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fowljr

Review: LG Optimus One on Three UK

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fowljr

REVIEW

Android based handsets certainly are flavour of the month at the moment. The Android OS is making significant in-roads into the market traditionally held at first by Windows Mobile, lately by iOS and not forgetting Blackberry OS. You'll find most Mobile Operators carry Android based handsets from a number of suppliers and that includes Three. I have been very lucky to receive an LG Optimus One handset on the Three network for review. Many thanks to Melissa Bradley at Brando for organising this opportunity and not forgetting Three for supplying the device!!

Supplier:Three UK

Cost : £179.99 PAYG, £25.00 per month on a 24 month contract with no up-front handset charge(The One Plan)

Weblink :LG Optimus One

HARDWARE.

What's in the Box?

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  • LG Optimus One
  • Charger
  • USB Cable
  • 3.5" Headset
  • User Guide
  • Three Price Plan Guide

Specifications.

  • OS: Android 2.2 Froyo, upgradable to 2.3 Gingerbread
  • CPU: 600Mhz
  • Display: 3.2Inch capacitive touch-screen, 320x480 pixels, proximity sensor & accelerometer
  • Network: (2G) GSM850/900/1800/1900 (3G) HSDPA 900/2100
  • GPRS: Class 10 (4+1/3+2 slots), 32-48kbps
  • Edge: Class 10, 236.8kbps
  • 3G: HSDPA 7.2Mbps
  • WLAN: WiFi 802.11 b/g, WiFi Hotspot
  • Bluetooth: v2.1 with A2DP
  • Size: 113.5mm x 59mm x 13.3mm
  • Weight: 129grams
  • Memory: (RAM) 512Mb, 170Mb available to user (ROM)
  • SD: MicroSD Up to 32Gb
  • Camera: 3.15 Megapixels with autofocus
  • Stereo FM Radio
  • 3.5mm Headphone Socket
  • GPS: Yes, with AGPS support
  • Battery: 500 Hours Standby, 240 minutes Talk Time

Aesthetics.

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The LG Optimus One has nice lines, plus a neat matt black finish that has a very nice aluminum strip which elegantly forms a silver band around the case. The device feels nice, and being on the smaller side it sits very well in the hand. It also carries a good weight that adds to the solid feel, and gives an impression of good robust construction. I didn't perceive any creaking or flexing from the case, which is pretty good for a device costing only £179.99 that is considered to be at the budget end of the smartphone market. I found the Optimus One a great device to use and very easy to just slip into a pocket.

Top.

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On the left is the 3.5mm headphone socket which has the same nice aluminum styling around it as the rest of the case, and in the middle we find a catch for removal of the back cover. Finally on the right hand side we have the power button, one thing to note with the power button is that it's very well recessed. So there will be no chance of turning the Optimus One on accidently, which means it is pretty safe to just slip it in your pocket that's for sure. I've been carrying the device in my pocket for over a week, without a single inadvertent activation.

Bottom.

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In the picture above firstly in the centre we have the Micro USB socket for charging & sync, and on the right is the microphone. That's all folks for the bottom of the device.

Left.

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In the picture above there's no controls to be found only the svelte lines and an elegantly styled aluminum strip, or at least I think it's aluminum on the left hand side.

Right.

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The right hand side is adorned with only the volume up/down rocker switch, this is very neatly integrated into the aluminum strip that circles the body of the handset.

Front.

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Again moving from top to bottom. First up we have the earpiece speaker, and from my testing this also appears to double as the main device speaker as well, which to my knowledge is unusual in this day and age. Most phones also have speaker ports on the back as well as the earpiece speaker on the front! Continuing the journey down the front of the device, we next come to the LG logo; followed by the 3.2" HVGA screen, which is of the TFT capacitive touch variey and very clear and bright it is too. Oh joy of joys, moving to the bottom we find physical buttons for menu, home, back and search!! This is a most welcome addition and well done LG, the hardware buttons are much more user friendly (or maybe its just me!!) than the capacitive buttons on other devices.

Back.

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Moving from top to bottom once more. Firstly we come to the 3 Megapixel camera, yes, I know most phones now sport cameras in the 5 Megapixels plus range, but think of the price point on the LG Optimus One, it offers a great set of features for the price. Nothing else on the back save the 'with Google' & 'Three' logo's for decoration.

Screen.

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At 320x480 HVGA, the screen isn't a match for the super high resolutions that adorn some of it's more expensive bretheren, but that didn't detract from the fact that the screen is both clear and bright, and Android looks pretty good on it. Initially I felt that the screen itself wasn't that sensitive to the touch, but I then discovered that the phone still had its shipping screen cover on it!! It was pretty stealthy for me not to notice it; I removed forth-with and all was well from that point on.

