LG Smartphones - LG Optimus M Review
smartphones have started to emerge with some pretty slick handsets, and
considering the competition, it really came out strong with its Optimus
January 2010, MetroPCS was kind enough to send me an LG Optimus M to
review. I was able to use it for a month, which gave me
time to really get a good feel for the ins and outs of this prepaid
smartphone. Here you'll find notes and thoughts about my
experience with the handset. Please note that although the
smartphone was provided by MetroPCS, I am in no way being compensated
to provide my opinions. In other words, good, bad, or
these are my opinions, and I have not (and will never be!) influenced
by any wireless provider to provide a positive review.
phone I received came in what I call a dealer box, meaning that it's
not in that hard-to-open plastic bubble packaging found in most major
retailers. It was clean and simple, with nothing that stood
other than to say that I enjoyed the simplicity of the box
contents: the phone, USB cable with wall adapter, a manual,
and conditions, coupon for $5 off of a hands free ear piece (NOT
Bluetooth), intro to MetroNavigator, a quick start guide, as
as a 2GB memory card.
My first thoughts when I took
out the phone were that the handset is extremely well constructed,
felt great in my hand, and looked just as high end as any of the most
expensive smartphones out there (Android or otherwise). It's
some weight to it (largely from the battery) that makes it feel solid,
and not cheap and flimsy. Given that the LG Optimus M is
positioned as a low to mid-tier amongst LG smartphones, I think LG and
a fantastic job here.
The smartphone has four
hardware/physical buttons on the bottom of the screen: Menu,
Home, Return, and Search. While they look nice, and have a
quality and tactile feel, I much prefer soft buttons like those found
on the Sanyo Zio. After zipping along with the touchscreen
navigation, I find the extra effort to push a physical button to be
annoying and slows me down. I'm not sure if all LG
smartphones are like this. I found no way to natively
these buttons to other apps. There's also a physical power
on the top right edge of the smartphone, though I found myself using it
less and less, and just waking the phone with one of the hardware
buttons on the front.
also have to note that nowhere on the phone is an LED indicator to show
you when you've missed calls or emails. I truly see this as a
major design flaw, and found it (or rather the lack of it) to be
materially detrimental to my experience using the phone. I
other phones are plagued with this "flaw," however, that doesn't make
any less irritating, and I hope that other LG smartphones will take
this into consideration.
Another thing to note that
some people may find silly, or not even notice at all is the screen
protector that came pre-installed on the handset. Every phone
purchased to date has a plastic screen cover from the
It always has a gummy feel to it, and distorts the screen and the
sensitivity of touchscreen phones. That's typical, and makes
lot of sense, as it's really only meant to protect the screen until the
end user receives it, and is not meant to be a permanent screen
cover. On MetroPCS's LG Optimus M, however, the screen cover
as good quality as any screen protector that I've ever
Getting a screen protector for my smartphones is usually the first
thing I buy, and I spend between $8 - $15 dollars for a top notch
protector. Anyway, I think this is a nice touch, and an extra
bonus for people like me who insist on getting a screen protector.
I'm not sure if other LG smartphones come with the same
came preloaded with Android
OS 2.2. This was the latest Android
operating system at the time, and was nice because it meant that I
didn't have to bother finding or waiting for an upgrade.
were some meaningful upgrades from 2.1 to 2.2 (which I won't get into
here) that I appreciated having right out of the box. While
had the opportunity to play around with Android in the past, this was
actually my first extensive use of the Android operating
As the operating system is fairly standard, and not necessarily
specific to the prepaid wireless carrier (in this case MetroPCS), if
you're interested in a
more detailed discussion, you can visit the dedicated Android
MetroPCS does include some extra apps pre-installed on its LG
smartphones (and others),
App Store - There's a number of free apps listed here,
including Boingo Mobile Wi-Fi, Loopt, MetroPCS Mail, etc.
- It's a nice client to help you setup virtually any mail client,
including Microsoft Exchange. You can also setup
and use a
Metro email address. I still find this peculiar; do you know
anyone who uses a wireless carrier email address anymore? The
standard Android mail client is very similar, and I think that it's
confusing for users to know which client to use. Personally
stick with the standard Android client or Gmail client as it's more
likely to be frequently updated.
- A nice app for finding local venues, though Google Maps provides much
of the same functionality.
- A nice app to backup your contacts, however, I would recommend using
Gmail Contacts, which will automatically sync all of your contacts to
the Gmail server, and you'll have them available via Gmail as well.
