LG Optimus Pro Review

4
Introduction and Design
Introduction:

There is always a niche market for phones with portrait physical QWERTY, and the  LG Optimus Pro banks on that fact, trying to lure some of the BlackBerry fans by mimicking their favorite keyboard style, but slapping Android and a 2.8” touchscreen on the phone.

The screen size is larger than on most phones with this form factor, which might make you think the keyboard is a bit redundant. Is it so? Read on our review to find out…

Design:

The LG Optimus Pro seems chubby and hefty, but it’s actually rather light at 129g. Chubby it is indeed with, but doesn’t feel overly so when you hold the tapered back covered in soft-touch plastic in your palm.



You can compare the LG Optimus Pro with many other phones using our Size Visualization Tool.

The handset is fairly compact in terms of length and width, and the generous for this form factor 2.8” LCD touchscreen makes it very easy to operate with one hand during the times you don’t need the keyboard. The display is with the low 240x320 pixels of resolution, which rings in ~142ppi density - pretty bad, whichever way you look at it. Viewing angles are average, and the screen doesn’t really shine outdoors in broad daylight.

The four physical Android keys below it are a bit stiff, but the portrait QWERTY layout is very usable because of its chiclet style and the reverse slant of the left and right parts. The key travel is very distinct, and the size is enough that even our meaty digits were dancing around hitting the right key most times after a bit of getting used to.


Since the LG Optimus Pro doesn’t really shine in terms of design, screen or with its basic 3MP camera without a flash, the portrait keyboard is the best thing going for it, as it should be with this form factor.






Interface, Functionality and Software:

The Android 2.3 Gingerbread is overlayed with the Optimus UI of LG, which is basic, but functional. The nicest feature in it are the connectivity switches in the pull-down notification bar, which make turning the GPS or data radio a breeze.


Because of the physical keyboard you gain the whole screen while typing in portrait mode, which is very handy when updating your Facebook status, sending messages or browsing. The interface rotates in landscape mode, which evokes the virtual keyboard when needed, and is more suitable for watching movies, for example.


The main menu is scrollable downwards by default, instead of sideways in pages, but you can quickly change it to the other layout with a couple of different pages via the context menu.


The 800MHz processor is aided by only 256MB of RAM, which sometimes makes the LG Optimus Pro choke when too many apps are taking their toll at once. Likewise, the interface is not the best example of smooth sailing, but is not annoyingly slow either.

Browser and Connectivity:

The Gingerbread browser on the LG Optimus Pro is not a speed demon, but does job - the low resolution, however, doesn’t make it look pretty at the least. Panning around doesn’t work while zooming with a pinch in or out, and text reflow requires double-tapping first. The Qualcomm chipset, which powers the Optimus Pro, doesn’t support Adobe Flash..


The phone sports basic 3.6Mbps 3G connectivity radio, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 3.0, A-GPS, FM Radio and… that’s about it. The basics are covered, but don’t expect anything out of the ordinary. .

Camera:

The LG Optimus Pro camera interface is just a step above the stock Gingerbread camera UI, and there are no preset scene modes to choose from here, just a few basic effects to spice things up if desired.

The pictures resulting from the 3MP shooter are pretty bad – murky, lacking focus and detail, and with inaccurate color representation. High-contrast areas are a a challenge resulting in underexposed regions.



Video capture is done at 640x480 VGA resolution with 24fps – a number that the phone managed to hit outside, but the clip still appeared choppy, and exhibits soft murky imagery with lack of detail, bordering on ugly.

LG Optimus Pro Sample Video:



Multimedia:

The music player is basic as well, without any bells and whistles like equalizer presets or embedded song recognition. LG Optimus Pro’s loudspeaker is of average quality with fairly clear sound, but the volume is not strong enough.

Video playback is one of the positives, since the DivX/Xvid codecs are hardwired in the chipset, and it ran our MPEG-4/DivX/Xvid samples up to 720x480 resolutions without a hiccup.



Performance:

Voice quality in the earspeaker of the LG Optimus Pro is hollow, and the sound muffled with comparatively low volume. The receiving end said they can hear us fairly clear, although they could use stronger volume as well.

The fairly large 1500mAh battery offers just four hours of talk time in 3G mode and 100 hours on standby, which are pretty short by any measure.

Conclusion:

The LG Optimus Pro performs exactly where it should – with the excellent portrait physical QWERTY keyboard, which makes it a messaging machine. It also offers a fairly large for the form factor 2.8” screen that comes in handy when browsing or snooping on your social networking status. These offset the small nuisances like uninspiring black plastic design, fairly thick frame, and the low screen resolution.

The biggest drawback however, is the lousy pictures and video, as if the 3MP camera is of the lowest quality LG could secure from suppliers. Still, on the multimedia end the handset surprises pleasantly with good video codec support, and playback of DivX/Xvid videos up to 720x480 definitions.

The LG Optimus Pro is an affordable low-key alternative to some basic BlackBerries from the Curve series, for example, mainly because it is running Android, which enhances its functionality with the numerous apps in Android Market, plus its fairly large display.

As far as the Optimus Pro’s own category of low-end physical portrait QWERTY phones with Android goes, you can have a look at the Samsung Galaxy Y Pro, which is lighter and thinner, but has a less comfortable keyboard than the LG phone. We’d be remiss not to mention also the Samsung Galaxy M Pro as a more upscale alternative to the LG Optimus Pro, with its better camera and screen pixel density.

Software version of the reviewed unit: V10c-Sep-21-2011

LG Optimus Pro Video Review:





Pros

  • Very good chiclet-style keyboard
  • 2.8” screen is fairly large for the form factor
  • DivX/Xvid video codec support comes standard

Cons

  • Lousy pictures and video quality
  • 256MB RAM sometimes doesn’t cut it
  • No Adobe Flash support
  • Low screen pixel density

PhoneArena Rating:

6.5

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