Battery.

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The battery is a 3.7v 1500mAh unit. Which is pretty large compared to some devices on the market these days. With a good signal, the battery easily powered the LG Optimus One throughout the day and into the evening. That being said, as the device contained a Three SIM that wasn't my primary number, the calls I made on it were limited. Although I do find these days that I rarely use the phone function on my smartphone that much, it's usually texts, Tapatalk, emails or some other kind of messenger application. From what I have read lately, I think this is becoming the norm for most people these days.

In a low signal area, which for some reason includes the downstairs of my house, the battery drained faster, not considerably so, but did result in a requirement to charge earlier than if the signal was good, which is fairly much as you'd expect. At this point I'd like to say that the lack of signal in the downstairs of my house isn't limited to Three, but affects Orange, T-Mobile and O2 as well, with Vodafone providing the stronger signal.

Engine Room.

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Under the hood you'll find a 600MHz processor, I couldn't quite define the processor model. Even though it's not quite a 1GHz Snapdragon, the smartphone chip of choice these days, the unnamed processor drove the Optimus One along very well. I found no noticable lag in use, as I postulate later, it could be the fact that Android 2.2 Froyo is said to be highly optimised and faster than earlier incarnations of the OS that help it stand up so well in todays market.

ACCESSORIES

Headset.

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The headset is the standard affair that you'll find supplied with most devices these days. I'll admit to not using the supplied headphones with any device I own or review as I normally settle for my own ones. At the present time this is a set of Zaggbuds, which for me have been much better than anything I've owned before.

Charger.

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You'd be surprised if you didn't get one of these with your phone wouldn't you? Luckily a charger is supplied in the box as is the norm these days, the charger unit is a USB affair with the USB sync cable doubling up as the charging cable as well.

Car Cradle.

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One of the the main accessories I always tend to purchase for my new devices is a cradle for my car. Good fortune smiled upon me for this review and the LG Optimus One was supplied with the Car Cradle accessory. The cradle itself is made out of plastic, and is of good solid construction. The mount is of the windscreen type with the requisite suction cup to anchor it to the screen. There's one thing to say on this particular mount, and that is the suction cup stuck to my windscreen like a limpet; it never fell off once during the 2-3 weeks that I had the device. It only came off when I released the catch, and prised up the suction tab. I liked that; it is without a doubt in my mind the most stable mount of its type that I have used to date.

As with most mounts, the phone holder is positionable, allowing you to angle the phone to suit your requirements. Just behind the holder is a ring, and when tightened secures the holder into your desired position. The cradle held the phone in a very stable position during car journeys, there was no discernable judder or shake whilst in motion, which is an effect you sometimes find with cheaper windscreen mounts. The LG cradle did the job admirably.

SOFTWARE

Android OS.

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The Optimus One comes with Android 2.2 Froyo installed. I know that the Android world has started to move on to Gingerbread, but I can't say that I've seen many devices that come with that natively installed. Ignoring 2.3, I've read & heard that Android 2.2 is pretty optimised compared to previous Android versions such as 2.1, but I'd never seen it in the flesh as my Motorola Milestone looks like it'll never get an update.

Initial things I've noticed about Android 2.2 is better email handling, it would appear, but I'll say now that I'm no expert, that more of the Exchange security policies are supported in this release of the Google OS. The device flags up that security policies need to be updated on my connecting it to my Exchange server. Unfortunately for me, my place of work actively block Android from the Corporate Exchange servers, which is a shame as I love the concept of the unified inbox.

Another benefit that Froyo delivers is the ability to move your applications from the phones memory to the storage card. One thing to say is that this only works with applications that support being moved to the SD card.

Launcher.

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LG provide the Optimus One with its own launcher or Android shell pre-installed. The good part about this is that it's not a heavyweight add on and hasn't turned out to be bloatware that slows the device down. It's just a nice, simple, straightforward launcher that allows a good level of customisation on the device. Those used to HTC Sense may find the almost vanilla nature of the One (see what I did there, a quick Matrix reference!) somewhat lacking, but personally I do prefer to use just a launcher on my devices.

Home Screens.

