LG Optimus

LG has cut corners in the wrong places to deliver the Optimus at the right price. Poor performance and frustrating input are always deal-breakers, regardless of price.


5.5
CNET Rating
6.8
User Rating

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Joe capitalises on a life-long love of blinking lights and upbeat MIDI soundtracks covering the latest developments in smartphones and tablet computers. When not ruining his eyesight staring at small screens, Joe ruins his eyesight playing video games and watching movies. Twitter: @Joseph_Hanlon


Blue steel

We first saw the Optimus back in February at Mobile World Congress when it was called the GT540. At the time we were amazed at how much its tough plastic chassis looks and feels like cool, brushed metal. Even now as we gawk and prod at the Optimus it's hard to believe this is a plastic handset.

Sadly, these smoke and mirrors are about the only part of this handset design that we like. The Optimus relies on touchscreen input with the aid of five awkwardly-shaped mechanical keys, which when put together made it a very frustrating experience from an Android handset this year. The touchscreen is especially bad, LG has opted for a resistive screen and has not ended up with a very good one at that. You need to press the screen reasonably firmly to get a response, and even then you may struggle to make the selection you want. One key area that drove us crazy was the difficulty we had dragging down the notifications bar; you basically have to start dragging off the top of the screen to use this feature. We understand this is probably one of the key elements in keeping the price of this phone down, but the sacrifice in usability is unacceptable.

Everything else is pretty much standard, there's a 3.5mm headphone socket on top, volume and camera keys, USB charging port and a microSD card slot under the battery cover. LG has generously included a 2GB memory card with the phone, which is a good start, though media junkies will definitely want to upgrade this to something a bit bigger.

The bare necessities

All in all, this is a pretty bare-bones build of Google's Android. Running on version 1.6 of the operating system, the Optimus features all of the same smartphone tools you'd expect to see on a Google phone, but no real added bonuses to differentiate it from the growing number of other Androids. LG pre-loads a few unique widgets, but nothing worth mentioning in this review.

Email is fully covered by the Optimus, with the option to add webmail, ISP and MS Exchange accounts for business users. There's also a dedicated Gmail app, as there is on all Android devices. Social networking is one area LG attempts something unique, featuring an SNS tool for storing all of your account details and feeding you updates through one central, cleanly-designed message hub.

Multimedia is one area LG phones have excelled in the past, and solid multimedia support would sure do a lot to improve our opinion of the Optimus. Unfortunately, multimedia functionality on this phone seems like an obligation fulfilled by LG, rather than a focus of the company's efforts. Technically, the Optimus is capable of taking photos, watching videos and playing audio, but there's nothing attractive about performing any of these tasks on this phone. The 3-megapixel camera takes washed-out, blurry photos with a strange yellow tinge that confuses its colour reproduction. The Optimus is capable of playing back a range of media files, but the HVGA (320x480) resolution screen is mostly underwhelming when videos play, making all of our stored video files look like crumby streaming video from YouTube.

Slow, not so steady

In the last six months we've seen a vast improvement in the quality of touchscreen phones from the likes of HTC and Samsung. The days of the iPhone being the only touchscreen with really slick, intuitive input are long behind us, except for those who choose the Optimus. In combination with the poor resistive touchscreen used, the Optimus is also underpowered. Though we don't know the specific hardware spec of this phone, the result performance is indicative of a slower processor, and users can expect some sluggish performance, especially after executing several applications. Our advance to Optimus owners is to buy a good task manager off the Android Market and learn how to use it.

Basic calling and messaging are mostly fine, though messaging is made more difficult than it needs to be by an average on-screen keyboard. After using the excellent keyboard on the LG Eve (GW620) we certainly feel the Optimus could use one as well. Call quality was fine during our tests, with the earpiece speaker blasting sound loud and clear, and with good reports from the people we spoke to using this handset.

Overall

We love the idea of cheap Android phones, but we also demand that manufacturers maintain a level of usability while skimping to save money in their designs. LG's decision to employ a lower-resolution resistive touchscreen sacrifices ease of use and it's all downhill from there. The software package is uninspiring and the multimedia functionality feels tacked on. There really is no outstanding feature to recommend this phone by.

Telstra has the Optimus exclusively as part of its Next G range for AU$49 per month on contract over two years. The problem for LG is that Telstra also sells the HTC Desire under identical conditions and it is a vastly better phone. If you find yourself in a Telstra store looking for an Android phone there really is only one choice at this time.



