Straight Talk LG Power and LG Destiny Review

Specs – Straight Talk LG Power & LG Destiny

lg_powerStraight Talk LG Power & Destiny Check Availability
Dimensions Height 5.11″ x Width 2.52″ x Thickness .49″
Weight 4.2 Ounces
Form Factor Compact Candybar TouchscreenProtective Cases Available from FatOrder
Network & Technology LG Destiny-GSM 4G (Enhanced 3g), WiFi/Activated with AT&TLG Power – CDMA 3G, WiFi/Activated with Verizon
Calling Plan Straight Talk $45 Unlimited
Downloadable Apps Yes, all apps available through Google Play store. Comes with Youtube, Google Maps, GPS Navigation.
Processor 1.2 ghz Quad core
SD Card/Internal Storage SD card not included/Capable of up to 32gb micro SD card
Android OS Android 5.0 Lolipop
Digital Camera 5 mega pixels/.3 mp front facing camera/LED flash
Screen 4.5″ Diagonal
Battery Life 10 days stand by & up to 7 hrs talk
Button Types Floating on-screen Android buttons
USB microUSB v4.0
Audio Jack & Charging Standard 3.5mm iPod type / micro usb charge/data
Price $79.99

About the LG Power and LG Destiny

The main attraction here is the fact that the phones are the first Android 5.0 Lolipop phones from Straight Talk. There is also a bit of an interesting twist in the design which I will talk about a little later. The one thing to note is the fact that the difference between these two phones boils down to one being for Verizon (the Power) while the other is for AT&T (the Destiny). The remaining specs are identical on both phones. One thing you will notice on the Destiny is the fact that the box says 4G, but don’t mistake that for 4G LTE because they are not the same. The Destiny has what they call “enhanced” 3G which is to say just a bit faster than standard. In reality, I cannot tell much by way of speed difference from one to the other.

I would say that these phones are sized just about perfectly as they both fit nicely in the hand thanks to the slight curve in the back and the perfectly sized screen. What I really enjoy, however, is the slick modern design which I will talk about a bit later.

Design and Build Quality

As I touched on earlier, the one thing that stands out to me, other than the new Android 5.0, is the slick modern form factor on these phones.  Don’t get me wrong, I think it will take a bit of getting used to because these phones have the power and volume buttons on the back. The buttons are incorporated into the battery cover and located just below the camera and LED flash. Speaking of the battery cover, it has a brushed metal look (yes, it is plastic) which is quite attractive.

destiny_backdestiny_side

While I will admit, the button thing is just trying to be different rather than better, I will say that the front of these phones is very attractive. They don’t have any fancy trim or anything like that, but since the Android “buttons” are on screen, just about the entire front of the phones is screen. That is to say, there is no wasted real estate on the usual hardware buttons located just below the screen.

destiny_front

Another item that I give these phones a gold star in is the screen material. While they are plastic screened phones, I do like the fact that they are very smooth, almost as smooth as their glass screened counterparts. The reason why I mention this is because many of these entry level phones have less than smooth screens on them so you always feel a bit annoying resistance when you glide your finger across the screen to perform say a swipe. These phones are free of that sensation.

Performance and Usability

I really enjoyed the performance of these phones. They have plenty of power to run just about anything. The Maps app for example, is a breeze to zoom, rotate and pan on. There isn’t the slightest bit of hesitation when zooming and panning on the loaded map. Of course there is still a bit of a lag when the phone has to load a new section of the map but that has more to do with the data speed.

Usability on Android 5.0 is great! Not much has changed since the 4.x versions other than the different button icons so you will need to get used to those. One button of note is the right most button which now just brings up the active apps instead of what used to be the app menu. The center circle button is still the home and the left arrow is still the back button.

The phone comes with the usual suite of Android apps such as Chrome, GMail, Maps, Play Store YouTube, etc. About the only little extra on the phone is the hardware based FM radio which allows you to use the radio without using up data.

Lastly, I’d like to talk about the video quality because it is quite good for a phone at this price range. It has a wide viewing angle so it does not darken when you tilt the phone slightly. Unlike other lower end phones, you do not have to watch it dead on to get good video. That said, the sound quality is about average.

