written by: Robert Faustus•edited by: Simon Hill•updated: 5/31/2011
The LG Optimus S is an entry level smartphone from Sprint. Priced at $50 with a two year contract, the LG Optimus is an affordable, not cheap, smartphone addition to the entry level market. Can the LG Optimus S compete in a highly competitive smartphone market?
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LG Optimus S Review
The LG Optimus S is the Sprint counterpart to the LG Optimus T released from T-Mobile. It seems LG is following a very similar pattern to their Korean competitor, Samsung. Samsung released the T-Mobile Vibrant and the Sprint Epic 4G from essentially the same baseline of the Samsung Galaxy S phone. The LG Optimus S and the LG Optimus T are very similar as well. The LG Optimus S is exclusive to Sprint and does feature some minor differences from its T-Mobile counterpart. The Optimus S is set as an entry level Android smartphone for Sprint customers.
LG Optimus S Specifications:
Dimensions: 4.46 x 2.32 x 0.52 inches (113 x 59 x 13.2 mm)
Weight: 4.48 oz (127 g)
Display: 3.2 inch LCD Color TFT capacitive touchscreen display, 320 x 480 pixels
Memory: 150 MB + Expandable microSD up to 32 GB
OS: Android OS 2.2
Processor: 600 MHz Qualcomm MSM7627
Camera: 3.2 megapixel camera with VGA video recording
Connectivity: CDMA Dual Band (800/1900 Mhz)
Data: 1xEV-DO rev.A
Bluetooth: Bluetooth 2.1
GPS: GPS with A-GPS
Battery: Li-Ion 1500 mAh
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Design and Display
The LG Optimus S has a solid and yet very familiar design. Like most other Android powered smartphones, the LG Optimus S is a candy bar shaped smartphone with a 3.2 inch LCD screen dominating the front. Below the display are the four familiar Android shortcuts, home, menu, back and search. The keys, like the LG Optimus T are physical buttons, and are slightly different in order.
Along the left edge of the LG Optimus T, you'll find a slot for the microSD card. Opposite, on the right side, is where you'll find the volume rocker, a voice dial button and a dedicated camera button. Below is the port for the microUSB, for charging and data transfer. Finally, up top is where the power/lock key and the 3.5 mm headphone jack resides on the LG Optimus S. The back of the phone features a smooth, yet slight rubbery feeling back with a 3.2 megapixel camera. Though at first glance the LG Optimus S looks very much like its brother the Optimus T, upon closer inspection, the Optimus S has more dedicated buttons around the phone. The LG Optimus S comes in purple and black.
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Hardware and Software
The LG Optimus S doesn't quite pack a punch like the higher end smartphones due to its 600 MHz Qualcomm MSM7627 processor. There is some lag when scrolling home screens, switching applications or browsing, but overall the 600 MHz processor does its job for an entry level smartphone. The slight lag was not enough to make you feel angry or annoyed.
The LG Optimus S runs stock Android 2.2 (Froyo) with just a tiny modification. The LG Optimus S has Sprint ID featured next to the application icon. Overall, stock Android 2.2 runs well on the LG Optimus S, aside from the slight lag. There were no crashes and the phone did not have to be rebooted for any reason.
Overall for a $50 smartphone, the LG Optimus S has some quality hardware and up to date software. It is priced slightly higher than its T-Mobile counterpart, however.
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The LG Optimus S is a very familiar interface for Android users. Simply click on the applications you want to run, or hold them and move them to a different home screen. Slide your finger across the screen to move from one area to another. For new users, the Android OS is one of the easiest systems to master. The now familiar four button layout is pretty much the same on all Android smartphones, so it is also a very familiar interface.
The LG Optimus S also features their Sprint ID feature. Sprint ID allows you to switch profiles on the fly. These profiles load up different wallpapers, applications and settings. If you feel like having a 'sports' oriented phone, simply select the Sprint ID associated with sports and watch your LG Optimus S change. Overall, it's a fairly useless feature for Android users who customize their own phone but for newcomers to the Android platform it does have its uses. It takes away the scary aspect of having to customize a phone by going through various different settings.
The LG Optimus S also comes preloaded with Swype, which, if you're unfamiliar with it, is a keyword input application, allowing you to literally swipe from one character to the next. It's a great feature and most people familiar with Swype usually end up getting stuck using it due to the ease of use.
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The LG Optimus S comes with the run of the mill Android applications along with some Sprint related applications. The biggest plus is that the LG Optimus S can connect to the Android Market, allowing you to download from thousands of applications and games. Third party applications and games do run fairly smoothly on the 600 MHz processor, which was actually surprising.
The 3.2 megapixel camera isn't the most amazing camera to come with a smartphone but it does its job. The colors come out a bit dull and the pictures have that camera phone feel to them. There is no HD recording but the camera does perform VGA recording which is a tiny bit choppy at times but overall really isn't that noticeable. It's actually pretty good for 'on the go' recording. The dedicated camera button on the LG Optimus S also helps in that regard, which the LG Optimus T lacks.
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The Final Verdict
Overall the LG Optimus S is a definite 'Average' phone in the market. Coming in with a $50 price tag with a two year contract, Sprint is slowly beginning to put the line between the words 'affordable' and 'cheap' in the smartphone line up. The $50 price tag isn't a huge drop in the bucket for some, but for others it's still a fairly pricey decision. The LG Optimus S can definitely not compete with the likes of more powerful phones such as the Motorola Droid X or the Samsung Captivate, but that's okay, it's not meant to. Against the likes of other entry to mid-market level handsets such as the Motorola Charm or even it's counterpart on T-Mobile's network, the LG Optimus T, the LG Optimus S actually performs well.
A series of reviews on the LG Optimus Series of smartphones from Korean manufacturer, LG. Though not quite as popular as Samsung, LG has been pumping out sleeker and newer smartphones with the Optimus brand.