Let’s take a look at our detailed review for the newly launched budget-friendly LG’s phone – the LG Realm.
Pros: helpful exclusive software of LG, nice indicator light, low price.
Cons: low-quality screen display, slow 3G speed, limited internal capacity (4GB).
Bottom line: the LG Realm is actually not a bad device. However, with just $20 more, users can have another better choice – the Motorla Moto G with stronger hardware and more attractive design.
Among the market for budget-end Android smartphone, the LG Realm – which costs $80 – is not a bad choice, but it’s also not the best choice so far due to its limited 4GB built-in storage, the low-resolution display and the lagging 3G data speed.
Talking about good things, there are some extra softwares of LG that stand out such as: the shining LED home button, the double-tap function to turn on/off the screen. However, regarding to the specification of the phone (such as screen display quality or the internal storage), definitely, the Motorola Moto G also for Boost Mobile does much better with just $20 more.
Design and build
Actually, the LG Realm is the CDMA version of the GSM LG Optimus L70. Thus, if you know the predecessor L70 well, for sure you will be easily familiar with the Realm.
The LG Realm mostly looks like a basic black rectangular, its corners are curved and there is a thin silvery border to embellish the plain black look. The back cover is made of plastic and prettified by a black-on-black squares pattern. This pattern adds some more dimensions to the device, and it’s also the shining LED indicator running around the home button.
For users with small hands or prefer using the phone with 1 hand, the dimension of the LG Realm is surely very comfortable. The phone stands at 5 inches x 2.6 inches x 0.38 inch (tall x width x thickness), 136 grams heavy and has 4.5-inch screen size. Thus, it’s very easy to slip the LG Realm into the pocket.
Talking about the LCD display, the resolution of the LG Realm is at 800 x 480 pixel – which is quite suitable for a screen at 4.5 inch size. However, the pixel density at 207 ppi is quite disappointing since it’s cannot display well under strong sunlight. The HD photos shall be pixelated when being viewed on this low-resolution screen display.
The front camera and the speaker grille are located above the phone screen while the home button and capacitive buttons are located blow the screen. (the Capacitive buttons also can calls up Google Now and Google Search). The port for Micro-USB (also for charging) is located on the bottom edge while the 3.5mm headset jack is on the top edge. On the left edge lies the volume control buttons and on the right edge lies the power/lock button. Of course, the rear cam of the phone is located on the back cover, along with the LED flash below. You can see the slot for microSD card when removing the back cover.
OS and apps
The operating system being shipped with the LG Realm is the Android 4.4 – which is the best benefit for this device so far. This operating system is up to date, thus, the phone is benefit with good stability and latest features of Android device (such as Google Now).
Moreover, the LG Realm is also racked up with some addendum-ons and especially, the custom Android skin. There are several widgets that you may also like such as: the QSlide – which is used for quick-launching the app, the Quick Memo – which can be quickly accessed by sliding up from screen bottom.
When carefully looking up at the settings, there will be some interesting extras that users can find such as you can set up the screen so that brightness shall turn off from 12am to 6am every night. However, for me, I still prefer the automatic screen brightness and prefer to be able to read the screen in odd hours in case of my regular insomnia.
When the battery just remains around 30%, battery saver shall jump on to suggest users to optimize the remaining juice. With this suggestion, you can choose to turn off wireless connection like Wifi or Bluetooth, or to turn off auto-sync and vibration, or to shorten screen timeout, reduce brightness. LG’s Guest Mode is also interesting for me.
Though Bluetooth 4.0 is supported in the LG Realm, NFC protocol is not.
Regarding applications on the phone, LG and Boost Mobile already put many apps into the device such as LG backup, Mobile ID profile or Boost Music. There are also an app update center from 3rd-party and many other apps. All of these you can hide or ignore if you feel they are not necessary.
Cameras and video
The rear cam of the LG Realm is the 5 MP one, which is shipped with LED flash and autofocus and various settings options to modify specs of the photos such as color effects, white balance, ISO… Unfortunately, the HDR mode is not available even though Panorama mode, burst shooting and sports mode are all available here.
However, as the phone is not really fast, obviously it shall take a little bit longer to process everything on the LG Realm such as: auto-focusing or moving to next shot. The quality of photos taken is up to standard, though colors still lack of vibrancy and focus is not really crispy.
The LG Realm can capture video with 800 x 480 pixel WVGA standard. Such thing is good enough for taking daily moments or posting short clips to social network. For those who demands higher standard, these grainy clips surely cannot satisfy them. Users can also take quick movie for MMS by selecting MMS video, they can also choose for longer format but whenever the storage capacity runs out, your video capturing shall be restricted.
The front camera of the LG Realm is a VGA cam with 0.3 MP resolution. With such kind of spec, pictures taken shall be gray out (especially for skin tones) and extremely soft-focus.
Performance: Data, speeds, battery life.
Talking about data network of the LG Realm, the phone supports 3G network that runs on Sprint. As my test in San Francisco by Speedtest.net diagnostic app, the speed is terribly slow. In real life, the speed is somehow more livable. Web-browsing is quite ok as the web-sites are now being optimized for mobile device. Youtube videos can stream quite smoothly though the initial buffering shall takes an amount of time. Considering all of the above, the LG Realm is the one you shall prefer to use with Wifi as it supports 2.4GHZ network.
As the LG Realm is basically a version of its predecessor phone, the 1.2GHz Qualcomm quad-core– the faster chipset that we currently see in entry-level device of this year – is not shipped with this phone. Instead of this quad-core chipset, the processor here is still dual-core – the 1.2GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 200 which shall slows performance down.
Obviously, with just a dual-core processor, the performance of the LG Realm shall be uneven and sluggish. Thus, users shall have to wait a little while to complete a normal task. Although play games (particularly with games being optimized for weak-performing gadgets) is quite ok, surely you will cannot have rich experience with intensive graphic or more processor-demanding games as you will have with a higher-end devices.
The internal storage available in the LG Realm is 4GB, but unfortunately, only 1.3GB is user-accessible. That means there will be a high possibility that you will need a microSD card to expand the phone’s storage capacity (which can be up to 32GB expandable). The RAM being equipped for LG Realm is the 1.2GB RAM.
For battery life, the Realm’s batter is powered at 2,100mAh, which can last for a work day. As our talking time test, this phone can last for up to 17 hours. Video streaming test shall be run later. The result of FRR measurements shows that the digital SAR of the LG Realm is at 1.2 watts/ kg.
As my test in San Francisco on Boost Mobile network, the call quality is absolutely okay as HD Voice technology of Sprint is applied for the phone. At medium-high setting, volume from both ends call line is sufficiently loud with naturally sounded voice. However, when my calling partner is silent, there was some white noise or fizzling out.
If you are a loyal customer of Boost Mobile and a under $100 smartphone is what you are looking for, the LG Realm is a good choice for you. With the decent rear cam and other useful widgets, this phone can handle well with your demand in normal daily tasks. However, be aware of the low 3G speed.
Finally speaking, the LG Realm is not the best choice at low-end smartphone currently as with just $20 more, the Motorola Moto G is definitely a much better choice with fast data network, high performance processor, nicer looking screen, more capable storage and better quality camera.