Camera

The camera here is pretty good. You get good image quality in both low light and normal conditions. The flash is also nice and bright with the ability to turn it on/off/auto.  I will tell you that all of those cool camera filters people like to play with cannot be applied before taking a picture but rather you can only apply the cool effect stuff after you take a picture and go into edit mode. One thing I was unable to find was the landscape mode. Cool filters included vintage, drama, black & white, HDR Scape, Retrolux, Center Focus, tilt shift and frames. Of course you can crop and rotate images as well.

destiny_camera

One thing to note is that the front facing camera’s resolution is very low so most images take with that will be on the poor side.

Here are some sample shots with a couple of filters applied, drama, vintage and normal.

destiny_pic_3 destiny_pic_2 destiny_pic_1

Conclusion

I would say these are two great little phones. I think the price is right for the content and specs. I really liked the modern design on these phones. Particularly the fact that the entire face of the phones are essentially just the screen. The back facing buttons are interesting though some may find them a bit annoying or just something new to get used to. Overall, I would highly recommend either phone. Just keep in mind that the Power is for Verizon and the Destiny is for AT&T. Don’t be too alarmed that the Verizon model does not say 4G because there really is no difference in download speeds between the two.

Straight Talk ZTE Lever LTE Preview

Specs – Straight Talk ZTE Lever LTE

zte_lever
Dimensions Height 6.50″ x Width 3.27″ x Thickness .31″
Weight 5.99 Ounces
Form Factor Medium Candybar Touchscreen
Network & Technology CDMA LTE with WiFi/TBA
Calling Plan Straight Talk $45 Unlimited
Downloadable Apps Yes, all apps available through Google Play store. Comes with Youtube, Google Maps, GPS Navigation.
Processor TBA
SD Card/Internal Storage SD card not included/Capable of up to 32gb micro SD card
Android OS TBA
Digital Camera 8 mega pixels
Screen Size 6.0″ Diagonal
Battery Life 15 days stand by & up to 11 hrs talk
Button Types Capacitive touch buttons
USB microUSB v4.0
Audio Jack & Charging Standard 3.5mm iPod type / micro usb charge/data
Price TBA

About the ZTE Lever LTE

The ZTE Lever is a premium level device at a more entry level price. The lever will be available with the large 6″ screen size so this will be a great multi media device. Another impressive feature on this phone is the 8 mp resolution digital camera. Of course it will be LTE so it will provide fast data. I believe this phone will be a CDMA device as this new round of upcoming Straight Talk LTE phones will introduce the CDMA (Verizon) market to LTE devices. Previous LTE were all GSM (AT&T models).

The one thing that I like about ZTE devices is that basically you get a fairly high end phone for quite affordable prices. This model should be no different. Specs look great on this device particularly if you like the large screen form factor. This will be an interesting phone to review once the phone becomes available.

Straight Talk Alcatel Pop Nova LTE Preview

Specs – Straight Talk Alcatel Pop Nova LTE

pop_nova
Dimensions Height 4.78″ x Width 2.54″ x Thickness .49″
Weight 4.9 Ounces
Form Factor Medium Candybar Touchscreen
Network & Technology CDMA LTE with WiFi/TBA
Calling Plan Straight Talk $45 Unlimited
Downloadable Apps Yes, all apps available through Google Play store. Comes with Youtube, Google Maps, GPS Navigation.
Processor TBA
SD Card/Internal Storage SD card not included/Capable of up to 32gb micro SD card
Android OS TBA
Digital Camera 5 mega pixels/1mp front facing camera/LED flash
Screen Size 4.0″ Diagonal
Battery Life 15 days stand by & up to 11 hrs talk
Button Types Capacitive touch buttons
USB microUSB v4.0
Audio Jack & Charging Standard 3.5mm iPod type / micro usb charge/data
Price TBA

About the Pop Nova LTE

The Pop Nova LTE is an interesting model in that it essentially the same as the Pop Star, and Pop Star 2. Just about all specs are identical to the Pop Star 2 including dimensions, weight, camera resolution and processor speeds. So other than a different name, there is really nothing new on this particular model. What this leads me to believe is that this will more than likely be a CDMA LTE model. This is a relative new thing for Straight Talk as I believe all previous LTE models were for GSM, basically AT&T. These new models will now be CDMA which will give you the ability to select the correct phone for your coverage.

