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My take with the new LG Viper 4G LTE from Hutch, Kansas

S4GRU

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by Rickie Smith
Sprint 4G Rollout Updates
Monday, April 23, 2012 - 9:01 AM MDT

 

The LG Viper is one of Sprint’s first 4G LTE capable phones, and was launched along side with the GNEX LTE. When you first take it out of the box the phone is very light and thin and may lead you to believe that this phone can’t be all too powerful and great, but it is, just like its name suggests. The phone's casing is 50 percent recycled plastic and the package is made from 87 percent recycled material, and it comes with an "energy-efficient" charger that essentially turns itself off when not in use.

The Viper boots very fast, around 45 seconds, with its 1.2GHz dual-core processor and is quick to scan storage. But its speed does not stop there. While I don’t have much downloaded yet to the phone, its smoothness between functions is very outstanding. Hardly any lag time at all which is great for a so called entry level LTE phone. It comes with Android 2.3 (Gingerbread), but we are awaiting for announcements to upgrade it to Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich in the coming months. But how does it perform on the network? We will get to that a bit later.

 

A display that exceeds expectations

Many may wonder about the clarity of the display, as its not HD, but its 4” screen is very bright and crisp. On Friday I stopped into my local Sprint store. And the employees there were quite jealous because even they had not received their stock of Vipers yet. These Sprint employees commented they thought it was one of the clearer displays they have seen.

The first glaring omission to me is the Viper does not sport a dedicated camera button. But the Viper’s 5 megapixel camera is commendable. Very fast and sharp, even in low light the outcome is very good. Using the video camera side is quite good as well. Notable is the focus is a bit slow to respond. Overall camera performance I would say is quite acceptable for this level of phone.

The phone's big differentiator is Google Wallet. The integrated NFC chip, along with the Google Wallet app, allows you to "tap and pay" (with a PIN code) at stores that accept MasterCard PayPass, which includes a lot of small and large shops (major chains include CVS, Walgreens, Macy's and Gap). It comes with $50 prepaid when you activate the account, yet in the day I have had it, not been to a place that takes PayPass here in our small city of Hutchinson, Kansas. I will have to comment in the future as to how NFC and Google Wallet perform.

 

Device in hand and headed to a known Network Vision site…

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Sprint's Sandhill site, north of Hutchinson, Kansas.

Ok…what many have you have been waiting for, speed. I do have a partially completed Network Vision site close to my home. The Sprint Sandhills Site #WT03XC022 is here just north of Hutchinson. So once I got the phone activated, one of my first courses of business was to visit this site to check for LTE. Sprint did install an option so you could turn on and off the LTE mode until the network was more wide spread. This is done to help preserve your battery. So once all of that was completed I waited for it to scan for LTE at this site. No success. So cycled thru the steps taking it back to EVDO only then back to EVDO/LTE, and still nothing, so after all the wait I’m sorry to say I have no LTE speed test. S4GRU reported this site as only NV-3G active. So this is confirmed. No LTE yet deployed at the Sandhills site.

The battery on the phone is a 1700mAh, which has a quoted talk time of 5.3 hours. Under 1 day a moderate use (downloading apps, texting and some phone calls) battery is down to 60% remaining. So overall battery life does seem quite well. However, how it performs under LTE conditions is going to be the real question.

 

In conclusion

So my overall take away from my experience with the LG Viper so far, even without the LTE speeds…the phone is very powerful and does not miss a beat. I know a lot of people might not justify getting a phone that won’t live up to its full potential is understandable. But I think anyone who is in the markets Sprint has already said is getting LTE (or as we know more than what Sprint has said as S4GRU members) it would be a great buy to start testing things out as the network comes around. But if you’re in the market for a powerful, yet economical smartphone (and maybe a tad greener than average), then I would recommend the LG Viper for you.

