LG is gearing up to launch the first of their Optimus range of Android powered handsets in India. We tested a prototype of the LG Optimus GT540 that was riddled with bugs, and here’s what we found.
It’s a slim, sleek handset with curvy lines and a slick brush-metal like finish. It’s hard not to notice that this all-black device is a good-looking one. However, the GT540 is equipped with a 3-inch resistive touchscreen, which requires you to use a stylus for a few things. Using an Android phone with a stylus is just not a good thing. An even bigger issue is that the stylus is not tethered, nor does it come with a built-in slot — you’re likely to misplace it in the first week. A couple of touch sensitive keys are placed under the display with a button for taking and ending calls and a Home key in the centre.
The phone is lightweight at just 115.5g, which makes it easy to carry around. On one side is a micro USB port for the charger / USB cable as well as a search button and the camera key. Volume/Zoom keys are located on the other side with a 3.5mm handsfree socket on top. This Optimus also has a hot swap microSD card slot just under the rear panel.
The GT540 allows you to choose between the standard Android UI or swap it with a better looking LG version. Android’s multiple desktops with drag and drop widgets and shortcuts remains the same.
The onscreen QWERTY keypad takes some getting used to because of the smaller screen size. It’s a lot easier to use in landscape of course. You can also switch to a standard alphanumeric phone keypad or use the handwriting boxes. The gallery section has a 3D view set up that is quite attractive and user friendly.
This piece was running on Android 1.6 and although I was unable to update it to 2.1, LG informed me that it would be upgradable when it hit shelves. The best part about the LG UI is that you can create categories for your apps and drag and drop apps to these sections. This makes the layout a little more defined and organised. But if you switch to the native interface, you’re back to square one.
A Dolby sound engine is missing. That would have seriously added something extra to the handset’s offering. The music player is quite mediocre. Although there’s nothing to complain about when it comes to the output quality, the volume is just a little low. Other than an FM radio and image viewer, the GT540 also supports DivX and XviD video codecs, which means you can copy and paste videos on the drive for instant playback.
The player doesn’t allow you to stretch images to fit the screens though, so you’ll need to find a video player that does from the Android Market. A video editor is just one of the many goodies LG has preloaded with this device. It’s quite intensive for those who like making slideshows or adding a bit of flair to their recorded videos.
The GT540 is a 3G handset but only EDGE/GPRS is available for now. There’s also Wi-Fi and Bluetooth with A2DP for additional connectivity purposes. The native browser presents a slightly annoying quirk. A large, transparent pop out menu is available from the side of the screen. I inevitably ended up pulling it out since it was overlapping with some of the options on the screen. It meant I had to scroll that section up or down till it was out from under that menu.
LG’s SNS application is also preloaded for easy access to your FB, Bebo and Twitter accounts. For navigation, LG has included NDrive, which is a GPS-enabled navigation application. It’s preloaded with maps for India including turn by turn voice guided navigation. Google Maps are also available, but without voice guided prompts. Geotagging is available with the on-board camera.
The 3MP autofocus camera features LG’s Manual focus option, as well as various Scene modes, ISO settings up to 400, a timer and Blink Detection.
Although this was just a prototype the battery ran for two full days on a single charge and I was able to get over 4 hours and 40 minutes worth of talk time. That’s better than average.