Conclusion here is that this phone will likely be identical to the Pop Star 2 other than perhaps the coverage area being CDMA on the Pop Nova LTE. The price will more than likely be in the $150 range.

Straight Talk Alcatel Pop Star 2 LTE Review

Specs – Straight Talk Alcatel Pop Star 2 LTE

pop_star_2
Dimensions Height 4.75″ x Width 2.50″ x Thickness .49″
Weight 4.85 Ounces
Form Factor Small Candybar Touchscreen
Network & Technology GSM LTE with WiFi/Activated with AT&T
Calling Plan Straight Talk $45 Unlimited
Downloadable Apps Yes, all apps available through Google Play store. Comes with Youtube, Google Maps, GPS Navigation.
Processor 1.2 Quad Core
SD Card/Internal Storage SD card not included/Capable of up to 32gb micro SD card
Android OS 4.4 Kit Kat
Digital Camera 5 mega pixels/.3 mp front facing camera/LED flash
Screen Size 4.0″ Diagonal
Battery Life 15 days stand by & up to 11 hrs talk
Button Types Capacitive touch buttons
USB microUSB v4.0
Audio Jack & Charging Standard 3.5mm iPod type / micro usb charge/data
Price $79.99

About the Pop Star 2 LTE

In this post, we review another Straight Talk/Tracfone Alcatel sequel in the form of the Pop Star 2 LTE. The original Pop Star model came with the very popular 4″ screen size and was priced quite affordably for an LTE model. So despite different buttons and a slight increase in size, I am having a hard time detecting significant upgrades over the orginal Pop Star as both phones are LTE models that will be activated with AT&T.

As I touched on above, though the buttons look like the new Android 5.0 Lolipop buttons, this phone is indeed Android 4.4. As such, functionality remains about the same as the original Pop Star.

Essentially, the main highlight of this phone is the attractive price tag and the very compact size.

Design and Build Quality

The design and build quality on this phone is very much typical Android. I will say that other than the new cryptic button design, this phone is not any different than any other Android on the market.

One thing I will mention is the fact that the screen does have a bit of resistance to it when swiping the screen. Though very slight, it is worth mentioning and it is something that is quite typical on entry level plastic screened phones such as this. There is not much to speak of on the remainder of the design elements other than a slight rubberized battery cover and all new button design. The head phone jack and power/lock buttons are located at the top, the volume rocker is on the upper right and the charge port is at the bottom. There is nothing by way of fancy trim and the Android buttons are not backlit.

The one plus I will give this phone is the fact that the phone is quite compact for an LTE device. This may not sound like much but many of the LTE devices out there tend to be of the larger variety so it is always nice to find one that is not sized obnoxiously large.

Video  and Sound Quality

I was somewhat disappointed in the sound and video quality of this phone. The issue is that the video quality is not the best when viewed at slight angles, more so when the phone is viewed in landscape mode. Basically what I’m saying here is that you will notice some screen darkening unless the phone is viewed dead on.

The sound quality is below average as the speaker is small so this one has a tendency to sound somewhat like a hollow tin can. This is not surprising as many of these smaller screened devices have this problem.

Digital Camera

I was quite happy with the camera on this phone as it has many nice camera features. For one, you can take panoramic shots as well as having the ability to apply various filters and previewing them before you take your picture. Of particular note is the ability to see 9 different filter previews before taking your image. Additionally, you do get a front facing .3mp camera with an led flash.

Conclusion

While there is nothing truly outstanding here other than a few cool camera features, this phone is worth taking a look at because it is priced quite attractively considering it is an LTE device. The other item of note that may attract buyers is the fact that this is rare breed in that it is quite compact considering it is an LTE phone.