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maurice01
1
Rating
 

"hate the lg optimus 540f"

maurice01 posted a review   
Australia

The Good:nothing

The Bad:everyhthing

tried the user manual to download info from phone to pc, but when you connect the usb cable, it shows charging. tried to change this using the manual, but the info contained in the manual is crap.

why do you have to have a google account to access and use the calendar? i have a business email, so setting up the email and synchronising the email account, calendar and contacts should let me accessin my calendar, but where is it? other than the calendar that is shown, but you need a google account to use?

atika266
9
Rating
 

"My phone is my life"

atika266 posted a review   
Australia

The Good:Its got everything , internet, camera,

The Bad:its got really bad touch screen , when you touch it , clicks on something else

i love my phone as long as i can call people and txt thats all that matterss :)

fuzzy :P
8
Rating
 

fuzzy :P posted a review   

The Good:AWESOME PHONE

The Bad:may be a bit slow

Great phone if your not looking for something too pricy. Very cheap and great value. Android is included and it is great. Camera is good not perfect but good enough (3mp). It is a bit slow at times but it but you get what you pay for. Overall I recommend this phone for a young teenager looking for a smart phone but not to pricy.

Taheki
1
Rating
 

Taheki posted a review   

The Good:Internet, Durability

The Bad:Battery Power, Screen, Too Slow to use

My husband and I both have this phone as we both wanted a phone that was android and touch screen. We both love the internet use on it with our home wireless set up, along with the android market, Gmail emails on the phone and thats pretty much it!

What we didn't like was the fact that in the last week or so, our batterys are needed to be charged almost constantly! The battery power in these babies SUCK epic fail on LG's part! Also, with just using a 2GB micro sd card, it sucks. I suggest getting a bigger GB micro sd card, we are thinking 32GB. Hubby being big on playing games on his phone, probably doesnt help with the batterys life during the day, but myself, I hardly use the phone at all during the day. Charge it to 100% over night and then probably send two text a day, maybe one short phone call, and the phone needs charging again 3hrs later! It is simply a retarded phone, like it needs half hour to think, if you go too fast with it. You cannot give it too many things to do at once or you have to restart the phone by taking out the battery.

Not much else I can say about this phone unfortunatly! I wouldn't reccomend this phone at all to anyone!!

 

bob mac posted a comment   

The Good:Easy to work.

The Bad:I seem to have the opposite problem to Bro

The phone was easy to work ,no problems with tye speed. The major problem is that it keeps waking itself up when it is put to standby and thens runs its battery flat in about 30 minutes. any help will be greatly appreiated

man03
6
Rating
 

man03 posted a review   

The Good:Lg home interface, browsing, apps, price

The Bad:touchscreen, GPS, sluggish, battery

Good phone considering the price. The Lg home interface allows you to place all the menu items into your own categories which is good for people who like an organized appearance and do not like the default andriod menu system. While this does not have anything to do with the handset itself, rather the OS, the app selection is great. The cheap price starts to show when using the touchscreen. The touchscreen is the main letdown, it is very unresponsive and requires a VERY firm touch to activate, This slows down text messaging alot which can be frustrating when you're in a hurry. Also due to the screen size, using the QWERTY layout in portrait mode is almost impossible, luckily LG has added an 'original' style keypad option to help with this issue. Apart from the touchscreen, the OS is quite sluggish but can be sped up by using the taskiller app and by turning off animated effects. The GPS can sometimes take a long time to connect (or not connect at all) which is annoying if you need directions.

Milan
9
Rating
 

Milan posted a review   

The Good:Price, Screen resolution, Russians :)

The Bad:Considering the price - nothing

First of all, I would like to say that this is a really good phone. And that is not only influenced by its price (135 euros-pay as you go). It has Android 2.1, decent screen resolution, and the overall experience is very nice. Just install LauncherPro or ADWLauncher from the market, and you'll be supprised how swift it performs. If you are a tech geek like me, you can install app2sd (There is a way, believe me. God bless the Russian developers:) so you can install your apps and games on your sd card. Angry Birds, PES 2011, Dungeon Hunter and NFS Shift are working EXCELLENT on this phone. There are also apps for office documents editing, iGO Navigation, you can watch divx and xvid movies with subtitles etc. What more could you ask from 130 euro phone?

im A NOOB
10
Rating
 

im A NOOB posted a review   

The Good:nothing

The Bad:nothing

i hav'nt bought this phone yet LOL!!!!!!

keep
2
Rating
 

keep posted a review   

The Good:internet

The Bad:everything else

this phone is very slow and crap to txt from! i wouldn't recommend to anyone!!!


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User Reviews / Comments  LG Optimus

  • maurice01

    maurice01

    Rating1

    "tried the user manual to download info from phone to pc, but when you connect the usb cable, it shows charging. tried to change this using the manual, but the info contained in the manual is crap...."

  • atika266

    atika266

    Rating9

    "i love my phone as long as i can call people and txt thats all that matterss :)"

  • fuzzy :P

    fuzzy :P

    Rating8

    "Great phone if your not looking for something too pricy. Very cheap and great value. Android is included and it is great. Camera is good not perfect but good enough (3mp). It is a bit slow at times..."

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