The LG Optimus GT540 is one of a number of recent phones to run Google’s Android mobile operating system (see also the Nexus One reviewed this issue). This budet model has a compelling feature set compared to anything else on the New Zealand market at this price point. However, the mobile phone and especially the smartphone is a device that is becoming increasing complex and a frustrating user experience can destroy even the most promising specifications.
The build quality is solid though not remarkable and the phone feels pleasantly light in the hand. A 3.0-inch 320 x 480 touchscreen dominates the face of the LG. The screen is bright and colours look good, perhaps a little oversaturated but nothing too serious. However, even with the display at full brightness it can be difficult to make out text in full sunlight.
Directly below the screen are two touch-sensitive buttons: menu and back. Both had some issues registering touch, which was exasperating because the back button is one of the most used in the operating system. Beneath these are three hardware buttons: dial, home and hang up. The hardware buttons have a nice tactile feel to them.
Unfortunately, the buttons on the surround of the phone aren’t up to the same standard. The volume rocker on one side and the search and camera shortcut on the other are recessed into the phone’s body, which makes it very difficult to determine if the key press has been registered.
The phone runs Android 1.6, which is unfortunate because Android recently hit version 2.2. LG has done little to skin the phone but the software offers a solid web browser, excellent Gmail integration and full access to the Android Market for applications. LG includes an app called SNS, which integrates Facebook, Twitter and Bebo into one program, however we found the scrolling speed to be a little jerky.
Microsoft Exchange support is available but is very basic. The multimedia support is again basic but functional.
The camera takes quite acceptable shots in good light but opening the function takes considerable time and this, in conjunction with the delay that occurs between pressing the shutter release and capturing an image, can make the camera rather frustrating.
The touchscreen is resistive rather than capacitive, meaning that you need to press harder to register a touch. Nevertheless the phone is relatively accurate and responsive. We found the portrait number pad with T9 predictive enabled to be faster than the landscape QWERTY keyboard.
As you’d expect, battery life varies considerably depending on what you are doing; however, you can’t always trust the battery meter, which can jump haphazardly up and down by as much as 20 percent.
The LG GT540 is an exciting mobile; a full-featured smartphone for $400 would have been unthinkable only a few years ago. The phone is not perfect but it is a true smartphone with a huge variety of applications and good battery life, and that, combined with the price, makes it a good buy.
LG – Optimus GT540 – Specs
Display: 3.0-inch 262k TFT 320×480 touchscreen
Memory: 120MB internal, microSD up to 32GB (2GB card included)
Operating Frequencies: GSM 850/900/1800/1900, UMTS 1900/2100/GPRS Class 10/EDGE Class 10/HSDPA, 7.2Mbit/s
Camera: 3MP (autofocus)
Connectivity: Bluetooth 2.0 EDR/A2DP, Wi-Fi, USB
Audio Formats: AAC(+)(E), MP3, WMA, MIDI, XMF
Video Formats: MPEG-4, H263, H264, DivX, WMV
DIMENSIONS: 109 x 54.5 x 12.7mm (H/W/D)
* Well featured
* Great price
* Camera slow to work
* Not quite the finished product
It’s not perfect, but it is a genuine smartphone at a bargain price
This article is from Tone Magazine issue 84. Click here to check it out.
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