LG Optimus One P500 review: One and a half
3MP camera with so many features
The LG Optimus One P500 is equipped with a 3-megapixel auto-focus camera and has no flash whatsoever. It does, however, impress with the sheer number of features that it offers.
The camera interface manages to pack a lot of controls and info on the viewfinder, which can easily be hidden to remove the clutter. The right column is taken by the still/video camera toggle, the virtual shutter and the gallery shortcut.
On the left, there’s the zoom controls, the exposure compensation, scenes mode, autofocus mode and finally the extended settings menu. The top of the screen shows info on the currently selected resolution and the number of shots remaining. All of this can be hidden (and brought back up) with a tap (they also hide automatically after a while).
Let’s try to go over all the features. There’s scenes, panorama, geo-tagging and face detection (the Optimus One can track up to 5 faces) but that’s just the basics. Smile detection is also supported as are LG’s Beauty and Art shots and face effects.
Beauty shots try to do some automatic post-processing photos of people with dubious results), Art shots are just color effects (and fewer than the regular color effects). Both limit the maximum photo resolution to VGA so you’re better off not using them (or using the regular color effects which preserve resolution).
Face effects can be quite fun. For example, the funny mask effect puts odd hats and masks on people (multiple different masks if there is more than one person in the shot), shallow focus blurs the everything around the face to create the impression of shallow focus, mosaic censors the faces by pixelating them and so on. Note that the photo size is reduced to VGA again.
Okay, so maybe those features are not particularly useful but you can have a lot of fun with them. And with a 3MP camera you’d never be able to shoot like a pro anyhow, so you might as well have some fun with friends at the party with their funny virtual hats.
Anyway, when it comes to taking a photo with the LG Optimus One, the autofocus is reasonably fast as is the shot to shot time.
For a 3MP camera, the snapper is not that bad – there’s only reasonable amount of noise but there's a general softness of the image, which is then oversharpened to make some details pop out. Furthermore the automatic white balance made some photos too bluish, which makes the photos look colder than most people would prefer them.
Photo quality comparison
Even 3MP snappers like the LG Optimus One P500 have a place in our Photo Compare Tool. The tool’s page will give you enough info on how to use it and what to look for.
LG Optimus One P500 in our Photo Compare Tool
Poor video recording
The LG Optimus One camcorder is far from impressive - it manages VGA videos at 18 fps and the resulting 3GP video files are heavily compressed.
Still the colors are pleasant and the captured videos are not as soft as the photos but still the low framerate is generally a deal-breaker.
The camcorder interface is almost identical to the still camera’s, which is good but far from enough to redeem the camcorder.
Here’s VGA@18fps video sample from the LG Optimus One P500.
Connectivity is great for the class
Though it doesn’t support the latest incarnations of some technologies, the LG Optimus One P500 still offers a complete connectivity package.
There’s quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE support along with dual-band 3G with 7.2Mbps HDSPA. Local connectivity is handled by Wi-Fi b/g, Bluetooth 2.1 with A2DP and a microUSB cable. There’s also a standard 3.5mm audio jack.
The Optimus One also packs a built-in GPS receiver with a digital compass.
To save on power, you can use the power toggle widget and switch on Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS only when you need them.
A good but Flash-less web browser
The Android browser is one of the best available on a mobile device. It’s fast, problem-free and easy to use.
The user interface is completely minimalistic (it’s the Google way). All you get on the screen is an address bar and +/- zoom buttons. The address bar is placed on top of the page, so scrolling down moves it out of view and the zoom controls auto-hide.
The minimalist UI is quite powerful – hit the menu key and six keys pop up. You can open a new tab, switch tabs, refresh the page, go forward, and open bookmarks. The final button reveals even more options (text copying, find on page, etc.).
The Optimus One browser supports three zoom methods – dedicated buttons, double tap and multitouch pinch-zooming. The browser also supports text reflow – a moment after adjusting the zoom level, columns of text adjust to fit the screen width.
The bookmark list shows a thumbnail of the bookmarked page and you also get a “most visited” list in addition to the history.
Zooming and panning is fast but not very smooth. Still, the 3.2” screen fits desktop-versions of pages quite well (the text reflow feature helps a lot here) and the HVGA resolution means text is readable at low zoom levels (but not as sharp as high-density screens).
You might have expected flash support (we did, the Optimus One runs Froyo after all) but it’s not here. And we tried downloading the Flash player from the Market but it wasn’t available. It turned out that the ARMv6 CPU inside the Optimus One doesn’t support Flash at all. The minimum is a ARMv7 CPU.
Sure, there’s the YouTube app but that doesn’t help much for other video-sharing sites or sites that use Flash for navigation.