LG Optimus S Review: Aaron's First Impressions

Aaron Baker
Writer from  Dallas, TX
| November 11, 2010

After a lukewarm reception with the LG Ally (Verizon), LG's renewed push into the Android market appears to be targeting a new niche: first-time smartphone owners.

Earlier in the week, Sprint launched the LG Optimus S, the last of the three devices announced at the carrier's CTIA event last month.  The Optimus S is available now for $49.99 after mail-in rebate, and out of the Sprint ID-enabled handsets, it's my favorite.  With a 600 MHz processor, it's well-entrenched in the mid-range category, but it offers a good bang for the buck.

A few days into using it, here's what I've discovered:

  • It's a cheap smartphone, so don't expect much in the box outside of an AC adapter, USB cable, microSD card, and microSD card adapter.
  • It's a compact device, and should be easy to fit into a pair of tight jeans, a purse, or a back pocket.  At 4.6 ounces, it's lightweight as well.  It sports a 3.2-inch display, and while it's kind of grainy and washed out if you're used to other Android devices on the market, it gets the job done. 

  • Sprint ID is an interesting concept, but it needs work.  In its present form, it's slow and laggy.  Sprint ID packs take some time to download.  On a lighter note, I really like the wallpaper that comes with the various Sprint IDs.  It's a nice change from the stock Android pictures.
  • The Optimus S is the only one of the three recent mid-range Android devices to offer Android 2.2 out of the box, and outside of the Sprint ID customizations, it's a near-vanilla build.  Sprint includes Nascar Sprint Cup Mobile, Sprint Football Live, Sprint TV, and Sprint Zone.  Telenav is installed and is free to use, but with Google Maps, you shouldn't need to use it often.
  • For first-time buyers, the learning curve may come in using the on-screen keyboard.  On a 3.2-inch screen, the Android keyboard is tiny.  That said, there are some replacement keyboard options in the Android Market.

  • Optimus S comes with a 3.2-megapixel camera, and in well-lit situations, it works well.  Despite lacking a flash, it includes autofocus and a physical camera button, so outdoor pictures came out well.  In low-lit situations, you'll want to use another camera.
  • So far, call quality has been good.  The earpiece is nice and loud, and my callers were pleased.  I did a quick test in a known Sprint dead zone yesterday, and was able to hold a call, despite it being so choppy that I couldn't understand my caller.  Speakerphone is reasonably loud, and my Bluetooth headset connected without a problem.
  • The Optimus S is an EVDO Rev. A device, and while I had issues with data connectivity when I shot the unboxing video, it has been flawless since.  The unboxing was around the time that Sprint experienced widespread data outages, so I'm chalking the initial issues up to that.  Otherwise, webpages load relatively quickly, and apps downloaded quickly without any trouble.  The screen size keeps this device from being any sort of computer replacement, but it's good for browsing webpages on the go.
  • The device packs a 1,500 mAh battery, so I'll be interested to put it to the test over the next few days to see how it performs.  So far, I've been able to make it through about a day and a half with moderate usage.  I'll have more detailed results in the review.

Stay tuned for more on the Optimus S! In the meantime, check out our LG Optimus S unboxing video!


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