Android devices are becoming really affordable these days and the choices are getting harder to make all the time. But a low price tag doesn’t mean you’ll always get the best functionality for your buck. So naturally when the LG P500 aka Optimus One came in looking all slick and stylish, I put it through the test as I for one, never judge a book by its cover. Here’s a closer look.

Form Factor
The Optimus One really is a sleek looking handset. It’s light weight (129g) and comes neatly packaged inside a shell with a rubberized coating that makes it easy to grip and very comfortable to hold. The 3.2-inch capacitive touchscreen proved very responsive and easy on the eyes with its 320 x 480 pixel resolution showing off 256 in colors. The light sensor didn’t seem to be to sensitive to changing light conditions as it took a little too long to switch on the light if I moved the handset away from my head.

Sleek and comfy

Sleek and comfy

LG’s button placement is spot on and makes for very easy handling and control. Slim volume/zoom keys are located on the right side and blend perfectly into the chrome border around the device. It lacks a camera shutter release but you’ll get over it. The micro USB port for charging PC connectivity is placed at the bottom while the 3.5mm handsfree socket is at the top near the power/screen lock button. A Micro SD (supports 32GB) hot swap slot is located just under the rear panel and not hard to get it if you need to.

Features and Performance
Interface

The Optimus is one of the few Android handsets that’s shipping in the country with Froyo out-of-the-box. Running on a 600MHz processor there’s virtually no lag during any kind of operation. Screen scrolling, display rotation, accessing the media library, screen animations et al are fluid. The virtual keypad is comfortable to use and if you prefer, you can switch from QWERTY to standard mobile phone alphanumeric. LG also has its own QWERTY style which is a little less user friendly as compared to Android’s native version. Again, if it doesn’t work for you simply switch.

Froyo is the way to go

Froyo is the way to go

On its own Froyo, as an update to an already user friendly UI, brings quite a bit to the table like better management of speed, moving apps to your SD card to save space on the handset and more. However LG has added a few very handy options of their own. Like with the Optimus GT540, you can create sections in the main menu to segregate apps according to preference. LG has also thrown in their own Task Killer app as well that helps relieve the battery of un-due stress. OI File manager is also preloaded so you can access your file system whenever required. The system also offers a quick access option to a polite SMS excuse if you can’t take a call.

Media
LG usually shows tremendous prowess in the media department, but for some reason the Optimus One doesn’t quite match up to what I’m used to from the company. While the overall audio and tone quality are nothing to complain about I was disappointed that LG didn’t include any audio enhancements with the device. No EQ presets, Dolby mobile or any such option were found here. Of course being an Android device you have plenty of player choices from the Android market. The video player was also a bust. While it plays quite a few formats with .AVI extensions, it does support high resolution videos so even if you don’t have to convert files to another format, you’ll still have to reduce the resolution.

A few more media tweaks would have been nice

A few more media tweaks would have been nice

A few extras that LG has thrown in today include an FM radio that works out just fine, Aldiko’s Book Reader, PhotoFunia (that took usually long to make any changes to any pictures I selected), Voice Search and Google’s Speech to text feature that works like a charm.

Connectivity
When it comes to connectivity, the Optimus is quite well equipped to handle all your requirements. With 3G, Wi-Fi (Tethering and Hot-Spot functionality as well thanks to Froyo), EDGE/GPRS and of course Bluetooth 2.1 with A2DP and USB 2.0 you’ll want for very little. The native browser, while good enough to get the job done with easy thanks to pinch-zoom and smooth scrolling does not support Flash which was another disappointment. Setting up email accounts with MS Exchange or other basic POP or IMAP accounts is pretty simple with Android so no issues here.

LG's variant of the Android Market

LG's variant of the Android Market

Native Twitter and FaceBook clients have been preloaded and Google’s Gtalk and YouTube apps are also provided. LG has also included The Layar AR Browser and their own version of the Android Store called App Advisor. A newspaper aggregator is also on board and so is a more standardized RSS reader for staying up to date on current events.

Get Lost? No way!

Get Lost? No way!

For GPS functionality the Optimus One comes preloaded with the NDrive app for navigation complete with Maps for India. It’s not the best application to use but the UI is quite intuitive and not too hard to get around. Of course your alternative would be Google Maps, but it’s not the same obviously.

Misc. Features
Android handsets, or any other for that matter pretty much come with some of the more mundane applications like a Calendar (sync with FB and Google), Calculator, alarm clock etc. The Optimus one is no exception. LG’s extra on the other hand include a PNR Status checker for those traveling by rail, a news and weather app, dictionary, an infant Vaccine Tacker (huh?), Bollywoodji for getting all the latest on your favorite filmy stuff, and Car Home that’s used to simplify phone functionality while driving. I don’t recommend using it.

Plenty of colors, plenty of features

Plenty of colors, plenty of features

Camera
The Optimus One’s 3MP autofocus camera is actually one of the better one’s I’ve tested so far. It packs in quite a few relevant features like Face-Tracking, Smile and Beauty shots, manual focus, scene modes, a timer and geotagging to name a few.

Standard shot

Standard shot

Image quality is quite sharp and well focused for a mobile handset in this range. Video records in VGA (640 x 480) resolution which is not too bad if you like uploading videos to YouTube or other networks.

Manual Zoom

Manual Zoom

Battery
The 1500mAh battery is more than capable of running for over two days with decent usage. Talk time averaged in at over 4 hours and 45 minutes on a single charge. No complaints here either.

The Bottom Line
With a price tag of Rs. 13,999 (MOP), the Optimus One has enough clout to take on Samsung’s Galaxy 3 Android handset. In a few ways it does have a little more to offer but in some it leaves you wanting more. The Optimus One on an average is a really good handset with a lot to offer. The design is solid, it’s Android 2.2 out of the box, supports multiple video formats at lower resolutions and LG’s thrown in a few handy apps as well. It’s definitely worthy of serious consideration if a low end Android handset is what you’re looking for this season.

Publish date: December 3, 2010 2:10 pm| Modified date: December 18, 2013 6:58 pm

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