LG Optimus Black review: Black and bright
More polish on LG Home
It’s Android 2.2.2 Froyo with plenty of personal touches to it. The LG Optimus Black P970 has the LG Home custom launcher and the Gesture UI we already saw in the Optimus 2x.
The UI customizations are well done and visually appealing. The phone is fun to handle. You can see the user interface in action in the following video.
The custom main menu has three different layouts to choose from. You can either opt for grid view with side scrollable pages or for a vertically scrollable list complete with an alphabet scroll. The last option is Category view. The default categories are Applications and Downloads but you can add new ones as needed. You can collapse/expand categories with a pinch gesture.
There are four shortcuts docked at the bottom of the screen, which are visible across the homescreen panes and in the main menu. They’re Phone, Contacts, Messaging and a Home/Menu button.
There’s a view mode similar to the HTC Sense leap view: you can zoom out with a pinch gesture to see all the available homescreen panes in one place. It now has the added option to set a default screen (canvas in the LG lingo).
The number of homescreen panes can be anything from 1 to 7. The way you place stuff on the homescreen has a twist too. Upon a tap and hold on the display – or by hitting the add button in the menu – gridlines appear on the screen and the four docked icons get replaced by a taskbar with widgets, shortcuts, folders and wallpapers to choose from. Thanks to the Gesture UI, once you’ve selected an item to add you can select the homescreen to place it on by simply tilting the phone.
The notification area has five switches for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, sound and automatic rotation. There are also music player controls available here.
Gestures are a noteworthy feature of the LG Optimus Black P970. The Gesture UI covers traditional things like turn-to-mute and turn-to-snooze but it’s the extra functionality that’s more exciting. You can have panning in the gallery, browser and camera, pick up and end calls, control the media players, etc. There’s even an option to launch the camera straight from the lock screen with a shake. There’s some pretty cool stuff but you can also disable gestures altogether.
We benchmarked the LG Optimus Black and it seems it’s more of a looker than a thinker. It packs a 1GHz single-core CPU and 512MB RAM but the Sony Ericsson XPERIA Arc and the Google Nexus S mostly outperformed it (in both CPU and GPU tasks), despite having very similar specs. Perhaps we’re seeing the difference between Froyo and Gingerbread here – the Optimus Black still lives in v2.2 land.