Nothing feels better than leaving carrier contracts behind. Going prepaid is the best option for many users, especially if they don’t need those expensive $600 devices. Boost Mobile is one of the most popular prepaid carriers in the US, offering affordable options, as well as low-priced plans that get lower with time.
The LG Venice comes right in the middle, going for only $200 off-contract and sporting performance that won’t make your experience very painful. LG has improved its game over prior years, and this LG Optimus L7 variant is no bad contender at its price point. But is it good enough to entice prepaid customers to shell out those $200 for it instead of getting another Boost Mobile device? Stick around and see!
If you are looking for a phone that is thin and light, this might be a great option for you. Don’t plan to take it out hiking or drop it, though, because it doesn’t exactly have the best build-quality we have seen. The device is made of plastic, with a bit of metal-looking material (that is probably plastic too) outlining the edges. The camera is surrounded by metal, though.
While the front and sides of the device are made of better-quality plastic, the battery cover definitely has a “cheaper” feeling. The battery cover itself is a bit flimsy, allowing you to feel the empty space between the battery and the cover.
Something that does stand out is the build quality of the buttons, which can sometimes be underwhelming in affordable devices. These are rather solid and offer good feedback when pressed. They don’t move around are easy to find by touch.
The 4.3-inch screen is one of the main downsides of the device. Colors are relatively vibrant and the display is bright, but that 480×800 resolution definitely shows a good deal of pixelation. Especially if you have used high definition devices in the past. We can’t complain much because of the price, but at 4.3 inches, at least a qHD (540×960) display is needed.
Viewing angles are good and the device is definitely operational in direct sunlight (as long as the brightness is set high). The screen is also protected by Corning Gorilla Glass, which protects the device against scratches and cracks very well.
Performance & Software
The LG Venice is no powerhouse: it sports a single-core 1 GHz processor and 768 MB of RAM. I can honestly say it knows how to use the little power it has, though. Android 4.0 with LG’s UI overlay runs rather smooth on this device (considering the specs). The only thing slowing it down is Sprint’s lack-lusting network, but a good WiFi connection easily fixes that.
Most Android enthusiasts will be turned away by LG’s UI. Surely, it is very different from the Vanilla Android experience, but like other UIs, it has its benefits. And there are definitely some worst-looking UIs out there.
The Venice has LG’s Optimus UI 3.0, which is the same as the high-end Optimus G’s. Of course, this little guy can’t handle all the power-hungry features the Optimus G takes advantage of, but it does support some of them. QuickMemo is the most popular one (you can check out the demo below).
One can also access notification drawer quick settings and shortcuts. Needless to say all the customization options are there: one can easily change app icons, rearrange the app drawer and more. One thing I did not like about this device’s software is that there is no way to automatically arrange app drawer icons in alphabetical order (or any order, for that matter). You either go with the stock order (which pretty much just pushes downloaded apps to the end of the list) or you manually rearrange them to your will… one by one.
Battery life is actually not bad at all with the LG Venice. We must remember it does not have any 4G capabilities, though, so this is to be expected. I managed to keep it alive for 9.5 hours under heavy use, while conserving battery made it last about 19.5 hours. Under casual use it would hold up for about 13-14 hours.
For a low-end device the LG Venice’s camera actually stacks up pretty high against the competition. The 5 MP rear-facing camera can take pretty smooth 720p HD videos, and still pictures are great. Though not as good as the LG Optimus G, picture quality gets pretty close to the company’s current flagship smartphone. Of course, less megapixels means the picture will be smaller.
The camera performed very well under low-light conditions (dimly-lit room), as well as in full daylight. Colors were a bit washed out, but nothing to complain about with a $200 phone.
Oh, Call Quality!
Smartphones have so many features sometimes we forget about the most basic ones. Call quality on this device is fairly good. The other side could hear me well and I could definitely understand them. There is a bit of a muffled effect compared to higher-end devices, but it definitely doesn’t break the deal.
The LG Venice is no powerhouse, there is no doubt about that. But it performs surprisingly well for a $200 device. If you are looking for a Boost Mobile device on a $200-budget, this is definitely the one to get. It doesn’t have the best build quality, but it is thin and is aesthetically pleasing (of course, that is subjective). And for its specs, it is a very responsive device, even if it could use a bit more pixels packed in the screen.
If you happen to have an extra $50 to spare, you could very well go for the HTC EVO Design 4G, with stronger specs, better build quality and 4G connectivity (albeit WiMAX). If you are not necessarily married to Boost Mobile you could always go with an unlocked, $300 Nexus 4 (much, much better specs for only $100 more) and go with a GSM prepaid carrier.
I would definitely recommend this to anyone looking for a good, yet affordable phone for Boost Mobile, though. Sometimes that bit of extra cash makes the whole difference, and you might not even need what the slightly-more-expensive devices have to offer. For what such an affordable phone is meant to do, the LG Venice does it right.