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Another excellent facet of the device is that it comes pre-configured with a number of widgets on the home-screen. I think this is a great idea for those new to Android as a platform. The main home screen has another addition in the form of a help widget, it takes you through 6 initial steps. Step 1 is how to access your applications. Step 2 is how to place application icons on the home screen. Step 3 describes how to re-arrange icons on your home screen. Step 4 teaches you how to delete icons. Step 5 gives instruction on how to move between multiple home-screens. Step 6 shows you how to delete the help widget! A good start for a newbie!!

Applications.

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I won't go through all the standard applications that come with most Android phones, in this section I will just concentrate on those applications that I consider to be over and above the norm.

App Advisor.

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App Advisor is an add-on application provided by LG on top of the Android OS. The's not much to it that I could see, the advisor only lists 9 applications. Dropbox & Tweetdeck are there along with Angry Birds. An interesting addition, but to be honest I can't see why it's there when the Optimus One has the Android Market. I guess LG could use this medium in the future to push out specific applications should they be so inclined.

Car Home.

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Contacts; loads standard contacts app, I was expecting something a little larger for stabbing with a digit in car. Although not really necessary with my in car kit. Phone; launches the standard dialler, again I would be thinking of something a little larger buttoned, but it's still not bad. Music; loads the Android music player.

Social Networking.

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Facebook & Twitter come pre-loaded on the Optimus One, adding to the strong selling points in my mind. With widgets accessible and ready to go on one of the home screens. I thought this was an excellent touch for the newcomers to the Android OS or indeed smartphones in general and is just the sort of targetted advertising that you'd expect these days.

The applications themselves are both Twitter & Facebooks own applications, just as you would expect. I must admit, although I did use Twitter's own app for the purposes of the review, I soon moved back to the Android version of Tweetdeck, which in my opinion is much better and combines Facebook & Twitter into a single social feed, which I like immensly.

FM Radio.

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The Optimus One comes equipped with an FM radio. As with other devices equipped with radios, the Optimus One uses the the supplied headset to act as its antenna. Whilst some other devices are quite proprietary in that they require the headset supplied with the device to function, the Optimus One was happy for me to use my Zaggbuds as a replacement with no issues. The quality was good, I had no issues tuning into local stations. If you're wondering, 96.7 is KLFM (King's Lynn FM), a great local radio station!

Layar.

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The Optimus one comes with an application called 'Layar' pre-installed! I'd not heard of this application before and what it was & did was a complete mystery to me. Layar is an augmented reality browser, now I had heard about this augmented reality stuff, but I hadn't really paid that much attention to it. Until now that is. That being said, the application didn't really do anything when I used it whilst I was at home, and try as I may to remember to use Layar when out and about, I never actually did. I've not seen much news on it, so maybe it just failed to stick in my mind.

News and Weather.

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News and Weather does exactly what its name suggests, it provides you with news and weather!! :-) The application uses location services to work out where you are and display a synopsis of the days weather in the main part of the screen, with the next seven days displayed immediately below it. The weather is basic compared to something like the animations of HTC Sense, but it certainly does the job well. The weather data itself is supplied by the Weather Channel.

Swipe to the next tab and you are presented with the top news stories. The display layout is much like an RSS feed, containing a synopsis plus a picture where available. The data is pulled from more than one source, which differentiates it from the more usual RSS feed that is usually a single source. There are more tabs for news such as UK specific and Sport. Tapping any of the headings will open up the browser and take you straight to the source page of the item, which is pretty standard in RSS and implemented well here.

ThinkFree Office.

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I did give the ThinkFree Office application a quick try, but once I activated it I realised that it required registration on their website, I decided not to take activating it forward. Based on that, I can't really comment on the application as I've not actually had a chance to use it. I guess I could have registered, but I felt I didn't really have the time available to me.

YouTube.

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I found that the YouTube app worked very well. I had no issues playing videos from both web pages and links posted in Twitter or Facebook. The integration is quite good, but fairly consistent across android devices that I have used.

REAL WORLD

Battery Life.

I found the battery to be adequate in daily use. it easily managed to drive the device to the end of a full day with Wi-Fi turned on with three email accounts polling on push; plus Twitter & Facebook applications polling every 15minutes. My usage of the device included the daily playing of my mobile tech podcasts using an application available in the Android market called DoggCatcher. This was without heavy use of the Optimus One as a phone though, as I was using a SIM provided by Three themselves. Although I did put the phone side of the Optimus One through its paces to see what call quality is like.

Camera.

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The first thing I'll say about the camera is that it has a rather pleasing click sound!! By that a mean its a nice short quick click, not a drawn out affair that some phones have in their camera software. The camera was also quick, after pushing the on-screen snapping button, the camera instantly auto-focused and took the shot, I'd say it took around 2 seconds or just under. The snaps are quite reasonable when compared to the camera's on other phones, but I'll let you be the judge of that with some test shots:

Audio Playback.