Straight Talk Alcatel Pop Icon 2 LTE Preview

Specs – Tracfone Alcatel Pop Icon 2

pop_icon_2
Dimensions Height 5.55″ x Width 2.84″ x Thickness .38″
Weight 5.30 Ounces
Form Factor Large Candybar Touchscreen
Network & Technology CDMA LTE with WiFi/Activated with either Verizon or Sprint
Calling Plan Straight Talk $45 plan
Downloadable Apps Yes, all apps available through Google Play store. Comes with Youtube, Google Maps, GPS Navigation.
Processor TBA
SD Card/Internal Storage Up to 32gb micro SD card
Android OS Android 4.4
Digital Camera 5 mega pixels/front facing camera/LED flash
Screen Size 5.0″ Diagonal
Battery Life 15 days stand by & up to 11 hrs talk
Button Types Capacitive touch buttons
USB microUSB v4.0
Audio Jack & Charging Standard 3.5mm iPod type / micro usb charge/data
Price

TBA

About the Alcatel Pop Icon 2 LTE

Today we take a sneak peak at the Alcatel Pop Icon 2 LTE. This is a sequel if you will to the popular Pop Icon which was introduced about 6 months ago. What made that phone popular remains in this new model in the form of the large 5″ diagonal screen at a very reasonable price. There is one significant upgrade on this one and that is the upgrade from regular 3g to the much faster LTE.

About every other spec remains about the same except for perhaps the operating system. Currently, the phone is slated to be introduced with Android 4.4, but I would not be surprised if it were intruded with the much newer Android 5.0 Lolipop.  Dimensions and weight remain the same over the original model. Expect this new model to be slightly more expensive than the original but not by much.

Straight Talk Vs Total Wireless Comparison

total-logo

VSstraighttalk_logoToday we take a look at a new Wireless service from Tracfone called Total Wireless. You may be surprised to find out that Tracfone is basically the parent company for Total Wireless as well as Straight Talk. With that in mind, we take a look a both of these plans to see which is best for you.

Calling Plans

The main difference between these plans basically boils down to the plan costs. Straight Talk offers “unlimited data” which is basically 3GB full speed then throttled back for the remainder.  Total Wireless on the other hand offers 2.5 gb with no mention of “unlimited” anywhere.

One item worth mentioning is that Total Wireless does not offer LTE phones which means you do not get LTE speeds. Additionally, all of the Total Wireless offerings are CDMA. This means that the calling area is limited to Verizon. There are no GSM or AT&T phones currently available from Total Wireless.

One nice thing about Total Wireless which is not available for Straight Talk, are the shared plans.  Total Wireless offers 2, 3 and 4 line shared plans for $60, $85 and $110 respectively. This is great for families who need multiple lines as it offers some nice savings over single line plans. Be aware that the data is shared so the 2 line deal gets you 2.5 gbs per phone, the 3 and 4 line deals get you 3gbs per phone.

Phone Selection

Phone selection is somewhat lacking on Total Wireless. For example, as previously mentioned, there are no LTE speed phones. One major drawback is there is no iPhone available for this plan as of this writing. I would say that Total Wireless is for those of us who are budget conscious.

Conclusion

I think the Total Wireless plan has some obvious appeal for those of us who have good Verizon coverage. That is not the case for me as Verizon is seriously lacking my area but if you have it then I think it might be obvious choice.  On the downside, is the limited phone selection without the fast LTE offerings. That said, Total Wireless is a new service so these things may change in the future.  I wouldn’t hold my breath though because as I said at the offset, both Straight Talk and Total Wireless are essentially the same company so unless Tracfone is killing off Straight Talk, there is no real reason for them to make them the same.

Straight Talk ZTE Zephyr

Specs – Straight Talk ZTE Zephyr

zte-zephyrZTE Zephyr Check Availability
Dimensions Height 4.91″ x Width 2.51″ x Thickness .44″
Weight 5.16 Ounces
Form Factor Medium Candybar Touchscreen
Network & Technology CDMA 3G, WiFi/Activated with Verizon
Calling Plan Straight Talk $45 Unlimited
Downloadable Apps Yes, all apps available through Google Play store. Comes with Youtube, Google Maps, GPS Navigation.
Processor 1.2 ghz Quad core
SD Card/Internal Storage SD card not included/Capable of up to 32gb micro SD card
Android OS Android 4.4
Digital Camera 5 mega pixels/1mp front facing camera/LED flash
Screen 4.0″ Diagonal
Battery Life 10 days stand by & up to 7 hrs talk
Button Types Capacitive touch buttons
USB microUSB v4.0
Audio Jack & Charging Standard 3.5mm iPod type / micro usb charge/data
Price TBA

About the Samsung ZTE Zephyr

The ZTE Zephyr is another entry level introduction from Straight Talk. This latest batch of entry level devices is meant to replace the last generation intro phones. The Zephyr falls under this category. I can’t really say that I see anything new here. The specs are fairly typical of phones in this category. What does stand out, is the 5 mega pixel camera that improves over the 3 mp weaklings that typically find a home in these devices. For example, the LG Lucky and Sunrise both have a 3 mp unit and are also in the entry level category. For this, I always like the ZTE phones because you typically get just a bit more for your money and the Zephyr is not exception there.  This is a solid device for those who are looking for a medium entry level device. Expect the Zephyr to be priced in the $100 ballpark, if not just a bit above.

