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In the realm of low-cost smartphones, there's usually not a whole lot that entices customers aside from the prices. I know a lot of people who make it a practice to simply buy whatever decent phone is free at the time when their contract is up. They know they're not getting the best phone with the best features, but, hey, it's free. The LG Optimus Elite is kind of like that (except it's $30 on contract), but the difference is that it actually has some pretty neat features like NFC and Google Wallet support and it's eco-friendly. The eco-friendly part may not attract everyone, but NFC and Google Wallet might. If that doesn't do the trick, just look at the price tag again. At under thirty bucks with a two-year contract, it's enough to pique your interest. But what should you expect once your interest is piqued? Should you buy the Optimus Elite just because it's inexpensive?

 

Design & Features

Like most low-end, inexpensive phones, the Optimus Elite is small and rather homely-looking. There are a few off-color accents around the edge of the phone and from the front it actually looks a lot like the original iPhone. The phone is 4.58-inches tall, 2.47-inches wide, and .39-inches thick. At 4.25 ounces, it's rather light and the cheap build is very noticeable while gripping it. The volume rocker buttons are on the left side of the phone; the microUSB port is on the bottom of the phone; and the 3.5mm headphone jack and Power/Screen Lock button are on the top of the phone. There is no physical camera button or LED notification light. Underneath the battery cover, there is a microSD card slot. The phone has 4GB of internal memory and does not ship with an external card. Also underneath the battery cover, on the bottom side of it, there is an NFC chip which we'll talk about more later on in the review.

The Optimus Elite has a 3.5-inch display with a resolution of 320x480 pixels. This is the typical size and resolution you can expect with a phone in this category. It's not an amazing display, but it gets the job done. It's very bright and the screen is smooth and responsive. A 3.5-inch display may be too small for some people, but that's a personal call.

As I mentioned in the outset, the Optimus Elite is an eco-friendly phone. It is ULE Platinum Certified and RoHS compliant, meaning it is PVC-, halogen-, and mercury-free, its casing is made of 50 percent recycled plastics, and its charger exceeds the EC Code of Conduct on energy efficiency. On top of this, it comes in a box that, along with its packaging, is fully recyclable, printed with soy inks, and was made with a glueless construction. That may sound like a lot of marketing mumbo jumbo, but it basically means that the phone will help you to keep your eco-footprint small.

 

Usability & Performance

Out of the box, you've got Android 2.3 and Sprint ID. Outside of Sprint ID, there are no other custom UI elements so LG hasn't included its UI over Android. This is a good thing because low-end phones with slower processors have a difficult time processing the OS with a UI. Since the Optimus Elite uses stock Android, performance should be much better. Sprint ID is a nice feature for those who are new to Android. You can download ID packs based on themes that will include several apps and widgets related to that theme. This allows you to download multiple apps at once without having to hunt through the Google Play Store to see what is available. Google Wallet is also included with the Optimus Elite. Google Wallet allows you to take advantage of the phone's NFC capabilities to make easy payments with your phone by swiping it in front of a reader at a store. You can easily link your Citi Mastercard or any other credit card to your Google Wallet account and be set up and making payments in just a few minutes. NFC isn't widely implemented at the moment, but if you have the feature and are mindful of it, you may use it more than you think.

The Optimus Elite has an 800 MHz processor and 512 MB of RAM. That's enough power to get you through simple, everyday tasks and some multi-tasking without any performance issues. Once you start running several apps at once, playing games, or web browsing, you're going to run into trouble. Granted, that's what you get with most low-end phones so it's not like the Optimus Elite is under-performing, but you will experience some lag during use. The processor scored a 2,004 on the Quadrant Standard test and a 2,907 on the AnTuTu Benchmark test.

I'm testing the phone in the Dallas area and honestly, 3G speeds have been pretty terrible. The Optimus Elite is not a 4G phone so you're stuck on Sprint's 3G network. Over the past week or so that I've had the phone, I'm getting average download speeds of about 200 kbps. These speeds will vary depending on coverage in your area, but I haven't been impressed at all with the network performance where I'm at. These are the same speeds I'm getting with other Sprint devices though so the problem is not isolated to just the Optimus Elite. The phone can act as a mobile hotspot, but considering how poor Sprint's 3G speeds have been, I don't see that feature being very useful.

I've been very impressed by the Optimus Elite's camera. Honestly, the camera on a low-end phone is not something you pay too much attention to because the quality is usually terrible. However, the Optimus Elite's 5-megapixel camera did a great job. Pictures came out great with good detail for a phone of this caliber. The detail wasn't excellent, but the pictures were clear and the colors showed up very well. This is a camera I might actually use to take worthwhile pictures. Obviously, it's not going to replace your point-and-shoot camera, but it does a great job nonetheless. The camera captures WVGA video which makes that feature useless outside of sending quick videos to friends. The camera also has a flash and a self-portrait mirror.

