The start of July saw the launch of the LG Optimus exclusively on Telstra, and now we’ve finally had the chance to have some hands on time with it. Despite previous “ill mannered” comments about the device, I can say that I am quite impressed with it overall.
- Quite fast & fluid
- FM Radio
- Hot-swappable MicroSD
- Dedicated Camera button
- Sleek design
- Video editor
- Resistive display
- No Camera flash
- 20 Telstra/Bigpond apps
- Unfinished looking home screen UI
- Lacklustre keyboard. Also hard to type on thanks to the display
The Optimus comes in a pretty standard box, but nothing fancy like the Xperia X10 or Galaxy S. As it’s an exclusive Telstra it also dawns both the Telstra & NextG Network logos, as well as our good friend the green Android.
Within the box are all the standard bits and pieces:
- LG Optimus
- 1500mAh Battery
- MicroUSB to USB Cable
- USB Wall Charger
- Earphones with Call Start/End button & Mic
- Health & Safety and Instruction Manuals
When you first pick up the Optimus you will find that it feels relatively heavy for it’s size. This is due to the large 1500mAh Battery that powers the device for a relatively long period of time. The exterior is covered in a fake silver titanium-like finish, which makes the device look quite sleek.
The volume rocker places on the left hand side of the device can sometimes be a tad hard to push down on, but I’m sure after constant use it’ll wear in. The screen is also a bit of a fingerprint magnet, but hey, nearly touch screen devices are.
The 3 hardware buttons at the bottom look kind of odd, and would have looked much better with separated silver buttons. Instead LG have used a single plastic button to cover all three touch points, those being (left to right): Answer, Home, Call End/Power/Lock. Above those are 2 haptic, touch-sensitive, buttons which at times, are not all that responsive.
All the hardware buttons are as follows:
- Speaker (inc Loudspeaker)
- Menu (touch sensitive)
- Back (touch sensitive)
- Call End/Power/Lock
- Right Side
- MicroUSB Input
- Search Button (holding down activates Voice Search)
- Camera (hold down to open Camera app)
- Left Side
- Volume rocker
- 3.5mm Headphone Jack
- 3MP Camera
- Telstra/NextG & LG branding
Spanning 3 inches, the display on the Optimus is what lets the phone down the most. It just makes it annoying to use if you’re used to a capacitive display. Being a resistive display means that you have to apply pressure to the screen in order for it to register any movements. So when you slide your finger across the screen gently, like you normally do with a capacitive display, no touches are registered. This gets quite irritating after a while and makes typing difficult.
There is no Multitouch available on the Optimus so all zooming is done via the normal plus and minus buttons, so this hinders any use of any apps that need it.
Clarity for the display size is no real issue and looks quite nice overall.
LG have done very little to the UI in terms of manufacturer customisations. At most they’ve added some minor enhancements to the home screen launcher, such as the HTC Sense UI-like add drawer icon. Except it doesn’t slide open, you have to tap on it to open & close it.
Extra widgets have also been added to compliment apps that are pre-installed onto the device, like the Radio, Memos, Messaging, RSS Reader, Weather & SNS (Social Networking). Also in the notifications bar you’ll find quick access to options like Wifi, GPS, Bluetooth & Ringing Profiles.
There are 3 settings for the number of home screens: 3, 5 & 7. 7 being more than enough to stuff full of icons and widgets. Other than that it’s very much the vanilla Android experience.
Note: Remember the Optimus has a smaller screen & pixel count so FPS will differ greatly compared to other devices.
Now someone asked me if the Optimus can game, and well.. I guess it can, yes. Don’t expect it to play high-end, graphic intensive games like Asphalt 5, but it will play most games on the Android Market. Only downside you may find is the responsiveness of the resistive display. So I suggest you play with the device before you buy.
Phone calls on the Optimus are quite clear and I had no hearing the person on the other end, and they had no problems ringing me. Speaker worked well, with little/no distortion and my voice was picked up from over a metre away. Having no proximity sensor is not a problem, as there is no hangup button to accidentally press, you have to instead slide across the hangup “slider”. An action much harder to do with your cheek!
All in all, this phone can indeed make good phone calls.
