Virgin Mobile LG Optimus V Review – Raising the Bar for Budget Android Phones!

May 5, 2011
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Introduction

Welcome to Android Authority’s review of the Virgin Mobile LG Optimus V. The Optimus V is one of the Optimus One line of phones which has graced every carrier in the USA, as well as set sales records for LG. The fact that they sold one million phones in 40 days is no surprise to me anymore, as soon as I opened the package I knew why it sold so well. Read on to find out more and find our video review below.

This handset is only $199.99 at Virgin Mobile with no contract, and is a steal at that price. Combine that with Virgin Mobile’s unique pricing system for the United States, and overall this handset stands unmatched. The Optimus V is on their “Beyond Talk” plans which give you Unlimited Messages, and Unlimited Data with fixed amounts of minutes for very reasonable prices. Their cheapest offering is their 300 Min plan which is only $25 a month, which is perfect for your average person who has made the cultural switch to texting instead of one on one voice chatting. If 300 Minutes is too few for you, most likely their 1200 Minutes for $40/mo plan would suffice. Their most expensive offering at $60 includes Unlimited Minutes as well as Unlimited Data and Messaging.

Physical Design & Display

The Optimus V is your normal slate form factor with no physical keyboard and a screen that overtakes most of the front. It is funny how LG was able to pull off making this handset as cheap as it is because it has a very premium feel. It might be the fact that it is a slate form factor with no moving parts, but I thought it felt very solid especially in comparison to more expensive slate handsets like the Samsung Galaxy S series which is made up of a more flexible plastic than the Optimus V.

At 3.2 inches, the display isn’t very large, but most of us have been thoroughly exposed to 3.2” screened Android handsets. Something that is nice is this: in comparison to Virgin Mobile’s Samsung Intercept which has a 3.2” QVGA 320×240, is the Optimus V’s identical sized 3.2” screen that is HVGA or 480×320 pixels. One thing I was very surprised about that I had not heard anywhere was how bright the screens backlight is. At full brightness it was brighter than the Super LCD, on my myTouch 4G. Then I compared it to two different Samsung Epic 4G’s on Sprint and it was even brighter than the Super AMOLED panel on those handsets. I was absolutely astonished with how bright it was. I’m one of those people who loves their screens brightness burning out their retinas so this was a very pleasing device to me, while many would leave the screen dim and never notice how insanely bright it is. The Touchscreen is very accurate and didn’t have any issues in testing.

Other than the brightness there were many likeable features with the physical aspects of this handset. I was very pleased to see that it has physical Android navigation buttons instead of capacitive ones which seem to be unresponsive sometimes for me. One interesting feature of the Android Navigation Buttons is that they wake up the handset and bring it to the unlock screen. So you don’t have to use the power button to bring it back to life. The other physical buttons; power, camera, volume up and down are all very clicky which give a lot of confidence when pressed on whether the action was successful. Along with the normal buttons you’d expect to have, LG threw along a Voice Dial button on the side right above the camera button. This button is dedicated to doing “Call John Doe” or “Redial,” even though Google Voice Command probably would have worked just fine it is nice to have the option of a dedicated Voice Dial button if you chose. The Micro USB charging port is on the bottom of the phone in a great place for a charger location because it doesn’t conflict with Universal Dash Mounts. The last of the notable physical features is that LG was nice enough to put the MicroSD card slot on the left side of the phone under its own door, no more opening the back battery door, or having to pull the battery. I love them for this.

Software

Overall, the Optimus V is a very speedy handset with its stock vanilla version of Froyo (2.2.1). There were very few customizations of the OS itself, one of the only things I actually found that was different than a fully stock version of Froyo is that in the “About Phone” area they had an “Activate Phone” option. This does nothing but register the handset with Virgin Mobiles servers. This is a settings option I’ve never seen in another CDMA handset, not even the Sprint ones I’ve used.

