Jul 1, 2011

Posted by in Featured, Mobile, Reviews | 15 Comments

LG Optimus Black Review, once you go black…

LG recently introduced what they claim to be the thinnest and brightest Android phone available in the market in the form of the Optimus Black.

It is also one of the most affordable phones with above-average specs for its price point that we have today. I had the pleasure of using this phone for a bit and here’s my verdict on the phone.

Design

The LG Optimus Black boasts an elegant minimalistic design coupled with their so called Nova display technology. This is also the thinnest smartphone I’ve reviewed so far with its thickest point measuring at only 9.2mm.

LG Optimus Black LG Optimus Black LG Optimus Black

The front panel of the phone is covered entirely in glass with the 4-inch capacitive screen occupying its entirety along with your fingerprints. The proximity, light sensors and the 2MP front-facing camera are located at the top bezel and the standard Android touch buttons at the bottom. One thing to note here is that LG employed a neat approach with their capacitive buttons. The buttons are highlighted when you turn the screen on and register a subtle haptic response while emitting a blue glow when activated; a simple feature that somehow adds elegance to this device.

LG Optimus Black LG Optimus Black

The right side of the phone is devoid of anything while on the left you will find the volume rocker and the ‘G’ button (more on that later). On top of the device is the 3.55mm jack the microUSB slot with a slide cove similar to Samsung’s implementation and the power/lock button.

LG Optimus Black LG Optimus Black

On the back panel made of hard plastic, you will find a small slit for the speaker and opposite it is the 5MP camera beside the LED flash which is slightly recessed to avoid scratches on the lens. At the bottom you will only find a tiny slot for opening the battery cover which I found taxing the first time I tried.

The device itself feels good in your hand although I find it a extremely light. At only 109g, it’s lighter than the Samsung Galaxy SII. However, it doesn’t mean it’s not solidly built. The sleek design of the Optimus Black is definitely eye-catching.

Display and UI

The highlight of the Optimus Black is what LG dubs the Nova display. I have to say that the screen on this phone blew me away. The screen has a resolution of 800X480 capable of detecting up to 5 fingers for multitouch. The colors are bright and vibrant even on the lowest brightness setting. Outdoor visibility and viewing angle on this phone is amazing. The colors and contrast of the display is unaffected even on direct sunlight.

LG Optimus Black display vs HTC Desire S

The image above shows the LG Optimus Black’s Nova display against the HTC Desire S’ SLCD display. Both are at full brightness already but the Optimus Black made it look like HTC’s bright isn’t bright enough.

This phone runs on Android 2.2 Froyo with capability for an Android 2.3 upgrade once LG releases it. The Optimus UI is laid on top of Froyo similar to how the HTC Sense or Samsung TouchWiz is tacked on to other devices.

oLG Optimus Black

You can have a maximum of 7 home screens and a minimum of 1 wherein you can add useable widgets like any other Android phone. There are four persistent buttons at the bottom to access your phone, contacts, messages and the application dock.

LG Optimus Black

What I like about LG’s execution is how you can categorize your applications in the application dock, a feature I wish is included in my HTC phone. The pull-down notification bar includes shortcuts to turning connectivity settings as well as controls for the music player.

Performance

The Optimus Black runs on a 1 GHz Cortex-A8 processor with 2GB internal memory and 512 RAM, which is quite underwhelming in today’s standards considering the release of dual-core phones.

It produced a Quadrant benchmark score of 1295.

LG optimus black quadrant

I find it a little disappointing that the Optimus Black is somehow outshined by an older device such as the HTC Desire in terms of speed and fluidity. You will constantly see subtle lag or choppiness in screen transitions, may it be in the home screen, the browser or even some apps such as the music player.

I’m not sure if it can be attributed to the microSD included in the review unit but the phone really lagged big-time when I tried to scroll through the music library with the albums category. I tried launching the Mega Jump game (not resuming) and HTC Desire S was faster by a couple of seconds even if the game was moved to the phone from the SD card.

LG Optimus Black

The onscreen keyboard on this device is relatively good, same with old LG phones. I haven’t had a single mistyped word thanks to the evenly spaced layout of the keys which is possible due to its large screen real estate.

The G button

LG has employed some unique features in the Optimus Black courtesy of its internal gyroscope and its ‘G’ (for gesture I presume) button. Basically, it is another avenue to control your phone. Pressing the ‘G’ button and tilting the phone left or right will navigate you from home screen to home screen. Similary, doing the same gesture in the browser (or any built-in application that requires scrolling) pans the browser window in the tilted direction. There is also this capability to directly launch the camera application while in the lockscreen by shaking the phone while pressing the ‘G’ button.

LG Optimus Black

It will take you some time to memorize the whole lot of customization that you can do with the “G” button but you may find them useful at times.

