LG may have dominated the TV space, but when it comes to phones, they seem to be content having a laid back approach, be it with releasing new models or simply releasing timely updates. Updating your handsets to Gingerbread, right when everyone else is busy getting ICS, isn’t exactly something you would brag about. After the Optimus 2X and the Optimus 3D, the company haven’t launched a ‘game-changing’ phone, so to speak. There was the Optimus Black, which we liked, but sadly, it failed to generate much buzz. As high-end phones start dropping in price, the sub-Rs.20,000 price bracket is suddenly very active, with many options to choose from. Seeing how the Black failed to take off, LG has sent in re-inforcements in the form of the new, Optimus Sol E730.
Black as night!
At first glance, one would mistake this to be a replacement for the Optimus Black, but it’s not. In fact, it’s a downgrade of the old phone, but weirdly, priced at almost the same, which does not make any sense. It’s also competing directly with the Sony Ericsson Neo V, as they are similar in terms of pricing and specs. But which one’s better? Let’s find out.
On Video: LG Optimus Sol E730
Design and Build
The phone looks very similar to the Optimus Black and the dimensions also line up pretty closely. It’s as if LG built the chassis for a 4-inch screen and then at the very last minute decided to fit in a 3.8-inch display, instead. The all-plastic body feels sturdy, but we just hate the full glossy finish. Calling it a ‘fingerprint magnet’ is a bit of an understatement. At 110g, it is very light and slim as well at 9.8mm in depth. On the top, we have the power/sleep button, along with the micro-USB port and 3.5mm headphone jack. The volume toggle switch is over to the left, but the buttons are a bit too small for our taste. Around the back, we just have a camera, speaker grill and the LG logo.
No flash is a bit of a bummer
The screen itself, is a 3.8-inch Ultra AMOLED screen, with a resolution of 800 x 480. We also get Corning’s Gorilla Glass for a scratch-free surface. While this is all good, there is quite a large gap around the display, especially at the bottom between the display and the capacitive buttons. This could have been avoided by making the phone a bit smaller in the first place. There’s also text written above the capacitive buttons, which don’t light up and can barely be seen, making it redundant. Looks like LG got a bit sloppy designing this phone, as it doesn't seem like they thought this through properly. Also, the front-facing camera doesn’t line-up exactly in the centre of the cut-out.
The Optimus Sol comes preloaded with Android 2.3.4, along with LG’s Optimus UI 2.0 running on top. It’s the same one we saw on the Optimus Black and the Optimus 3D. We’re afraid, the colours on the Ultra AMOLED screen are a bit over the top and LG’s custom UI itself is very colourful, which can make your eyes bleed at full brightness. Here’s where we ran into yet another snag. The ambient light sensor didn’t work on our unit (which was a brand new one!). The build of our ROM was GRJ22 and there weren’t any OTA updates available as well. Hopefully, LG patch this issue (if it is one), soon. Speaking of fixes, the delay between pressing the power button to wake up the phone and the display actually switching on is too long, and if the phone slows down, it takes even longer.
A similar interface
The overall feel of the UI is far from quick and fluid. Even with the stock apps, browsing through the menus and home screen feel jerky and unresponsive, which is quite surprising, since the Optimus Sol shares the same Qualcomm MSM8255 Snapdragon SoC, as the Sony Ericsson Neo V and the latter was a real joy to use. We also noticed ghosting and trialing issues at certain brightness levels, especially in the menus or when you scroll light coloured text on a black background. They are both clocked at the same speed as well at 1GHz and pack in the same Adreno 205 GPU.
The stock player does a pretty decent job playing back your MP3s and the bundled headset is not too bad, either. Lacking a bit in the lower and mid-range departments, the headset makes up for it by offering good sound isolation from ambient noise. The player does not have any sound enhancement options, so if you like tweaking the sound, then you might want to look at other free alternatives in the Martketplace. You also get a lock screen widget to switch tracks easily. FM Radio is also present.
Good media playback
The stock video player supports DivX and Xvid videos as well, along with MP4. However, not every AVI file played properly through the stock player. In fact, 720p playback was a little iffy. It’s a bit better through a third party player. Thanks to the Ultra AMOLED, videos are sharp and clear with very good colours, although a tiny bit oversaturated at times. The black levels are quite simply among the best, as is the case with all AMOLED displays. The viewing angles are also really good with barely any shift in the colour tone.
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