Times have changed people. There was once a time when a device with a 600 MHz processor, 3.2-inch HVGA display, and 3.2 megapixel camera was the best you could get. Now that's what we call a "mid-range" device. Some may even call that a low-end device. Do you realize that the original iPhone had a 412 MHz processor? That phone was released, what, three years ago?
Anyway, let's get to the point. The Optimus V from Virgin Mobile, with the aforementioned specs, is what you would call a standard mid-range device. While that list may not blow you away, don't be fooled by the spec sheet. These Optimus phones are some of the best mid-range Android devices you can get. I've been consistently impressed by the performance of the Optimus V and would definitely recommend it for anyone who is looking for an affordable smartphone option.
Design & Features
One thing that won't surprise you is the Optimus V's design. That's because all of the Optimus phones have pretty much the same hardware shell. Everything from the curved plastic body with metallic accents at the top of it, to the rounded hardware buttons below the display are all design features that we've come to expect from these devices.
A few nice features of the Optimus V are the microSD card slot on the outer spine of the device and the dedicated camera button. The phone ships with a 2 GB memory card. Right above the camera key is a Voice Call button and just above that are the volume rocker buttons. The top of the phone is where you'll find the 3.5 mm headphone jack and Power/Screen lock button.
Measuring 4.5 inches tall, 2.3 inches wide, and .52 inches thick, the Optimus V is sleek and feels solid in the hand. Its 3.2-inch HVGA (320x480) display is bright and crisp.
Usability & Performance
The Optimus V is one of the few mid-range Android devices that actually ships with version 2.2 of the OS. Unlike some versions of the Optimus, the Optimus V does not feature LG's custom UI, so it's stock Android all the way. If you prefer your phone to be more interesting and animated, vanilla Android may be a little boring, but for others who don't like the "cartoonish" look of manufacturer UI's, this will be perfect.
As I stated in the outset, I was very impressed by the overall performance of the device. The 600 MHz Qualcomm processor managed to keep up with most everyday tasks and allowed me to smoothly run several applications at once, something I can't say about other mid-range smartphones that I've tested. The Optimus V scored an average of 477 in the Quadrant Standard test, just below the HTC Desire.
In terms of usability, the small-ish display should be fine for most tasks, but it may cause problems when using the virtual keyboard. For this reason, it's nice that the phone also comes with Swype out of the box. Even with my rather small hands, I had a few problems with the virtual keyboard's size; however, using it in landscape mode solved most of these problems and using Swype made it even less of an issue.
The phone's 3.2-megapixel camera is not going to receive high praise from anyone, but it performed well enough. Thanks to the autofocus, pictures came out clear and looked okay. Unfortunately, there is no flash. The camera also captures VGA-quality video, but, as expected, video quality was not that great. The video was blurry and the sound quality was horrible.
The Optimus V is a 3G phone that uses EVDO Rev. A for data transmission. Virgin Mobile uses Sprint's nationwide network so coverage is widespread. I was fairly impressed with data speeds and didn't have any problems with call quality or dropped calls.
With its 1500 mAh battery, I managed to get nearly one day exactly with moderate use. I did have a few charges where the battery only lasted roughly three hours, but my guess is that this was simply a fluke or a flaw with my particular unit. For the most part, each charge gave me about 12 hours of use.
In all, I have no real complaints about the Optimus V. Yes, I wish the camera was a little better and I'm starting to get tired of the same design on all of these Optimus phones, but those are minor qualms and certainly do not present any real issue when deciding whether or not to purchase this device. For $150 with no contract, you really can't beat it, especially when you consider Virgin Mobile's cheap $25 monthly unlimited plan. I would definitely recommend the Optimus V for anyone looking for an inexpensive smartphone without a contract.
What's Good: Excellent processor performance; Android 2.2; great price; 3G speeds using Sprint's network.
What's Bad: 3.2-inch display may be too small for some; inconsistent battery performance.
The Verdict: If you are with Virgin Mobile and are shopping for a new smartphone, buy this phone.