Camera

LG Optimus Black

The camera is a 5MP shooter capable of taking photos of up to 2592 x 1944 resolution. You can tweak a lot of stuff in the settings to produce more than decent quality pictures. Check out some sample shots:

[nggallery id=15]

The camera can also shoot videos of up to 1280X720 HD videos @ 30fps.

Multimedia and Internet

There is a native DivX support on this device and video playback on an episode of Big Bang Theory was quite smooth.

LG Optimus Black LG Optimus Black LG Optimus Black

Instead of utilizing cover flow, LG uses a wall to display your music collection. Reminds me of the CoolIris plugin for Firefox. It’s a neat-looking eyecandy that you might want to show off to your friends.

Aside from the slow start-up, playing games went pretty smooth.

LG Optimus Black

Browsing on this device is flawless. With slightly spacious screen, you can see much of the page content. The brower supports double-tap to zoom and pinch gestures to navigate. Flash elements loads fine although the phone stutters once you begin panning pages with flash elements which is pretty common on single core processor phones.

Battery

The Optimus Black runs on a 1500mah battery which is quite standard for 1 GHz big phones. It could last a day of normal use with the occasional browsing, gaming, calls and multimedia playback.

Verdict

The LG Optimus Black might be underpowered compared to the superphones being released these days but it doesn’t try to compete with them. What it does is give you an affordable alternative for a phone with above-average specs, top-notch display and an sleek design.

LG Optimus Black

If you can wait for the Gingerbread update and want a super light phone, the Optimus Black’s usability and reliability as a smart phone cannot be denied. It won’t give you much in style points but it’s also not something you won’t be proud of.

LG Optimus Black P970 Specs:
1 GHz Cortex-A8 processor, TI OMAP 3630 chipset
PowerVR SGX530 GPU
Android OS, v2.2 (Froyo), upgradable to v2.3
4.0-inch capacitive Nova display (Gorilla Glass), 480 x 800
Optimus UI 2.0, Gesture UI 2.0
2 GB storage, 512 MB RAM, microSD up to 32GB
HSDPA, 7.2 Mbps; HSUPA, 5.76 Mbps
Bluetooth 2.1 with A2DP, EDR
Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, DLNA, Wi-Fi Direct, Wi-Fi hotspot
5 MP autofocus camera with LED flash, 2 MP front cam
Video recording at 720p @ 30fps
GPS + AGPS
122 x 64 x 9.2 mm
109 g
Li-Ion 1500 mAh
SRP: Php19,900


  1. Really looks great. The only cons with Android phone is the high cost…:)Masses can’t afford to have it on date.

  2. Im still a bit confused.. Which is still better, this nova display or the super amoled?

  3. dude, the Black doesn’t sport Gorilla Glass.

  4. I find the talk about LG Optimus Black P970 Review, Specs, Features, Sample Photos, Verdict | Pinoy Tech Blog – The Philippines' Longest-running Technology Blog all a bit meaningless. Governments and central bankers round the planet have done everything they can to prop up failed banking institutions, and lending that was risky from the start. We will not have a real sustainable recovery without an end to deficit spending and lots of banking institutions going bust. I find discussion about asset finance and home loans a bit meaningless. I also think the property costs have to reduce a lot even now. I mean why would you want to own a home in the US or France? Isn’t it much more cost effective to rent? Regards, Kali Hegan

  5. Just a question, Where did you buy this exactly in the phils? Because when i went around, the phone looks so different and they were keep on insisting that it is indeed lg optimus black,

  6. (1) How do you use the LG Optimus Black as a modem to be able to surf the internet from a Lenovo laptop? (2) The LG Optimus Black can be connected to a laptop by USB cable. How do you make the same connection using bluetooth?

    • 1. in settings > wireless network there should be an option for wifi hotspot. or check the manual for it.
      2. turn on bluetooth on your laptop and pair them both

  7. I was trying to pair my LG optimus black to my lenovo G45 laptop under windows 7. The message I receive is “install peripheral device driver”. Where do I get the driver?

  8. Hi Sir, does this optimus black can play all the android market available apps just like samsung do? are they using the same android market apps?

  9. Wanna ask, how much is this phone as of september 2012?

  10. I have a similar unit LG Optimus Bright (L-07C) and they look really similar, even the specs are the same except mine goes with Android 2.3.3 and im not really sure if i have a front camera… but when I go to skype it gives me an option to video call wih my contacts, but when i call them skype uses the back camera as th main camera and dont really know how to activate the front camera can you help me?

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  3. New Year price drop on select LG mobile phones - [...] LG Optimus Black, both a black and white version, is now P15,490 from Php17,990. You’ll get a automobile horse …

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