The Optimus Elite uses a 1520 mAh battery which should offer great battery life for most users. Considering that the phone is not a 4G device, has a small, low-res display, and uses a low-powered processor, a 1520 mAh battery is actually quite large. In fact, during testing, the battery lasted four days on standby. Now, that's with little to no use at all, but even with moderate or heavy use, you shouldn't have a problem getting through a full day before you have to charge the battery.

 

Conclusion

The Optimus Elite has a few things going for it. It's eco-friendly, inexpensive, has cool features like NFC, and performs pretty well overall. If you're looking for a decent phone to get you by without having to spend a lot of money, the Optimus Elite is a good option for you. You'll get more bang for your buck with the ZTE Fury, also on Sprint, but the Optimus Elite is a decent second option. Considering that the ZTE Fury is $10 cheaper and trumps the Optimus Elitet's 800 MHz processor with a 1GHz processor (and the difference is notable), I'd say consider the Fury first.

 

Wrap-Up

The Good: Great battery life; great camera; eco-friendly; NFC and Google Wallet support; good price.

The Bad: Very slow 3G speeds; small-ish display; doesn't handle multi-tasking and web browsing very well.

The Verdict: Outside of the price, there's nothing about the Optimus Elite that makes it overly desirable, though for some people that might be enough. It's a decent low-end phone, simple as that.


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Comments & discussions  

39 Reactions to this post

"What's your favorite Sprint phone to date?"


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Jason Peters
Jason Peters Photon
Ashlee Dials
Ashlee Dials Evo 3D and iPhone 4S... @adrian anguiano I owned the 3D, tried the epic touch and went back in 3D because it was so ungodly slow compared to my 3D, I even exchanged it thinking there was something wrong with the phone but no, it sounds better on paper though
Dalton Severns
Dalton Severns LG Rumor Reflex
John Rotarius
John Rotarius Photon 4g
Eric Casanova
Eric Casanova Sprint service sucks ass why release a 4g lte phone with no 4g lte network
Adrian Anguiano
Adrian Anguiano Micheal- then you've obviously never owned the epic 4G touch. The EXYNOS processor blows your pathetic snapdragon Evo 3D processor out the water times ten.
Sparkel Travis Hendricks
Sparkel Travis Hendricks Samsung galaxy s 2
Namkell Kelly
Namkell Kelly EVO 4g
Michael Mynxx
Michael Mynxx Evo 3d all the way Samsung phones are too glitchy
LaDana Bias Ballard
LaDana Bias Ballard I think that both the Samsung Galaxy Nexus and the Epic Touch 4G are amazing. I have both and they are the best.
Chad Richter
Chad Richter Palm pre
Lee A Jackson
Lee A Jackson samsung galaxy s 2
Bonnie Roth
Bonnie Roth Don't get a cheap smartphone and don't except to have problems. You don't have to get the most expensive just do some research and read reviews first.
Heath J. Ross
Heath J. Ross Nexus s 4g!!!
Carlos Nava
Carlos Nava Epic 4G touch
Kory S. Deberry
Kory S. Deberry Epic touch
Andre Ball
Andre Ball The first Epic 4G, not the touch
George Isenhart
George Isenhart Epic 4G Touch
Frank Porter
Frank Porter Seems odd that LG would name a low cost phone "the Elite"
Michael Myers
Michael Myers Samsung Galaxy S II Epic 4G Touch
Jannis Anderson
Jannis Anderson the phone is kinda cheap... it should be free on contract
Chai Lee
Chai Lee iPhone.
Joe Yarger
Joe Yarger My Epic 4G Touch, but Im waiting for HOPEFULLY the Samsung Journal, or Settling for the Samsung Galaxy S III.
Sam Rick
Sam Rick Evo 4g!
Jody Al
Jody Al BB Tour. Pure workhorse.
Adrian Anguiano
Adrian Anguiano By far the Epic 4G touch, best processor, and a very bright screen. Screw the Evo 4G
Angel Higuera
Angel Higuera OG EVO..still have it
Tony Abiama
Tony Abiama Although I like my EVO 3D, the original EVO was a great device, I liked the screen dimensions better, was easily rootable, and had a kickstand... I'm thinking the EvoLTE will be the new king soon
Alxander Matthew Schneider
Alxander Matthew Schneider iPhone 4S. Although here's to hoping Sprint gets a Nokia Windows phone!
Andre Moore
Andre Moore I'm still mad at sprints Instinct HD. That crappy phone made me jump ship from sprint to get a iPhone
Michelle Mitchell Breau
Michelle Mitchell Breau EVO 3d - waiting on the iPhone 5. >.<
Miguel Castaneda
Miguel Castaneda EPIC TOUCH!
Garrett Young
Garrett Young Evo 4g.....awaiting the LTE though #pumped
ShaiVaughn Crawley
ShaiVaughn Crawley LG Marquee
Matthew Fleisher
Matthew Fleisher Still love my original EVO 4g
Larry Berk II
Larry Berk II HTC EVO 4g
Jose Santiago Gonzalez
Jose Santiago Gonzalez Sg2 epic touch
Brittany George
Brittany George Motorola Photon... could care less about any new samsung.. bring on the new "photon Q"
Anthony Evans Jr
Anthony Evans Jr epic touch




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