Hands-on with LG Viper, an LTE smartphone coming to Sprint

Here we are in the caverns of the Venetian Hotel, where LG was kind enough to give us a quick look at the Viper -- a pre-production LTE handset that's destined for Sprint. While the device shares a similar heritage to the Connect 4G on MetroPCS, no release date is yet determined. Still, LG seems intent to join Samsung in the Now Network's futuristic 4G spotlight. The device features a 1.2GHz dual-core CPU, along with a 4-inch Nova Display and Android 2.3.7. The WVGA screen is bright, crisp and quite pleasing. While the display's coating was rather glossy, Nova Displays typically perform well in direct sunlight -- no way to test that claim today, however. A 5 megapixel camera with LED flash occupies the rear of the device, and for those moments of self-indulgence, there's also a VGA cam up front. Rounding out the media specs, LG tells us the phone will carry DLNA certification. We were also curious to learn that the Viper will be one of the more eco-friendly devices in Sprint's lineup. For example, the case is made entirely from recycled plastic and the charger is said to be quite energy efficient.

With a glossy plastic front and a brushed metal rear, the Viper is a collision of design philosophies and appears a bit dated. This felt particularly true with respect to the sides of the device, which struck us as eerily reminiscent of a fourth-generation iPod. In fact, the Viper seems a bit chunky, but that's not to suggest it's unwelcome. To the contrary, the handset felt like absolute money in the palm of our hand. Because this little guy is a work in progress, we kept our interactions with the software to a minimum. Sprint ID was apparent from the outset, and while it's unclear whether Google Wallet will come standard, LG tells us that the Viper will fully support both it and NFC. We're told that Life's Good for 2012, and we have no doubt that the folks in Overland Park would agree.

Brian Heater contributed to this report