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LG Optimus One P500 Review

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Full range of Android features
  • Conception Tidy
  • Large battery

Cons

  • Soft plastic screen
  • It can be a little slow at times
  • Lowish resolution screen

Key Specifications

  • Revision Price: £ 179.00
  • 3.2in screen, 320 x 480 pixels
  • CPU 600 MHz
  • Android OS
  • 3.0 megapixel camera
  • GPS, Wi-FI, Bluetooth

The budget Android smartphone market has really taken off in the last year with phones made just like the HTC Wildfire or models with high-resolution screens such as the Orange San Francisco being available for well under £ 200. And, one of the most recent arrivals is the LG Optimus One which we are looking at today.

Dressed mostly in soft-touch black plastic, this phone is built around a 3.2-inch screen, which is slightly smaller than that of your mid-range smartphone and so the whole phone is a bit smaller than ‘and the iPhone 4. Specifically it measures 113.5 x 59 x 13.3 mm, so it’s about 5 mm shorter and narrower.

It is also immediately clear that this is a budget phone from the fact that the screen is a flexible plastic rather than glass. Otherwise, it’s a pretty sleek device with its smart black and silver livery. The curved edges and general layout of the buttons also make it a great device to hold and handle.

Escaping fashion for all touch-sensitive controls, the One has a full set of four physical, backlit buttons, which run under the screen, corresponding to Menu, Home, Back and Search. We rather like the way LG has separated the Menu Keys and Menu Keys from Home and Back, meaning their status as extra menus is often used rather than the main navigation buttons. All four have a nice noticeable click and feel planted safely. Luckily, pressing the Home button activates the screen, which allows you to unlock the phone, without having to press the power button.

Elsewhere there’s a volume control on the right edge, headphone jack and power button on the top, a 3.0 megapixel camera on the bottom and microUSB on the bottom edge. The volume rocker has again a nice click even though the thinness of the buttons means it’s not the easiest control to use while listening alone. Flatten the back plate – via the miniature notch on the top edge – and a rather glamorous-looking silver is revealed. Unfortunately it’s just painted plastic, not metallic. However, it does get a large 1500mAh battery and a microSD slot to add up to 32GB of storage to the pretty meager 170MB found on board.

He turns on the phone and his screen is presented in all its glory. The LCD panel packs in 320 x 480 pixels, which is lower than San Francisco and high-end smartphones, but is at par or higher than cheaper Android devices. Thanks to the smaller screen, the lower resolution is not so obvious, resulting in an expectant image. It’s not an iPhone 4 but you certainly won’t be constantly distracted by a horrible pixelated mess every time you try and write a text message. The viewing angles are impressive with the picture which doesn’t break significantly, no matter where you see it. It also produces beautiful natural colors, if slightly muted.

It’s also beautiful and responsive when it comes to touch sensitivity, and supports multiple touch for all the essentials to manage the zoom. It’s just a shame that LG couldn’t have packed it in a glass screen for the price, that no matter the merits of this model, it feels just less than before.

The LG Optimus One runs Android 2.2 with some light customizations from LG. So instead of the App Launcher, Browser, and Phone icons running along the bottom there are Phone, Contacts, App Launcher, Messages and Browser, which seems to be an improvement. Swipe the notification bar from the top of the screen and there are quick switches to turn on / off WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS and Airplane mode, and there’s even a Mute button. Again, this seems a little sensible.

Less welcome is the T9-style keyboard that LG has replaced the standard on-screen keyboard. While the phone is a bit narrower than some other touchscreen smartphones, so it’s a bit narrower to type on, it’s also wide enough to accommodate a standard QWERTY-style keyboard. Fortunately, you can get back to the very capable standard Android keyboard.

Otherwise, let’s look at a fairly standard version of Android, then you have five home screens in which to place loads of widgets and apps. Tap the App Launcher and there is the full selection of apps to choose from. The phone uses a 600MHz processor so it’s certainly not the fastest, but it generally runs long well with few moments of stutter.

LG has added a selection of its own widgets including a calendar and viewers for messages, weather and bookmarks. They all seem to work quite well even if no one has particularly flushed us with any extra features beyond the norm.

Connect to Gmail, Facebook and Twitter and, if you choose, your contact list will be populated with information from all three services, without you having to lift a finger. It’s a common feature in Android phones now, but it’s still satisfying to watch.

Messaging services include a text message inbox, an instant messaging client, and both the Gmail inbox and a general mailbox for other email services. They all work very well and are a breeze to use.

The GPS is on board and you have GoogleMaps and Google Navigation to take advantage of it all, or you can even download a 3rd party satellite navigation app. The phone seemed to pick up a signal at a reasonable speed, so we had a few complaints here. The slow processor will mean that third-party applications (with 3D graphics showing where you’re going) are a bit slow, though.

The music is well curated with an easy-to-use mp3 player and an FM radio, although the player doesn’t support more popular formats like FLAC. The video is not as well represented nor with support for many types of files nor the grunt of playing higher quality clips. Of course, youtube is available for most of your video viewing.

The web browser is the usual excellent feature of Android that is fast and renders perfectly most of the web pages. It lacks Flash support but otherwise is more than working. With Wi-Fi and 3G you can have fast downloads when at home or on the go.

The 3.0 megapixel camera lacks a flash so it is quite limited in its scope, but it will do for the strange social picture in well-lit environments. Luckily it has autofocus, however, it can be used to take close-up shots. It can even capture video at a perfectly fitting resolution of 640 x 480. It’s not HD but there’s enough detail to see what’s going on, it’s actually the limited 18fps that hurts the quality, making the motion look silly.

Doing a few test calls on One did not launch any obvious problems, although the overall quality is nothing special. There is no active noise cancellation to reduce the amount of noise transmitted from your surroundings to the person you are calling. The talking phone is pretty weird too.

Finally we got to the battery life and, as we expected, the large battery combined with a slower processor and a smaller screen meant that this phone would happily go for three days general use.

“‘Vermentu”‘

The LG Optimus One is simply a phone. As a smartphone with a budget, it does more than work and if you can find it in a good deal, there is no reason to avoid it. However, there is little to really recommend. Frankly, the San Francisco Orange still stands out as the bargain choice for the moment.

Score in detail

  • Yield 7

  • Conception 7

  • Value 6

  • Features 7


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