It's not a secret that in 2010, LG was fairly quiet on the ever so blossoming smartphone market. It was only at the end of the year when the company outed its Optimus One series of phones that managed to cause quite a stir. However, we can't remember when we last saw a true powerhouse by the manufacturer that could face the toughest of competition on the mobile front. Well guys and gals, the waiting is obviously over as we now witness the rise of not one, but two awesomely-spec'd Android phones.
Of course, we took our time to pay a visit to LG's booth at CES so we could play with these here newcomers. The LG Optimus Black is undoubtedly the more interesting of the two right now, because we knew almost nothing about it, prior to its yesterday announcement. What's very intriguing here is that LG says that it'll be the world's thinnest smartphone, at 0.36” (9.2mm). Just for reference, the iPhone 4 is 0.37” (9.3mm). Anyway, this will stay true only for the time being, as when Sony Ericsson releases the Xperia Arc, it will take the gold with its impressive thickness of just 0.34” (8.7mm).
While the LG Optimus Black isn't really a looker, it still has a few touches in its design that deserve to be mentioned. We're talking about its tapered left and right sides, which make it a tad more comfortable to hold in your hand compared to something boxier like the iPhone 4. What's of greatest value here though is the so-called NOVA display, which is said to be the brightest screen on a phone, reaching a brightness of 700 nits. During our short hands-on experience we did find it to be quite vivid, but we'd still like to first test it in our usual environment, before drawing a bold conclusion. The screen size is set nicely at 4”, while the 480x800 pixels of resolution play nicely to it.
This thing here also has the world's first 2MP front-facing camera for video chat (the Optimus Black supports regular HSPA). We hope those video calls through Qik will really look good... By the way, there's one more feature of the LG Optimus Black that should set it apart, which is called Wi-Fi Direct. This new technology actually acts like Bluetooth, allowing you to connect to other devices (without the need of a hotspot) and transfer files. Apparently, Wi-Fi Direct promises better range and speed over Bluetooth, but we're yet to see if it actually brings any practical benefit.
The LG Optimus Black is running a build of Android 2.2 Froyo, which is customized by LG's Optimus UI 2.0. The interface should allow for faster access to messages, emails and missed calls from the lock screen, although, to tell you the truth, it looks a bit like a TouchWiz 3 clone. However, its special Gesture UI seems to add some value to it as it will let you do typical stuff like taking a call by doing a gesture like a specific shake or a tap. How is that better than a good old press of the answer key we don't know, but hey, those units have to get off the shelves somehow!
Stay with us for more hands-on articles with the latest cell phones introduced here at CES 2011!