Straight Talk LG L15G (LG Sunrise) And L16C (LG Lucky)

Specs – Straight Talk LG Sunrise & LG Lucky

lg-sunrise

Straight Talk LG Sunrise & Lucky Check Availability

Dimensions Height 4.43″ x Width 2.50″ x Thickness .49″
Weight 4.2 Ounces
Form Factor Compact Candybar Touchscreen
Network & Technology LG Sunrise-GSM 3G, WiFi/Activated with AT&TLG Lucky – CDMA 3G, WiFi/Activated with Verizon
Calling Plan Straight Talk $45 Unlimited
Downloadable Apps Yes, all apps available through Google Play store. Comes with Youtube, Google Maps, GPS Navigation.
Processor 1.2 ghz Quad core
SD Card/Internal Storage SD card not included/Capable of up to 32gb micro SD card
Android OS Android 4.4
Digital Camera 3 mega pixels/1mp front facing camera/LED flash
Screen 4.0″ Diagonal
Battery Life 10 days stand by & up to 7 hrs talk
Button Types Capacitive touch buttons
USB microUSB v4.0
Audio Jack & Charging Standard 3.5mm iPod type / micro usb charge/data
Price TBA

About the Samsung LG Sunrise

The LG Sunrise and LG Lucky are not a particularly exciting phones. Both are of the entry level variety that fall solidly under the “Been there, Done that” category. It takes a lot nowadays to bring something we have not seen before. That said, both of these are far superior to entry level devices of yesteryear. . Both of these phones are of the  compact sized types so the screen is around 3.5″ to 4″ measured diagonally. So if your upgrade cycle is due and don’t want to break the bank on something, one of these may be solid options. The only difference between these phones is the Activation technology. The LG Sunrise is a GSM 3g phone so will be activated with AT&T while the LG Lucky is a CDMA 3g phone that will be activated with Verizon.

These phones are not out yet so we will see where they are  priced. My guess is that these will be in the $100 category if no just a bit above. Either would be a good choice at this price level you just need to decide whether you need AT&T or Verizon coverage then choose accordingly. That is really the only difference between these two phones.

In addition to these two phones, we are also awaiting the LG Power, the LG Destiny, the Huawei Raven LTE, ZTE Paragon and ZTE Zephyr but we have no information as of yet on these.

Straight Talk Samsung Galaxy Core Prime Preview

Specs – Straight Talk Galaxy Core Prime

zte-rapidoSamsung Galaxy Core Prime Check Availability
Dimensions Height 5.15″ x Width 2.68″ x Thickness .35″
Weight 4.55 Ounces
Form Factor Medium Candybar Touchscreen
Network & Technology CDMA 4G LTE, WiFi/Activated with Verizon
Calling Plan Straight Talk $45 Unlimited
Downloadable Apps Yes, all apps available through Google Play store. Comes with Youtube, Google Maps, GPS Navigation.
Processor 1.2 ghz Quad core
SD Card/Internal Storage SD card not included/Capable of up to 32gb micro SD card
Android OS Android 4.3
Digital Camera 5 mega pixels/1mp front facing camera/LED flash
Screen 4.5″ Diagonal
Battery Life 15 days stand by & up to 11 hrs talk
Button Types Capacitive touch buttons
USB microUSB v4.0
Audio Jack & Charging Standard 3.5mm iPod type / micro usb charge/data
Price TBA

About the Samsung Galaxy Core Prime

No, the Galaxy Core Prime is not a Transformer, it is an up coming Galaxy class phone from Straight Talk.  This is a mid entry device with what appears to be a 4.3″ to 4.5″ screen. Now it is clear that this is aimed at the mid end market as the phone only comes with a 5 mp digital camera.  That said, this is a great looking device with the well known Samsung Galaxy pedigree. What’s notable on this phone is that it appears to be yet another LTE device for use on Verizon coverage.  If turns out to be an LTE phone, this one will join the ZTE Rapido as one of 2 LTE devices for said Verizon coverage.

