LG GD510 Pop review: Mobile pop culture
A pinch of S-Class
The LG GD510 Pop is the first LG mid-range phone to offer a budget version of the LG S-Class touch interface that's usually reserved for high tier devices. Besides the S-class eye-candy, it also comes with the proprietary Livesquare homescreen plus a handful of social networking apps.
In the core though is still the regular LG Cookie or LG Renoir interface. There's a somewhat livelier camera UI - a bit downgraded variety of the camera UI of LG Viewty Smart.
So in terms of UI, the LG GD510 Pop offers an interesting mix of modern features and looks, while keeping a low profile so as not to interfere with the sales of its elders.
The interface response is generally fast, fluid and responsive enough, and it should satisfy most users. The resistive display is decently sensitive and only needs a slight push.
The interface features a lot of nice animations and transition effects. For example, when you get to the bottom of a scrolling list, the items don't just stop rolling, but bounce and throb to your sweeps with almost physical elasticity as on the iPhone.
The first nice novelty that the LG GD510 Pop brings is the three alternating homescreen panes. The first is the Widget-enabled screen that allows you to arrange several mini applications as you please.
A touch on the marker in the bottom right corner of the homescreen pulls out the Widget tray, which holds all of the currently unused widgets. You can choose the ones you want and drag them onto the screen or stash the ones you don't need back in the tray. The padlock pictogram at the bottom left lets you know when you can use the "shake to auto align" option.
The widgets available on the LG Pop are an analog clock, a mini FM radio, a mini music player, a weather widget, notes app, image slideshow, a world clock, a calendar, web search, cellular info, pocket apps and social networking widget.
The last two are new to LG homescreens. The Pocket Apps is very nice and useful widget that gets you access to several installed apps - Banner, Weight Tracker, Running Mate, Mellow candle, Mind Selector and Sound Tuner. We'll get to those in detail in the mobile applications chapter of this review.
The second new widget is the Social Networking one. It has been upgraded since the LG GW520 and now supports all Facebook, MySpace and Twitter. It is a browser independent app covering all the basics of the trio.
Unfortunately, new widgets cannot be added. That is the main disadvantage compared to the competing Samsung TouchWiz interface.
A nice feature allows you to align the widgets onscreen by shaking the handset thanks to the built-in accelerometer. For this to work however you need to have the widgets tray opened.
To get to the second homescreen you sweep your finger sideways across the screen. The screen turns over like you roll a cube.
The second homescreen doesn't work with widgets, but lets you arrange favorite contact icons instead.
Next is the Livesquare homescreen, which is one of the few notable improvements over the Cookie and we first saw that in the LG GW520. The Livesquare is in essence a log of all your recent communications. They are displayed on the screen with icons for each person you've made contact with - even ones that are not on your phonebook.
By having them straight on the screen, you can easily call them back without opening the phonebook or the call log.
You can set the background as a Zoo or a Park, populated by small human or animal figures, which will represent your contacts. Livesquare enhances usability but its graphical implementation is really childish. While that was OK on the tween-happy LG GW520, it seems a bit out of place on the more mature LG Pop.
There is one other thing about Livesquare, which tends to get on our nerves. Every time you unlock the phone, swap homescreens or land on Livesquare from no matter where, all contacts' icons take their time to refresh (they all disappear and then pop back on the screen one by one). And you have to wait for the phone do that each time - especially when your screen is full of recent contacts.
Beyond the content you fill your homescreens with, down at the bottom you will find a navigation bar with four non-negotiable shortcuts. The first one takes you to the Dial pad to punch in a number, the second opens the Contact list, the third one takes you to Messaging, and the last one brings up the main menu.
The LG Pop main menu is identical to the S-Class one (LG Arena, Viewty Smart and Crystal) and is accessible via the dedicated shortcut on the home screen. The layout is well familiar - instead of using four icons in a vertical column, LG now have opted for a layout of four rows of menu items that are scrollable horizontally. In this way almost all menu items are accessible simultaneously without jumping from tab to tab wondering "Now where was that placed?"
Even better, if you turn the phone sideways, the menu items are all displayed with smaller icons fitting the screen perfectly with no need for scrolling (but with no text labels either).
You can rearrange the icons from every row by tapping and holding the desirable icon and dragging it where you want it to appear.
The lockscreen has also been changed and this time we like it much better. Along with the previous "Press & Hold to Unlock" we have "Slide Up to Unlock" too - similar to what we saw on the LG BL40 New Chocolate. You need to press and slide the lockscreen up to reveal the homescreen. Recent events like missed calls, new messages or emails are also displayed on the lockscreen.
Ever since the KF700, LG feature phones come equipped with a task manager. The Pop makes no exception with the handy application allowing you to run several Java and native applications simultaneously and effortlessly switch between them.
The task manager on the Pop is pretty similar to the one found on the Renoir and the Cookie> It's complemented by secondary "launcher" tab that hosts a number of configurable shortcuts to various applications. Unlike the Renoir, the GD510 only offers nine slots since the favorite apps list isn't scrollable.
Another thing the Pop shares with the other recent touch phones by LG is the Status screen - touching on any of the icons on the status row on top (next to the clock) opens up a screen with signal, battery and memory stats, and allows you to quickly toggle the ringing profiles, music player and Bluetooth.