 

 

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Specifications:

  • OS: Android 2.3
  • Dimensions: 4.59" Tall x 2.44" Wide x 0.46" Thick
  • Weight: 5 ounces
  • Display: 4.0" 480x800 LCD TFT (non-HD)
  • Battery: 1700mAh
  • Processor: 1.2GHz Dual Core Qualcomm Snapdragon S3 MSM8660
  • Memory: 1024MB RAM (1GB)
  • Internal Storage: 4GB
  • Additional Storage: MicroSD card expansion slot supporting up to 32GB (comes with 4GB MicroSD card)
  • Camera: Two total, rear facing 5MP, front facing 0.3MP VGA
  • Networks Supported: 800MHz CDMA (1x and EVDO-A);1900MHz CDMA (1x and EVDO-A); 1900MHz LTE; 850MHz CDMA Roaming (1x and EVDO)
  • Bluetooth: 3.0
  • WiFi: 802.11b/g/n supported
  • Mobile Hot Spot: Yes
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26 Comments


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Nice article, I play with it a few minutes and it impressed me, for a mid range phone, is fast and the screen looks great. Its a nice choice if you're not looking for the ultra mega king of the smartphones.

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I really don't understand why Sprint would do a half job on a site like this. How much more work is it really to enable LTE?

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I really don't understand why Sprint would do a half job on a site like this. How much more work is it really to enable LTE?

 

Obviously, the answer is they can't. Not that they have chosen not to.

 

Robert

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I really don't understand why Sprint would do a half job on a site like this. How much more work is it really to enable LTE?

 

Agreed. If they installed all the radios, cabinets, antennas, etc for 3G, why not just complete the entire tower site with 4G as well.

 

Also there are places that Robert has mentioned that only 4G has been installed but not 3G. I don't get why it works vice versa as well. Just complete towers with both 3G and 4G like the Waco region.

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Agreed. If they installed all the radios, cabinets, antennas, etc for 3G, why not just complete the entire tower site with 4G as well.

 

I'm afraid some of you (especially those in Boston) have stumbled onto the dirty little secret with network vision. The 4G LTE and eHRPD network (where EVDO will connect also) will be using new NV backhaul. The old 1x / EVDO (but non-eHRPD linked) network will use the old, existing backhaul and network. This is why the radios may be done, but there is no PDN gateway to tie LTE and eHRPD into. What this means in those areas is that 3G only phones will continue to see the same relative network performance after the NV upgrade; however, LTE-equipped phones connecting to 3G (via eHRPD) or LTE will use the higher capacity backhaul network tied to the PDN gateway.

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I'm afraid some of you (especially those in Boston) have stumbled onto the dirty little secret with network vision. The 4G LTE and eHRPD network (where EVDO will connect also) will be using new NV backhaul. The old 1x / EVDO (but non-eHRPD linked) network will use the old, existing backhaul and network. This is why the radios may be done, but there is no PDN gateway to tie LTE and eHRPD into. What this means in those areas is that 3G only phones will continue to see the same relative network performance after the NV upgrade; however, LTE-equipped phones connecting to 3G (via eHRPD) or LTE will use the higher capacity backhaul network tied to the PDN gateway.

 

I was afraid of this myself, but was not willing to report on it until I could verify. But on Friday, I saw a T1 decommissioning plan that was referencing 1x and EVDO connection to new AAV and MW backhaul. This is being done to save money. Why pay for dual backhaul? T1's are actually more expensive, all things considered.

 

So, I do believe there are many NV sites active that are still using T1's. But it appears the days for that staying around are limited. Sprint needs to get rid of the T1's to save operational expenses.

 

Robert

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Interesting review and comments.

CNET had a review for this same phone they published last week but I felt they were unfairly harsh on it (they lambasted Sprint for releasing a phone that still ran Gingerbread and naturally complained about no 4G LTE access yet-about what you'd expect). Their reviewer was also unduly harsh (I felt) on the build/thickness of the phone, but for an entry level LTE device it sounds perfectly acceptable to me.

I noticed a site not too far from me had had workers at it and last Friday ran some speed tests, and got consistent 1.0-1.4Mbps download speeds. I'm sure it's another bandaid fix but it will sure be wonderful when those speeds are NORMAL for 3G downloads-if I had that all the time I could wait awhile for 4G LTE, for sure.