Like I said the stock OS runs awesome on the 600MHz MSM7627 with Adreno 200 GPU. Everything was super snappy and never really lagged. One thing I found very surprising is when using Advanced Task Manager, it would clear up to having 350MB of RAM on a regular basis, and upwards of 430MB when first booted. I’ve not seen those amounts of RAM freed up since my 768MB myTouch 4G. The Optimus V has only 512MB of RAM so the fact that it can free up so much RAM is nice for running third party apps and shows you how much less overhead is needed on a vanilla build. Virgin Mobile did package along some third party apps that are not removable. The only apps I could find that weren’t stock were; the “Activate” shortcut, airG chat, Virgin Mobile Downloads, “My Account” shortcut, Poynt, SCVNGR, Twidroyd, Virgin Mobile Live, and Where. But I didn’t see any of these running in the background becuase I didn’t set them up. So they’re taking up space but not slowing down the phone at all.

I was surprised to see that the handset was able to run Live Wallpapers, and very surprised to see no hiccups at all in their animation, even while running a bunch of apps in the background. This is thanks to the dedicated Adreno 200 GPU I’m sure.

Call Quality / Speaker

Overall Call Quality was good, I did not have any dropped calls on any of the tests I tried. The earpiece was loud and clear with no distortion. The Speaker used for Speakerphone calls did seem a little crackly and provided poor quality sound. However the same speaker worked great when listening to music or playing Youtube videos, I was somewhat confused on that one.

Network Connection

3G Network speeds fluctuated between 300Kbps – 700Kbps, I never really saw anything over 700Kbps. On 2G I got 40-60Kbps. I did have a few issues with the phone stopping talking to the network, yet showing that it was connected to the 3G network with full bars. Afterwards it would not be able to get to the internet until I enabled Airplane Mode and then disabled Airplane Mode. One thing to note about this process is I’ve never seen a phone switch into Airplane Mode faster than the Optimus V. It was almost instantaneous upon touching the on screen button. This bugginess of their network was slightly inconvenient, but once figured out, was remedied very easily and isn’t enough of a problem to be dissatisfied with their $25 per month service.

Battery Life

Battery Life is great on this handset. I went through a whole day, using the handset on and off in a pattern that normally kills handsets by evening and the lowest it ever got in a single day period was 50%, some days it would only drop to 65%. I was amazed with this battery usage. It might be due to the 1500mAh battery that is supporting the 600 MHz processor, but regardless of whatever magic it uses, I was pleasantly surprised.

Camera / Camcorder

Camera quality was good, and they especially look good on the phones bright screen. Viewing them on a computer  obviously results in the images losing a little bit of their quality, but still displayed very nice clarity. The shutter is controlled with a two stage dedicated camera button. However, there is no flash so taking pictures in dim light leads to poor shots. The camcorders video quality was very good for a handset of this level, however the audio recorded was crackly and of poor quality, with peaks of average quality.

Benchmarks

My testing procedure is to install all benchmarking apps on a clean phone, reboot and run them three times each one by one in alphabetical order, as overtime we will build a bigger database of handsets to compare versus each other.

An3DBenchXL: Score: 8645 – 8748
CaffeineMark: Score: 1717 – 2063
CPU Benchmark: 1532ms – 1547ms
FPS2D: Score 39 – 46      Stdev 16.99 – 19.48
Linpack for Android: MFLOPS: 7.365 – 7.542   Time: 11.12 – 11.38 seconds
NenaMark1: 21.0fps – 26.2fps
Neocore: 41.9fps – 43.6fps
Quadrant Standard Ed: Score: 454 – 504
Smartbench 2011: Productivity Index: 421 – 449       Games Index 435 – 442
Touch Test: Max of two touches, very accurate Touch Screen

Video Review



Conclusion

Overall this is a great handset that has a very cheap set of plans associated with it. With the lowest priced plan, the overall cost of ownership makes it the cheapest Android handset you can have in the USA. The bang for the buck ratio is through the roof with this phone. If you’re looking to pinch a few pennies to be able to afford more toys like the new Honeycomb tablets that are coming out make the move to Virgin Mobile. In a lot of cases, breaking your plan and paying the Early Termination Fee would still put you into saving hundreds of dollars over a year or two of being under contract. Factoring in the ‘Bang for the Buck’ raises this one’s score.

Score

4.5 out of 5

Thanks for checking out our review of the Virgin Mobile LG Optimus V. Make sure to tune back in as we review more of the handsets that you want!

