LG X Venture review: A rugged mid-tier $330 phone that’s perfect for field work

 

Matthew Miller By |

 

 

 

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LG X Venture (black)

Part Number: CNETLG X Venture/BLK

 

 

 

 

Pros

  • Water, dust, and shock resistant
  • Good camera performance
  • Low price
  • microSD expansion card slot
  • Solid battery life

Cons

  • Overloaded with AT&T bloatware
  • microUSB port for charging

 

 

 

 

We don’t all need high end, expensive smartphones to get work done and for some it is a better option to pick up a phone built for their work environment. The LG X Venture is a mid-tier LG Android smartphone that is ruggedized for inclement conditions without the use of a bulky case.

As a professional naval architect, I conduct surveys of ships and spend time crawling in tanks, bilges, and other areas in the bowels of marine vessels. Others work outside building our infrastructure, aiding others in times of emergency, or exploring the ends of the earth.

With its IP68 dust and water resistance, along with MIL-STD 810G shock resistant testing certification, the LG X Venture is an affordable solution for these conditions. Folks who work in these conditions also understand that their mobile devices could be destroyed so it often makes more sense to buy affordable phones that won’t break the bank if they are broken.

Specifications

•Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 435 1.4 GHz octa-core

•Display: 5.2 inch 1920 x 1080 pixels resolution Gorilla Glass 4

•Operating system: Android 7.0 Nougat

•RAM: 2GB

•Storage: 32GB internal with microSD expansion card slot

•Cameras: 16 megapixel rear f/2.2 camera. 5 megapixel wide-angle f/2.2 front-facing camera

•Water resistance: IP68 water and dust rating

•Connectivity: 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac WiFi, Bluetooth 4.2 BLE, GPS, NFC, FM radio

•Battery: 4,100 mAh non-removable

•Dimensions: 152.4 x 76.2 x 9.1 mm and 164 grams

•Colors: Black and chocolate brown

As you can see in the specifications list, the LG X Venture packs in quite a bit for just over $300. Mid-level specs include the Snapdragon 435, 1080p display, and 2GB of RAM.

Hardware

Similar to the 2015 LG V10, one of the first things I noticed when I pulled the LG X Venture from the box was the textured silicone back. This one is not removable, but does offer a finish that makes it easy to hold while offering some drop protection.

The sides of the device are metal with the top and bottom having soft touch material. Around the 5.2 inch display there are angled corners on the glass, giving the X Venture a unique look compared to most other smartphones.

Three physical hardware buttons are present below the display for back, home, and task switching. Pressing and holding the home button, which also serves as the fingerprint scanner, launches Google Assistant.

The power button is on the right side. A quick button, in orange, is positioned along the top left. By default it is used to launch the Outdoor Essentials app with options to customize a double press and a press and hold. The volume buttons are positioned further down the left side.

The microSD and SIM card tray is positioned near the bottom of the left side. A headphone jack and microUSB port, no USB Type-C here, are found along the bottom of the LG X Venture.

The camera and flash are centered at the top of the back. The camera doesn’t have the highest specifications we have seen on Android phones, but when you look at the mid-tier phones it is very capable. I took a few comparison shots with the LG G6 and HTC U11 with the LG X Venture performing very well. I actually preferred the two outside shots of the Seattle waterfront taken by the LG X Venture over the other two.

Software

The LG X Venture launches with Android 7.0 Nougat and the evaluation unit I tested has the April 2017 Android security patch level. I used the LG X Venture for a couple of days before looking up the processor specification since I couldn’t tell in daily usage that there was any compromise in performance.

LG UX 5.0+ is included on the LG X Venture and appears to be the same as the UI we see on most new LG smartphones. It is fairly close to stock with plenty of customization options that you can tweak as you see fit. While there are plenty of options, the UI is not overwhelming and doesn’t impact your productivity.

It was interesting to see the Firefox browser installed on the LG X Venture. I haven’t used Firefox for years, but did enjoy using an alternative to Google Chrome. One aspect I particularly enjoyed on Firefox was the reading mode that is not present by default in Google Chrome.

Unfortunately, AT&T continues to burden Android smartphones with a ton of bloatware apps. On the LG X Venture, these include AT&T App Select, AT&T Call Protect, AT&T Protect Plus, DIRECTV, DriveMode, Lookout, Setup & Transfer, Smart Help, Smart Limits, AT&T FamilyMap, AT&T Smart Wi-Fi, Visual Voicemail, Amazon Shopping, Remote Support, Uber, YPmobile, and Facebook. The DIRECTV utility is particularly annoying since it keeps appearing in the notification shade and nagging you regularly.

The Outdoor Essentials app that LG assigns to the quick button includes barometer, compass, activity, weather, flashlight, and exercise tiles in a 2×3 format. You can tap, hold, and reposition these tiles as you desire.

Price and competition

Samsung typically releases a ruggedized Galaxy smartphone each year for AT&T, designated with the Active series brand. We haven’t seen a Galaxy S8 Active yet so the last model is the S7 Active that is still being sold by AT&T for $694.99.

The LG X Venture is available now for just $329.99 or $11/month on a 30-month installment agreement.

Daily usage experiences and conclusion

It was appealing to use the LG X Venture while fly fishing on the rivers, running in the rain, and in my daily life. I didn’t have to worry about the elements or accidental drops. The display is not shatter-resistant like some other phones, so it can still break if dropped on its face.

Performance of software was great, the camera performed well, I was able to go more than a full day with fairly heavy usage, and I like the feel of the textured back cover. The quick button is handy for launching favorite apps and utilities too.

Calls sounded good and the speaker is fairly solid, especially considering it is positioned on the lower back of the phone.

The LG X Venture is a great smartphone for those who want something rugged at a reasonable price. It is only available on AT&T and makes a couple of compromises to launch with a price less than half the flagship price of Samsung and Apple phones.

 

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