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Review: LG Optimus One



When I saw the box, I was thinking..."This is probably a mistake."

I should probably just spend a little extra and get an HTC Desire.

This phone was nearly 13,000 pesos at the store when I was about to buy it. Regretfully, I should have bought it from a different store I was in a few weeks ago where it was available for about 11,990 pesos.

But it was difficult to make a decision on this. All the [online] research was basically saying, "Go big when buying an Android phone. Spending any less would be a mistake."

Or, "Go buy an Iphone because it has all the nice games." (As a gamer, this part of the decision mattered a lot).

Or, "Go buy an Ipad, it looks really cool." [Admittedly, it still does.]

So why was I going to buy this? The box didn't really enchant me in any way. But I wasn't buying it for the box.

I've done even more research on Android, and all the signs point to it being a major breakthrough that points to our digital future. Computers are going mobile. I guess the first encounter I had with the future was with the much beloved Iphone 4. At a kiosk in one of those Globe centers I got to try it, and I was amazed at how close these things are to being actual computers and not just cellular phones.

Despite its design aesthetics, its apps, and everything else that was going for it, the one thing that just stopped me dead in my tracks towards getting an Iphone was its price. At 40,000 pesos, it is just a ridiculous amount of money to invest in a phone. And I have a lot more important priorities at the moment than buying such an expensive gadget.

But I'm in the tech business. I have to try this. I've programmed for Nokia phones before and I know all about their limitations. The Iphone's appeal lessened further for me when I found out that I had to buy so much other stuff (a Macbook pro or some other Mac hardware, etc) just to get rolling on app development.

So Android was the only option left.

Truthfully, I even considered the Nokia N8; considering it's local penetration there would probably be more of an audience if I made an app for Symbian. Ok, I thought...let me google that....

Then I realized something.

Practically my whole career rides on Google.

And everything I've read about Android says it is the next big thing.

So the box was in front of me; I made my choice.


Let me get one thing straight....I don't review gadgets for a living (though I wish I did....imagine all those lucky PC editors getting free toys every month!). So my only real perspective on this device is the fact that my last phone was a Nokia 5800.

The 5800 was a great phone....and I still think it's a good phone. Over time, it feels like it got a bit more sluggish and less responsive; maybe because of all the contacts, photos, and music I've crammed into it.

I bought the Optimus One hoping that it would have the same responsiveness that I got when I tried out the Iphone 4 at a Globe kiosk a few months ago.

I was not disappointed.

Coming from a Nokia phone, it's something else to use an Android. Closing an app brings you back to the home screen practically instantaneously. The main 'home' page itself is a large menu that scrolls left and right, and you can customize it however which way you want.

Now, normally I come from the school of thought that says it's not a good idea to go crazy with widgets on your phone's 'desktop'....but after a few weeks of doing just that, it's the most practical thing to do with a smartphone.

I sometimes find it hard to believe that I check the WEATHER by glancing at my phone. That's just something that I never used to do. The Weather Channel beats PAGASA any day of the week!

I also love getting the news from my phone. It just feels easier than pulling out my laptop just to browse. The phone just gets all the news from the categories you want via the pre-installed 'Google News' app.

Now, before I bought this phone, my mind was conditioned to thing that it wouldn't be 'good enough' as an Android only has 600Mhz of CPU speed and about 512MB of RAM. 512 is just right considering the higher end phones have the same. But the 600Mhz made me lower my expectations considerably.

In daily use, I never encountered the sensation that 600Mhz is not good enough. My criteria is pretty simple has to play ANGRY BIRDS.

And, it can!

The truth is, there are levels where Angry Birds lags like crazy; but is it still playable? The answer is, YES. If you're really impatient and require 60 FPS in all your games, then maybe shell out for a Desire or a Galaxy S.

I've got real-life priorities now that weigh higher than mobile phone game framerates, so 10 FPS in some levels will have to do.

Angry Birds works just right, and I'm really happy with it. Just as an aside...this game is the unsung Game of the Year. I just think it's one of the more creative game ideas ever conceived in the history of video games; and it deserves more recognition. None of that Mass Effect 2 crap....this is the real deal. It's where the game industry is going. Trust me on this.

Sorry, hardcore gamers; we don't really decide where the game industry is going....we should know that by know. I digress, I digress....

Another game I got to play on the Android --- GAME DEV STORY. Seriously...this is another great game, if only to get that sensation of what it might be like to be a game developer. It's not serious; in fact, it's quite a funny game. It's great to play when you're just waiting for someone, or waiting for your food to arrive, or waiting for your turn in line...

Man, I love this phone.

Ok, back to trying to be objective....browsing on a phone wasn't that great on my old Nokia 5800 because you had to drag around a page just to read the text. Android fixes this significantly by wrapping the text on a webpage so it fits on the screen. It does this so well that there are days (literally weeks) of me just lying down in bed, surfing my favorite sites with just one hand. It's a very relaxing way of browsing the web.

Flash Support is not available on this phone; I read that the reason for it has something to do with the CPU. Whatever the reason....I managed to fix this problem by downloading another browser called 'Skyfire'. You do lose the ability to fast forward through a flash video, but it's a minor quibble.

THE BAD NEWS (Nothing is perfect!)

I hate dwelling on negative things, so I'll keep this short and simple. Most of them are because of Android's quirks, and not really the phone's faults:

1) Geek Acumen is a Minimum Human Requirement for Android - The closest way to describe this point is...."Have you ever tried installing Linux back in 2001?".

That's exactly how Android feels like, at times.

I dislike the fact that I have to download some hacks like 'enabling ROOT user privileges' just to get the apps I want from the Android Market. It's not the phone's fault but it's something that sticks out like a sore thumb. Android could be perfect but they should really fix this.

2) Messaging app doesn't show my profile picture - a bug which hopefully Gingerbread will fix later on.

3) Camera needs flash - it's almost perfect; just a small xenon flash would have fixed it.

4) Some games won't be fast enough - if you want *all* the games to work, get one of those 1 Ghz based phones. But so far, a lot of the best games are working (Fruit Ninja, Slice it, MX Moto, Angry Birds, Game Dev Story, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera....the list goes on forever). I can live with a couple of frameskips; these aren't hardcore games anyway.


Shifting from a non-Android device to this one is quite a surprising experience. Now I completely understand everything that's been said about smartphones. If you've got the money, get one of these. It's a great phone, and the best value for your money right now.

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