Let’s face the truth, frankly, the LG Optimus One P500 isn’t as glamourous as many Android counterparts. As a result it is much more affordable, and this is where we think the LG Optimus One P500 may excel – the Android newbie’s market.
As always, in this focused review we’ll be covering the features you’ve been wanting to find out more about.
The LG Optimus One is a small, candybar form factor Android with a 3.2-inch HVGA. It may be small but not as annoyingly tiny as the Sony Ericssion Xperia X10 Mini. When you hold the Optimus One in your hand, the first thing you’ll notice is that it’s rather rubbery, with no obvious metallic accents, its also quite lightweight (129 g) making it not too uncomfortable to hold.
Unlike the newer generation of HTC phones (Desire HD and Desire Z / T-Mobile G2), we liked the fact that the Optimus One boasts hard keys for its menu, home, back and search function rather than touchscreen keys.
Like majority of Androids, the microSD card is not accessible without opening the back cover.
Google Android may seem less user friendly and more complicated to many users compared to iOS, but with Android 2.2 (Froyo) equipped on board the Optimus One P500, we felt it was pretty self explanatory and easy to use.
As our handset had been sent to us from Three, there were plenty of goodies already packed within. Some quick shortcuts already on the home screen allowing you to quickly glance at your Three balance, top up and buy add ons. While of course there is a range of apps downloadable from the application Market, for new users to Android, Facebook, Twitter, Google Talk, YouTube, Google Maps with free turn by turn navigation already comes built in, saving you the hassle.
If you need to constantly catch up with your emails, the P500’s built in email support is excellent, it will easily cope with all your accounts, including Outlook using Microsoft Exchange. If you use Gmail, there’s fantastic support for it as well as other Google services across all Android devices such as Google Reader, afterall Android does belong to Google.
LG have added a little something of their own as well, when you drag the notification menu down, they’ve built in a few connectivity controls within the menu to increase accessibility. Though this is already available as a separate widget in Froyo, we didn’t mind. On the other hand, we couldn’t quite work out why LG had opted to take out the recently used applications feature which was meant to be a new functionality for Android’s recent update.
Display and On-screen Typing
Don’t have great expectations, the Optimus One’s 3.2-inch HVGA offers a resolution of just 320 x 480 pixels, while most flagships have 400×800 these days. This means its rather difficult to read text when viewing a whole web page, the size of the screen doesn’t help either. Nonetheless, we do think LG has impressed us by giving the P500 a multitouch screen. Therefore, when you’re browsing or viewing photos, you can zoom in and out by either double tapping, or by pinching with your fingers just like an iPhone. It does become jerky at times but majority of the time during our testing it was pretty smooth.
As a fan of physical QWERTY keyboards, I personally did not fancy the Optimus One’s on-screen keyboard at all. Most likely because of the narrow screen, the touchscreen just felt too cramped to type at a pace that I would have liked. You can of course improve this by turning the phone on its side and rotate into landscape mode. Overall, the touchscreen is responsive but its not the best we’ve seen, even for LG standards.
If you plan on buying an Android device mainly for web browsing, keeping up to date with news, Facebook, Twitter and your emails, and running productivity apps, the LG Optimus One will serve you right. If playing Raging Thunder 2 or Asphalt HD is your intention, we would recommend you try alternative devices. Playing low paced apps such as Air Control was without any problems however, any app more graphically demanding simply weren’t very enjoyable. The phone will ‘bare the burden and try’ to run but expect it to struggle from the start with plenty of lags.
Good for Quick Snaps
The three megapixel camera without flash isn’t much but unlike many budget smartphones, you do get a decent quick snapper even if the colours are murky and jerky in 18fps VGA. The photos are mobile phone camera quality, but its not so bad to the extent that you’d be reluctant to show your friends. The camera’s interface is exactly the same as previous LG S-Class phones we’ve reviewed. It does have a decent macro mode and face tracking actually works unexpectedly well. The below are some of the photos we took during our testing…
Turn by Turn Navigation (with LG P500 Car Cradle)
The great benefit of having an Android phone is free turn by turn Google Navigation. The bright and responsive touch display of the Optimus One makes the GPS equipped budget phone a worthy sat nav. Plus, the small screen means the battery is more efficiently used than other Android devices we’ve tested in the past. The size of the display on the other hand does make it uncomfortable to quickly glance at when all you want to do is concentrate on your driving. Otherwise, we experienced lag free driving directions.
As you can see the LG car cradle (specific for P500) we received along with the P500 (does not come with handset) was a well made, very sturdy, proper dock that we believe would be durable. However, if you’re buying the P500 to get a ‘taster’ of the Android world, you might like to withhold from buying the cradle unless you are absolute certain that the Optimus One is for you. Otherwise, stick with a universal in-car dock for your satellite navigation needs.
While its definitely not a replacement for your Garmin or TomTom, its small and handy form factor does mean if your sat nav’s map isn’t up to date and has trouble finding an address, you’ll always find it using the P500 by searching on Google.
As a budget Android, we found the LG Optimus One P500 to be highly capable of supporting many of the daily tasks that you’d expect to perform with more higher end phones. Its a reliable device for supporting most productivity and basic multimedia needs – baring in mind that its 600 MHz CPU will struggle when pushed to its limit with more demanding tasks. We found the Optimus One to be widely equipped with hardware you’d expect from the ‘big boys’, it even came with Android 2.2, but all of which at a reduced standard, consistent with its pricing. However, the Optimus One will plough on with whatever you throw at it but its budget hardware will limit you to doing all this at an overall ‘lower quality’. If we were asked to rate this device, we would give an overall 3.5/5 stars.
Thus, if you’re looking to switch over to Android from the iPhone or step up to your first smartphone and not quite sure you want to shell out anything more than £200, the LG Optimus One P500 would fit your criteria and offer you a ‘taster’ with its all in one affordable package. Alternatives we would recommend considering would include the HTC WildFire and Sony Ericsson X10 Mini. If the P500 definitely wins your bid, we would aim for a sim-free pricetag of £170 – £180.
- Excellent battery life
- Comes with Android 2.2 Froyo
- Responsive multitouch screen
- Runs well with the standard full connectivity package
- Cheap plastic and rubbery feel
- Small display
- Not suitable for graphically demanding applications
- Low megapixel camera without flash or a dedicated camera key