In terms of messaging the LG Optimus has nothing special to share with us. It’s your basic SMS client with a threaded view of all your text messages. The email client offers multiple accounts with a unified inbox, which I particularly like the idea of and did the job quite well.
Also included is Telstra’s “MyEmail” for people subscribed to that service. Gtalk is also included for those of you who use that terrific chat service, I know I do!
Music / Video / Images / Radio
The Optimus uses the default Android Music Player, with no customisations what so ever. So it’s just all your music sorted into Artists, Albums, Songs & Playlists. All your favourite codes are supported; MP3, AAC, AAC+, AAC-LC, AMR-NB, WMA.
Sound quality is okay, but volume is pretty weak using the speaker. So you may be better off getting yourself a pair of earphones if you want to use this baby as your MP3 player as well as phone.
Offering very little in terms of functionality and options, the Video Player does what it’s supposed to in a clean little interface. Offering DivX, MPEG4, H.263 codecs, the Video Player will do it’s best to play back anything you throw at it.
On screen controls consist of the basic Play/Pause, Stop, Previous & Next as well as the ability to scrub throughout the video.
As it includes Telstra’s lovely
bloatware add-ons, you can hit menu whilst in the Video Player and head to “Download Videos” to be linked to the Telstra website to presumably buy videos and then download them straight to the device.
The Gallery is a slightly customised version of the default Android 1.6 Gallery, allowing you to sort through your images and view them all my simply sliding through each image. Double tapping on an image will of course zoom you in 50% or you can use the Zoom function which zooms in 25% at a time.
All your other basic features are there such as Geotag Mapping & Image Sharing.
The FM Radio also has the same funtionality as the Desire & Galaxy S. Plug in your headset, scan for channels, set your favourites as presets and you’re good to go. You can also play radio via the speaker. Audio quality is quite good, but not as good as the Galaxy S, but this may be due to the speakers.
Camera / Video
Coming packed with a small 3MP Camera without a Flash seems a bit surprising considering it seems to be aimed as a lower-end social networking kind of device. So not being able to take photos in low/no light seems like a bit of a downside. But below I’ve added some of the photos and videos I took with the device and you can come to your own conclusions to what you think.
There a handful of options and features included with the camera such as face & blink detection, as well as Geotagging and MP count.
Browser / Data
LG has once again continued with the Vanilla Android theme, by sticking with the default browser and moving the menu to the right of the screen, which appear and disappears when you press on it.
Browsing is a pretty fluid experience once the page has loaded, and via Telstra’s NextG network this happened pretty fast (No, I was no made to say that, I was genuinely impressed). Ausdroid loaded with ease and everything was aligned and good to go within a matter of seconds. When zoomed out all the way, obviously text isn’t going to be readable, so zooming in a tad will make everything easy on the eyes.
There is no Flash or Flash Mobile support as of yet, and I’m not entirely sure if LG are going to update this device beyond 1.6, but I’d be impressed if they do.
Having used the LG Optimus for nearly 4 days now, I’ve been very impressed with it’s ability to hold battery life. I have only had to charge it once, because it arrived to me nearly flat. And since then it has only gone down 20% with pretty average use; songs, browsing, WiFi & GPS.
I’m thinking you won’t have too worry all that much about giving it a nightly charge. It should last 2 days at least with average use. However it will differ depending on what you use it for.
The on screen keyboard on the Optimus is pretty basic but gets the job done. If you’re using the “Phone Keypad” which places 3 letters on each button on screen you should be alright, but don’t even bother with the QWERTY keyboard in portrait mode as you will have no hope in hell of typing anything out correctly.
Summing it all up, the device is quite fast & fluid for it’s size, but the resistive screen really let’s it down. Had it have been capacitive I would certainly recommending it to friends and family who are looking to move to their first smart phone. Media playback isn’t it’s strength, same with picture & video recording.
I recommend the device to younger people (not to say it won’t suit everyone) as it does everything a smart phone should do, and suits the casual social networker and texter.
As for all the Telstra Apps, once again I think they’re completely useless and just aim to snag more money from the user, and I wish they could be easily deleted. But props go to LG for not placing the Apps amongst normal Applications, like the HTC Desire, so you don’t accidentally hit them.
Interested in the LG Optimus from Telstra? I suggest you head into a [T]Life store and check one out for yourself before jumping in!