LG Optimus One P500 review: One and a half

GSMArena team, 06 December 2010.
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Tags: LG, Android, Touch UI

Retail package includes a 2GB card

The LG Optimus One P500 has the essentials – a long microUSB cable, a charger that uses it to connect to the phone and a one-piece headset. The headset is nothing special and its remote is quite a lump.

LG Optimus One P500 LG Optimus One P500
There isn't much stuff in the box

The Optimus One box does have a pleasant surprise though – a 2GB microSD card. Unless you carry a large music collection, the card is big enough for photos and videos from the camera. Oh, and since this is Froyo you can also install apps on it, which makes up for the poor inbuilt memory.

LG Optimus One P500 360-degree spin

The LG Optimus One P500 has grown compared to the original Optimus, which is understandable given the bigger screen. The phone measures 113.5 x 59 x 13.3 mm and that’s about average for a 3.2” 3:2 aspect ratio screen. Its 129 grams put it over the average, though the Optimus One carries the extra heft with its chin up and feels very solid in the hand.

Design and construction

The LG Optimus One P500 has rounded corners like some of its siblings and its humble styling aims for practicality. We’re reviewing the Black version, but the Optimus One is also available in Wine, Titan, Blue and Silver.

The screen is bright with fairly vivid colors (for an LCD) and has surprisingly good viewing angles with contrast and colors remaining fine even from steep angles.

There’s no ambient light sensor so the brightness isn’t automatically adjusted – no handy brightness toggle in the notification area either.

Sunlight legibility is OK but the screen is quite reflective, so depending on how you turn the phone the reflection of a bright sky or sun will usually overpower the display.

Unlike most capacitive touchscreens, this one is tuned NOT to register extremely light presses. We actually prefer this to screens, which will detect as much as a finger hovering, resulting in one too many accidental presses.

With the Optimus One you actually have to press on the screen for it to respond. However, there’s no sensitivity setting for those who prefer the more sensitive setup.

LG Optimus One P500
A HVGA capacitive display is a good compromise between features and price

To the left of the LG logo is the proximity sensor which blends so well with the surrounding surface it’s almost impossible to spot. Above the logo is the earpiece which also doubles as a loudspeaker.

LG Optimus One P500
The earpiece/loudspeaker and proximity sensor are above the display

Below the screen there’s the traditional assortment of Android buttons. The two more commonly used controls – home and back – are part of a double rocker-styled button framed with a silver strip.

The rocker is big and easy to hit. The other two buttons – menu and search – are on each side of the double button. They are smaller but solid to press.

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The four Android keys below the display party without a trackpad

The only thing of interest on the right side of the LG Optimus One is the very thin volume rocker. It’s very slightly raised and quite uncomfortable to use. The left side is completely bare

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The uncomfortable volume rocker on the right • nothing on the left

The top features the 3.5mm audio jack and the Power/Lock key, which is thin and small and tricky to use (much like the volume rocker). Between the two is a small notch you can use to pry the battery cover open with your fingernail.

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The 3.5mm jack is on top along with the tiny power key

The bottom of the Optimus One has two features – a microUSB port (left uncovered) and the mouthpiece next to it.

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microUSB port and mic pinhole at the bottom

Time to flip the LG Optimus One over and inspect its back. The 3MP autofocus camera lens is placed in the center of the upper part of the back, making it less likely you’ll cover it with your finger. It’s got no scratch protection whatsoever.

LG Optimus One P500 LG Optimus One P500
The 3 megapixel camera lens is prone to scratches

The back itself is fairly featureless but it’s made of soft matte plastic, which is very pleasant to the touch and hides fingerprints very well.

Below it is a pretty impressive 1500mAh Li-ion battery. It’s quoted at 700 hours of standby (in 2G, 550 h in 3G) and up to 8 hours of talk time (in 2G, 7 h 30 min in 3G).

LG Optimus One P500 LG Optimus One P500
The 1500mAh battery has a lot of juice • the microSD card slot

The microSD card slot is located to the left of the camera lens and even though it’s not accessible without removing the back cover (which comes off easily), it’s easy to swap.

A silver frame is running the sides of the LG Optimus One – it’s actually the same stuff you’ll see when you pop the battery cover open. It’s plastic but a kind that will easily fool you. There’s no metal on the Optimus One body but the asymmetrical silver frame is a stylish accent nonetheless.

Even though we’ve seen more compact phones with 3.2” screens, the LG Optimus One P500 is still very pocketable and the rounded corners make it comfortable to hold in the hand. The pleasant finish and quality plastic help a lot too.

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LG Optimus One P500 in the hand • Size comparison with the original Optimus and the iPhone 4

To sell one million units as fast as LG sold the Optimus One, you’d need the right mixture of hardware and software. The hardware will probably top your expectations for a phone in this price range. Now, it’s on to the software.

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