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Playback of podcasts is one of my primary tasks for any smartphone. I found the Optimus One to be very competent at fulfilling my needs here. I'll admit to never using the built-in Android Music player, preferring to load my chosen podcast application called Doggcatcher. One very interesting thing I did note, and it's the first time I've seen it on any smartphone, is that when I rotated the device into Landscape, the direction of the Volume control shifts to match the orientation. I was incredibly impressed by this and it made perfect sense, although that may be the geek in me!! Top marks to LG for that little gem.

Email.

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Android 2.2 excels here. Multiple Exchange accounts and the unified inbox are definitely the way to go in my opinion. You can't beat it!! Android 2.2 also appears to support more of the Exchange policies than 2.1 that I currently use on the Milestone. I didn't get a chance to look at this fully, as I don't implement any stringent policies on my own Exchange server that I use for testing & home use. In my use of email, I did find the on-screen keyboard a little daunting at first and I would still say that on-screen keyboards definitely deter me from doing a huge amount of mobile email. That being said I am becoming more used to them. The default keyboard on the Optimus One was definitely usable, but no more or no less than any other on-screen keyboard that I've used on a variety of devices. There were no real issues with the keyboard at all.

Google Maps.

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Google Latitude is one of my favourite apps, and as with most Android devices Google Maps was present and correct on the LG Optimus One. As I've seen before after the initial boot, one of the first apps to update from the Marketplace is Google Maps. The maps looked nica and clear on the Optimus One's screen.

Satnav.

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I didn't have a SatNav program readily available to install on the Optimus One for use in the supplied cradle, so I thought I'd give Google Navigation a go for the sake of this review!! Google Navigation misses a lot of the bells & whistles of some of the dedicated SatNav packages, but that being said, it definitely did the job for me on my various trips around town. I did find the input by voice a little, well a lot hit and miss, so I opted for the destination input via the keyboard instead, not while the car was in motion I hasten to add!! That option was much more reliable. It must be my voice, as none of the voice recognition apps seem to work well for me at all!

USB Driver.

I must admit I was a bit confused here at first. My previous use of many HTC phones over the years has probably blinkered my view here. When I first connected the Optimus One to my PC, I didn't actually notice that it told me the USB hadn't installed. I spent ages fiddling with the Android SDK before I realised this.

A quick Google helped me on my way and I had to download and install the LG Mobile Support Tool. Once installed I ran the application and had to input the device IMEI. Once done, the UK USB drivers were downloaded and installed. Once that was complete it was all plain sailing using the Optimus One with the PC. My only comment on it is that maybe LG should make this part of the process a little more user-friendly.

Pro's & Con's.

Pro's

:tu: Android 2.2 Froyo

:tu: Clear, bright screen

:tu: Social Networking widgets pre-installed

:tu: Pocket sized

:tu: Exceptional value at £179.99

Con's

:td: QVGA, only mentioned in comparison to todays behemoth screens

:td: I had to give it back!!

:td: I can't think of any others

Conclusion.

I will be the first to admit that I am usually not that bowled over by touch-screen only devices, I've always been more of a hardware keyboard kind of guy, finding it difficult to use on-screen keyboards. That being said I found the LG Optimus One to be a completely convenient size and an excellent companion in my traversing of the digital universe. I really did use it every day, surfing the web, replying to email, keeping up with Twitter & Facebook and in the main listening to the many tech podcasts that I subscribe too. I would say this is probably my softening with age, but don't tell anyone.

The device itself displayed plenty of power, despite the processor only being rated at 600Mhz. I can honestly say I experienced no lag or stuttering at all during my use of the device itself. The audio quality was very good, the screen was exceptionally clear and bright. One other feature of Android 2.2 the device enamored to me further was the ability to move certain apps to the SD card via the manage applications configuration. This one thing allowed me to install far more apps than I can on my current Motorola Milestone, which could really do with Android 2.2.

The price point on this device is amazing for what you get. £179.99 on Pay as you Go is nothing short of mega-value for what the device offers in terms of the Android experience with Froyo on board, I thoroughly recommend it and I was sorry to see it leave when I returned it to Brando.

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The Guru

A sweet looking device indeed and the bonus is of course the car mount. Well done LG!

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johnston411

It's not my cup of tea but the camera does a good enough job and the mount is a nice bonus.

I also like the fact there is now a variety of decently specced android devices at a reasonable price appearing at a rate of knots

nice review matey

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