Expect this phone to be available on he Straight Talk online store and in Walmarts  sometime between February and March. Pricing is not yet available but based on specs expect it to be priced some where in the $200 ball park.

Straight Talk ZTE Rapido Review

Specs – Straight Talk ZTE Rapido

zte-rapidoZTE Rapido Check Availability
Dimensions Height 5.30″ x Width 2.60″ x Thickness .42″
Weight 4.94 Ounces
Form Factor Medium Candybar Touchscreen
Network & Technology CDMA LTE, WiFi/Activated with Verizon
Calling Plan Straight Talk $45 Unlimited
Downloadable Apps Yes, all apps available through Google Play store. Comes with Youtube, Google Maps, GPS Navigation.
Processor 1.2 ghz Quad core
SD Card/Internal Storage SD card not included/Capable of up to 32gb micro SD card
Android OS Android 4.0
Digital Camera 8 mega pixels/1mp front facing camera/LED flash
Screen 4.5″ Diagonal , Gorilla Glass
Battery Life 15 days stand by & up to 11 hrs talk
Button Types Capacitive touch buttons
USB microUSB v4.0
Audio Jack & Charging Standard 3.5mm iPod type / micro usb charge/data
Price $179.99

About the ZTE Rapido

The ZTE Rapido is an all new CDMA LTE phone from Straight Talk. This particular phone is noteworthy because it is the first Straight Talk LTE device for the Verizon calling area. This is a quality device that has some unusually higher end features for a phone in the sub $200 category. This is probably one of the better LTE devices currently available.

zte-rapido-2

Specs

The noteworthy specs on the Rapido are the 4 1/2″ Gorilla Glass screen, the awesome 8 mega pixel camera and the 1.2 ghz quadcore processor. In my mind, these are probably the best dollar to spec ratio in the Straight Talk LTE device family. That is to say, you are not going to find another Straight Talk LTE phone with these specs for anything less than $200.

I was quite surprised to learn that this phone came with a Gorilla Glass screen because that is usually reserved for devices costing $200 or more, particularly when they are of the LTE variety. Not only will this screen give you durability, it’s also quite slick to the touch. Unlike some of the plastic screened devices, the screen offers little resistance when you swipe your finger on it. This makes the phone feel extremely responsive, more so than its plastic screened counter parts. Now I don’t know if it’s the glass, but I found this phone to be especially bright and crisp so videos and the like look great!

zte-rapido-5 zte-rapido-3

The next spec worth talking about is the 8mp camera. This is another rather high end spec not typically found on a phone at this price range. The camera has an LED flash and a 1 mp front facing unit as well for the selfie loving crowd. One neat camera feature were the available filters such as sketch, neon, emboss, sepia and a few others. I think there are around 10 such filters available for selection prior to taking an image.

zte-rapido-1

I was really impressed with the specs of this phone. These higher end specs are unusually for the ZTE brand at this price range so this phone is an excellent choice.

Design & Look Feel

I found the design of this phone to be quite attractive. The phone features a black chrome look bezel that surrounds the screen. So this is not a boring simple black rectangle by any means. The remaining design is pretty typical. Below the screen, you find the typical 3 button Android layout that are backlit. The power button is located on the top right, the volume on top left, charge port on lower left and headphone jack is on top.

zte-rapido-4

One item that makes this phone feel like a quality unit is the Gorilla Glass screen as it does not have the cheap plastic feel to it. Not only that but your fingers glide smoothly when swiping the screen. I think this makes a huge difference over the plastic screened units. This isn’t really noticed until you try a plastic screen unit side by side. In short, this is a device that looks and feels much more expensive than it really is.

Final Thoughts

Overall, I would rate this phone as one of the best LTE devices available from Straight Talk at this price range. You will simply not find a better LTE phone under $200 at the moment. The one caviat is that you will need to have Verizon LTE coverage in order to activate this phone in your area.