Last Tuesday I finally bought a smartphone. Prior to last week, I had nothing more than a mere LG Rumor Touch. While it wasn’t terrible, it wasn’t anything like my iPod touch. So my review compares the Optimus very closely with the iPod touch.
The LG Optimus V. The V isn’t a roman numeral five, instead it stands for Virgin Mobile, my carrier. My plan is the $25/month beyond talk plan which includes 300-minutes and unlimited data and texting. I never use more than 100 minutes in any 30 day period so I have no worries there. I tend to text a moderate amount so that’s not a problem. I use data more now than on my old Rumor Touch because it can actually reach 3G speeds. While the plan marks data as being unlimited, I doubt it really is. I’ve heard there is a cap somewhere around 5GB or 8GB, I’m guessing the lower amount.
I bought the Optimus V from Radio Shack for $149.99. The Virgin Mobile website as of this posting also has it set at $149.99. Oddly, the Sprint version, the Optimus S is set at $299 but marked down in a series of ridiculous ways to only $49.
Update (May 2011)
At RadioShack, the LG Optimus V is now $199.99. Even on the Virgin Mobile USA website, the price is set at $199.99. It’s sad that such a great phone gone up in price instead of going down. The price of popularity, I guess?
It’s almost identical to the Spring model, except the buttons on the bottom of the phone are switched around for some absurd reason. No big deal.
When I wrote my review on this year’s iPod touch, I mentioned its weight compared to the iPhone 4 I held back in July. “Impossibly heavy for being so small” was my impression of the iPhone. The Optimus unfortunately does not get the same distinction. The weight feels as if it were just right for the appearance and overall size. It’s 4.69 oz. while the iPhone is 4.8 oz. That’s a minuscule difference but in reality you would feel it.
Moving along, it’s a good size. The screen is 3.2 inches diagonal, which is only a little smaller than my iPod touch. If you have been using a larger screen before this phone, you probably will notice the reduced space. Typing isn’t cramped but it isn’t the same.
I don’t really want to describe the entire set of physical dimensions when the website will take of care it so just check that out there.
A lot of people are asking for comparisons to the Samsung Intercept. When I held one briefly, I noted that it was much lighter than my old Rumor Touch. Now I think the Optimus and Intercept are close in weight with the Intercept being slightly heavier due to the keyboard. The physical differences between the two are the lack of a keyboard for the Optimus and the lack of a good placing for the sleep button on the Intercept. On the Intercept, you have to orient your hand to push a very low button but on the Optimus it’s on top which makes it like the iPod touch placement.
The biggest difference is the screen resolution. I had some figures to compare between Intercept and Optimus but I lost them. It is safe to say though that if you’re comparing a iPod touch 4G, you’ll seriously notice. If you’re using an older iPod touch, probably not so much. The iPod touch screen may or may not have been glass, but the Optimus is not glass. The Intercept is and while it is smooth and probably remain quite flawless in the long haul, plastic is lighter.
After living with iOS for nearly seven months, I’ve gotten used to it.
Let’s start with the keyboard. By default, swipe is enabled. After months of typing on the iPod touch, and years of typing with fingers pressing keys, swiping to type isn’t exactly first nature. I switched to the Android keyboard. While better for me than swipe, it’s not exactly perfect. Accuracy doesn’t seem very high, I make many more mistakes than I ever did before. Auto-completing text isn’t very good either. Someone mentioned, “I’d rather have the (android) keyboard take a while to figure some good suggestions rather than instantly giving me twenty worthless ones.” I feel the pain there certainly. The smiley face button is annoying also. Why is that there? I hit it when I mean to hit delete and I end up with five extra things to delete.
How about the Apps? I use only a few apps. Gmail (email), Facebook, Twitter for Android, LastPass, Pandora, SpringPad and Google Voice. Those are the downloaded apps with the exception of Gmail. On my iPod touch, sure, I downloaded more apps but they were games that I didn’t really need or want.
Let’s talk about email. I wanted a phone that could give me email without needing Wifi. I can do that now. The Mail app on iOS is lovely but doesn’t take advantage of labels. The Gmail app certainly does. I do have a few problems with it though. It’s not quite as simple as the Mail app. For example, the frame for typing is a box that takes the whole screen instead of just being a continuous white space. Functionality isn’t complicated, but just not as simple as an interface.
The Facebook app isn’t as fancy as the iOS version. It works great but I can’t do somethings. For example, making an shortcut icon to a friend’s profile doesn’t work. The app feels slower, just a bit. Twitter for Android is not Twitterrific. That’s the only thing I can say about that – quality is the big difference.
Pandora works great, just as well as it does on the iPod touch. Not a big deal. Oddly, LastPass for Android works a lot better on Android than iOS. On the iPod touch, it would often crash on me for no real reason. My only gripe here is not having an easier way to retrieve passwords; e.g. not making me enter my full password twice, just a pin-code afterwards. SpringPad works just fine – like it always does.
Like the iPhone and BlackBerry, text messages are stored in a conversation style view. Instead of the Rumor Touch style view, where each message is on its own screen, messages between you and your contact are shown together, with the most recent on the bottom. I remember fondly the old days; I’d write a text on my Rumor and forget part of what my friend said and then hit the back button, causing my message to saved as a draft first. Annoying. Texts are so much easier to work with now. If your contact has a picture stored in Contacts, it’ll display there as well. I wonder – the Google Voice app takes over the Phone app when calling, but it doesn’t take over when texting. Missing some integration there, maybe.
The LG Optimus V is seriously an excellent phone. It’s only my second cell phone ever. From a Rumor Touch to a decent Android smart phone. Moving up the ladder, certainly, without paying the iPhone price.
If you have questions about the phone, ask here or ask the good people over at Virgin Mobile’s Ask & Answer.
Update (March 2011)
I’ve noticed dust under the screen of my three week old LG Optimus V. Read the full story.
Update (May 2011)
On May 8th I brought my Virgin Mobile LG Optimus V into a RadioShack. At first they weren’t sure if I was talking about there being dust under the screen protector, but after explaining and showing them, they thought it was pretty strange too. They said they hadn’t seen it before, ever. Thanks to my $30 replacement plan, I am being credited $160.68 to cover the price of the phone plus tax. Unforntuately, when I bought the phone in Feburary, the national price was only $150 but has since has increased to $199. So I’m still loosing out $75 (extra $30 to buy it again, another $30 for another replacement plan and $15 on tax) on another phone when it wasn’t my fault. I’ll update everyone on the results soon!
Update (June 2011)
If you were thinking about buying this phone, you might want to wait a bit. There is a new Virgin Mobile phone waiting in the wings with better specs: the Motorola Triumph. Not much is known about it other than a few hardware specs and there are certainly not hands on consumer reviews. Just something to think about.