Tech Reviews: LG Optimus V from Virgin Mobile

LG Optimus V is a Great Smartphone Addition to Virgin's Lineup

If you are a Virgin Mobile prepaid customer, start jumping for joy, because VM has finally added a smartphone that does a lot of what high end smartphones can deliver at a very reasonable price: $150. Yes, you read it $150. The previous smartphone that VM introduced last year, the Samsung Intercept, at a $250 introductory price, was widely reviewed and criticized for having a sluggish response and web connection failures. You will not have those complaints with the LG Optimus V; for an inexpensive smartphone it has great reception, clear sound on phone calls, a responsive touch screen and relatively fast data connection. For myself I couldn't ask for anything more. Oh yes I did! Virgin Mobile only offers this smartphone with their Beyond Talk plans, where the minimum plan offers unlimited text, unlimited data and 300 minutes of talk -- for only $25. Yup, $25. I don't know how the company is able to provide this service at such an inexpensive price but it certainly hooked me. By the way, if you plan to move to Virgin Mobile prepaid service, help a poor blogger out by putting in my code w46osD90, when you activate your phone so I can get some free airtime. Thanks in advance.

Phone and components
Phone and components

The LG Optimus V review

First off, some caveats. I am not the type of phone user who uses this phone for work, so I basically use it for short personal phone calls and leisurely web browsing during down time, and even then it's for websites that are basically news oriented -- clearly I am a low usage consumer. Having said that, here are some of the things that I liked about the LG Optimus V:

  • It's a great phone. When I make a phone call, I can hear the caller clearly and they can hear me clearly. There isn't a lot of background noise and the phone does a great job of filtering them out. I've called in the middle of traffic and my caller can still hear me clearly. For me a cell phone is all about connecting successfully, conducting and completing phone calls without hassles.
  • The touchscreen is responsive. Unlocking the phone by wiping your finger across the screen, touching icons, wiping the home screen to move to a secondary screen, touching specific items on google search, wiping through a list of contacts, the phone provided quick navigation.
  • It's not too big, it's not too little, it's just right. The dimensions of the phone are 4.5" x 2.3" and it's half an inch thick. The screen size is 3.2". This is definitely a smaller smartphone, for some who like the bigger screens this would be a turnoff but I have found the screen size adequate and when I make a phone call I don't feel like I'm putting a big plate up to my head.
  • It doesn't look cheap. At an introductory price of $150 you would expect something that has a lot more plastic, but the phone has some weight to it (weighs almost 5 ounces) and the plastic has a burnished metal look. It also has some metal accents. Overall it doesn't look like a cheap plastic phone.
  • It's bright. In fact I was amazed at how bright the screen was and the colors when it came to displays stands out clearly.
  • It's 3G!
  • It's android so you can download plenty of apps from the market.

LG Optimus V sample daylight picture
LG Optimus V sample daylight picture
LG Optimus V sample indoor picture
LG Optimus V sample indoor picture
LG Optimus V sample dim lighting picture
LG Optimus V sample dim lighting picture

Unexpected Benefits

My previous phones were slider phones because I like to text a lot more than I like to talk. The LG Optimus V does not have a sliding keyboard, it uses the Swype entry system on the onscreen keyboard. Instead of laboriously tapping out letters, with the Swype system your finger slides across the virtual keyboard from letter to letter and uses an algorithm to find the right words works! Swype usually is able to determine the correct word 90% of the time according to my experience. Once you memorize the keyboard, texting is a whole lot easier.

If you want something faster than the Swype data entry system, then just talk. The LG Optimus V allows you to use a voice activator to write your text, notes, google search, or call a phone number. I've never had anything like it. Instead of tapping on "contacts" then wiping the screen to find the contact name, all I have to do is say "Call Joe Schmoe on mobile" ... and by golly it does.

The 3.2 megapixel camera takes great pictures for a cell phone even though it doesn't have a flash. I don't expect this cell phone to replace a camera but it's great for those unexpected moments. These sample pictures under various lighting show that the camera can handle diverse situations. I was especially surprised at the picture taken under very dim lighting, that it came out so well.

The major downside to this phone is that the android operating system uses up a lot of battery power. You will most likely have to charge this phone overnight every night.  I have started taking my power cord with me so that I can recharge the phone during the day.  it might also be a good idea to always have a backup battery with you.

The Google Connection

The LG company must have worked with Google on this phone. This is obvious because on the back of the phone it is stamped "with Google". This means that you will automatically have the Google mobile browser. In fact, the Google browser is preloaded on the home screen. If you use gmail, it's easy to access your account and your contacts will sync with this phone. I found this to be convenient, I've never backed up my numbers before and to find it automatically stored in google mail gives me some peace of mind.

Here are some other technical features of the phone:

  • Android 2.2™ Operating System
  • 600 MHz modem processor, separate graphics processor, 512MB RAM
  • Video
  • Speakerphone
  • Bluetooth®
  • MP3
  • Speech To Text
  • Text Messaging
  • Picture Messaging
  • Ringback Tones
  • Email and Instant Messaging
  • Ringtones
  • Games
  • Graphics
  • 3.2 megapixel camera
  • Free navigator
  • Plays Youtube
  • Comes with 2GB MicroSD card but capable of holding up to 32GB MicroSD.

With the LG Optimus V, don't be surprised that you'll end up doing more with your phone. But don't worry, the next tier up at $40 a month, you get 1400 minutes. Oh, and by the way, if you do decide to get a virgin mobile phone, don't forget to put my code (w46osD90) when you activate. Thanks.

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