LG Optimus One Review: Android 2.2 Without Burning Your Wallet

[REVIEW] I asked a LG engineer why the LG Optimus One is called "Optimus" which reminds me of Optimus Prime in Transformers whom is the leader of the Autobots. Meanwhile, the Optimus One is obviously built and priced to be a entry-level Android handset. He said "Optimus" meant "one of the best" in latin.

Then the description seems fitting because LG Optimus One is, for now, the best entry level Android phone you can possibly find among the three telcos in our little red dot. Take SingTel for example, $48 dollars with a 2 year plan, that's a new price level for a Android phone. Cheap phones aren't new but cheap phones with the most updated Android system is something really refreshing. Up till the debut of LG Optimus One, HTC Desire, Huawei Ideos and LG Optimus One are the only three Android 2.2 handsets available in the Singapore market. A serious mismatch isn't it? HTC Desire is price in the range of $500 to $600, a top end Android phone for HTC.

The polish and completeness of Android 2.2 as a smartphone OS makes LG Optimus One a very compelling option as an affordable Android phone. But that's really theory, taking it out for a spin will test the credibility of the LG latest Android handset.

Disclaimer: I have been honoured to be invited to blog as a LG Ambassador for the next 7 weeks. BUT that's not going to deter me from writing an independent review of the phone the best I can.



The Hardware

LG Optimus One is adopts a very traditional touchscreen phone look. Black plastic all round but it look durable enough. The metallic button on the bottom of the phone makes the overall look more sophsicated or a tab too odd, depending on how you look at it. The tactile feel from pressing those buttons felt extremely good though.

The back of the phone spots the camera hole and the Google logo. No flash for the camera.


  • TFT capacitive touchscreen, 256K colors, 320 x 480 pixels, 3.2 inches
  • 113.5 x 59 x 13.3 mm, 129g
  • 170MB Internal Memory, MicroSD Card Slot
  • 3.15 MP, 2048x1536 pixels, autofocus, video VGA@18fps
  • Android OS, v2.2 Froyo
  • 600 MHz processor
  • Standard battery, Li-Ion 1500 mAh

The display is reasonably good, something you will expect with this sort of price tag. Like nearly all LG's recent release, the display is bright and vibrant. The resolution of 320 x 240 is certainly less sharp than the top end competitors but again you just have to look at the price tag to understand why.

The touch responsiveness is probably just about fast except on a few occasion the corners of the screen isn't as responsive as I would have like. Consequently, typing on the LG Optimus One with it’s default keyboard is not that all smooth like most Android phones. However, installing “Smart Keyboard” from the Android application store improves the typing experience tremendously though.

Packing Content:

  • USB Charger and Cable
  • Earpiece
  • Manual



The Software

Android 2.2 is the most important part of the package. I have used phones with Android virant of 1.6 and 2.1. But 2.2 is on a different planet. It's like putting a Ferrari engine in a Toyota. Froyo gives LG Optimus One a classier feel when using the phone especially the speed.

LG Optimus One packs in a 600 MHz processor but in no way does it feel laggy. Very impressive given that I have used Android phones of faster proccessors and they are not as speedy.

Froyo still look very much like Eclair except there are two very important features upgrade; Wireless Tethering and Installation of Apps on the MicroSD card. And you might want to know that most phones in the market do not have these features right out of the box.

Wireless Tethering is incredible useful if you do not have mobile broadband subscription. It allows the phone to act as a wireless router and thus you can share the data capacity on your phone data plan instead of subscribing to another data plan for your notebook. Very neat but you can expect the feature to drain the battery life really quickly.

Installation of Apps to the MicroSD card is a long awaited, terribly needed and almost the one feature to pull Android closer to being a complete smartphone operating system. Users of Android 1.6 and 2.1 had to install the Apps to the internal storage which is usually about 500mb to be shared with other applications already on the phone.

LG has also installed several custom Apps in the Optimus One. There is the App Advisor which as it’s name implies, tells you what is good to install in the Android Market. Well, Android Market is indeed one place where some policing is required. Since there is no restriction or review on any App prior to it’s appearance on the market, any Apps can get on it, even those that are tried to perform illegal activities on your phone. So in that sense, you get some help from the App Advisor though the Advisor does not keep really approve a lot of Apps.

Other apps includes some Ndrive, a navigation app and LG Bookmark widget which give you one click access to webpages. And top on of these, the ThinkFree Office app; not just a reader but also an editor! Here is the best part: The App costs S$19.44 on the app store.


Wrapping Up…

LG Optimus One really excel in the areas of pricing and software. But it is not just them, LG Optimus One also boast a pretty strong battery life as an Android device. It’s 1500 mAh battery and a smaller 3.2” display should have helped a lot in this area.

Call quality is good on the phone as per most other phones these days. Camera’s performance is average on the other hand, with a 3 Megapixel camera, I find the images to be a little less vibrant.

In short, LG Optimus One is one phone that presents the most compelling case for a budget Android phone in the market at the moment. Updated Android OS, better than average battery life and a productivity suite pre-installed are all in the Optimus One already.  

At the end of the day, I think if you have bags of moolah to spend, LG Optimus One might not be the top end device that you eye but if you are not in that group, then think about it. It may just be a very good purchase. Even better than Global Logistic Properties IPO.

Link - LG Life's Good Challenge (Vote for me and win a LG Optimus One!)

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