The first in LG’s forthcoming Optimus range of Android phones is the eponymous LG Optimus. Boasting a 3-inch touchscreen and running on Google’s ubquitous Android system, we took a look to see what the first LG Optimus phone has to offer.
What we like
What’s immediately noticeable about the LG Optimus is the sharpness of the screen. From the icons and widgets on the homescreens to the web pages of your favourite mobile phone review site, everything looks pin sharp and vibrant on the 3-inch display.
Web pages loaded very quickly on the Optimus. The default browser comes with a translucent task bar on the side that allows you to refresh, skip forwards and back etc. This allows you to easily navigate the web while still allowing you to see what’s going on underneath, so the browsing experience never feels cramped.
Perhaps taking a leaf out of the HTC Sense manual, the LG Optimus features shortcuts to the phone dialler and messages next to the app launcher at the bottom of the screen. This is useful because it means you can access the dialler and text message features of the Optimus from all of the five homescreens.
There are two music player apps pre-loaded on the LG Optimus; the standard Android music player and a Media Player app – both of these offer the exact same functionality, but have slightly different skins. They’re rather basic music players. A 3.5mm jack means you can use whatever kind of headgear you want with the LG Optimus.
The 3-megapixel camera is pretty basic, but it comes with an exhaustive range of settings and colour effects: blink detection, smile shot, black and white, sepia, negative, even negative sepia. There’s also a range of editing options allowing you to crop pictures, mess around with the RGB levels and adjust the sharpness of pictures after you’ve taken them.
Video-wise you can trim spare seconds of video footage shot from within the video camera app itself and add sepia and black and white effects to your video creations.
What we don’t like
The LG Optimus uses a resistive screen which makes typing and opening the status bar difficult. It would work a lot better if the Optimus came with a stylus but it doesn’t and even if it did, there isn’t anywhere to store it.
Annoyingly the screen doesn’t support pinch-to-zoom, which is especially frustrating when browsing the web.
Unfortunately the screen wasn’t the only unresponsive thing about the LG Optimus; the menu and back buttons situated underneath the screen don’t always respond to anything but a firm and definite press of the thumb.
We found some of the camera settings menus to be confusing. We also didn’t like that once you’d taken a shot, the settings would revert to default ‘normal’ shot mode. So if you wanted to take lots of shots in black and white with a vignette effect for example, you’d have top manually add that effect filter each time.
There’s no flash on the LG Optimus, which limits where and when you can take pictures and videos with it.
Last but definitely not least, the LG Optimus runs on Android 1.6 meaning that it won’t be able to access a good number of apps from the Android Market, some of which are only available on phones running Android 2.0 and above.
The LG Optimus is an attractive touchscreen phone with a sharp display and cool stylings. Unfortunately its let down by the unresponsive resistive touchscreen and menu buttons which can make it tricky to use for anything but the most basic of phone functions.