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Good review....I would recommend this phone for maybe my mom who is in the market for a new phone but is not really tech savvy. For $99 bucks you really can't beat it.

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Sprint should had skipped the Nexus and the Viper altogether when in reality they don't have LTE network yet.

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My biggest complaint is the meager 4 gig internal memory. Coming off the 1 gig internal the Evo 4G, that's one mistake I refuse to make again. How large is the ics os? I would think at least 2 gig. That's probably the main reason it ships with Honeycomb.

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Sprint should had skipped the Nexus and the Viper altogether when in reality they don't have LTE network yet.

 

 

That's crazy. Should they wait until the whole LTE network is launched first? It's a chicken and egg scenario. There are 497 sites now that are LTE capable. And approx. 10 to 15 sites going live every day. Why make the people in those areas wait?

 

Also, they have no choice but to start cranking out LTE devices. They can't make new WiMax devices. It would be even crazier to try to keep making WiMax devices. It is time to switch.

 

If you are a Sprint customer and needing a new device, it would only make sense not to buy a LTE device if you lived in a WiMax area and actually used it. By the last estimate I saw, only 30% of Sprint customers owned a WiMax capable device and lived in a WiMax coverage area.

 

Robert

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Obviously, the answer is they can't. Not that they have chosen not to.Robert

 

Now I'm really confused. So are the 3G complete towers using the same old hardware and backhaul with the new antennae or is it just that the towers have no central switch to connect to (or both?)?

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Now I'm really confused. So are the 3G complete towers using the same old hardware and backhaul with the new antennae or is it just that the towers have no central switch to connect to (or both?)?

 

I don't have any details on it. What I'm referring to, is to me it is obvious that Sprint cannot make the 4G LTE live at this site. To me it seems insane to just deem the site "not worthy" to have the 4G LTE enabled. There is something else going on that is not clear.

 

However, I have said on a few occasions where Rickie has talked about this site publicly that the 4G LTE on air dates for this site are not until September. So this is something Sprint has known about for a long time, since they have built it into their schedule this way. My guess is that is related to the 4G core the site is connected to. As the new AAV backhaul at this site is already live and kickin' according to the schedule.

 

Robert

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i thought i had read in previous articles and forums that sprint was not going to put evdo on 800. is this still true and that the phones are just being equipt with it??

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Thanks for all the comments on the story. Been a crazy day at work and have had no chance to check this till now. I will respond to comments after i'm off work and help answer things or insight I have.

 

Rickie :)

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i thought i had read in previous articles and forums that sprint was not going to put evdo on 800. is this still true and that the phones are just being equipt with it??

 

You are correct. Sprint is not deploying EVDO on 800 SMR. However, the devices are coming out with EVDO support because they support it naturally. They would have to try to get it blocked in order for them to not support EVDO on 800. It gives Sprint some more flexibility in the future to leave the devices be capable of EVDO on 800.

 

Robert

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Good review....I would recommend this phone for maybe my mom who is in the market for a new phone but is not really tech savvy. For $99 bucks you really can't beat it.

 

Yes very accurate, the phone is really my wife's but she let me play with it so I could write this. She just needs to learn the swipe to text and she will like it more!

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I don't have any details on it. What I'm referring to, is to me it is obvious that Sprint cannot make the 4G LTE live at this site. To me it seems insane to just deem the site "not worthy" to have the 4G LTE enabled. There is something else going on that is not clear.However, I have said on a few occasions where Rickie has talked about this site publicly that the 4G LTE on air dates for this site are not until September. So this is something Sprint has known about for a long time, since they have built it into their schedule this way. My guess is that is related to the 4G core the site is connected to. As the new AAV backhaul at this site is already live and kickin' according to the schedule.Robert

 

Also I should of mentioned this in the story, 2 weeks after the install on this tower, I went back and got 150ms pings and over 1.5 mbps download. Now when I wet back this Friday to test 4G LTE had over 500 ms pings and below 500 kbps download.

 

So either they had it on for testing and I somehow got in, or just caught the tower at a low useage time. Plus the coverage for this tower is not any better now than before so I am thinking more #2 now.

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