The extra $1/month for MetroBackup doesn't seem to add much
in my opinion, unless you're not using a contacts database that also
resides in the cloud.
- A pretty slick app that looks very much like Google Maps.
that Google Maps supports turn-by-turn navigation, I couldn't
specifically tell you the benefits of this app over Google Maps, and I
expect that MetroPCS is paying licensing fees to Gokivo to have this
offered as a free app; I expect it will be removed before too long!
found the 320x480 touchscreen to be of very high quality and bright
colors, as expected from LG smartphones. It may not be the
best display available in the
smartphone market today, and other LG smartphones may be better, but
without having those phones next to it, I
have no complaints at all with the Optimus M. In fact, I
typically find myself turning the screen brightness down on most
smartphones to help conserve battery life.
keyboard. What do I say about the keyboard?! I'm
conflicted when it comes to virtual keyboards. While I don't
landscape sliding physical keyboards, and prefer the monolith,
BlackBerry-style keyboards for quick and easy access to text input, I'm
still not sold on virtual keyboards. The keyboard on the
M is as large as it can get I suppose, and rotates horizontally when
holding the smartphone in landscape. Compared to the physical
keyboards I've been using on phones for years, I find virtual keyboards
to be quite slow and awkward. In portrait mode I feel
and in landscape mode I feel I'm slowed down by having to reach
who have used physical keyboards for years (ex. BlackBerries and Treos)
say that you get used to virtual keyboards. Clearly I'm not
yet. All I can say is that you should definitely spend some
with it in the store before buying. That said, compared to
virtual keyboards I've tried that are the same size, but with less
responsive touchscreens, I found the Optimus M to be quite good in
comparison, though not as good as the iPhone for reasons I can't quite
explain (which is unfortunate, because I'm not particularly a fan of
the iPhone!). At some point I'd like to try other LG
to see how they compare.
Optimus M also comes
pre-installed with Swype, which is a technology that allows you to
your word by swiping your finger from one letter to the next without
having to lift your
finger. It actually works surprisingly well!
However, as a
touch typist for nearly two decades, I have to say that I don't really
consciously know where the letters are. As a result, I find
entry to be very slow with Swype because I'm constantly looking for th
next letter, which is often hidden by my fingers! Anyway, as
anything, I'm sure I would get used to it with more practice.
does offer voice entry for most applications. It works quite
well, however, I find that I'm not usually in a location where talking
out loud is appropriate, or I'm too tired to talk to my phone after a
long day of conference calls!
3.2 mega pixel camera is nothing to write home about, but does take
quality pictures, and I enjoyed having it on hand. My only
is that I found the lag time between hitting the shutter and actually
capturing the picture to be too slow to capture rapidly moving
children. Also, there's no flash, so ambient light is
to capture decent images.
have to say that reception was spotty for me, often having
one or two bars. That said, I NEVER had an issue with voice
quality no matter how many bars I had. Where I was
was that I virtually always saw the 1X icon, meaning slow data
speeds. Unlike other phones I've used in the past, I found
seeking out free WiFi hotpsots so I could get some decent data
While email and local data intensive apps worked fine, loading Web
pages on the browser was somewhat painful. Perhaps I was
using it where MetroPCS doesn't yet have 3G roaming
But for a company touting 4G LTE, I was disappointed to not even have
3G coverage. Note that this is not an issue with LG
I never experienced any significant lag loading apps, and screen
relatively zippy. I'm not sure, however, how it compares to
other LG smartphones.
life with not only LG smartphones, but all smartphones is a real
issue. The LG Optimus M was
better or worse than any other smartphone I've used. I prefer
to quote talk time or Internet browsing hours, because that tends to
not be very indicative due to talking, email, live widgets, background
apps, etc. With
moderate use, you'll barely make it through the day, and with heavy
use, you'll most certainly need to charge it up. For anyone,
matter what your usage is, and no matter what smartphone you're using,
I would recommend having a charger on hand, whether it's another wall
charger at work, an adapter for the car, or a USB cable you can plug
into your computer. Fortunately, the Optimus M uses the
micro USB standard connector, so I've got plenty of chargers to cover
I'm still battling with whether or not I can get used to a virtual
keyboard, I found MetroPCS's LG Optimus M to be extremely impressive in
terms of quality and performance. Both in appearance and
performance, no one would be able to look down on the phone as being a
prepaid smartphone. Gone are the days where prepaid wireless
second class citizen, and this prepaid smartphone proves it.
future LG smartphones can build on this quality, we should continue to
see great prepaid smartphones available.
MetroPCS truly has a winner with this handset!
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