LG Optimus Sol Review

Once upon a time, having a 1 Ghz processor inside your smartphone was a pretty huge deal. Not so much nowadays though, as it’s a pretty common thing to see, even in today’s mid-range phones.

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Mid-range phones like the LG Optimus Sol, which also features a 3.8 inch Ultra AMOLED display along with it’s 1 Ghz processor, all in one slim, lightweight package.

And here’s what we thought of it.

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The Retail Package:-

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As we mentioned in our LG Optimus Sol Unboxing post, you get the usual retail box contents, which include:-

- The LG Optimus Sol
- Charger
- microUSB cable
- Wired Headset
- 2GB microSD card
- “Getting started” guide

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The Design:-

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The LG Optimus Sol looks and feels like your usual plastic mid-range smartphone, which isnt really a surprise since this is supposed to be an affordable Android smartphone.

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On the plus side though, the phone is lightweight due to the choice of materials used, and can easily be used single handedly, thanks to the slim profile of just 9.8mm.

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The design is pretty average as such, with a glossy back cover that surprisingly isnt as much of a fingerprint magnet as I thought it’d be.

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At the front, you have a front facing VGA camera, and three standard Android capacitive touch keys underneath the display.

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At the top, you have a standard 3.5mm audio jack and a microUSB port covered with a plastic flap, and a lone screenlock/power button.

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You’ll also notice a tiny microphone pinhole here, which is used for noise cancellation. That’s not something you see on most phones in this price range, so it’s a nice feature to have.

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On the left side, you have the volume rocker.

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The Display:-

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The LG Optimus Sol is the first smartphone from the company to have an AMOLED screen. LG’s “Ultra AMOLED” moniker aside, the display was quite pleasing, with rich, intense, saturated colors and deep blacks on the 3.8 inch WVGA display.

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As you’d expect, images and video look great on that screen, though it’s not the best AMOLED screen we’ve seen, it’s commendable in this price range. Outdoor visibility is also surprisingly good, with the display glowing bright enough that the screen remains legible.

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Viewing Angles are also pretty good, with the screen being usable even at some extreme angles. There’s a greenish tint sometimes though, but I dont think you’d ever want to tilt it that much.

At the end of the day, the LG Optimus Sol has a very eye-catching screen, which coupled with the slim, lightweight body, really catches your eye. The Design is admittedly a bit boring though, but let’s not dwell on that too long. Moving on to Software!

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The Software and Android 2.3 Gingerbread UI:-

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The Optimus Sol has LG’s Optimus UI on top of Android 2.3.4. There’s a dark UI theme here that’s supposedly installed to use as little white light as possible, so as to minimise power drain. There’s very minimal changes, so I dont think the battery life gain is really THAT much significant. But eh, I guess it’s nice to have for the paranoid folks out there.

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The Optimus UI is simple enough and functional, with seven homescreens to customize with widgets or shortcuts. One nice feature, is that you can choose which homescreen gets brought up when you press the home key.

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There’s a 1Ghz MSM8255 chipset by Qualcomm powering all of that, with the Adreno 205 GPU and 512 MB of RAM.

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This works out to a smooth enough experience, for the most part. You get the occasional hiccup once in a while but navigation and overall operation is fluid and responsive enough most of the time.

Coming to the actual onboard software, you get all the essentials pre-installed. Facebook and Twitter clients, an app manager, notes, Polaris Office suite, etc all available out of the box. There’s Wifi-Direct and DLNA functionality too, along with 3G, Bluetooth 3.0 and GPS support.

Worth mentioning though, is that typing on the phone’s onscreen keyboard can feel a little cramped because of the narrow display in portrait mode.

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You get used to it quick enough though. Ofcourse this isnt a problem in landscape mode, when all the keys are well-space and responsive, using all the screen real estate.

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The Internet browser is your usual Android Gingerbread offering, with Adobe Flash support, Text Reflow and a Neat Menu to switch between opened tabs.

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The Flash plugin makes the experience a little laggy though, so I ended up turning it off unless I really needed it.

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The Camera:-

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On the back, you have a pretty average 5 Megapixel Auto-Focus camera on the Optimus Sol. No camera flash unfortunately, which means no low light night shots, at all.

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There’s a couple shooting scenes and face detection available, along with the ability to take panorama shots.

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Coming to camera quality, color reproduction and exposure levels are accurate enough, but colors tend to be too warm sometimes. There’s not much detail though, so the pics are only really usable at small print sizes. Indoor pictures or ones taken in low-ish light can be quite bad, with heavy noise. Most of the times, the noise gets blurred out by a heavy anti-noise algorithm, which results in images without much fine detail. As long as there’s light around, you’ll get decent enough shots. You cant really expect a phone in this segment to do any better, really.

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Coming to Video, you can record in 720p High Definition, but it’s not really great quality at all, with missing details, and voices not recorded clearly. There’s continuous auto-focus though, which was a bit of a pleasant suprise.

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The Media:-

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There’s a basic music player onboard that gets the job done. You can sort your music by album, by artist, or song name, and there’s the usual set of music controls, which are also accessible from the Android drop down bar.

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What I really liked though, was that the video player has built-in support for MPEG4 and DivX/Xvid videos of resolutions up to 720p HD. And like I mentioned earlier, watching videos on the Ultra AMOLED display, is a very pleasant experience.

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The Call Quality:-

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In-call sound quality was pretty okay, on both sides of the phonecall. You get your caller’s voice in loud, distinct and clear, while the secondary microphone we mentioned earlier is used for noise cancellation to make sure all background noises dont interfere with your voice.

Loudspeaker volume is pretty loud, and you’ll probably never miss a phone call ringing on the LG Optimus Sol. How come mid-range phones always have nice loud speakers?

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The Battery Life:-

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Battery life isnt too impressive unfortunately. You have a 1540 mAh battery rated for 4 hours of talk time and 100 hours of stand-by. But that’s probably on really light usage because ours only barely made it through the day.

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Definitely one that you’ll have to charge every night.

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The Conclusion:-

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The LG Optimus Sol is a pretty okay phone to be honest, but it’s going to have a hard time battling it out with other similar priced Android phones that, in some cases, boast more features.

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The Ultra AMOLED screen is nice to look at, with nice deep blacks and saturated colors. And the form factor is nice and slim and lightweight, which really feels great in the hand.

But inspite of those pros, there are also cons. The camera performance isnt much to write home about, and it’s still running Android 2.3 Gingerbread when other manufacturers like HTC have pumped out Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich phones, or Sony with their ICS update for their 2011 Android phones.

Unless you’re a really huge fan of the brand, I would find it hard to recommend the LG Optimus Sol as the best smartphone to invest in, considering the alternatives in this price range. There’s the Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc S, Samsung Galaxy W, HTC Desire S, etc. If you must stick with LG, the Optimus 2X boasts two cores and is just a tiny bit more in price.

There’s nothing really wrong with the LG Optimus Sol, it really is a nice little mid-range phone. It just doesnt do anything to really set it apart from the rest I’m afraid.

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[col_1_4 style="box border box_green"]
[title]The Good:[/title]

Great display
Good call quality
Slim, lightweight

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[col_1_4 style="box border box_yellow"]
[title]The Bad:[/title]

Average Design
Poor Camera
[/col_1_4]
[col_1_4 style="box border box_blue"]
[title]The Verdict:[/title]
I’d buy the Optimus 2X instead.
[/col_1_4]

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