The Conquer 4G offers temptation for lovers and haters of vanilla Gingerbread alike. By default, the device comes preloaded with stock Android 2.3.4 with a few Sprint-inspired tweaks. But if additional customization makes your heart go pitter-patter, the Now Network replaces the browser icon on the bottom of the home screen with a button taking you to its iconic Sprint ID feature, which you can read more about in our review of the Samsung Transform last year. In short, the service bundles wallpapers, widgets, apps, wallpapers and even ringtones in packages, each with its own theme. Every ID can be downloaded and installed at your convenience, which can be a handy feature for novices who are still getting accustomed to their new Android device. Anyone who has been using the OS for a longer period of time, however, will likely prefer to keep with the vanilla UI and add widgets and apps to their liking.
Regardless of the phone's vanilla appearance, it's still a carrier-branded device, which means we found a few preloaded apps that cannot be uninstalled. Most of the usual Sprint suspects are there: Sprint Zone, Voicemail, YouTube, Qik, Talk, Sprint Mobile Wallet and ThinkFree Office are all bonded to the OS as well as a few other native Android programs. Thankfully, the list is kept to a minimum in comparison to other branded phones, but we would've fancied the ability to remove them when we want.
Performance and battery life
Since the Conquer 4G's CPU and RAM make it comparable to the Thunderbolt and Revolution, we took a few minutes to compare benchmarks for all three devices side-by-side. Here's how it fared against its 4G cousins:
So, how did our brave subject manage against the heavyweights? Not only did it hold its own, the Conquer bested its LTE rivals in four of the five tested benchmarks, losing only in Quadrant. Since our experience with the phone's performance has been rather pleasant, we weren't stunned by the results. The 1GHz CPU was able to keep up with our fierce usage requirements without breaking a sweat, the display was fluid and responsive to our every touch, and it gave us a consistently smooth ride the entire time we reviewed it. The only stutter we noticed was an occasional bit of lag when playing graphics-intensive games.
Battery life is rated at six hours, and it came pretty darn close in our test. In our battery rundown test, it played movies for five hours and 35 minutes straight before it was through. The 1,500mAh battery was able to provide us with almost
a full day's charge -- roughly about 10 hours of consistent emailing, texting and other moderate tasks -- before we were compelled to find our nearest outlet.
We didn't experience any dropped calls or audio quality issues on the Conquer, though when running comparisons to the HTC EVO 3D, it consistently remained one bar behind. This could definitely be a concern if you already live in a region with notably weak Sprint reception, but we were unable to find any major concerns in areas of stronger coverage.
Make no mistake: the Conquer 4G isn't a high-performance phone living at the top of the class. Rather than hiding from that fact, however, it accepts -- nay, embraces
-- the challenge and makes the best out of its components. We came out of the review satisfied with the product; first-time smartphone buyers and shoppers on a budget could certainly choose worse phones to spend their hard-earned money on. Yet for a device listed at $100 after a two-year commitment, we couldn't help but wonder why a few extras (such as a better display or camera) didn't make the final cut. We feel it's still at least a sensible choice -- it just doesn't necessarily fit the given name printed on its birth certificate.