The smartphone market is growing at such an incredible rate - but only at the more expensive end. Those looking to take the plunge into the world of apps and touchscreens on a budget have had very little to play with - but now that’s starting to change.
Android has been chucked into low-price phones before, but these have come with a bucketful of irritating features too. But recently we’ve seen the Orange San Francisco emerge as a really decent budget Android effort, and LG is looking to go one better with the Android 2.2-toting Optimus One. It's the latest handset in its Optimus range, following the excellent LG Optimus 7.
For a shade under £130 you’re getting all the Google goodies that you’ll see on the Google Nexus One, so there has to be a trade off somewhere, and that’s in the build quality. The 3.2-inch screen is just about big enough in our eyes, and while the display is pretty clear and responsive the chassis feels very large, cumbersome and plasticky.
It’s not terrible though, and once you dive into the phone you’ll quickly forget about that. The interface is mostly the standard Android offering, although LG has worked a little magic: customisable icons at the bottom and a few more widgets will impress the first time smartphone user.
LG Optimus One review: Screen and camera
The screen is only HVGA, which means when zoomed out things like pictures and the web look a little pixelated and messy - but pinch to zoom works relatively quickly and helps improve quality.
The keyboard is similarly a little low-rent, especially in portrait mode; we’re not using the default multi-tap 9 key default offering, and while we’re glad to see a mini-QWERTY in the options, the accuracy is poor and forces you into landscape use most of the time.
Another area LG has skimped on is the camera - although most people won’t be buying the Optimus One for its snapping power. The 3MP sensor with no flash is reasonably quick to take pics, and auto focus does help improve these. The video camera is poor though - the VGA resolution is fine, it just looks like you’ve smeared beans all over the lens.
LG Optimus One review: Verdict
But it’s not fair to focus on the niggly points with the Optimus One - from the moment you pick it up having only forked out £130 for it, you’ll be impressed with how similar it is to the top end Android phones on the market today.
And with a 1500mAh battery kicking things along, HTC should hang its head in shame, as this is a much bigger power pack than that plopped in the Desire HD, and this is under a third of the price. It laughs in the face of the resistive screens of the T-Mobile Pulse Mini and ZTE Racer, and even rivals the more-expensive HTC Wildfire for functionality.
In short - don’t look at the specs when buying the LG Optimus One, as that’s not what it’s about. Instead realise that the few tradeoffs you have to make are necessary to get a cutting edge Android phone for less money than it takes to replace a cracked iPhone screen. LG looks to have got the perfect blend of price and functionality - Android is ready for the masses
LG Optimus One price: £130 sim free
LG Optimus One release date: out now, find out more from LG