The LG Optimus One is an inexpensive mid-range phone that runs on Android 2.2 and is being sold as an all-in-one sat-nav/phone device. We took it for a spin to see how it fared as a navigator and see what else it has to offer.
What we like
Finding your way around the LG Optimus One is a piece of cake. If you’ve used an Android phone before much will be familiar to you here. If not, no problem as getting to grips with things couldn’t be simpler, thanks to a few tweaks LG has added to the basic Android interface.
We like that the dialler, address book, text message menu and internet browser are all accessible from the launcher at the bottom of the screen. This means you can access all of the basics no matter which of the Optimus One’s homescreens you’re on.
Tapping the menu button when on any of the homescreens brings up a list of shortcuts to other basic Android features. Things like Google Search, the Settings menu and the Wallpaper menu. As well as this being convenient it also means you’ve more space on your homescreens which could otherwise be taken up with shortcuts to Search, Settings and the like.
The LG Optimus One is being sold with an in-car cradle and charger on some contracts and so we thought to put it to the test to see how it fared as a sat nav. The latest version of Google Maps, featuring Google’s Navigation and Places services comes installed.
Though our review model didn’t come with a cradle or charger, we found that the Optimus One worked well as a sat nav device. Its GPS receiver acquired a satellite quickly and we liked that when you start typing an address or post code into Google Maps and Navigation, it automatically started suggesting locations (e.g. Waterloo Station, Lambeth). If you’re not a driver you can of course use the Optimus One if you’re getting around on foot as well.
As the LG Optimus One runs on Android 2.2 you get some other nifty features built in, like Wi-Fi and USB tethering; these features allows you to turn the phone into either a Wi-Fi hotspot, or an ad-hoc USB dongle. If you were thinking of getting a mobile broadband dongle you could just as easily use these settings to connect to the net when you’re on the go.
Getting music onto the LG Optimus One is easy; it supports MP3, M4A and WMA files, something which stock music players of Android phones don’t always do. It also comes with a 3.5mm jack which we’re always pleased to see, as it means you’re free to use whatever headphones you like.
What we don’t like
Though not as bad as some phones with truly terrible resistive touchscreens, the screen of the Optimus One is not as smooth to the touch as those of say the HTC Wildfire or Samsung Galaxy Apollo. This makes things like browsing Facebook and Twitter, playing games like Angry Birds and performing pinch to zoom gestures on web pages a bit difficult. Not impossible mind, but not what you’d call easy either.
The LG Optimus One isn’t a particularly nice phone to look at. The mechanical buttons don’t look that great and the plastic (not metal) silvery trim is a bit on the naff side. It also feels a bit lightweight in the palm which doesn’t fill us with confidence.
The 3-megapixel camera on the back is average. It’s nice that you get some fun effects and settings thrown in but it’s by no means the best camera we’ve seen on a phone. Pictures don’t look that great in the gallery and the lack of a physical shutter key means you have to use an on-screen one. Again, the iffy responsiveness of the screen sometimes results in accidental blurry shots due to you tapping the virtual key with too much force. There’s also no flash either, meaning no nocturnal snaps or shots in gloomy locations.
Lastly we found that call quality varied a bit. Voices coming through are generally a bit muffled but are loud enough to be audible. Against the background noise of rush hour traffic or an oncoming train we reckon this would be a problem.
The LG Optimus One is one of the most affordable Android 2.2 phones available right now, but all in all is a fairly average mid-range phone. If you want an inexpensive phone that can effectively double as a sat-nav and a music player then the Optimus One will satisfy. But we found that for browsing the web, checking social networks on the go and taking pictures it’s not so great.