things about this phone. Verizon is currently offering this phone for $99.99 with a $50 online rebate and free overnight shipping, handy if you’re considering this as a Christmas gift for someone. This price requires a two-year contract with Verizon, but the phone is also available for $499.99 from Verizon if you don’t want the commitment of a contract.
The NFC feature is one of the coolest features about this phone. NFC, a/k/a Near Field Communications, allows the phone to communicate with other nearby devices. Using NFC, you can transfer data such as photos, documents, apps and contacts between NFC-enabled devices.
The Spectrum 2 comes with two NFC tags to use with the phone (you can purchase more). You can program these tags to open apps and adjust the settings on your phone, such as turning on Bluetooth, silencing your phone, and turning on Wi-Fi. Once a tag is programmed, you can change your phone’s settings just by tapping your phone on the tag. When a setting is changed using a tag, a sound is played so you will know that the setting has been changed.
For example, you can program Car Mode for a tag that you stick on your car dashboard. When you get in your car, tap the tag to activate navigation, Bluetooth, and music. As you exit the car, tap the phone on the tag again to turn them off. Car Mode. You can add a tag programmed for Office Mode to your desk that turns Wi-Fi on and silences your phone to make sure you’re not interrupted by an embarrassing ringtone. You can place a tag on your nightstand to put the phone in Sleep Mode overnight and wake your phone in the morning.
You can customize each mode to activate the settings you choose for each tag. In User Mode you can program tags to open apps. For example, if you check your email first thing in the morning, add a tag to your nightstand that will open the Mail app.
Using these tags can save you the hassle of adjusting your settings, plus save battery life by allowing you to adjust your settings easily.
The Spectrum 2 can be charged by placing it on a wireless charging pad (not included) so you don’t have to plug it in to charge it. Although wireless charging is slower that wired charging, the convenience makes this a very handy feature. Picture going to sleep at night and resting your phone on the pad without having to fumble to plug in a charge cord. You wake in the morning and grab your fully charged phone as you head out the door.
The phone has multiple bands so you can use it in over 200 countries around the world.
With Quick Memo, you can use your finger as a stylus to write on images. QuickMemo is handy for taking notes or for adding fun captions to photos.
You can choose the color of the ink and the width of the writing. An eraser is available should you make a mistake or change your mind.
The LG Spectrum 2 has an 8 MP HD rear-facing camera with auto-focus an LED flash that takes still images as well as video. The phone also has a 1.3 MP front camera for self-portraits and video chats.
The camera has fun features such as Voice Shot, that automatically takes a photo when you say “Cheese” that’s very handy and sure to be a crowd-pleaser at parties. You can turn that feature on and off, to avoid unwanted shots at a cheese shop, for example.
The camera can take panoramic images and six continuous shots in a row. You can take HDR photos with the camera, that combines photos taken with different exposures to form one photo with optimal exposure.
The camera comes with filters, such as sepia and mono (a/k/a black and white), and allows you to geotag your photos so you can remember where you took them.
The camera helps you improve your photography skills while enabling you to catch the best image. Time Catch Shot captures two pictures before you press the shutter and one after so you have multiple images to choose from. If you’re trying to capture action shots at a sporting event or your baby’s first steps, Time Catch Shot may be the best way to make sure you get the shot you want.
In spite of all of these features, I sometimes had difficulty getting a sharp image in low light. Some pictures looked grainy without the flash and were over-exposed with the flash, though that very well may say more about my lack of photography talent than the quality of the camera.
You can see more examples of photos taken with the Spectrum 2 at The Wonder of Tech Flickr page.
With features such as Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and NFC turned on, you can use quite a bit of energy, but I found the battery lasted through a day of heavy use without the need to recharge. If you find that you need extra power to get you through the day, the battery of the Spectrum 2 is removable so you can keep a spare battery handy.
According to LG, the battery in the Spectrum 2 has up to 624 minutes of usage time and up to 472.8 hours of standby time.
The LG Spectrum 2 comes pre-loaded with apps, some of which are very handy, such as Amazon, Google Play, Camera and Google Maps. Others, such as NFL Mobile, Zappos and Amex Serve, seem as if they should be optional. Pre-loaded apps can’t be removed from the phone, though you can hide the icons.
Imagine tapping your phone when you go to bed at night to put your phone into Sleep Mode, then laying it on a pad to charge the battery. In the morning, you grab your fully charged phone and tap it to check your emails. Get in the car and tap your phone to activate Bluetooth and Navigation. When you arrive at the office, tap the phone on your desk to activate Office Mode. That scenario is the future of smartphones, but you can get it now for under $100.
Do you like the features that the Spectrum 2 offers? Do you like wireless charging? Do you like the NFC tags? Let us know in the Comments section below!