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Comments

  • stetsonaw

    Friend of mine has one, great pnone with 1 glaring issue. Flash isn’t available for it, and not sure if its going to be. Not sure if it’ll work for it if you root it either,

  • Michael

    I’ve had this phone for 3 months now, and absolutely LOVE it!!

    I have run the battery dead in a day, but ebay carries a 2 battery plus charger package for about $12, so I can keep fresh batteries around and just swap them out.

  • http://www.folderorganizer.net/ Gain

    My friend called me last night to go see this phone and try it out and i must admit its a cool piece of work. Its good android phone believe it.

  • MarkMcC

    I’m seriously considering either this Optimus V or Boost’s Prevail to replace my T-Mobile plan. I’d save at least $40 per month, and probably more.

  • PWinNY

    Nice review, one question left: How good or bad is the text input/typing experience on this phone? Some of us have to write more than a quick “thx” SMS every once in while, and older touchscreen phones have driven me crazy when I had to write a page or two in a hurry.

    • Darryl Doak

      Good question. I forgot to mention anything about that. It comes with the Swype keyboard alongside the stock one. I ended up using the Swype keyboard to do all my input into the phone cus I prefer its layout. I was surprised with how well it took my touches, I “typed” into it quite a bit that way and the touchscreen detected my touches accurately. Even though I was afraid the screen was too small to use accurately, it worked fine. Obviously “Swypeing” into the phone worked pretty much like any other phone with the Swype keyboard. One reason I prefer the Swype keyboard over the stock Froyo keyboard is because the Swype one has the secondary number and symbols accessible with a long press on the button like the Gingerbread keyboard.

      Honestly my favorite keyboard to use is SlideIT, its a pay app on the market(theres also a free demo) that works just like Swype. However I like its layout a little better imo, I even input full articles using it. I usually install it to any phone I use so I can have consistency.

      Hope this helps.

  • friedTomato

    I got an Optimus V not too long ago. Battery dies on me if I don’t charge it every night. Processor is the same as its vm Android predecessor – I use maybe 45 min of general web browsing on the way to/from work. Flash is not available because of the processor. I can not use hulu plus now to watch stuff on the way in via dc metro transit due to the lack of flash… other than that I like the phone. Swype is good, don’t use your fingernail on this screen and it should be fine. I’d get a JAVOedge microswipe or something of the like to clean the screen.

  • http://mindtherant.blogspot.com/ MindTheRant

    I’ve written a Top 5 Virgin Mobile LG Optimus V Annoyances post on my blog, which you can see here: http://bit.ly/qs3wM7

    With respect to the LG Optimus V’s lack of Flash support, there is a workaround: download the Skyfire web browser from Android Marketplace and spend 3 bucks for their special plug-in that allows you to view Flash videos via Skyfire’s own servers. (I know this sounds weird, but it actually works — at least most of the time. I went ahead and spent $3 for it and I’m not sorry I did.) Also, if you find most of your video-watching is limited to YouTube the phone also comes with a dedicated YouTube app that works quite nicely — even HD videos don’t hang or stutter.

    Still, take a look at my Annoyances … Virgin Mobile’s pricing is aggressively attractive and the Optimus is, as Darryl mentions in his review, a well-built phone. But at the end of the day it’s also quite a mediocre one, I’m sorry to say.

  • Alxxxluvzpeaches

    “Needed to replace twice in 6 months.”
    on December 27, 2011 by Alxxx82 (1 review)
    Pros: My phone bill is cheap (Virgin) and I love the Android OS.

    Cons: It’s December, I purchased my 1st LG Optimus V from Best Buy in June. In October, I was out, the battery completely dead, got home to charge it, wouldn’t charged. Now it’s December, happened again. Also constantly crashes.

    Summary: I’m very unhappy.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_ZOBCTNQFCVBFMLD6RZJLJCYAIU Xamire

    For those of you retards out there – optimus v can easily utilize flash, by downloading one of the various flash players (like SWF) or using a different browser if that’s all you need (like Dolphin.)

    As for the battery. I purchased a 3500 mah for my phone off amazon, and it makes the phone last several days of HEAVY usage. It ads some bulk, but it still feels great. And the batter comes with a new larger back plate, that looks like it’s from the manufacturer. Overall one of the best phones for a low price range, without a contract ($85 ad best buy) can’t beat that!