This is the second LG smartphone running the Android platform and it seems that the Korean manufacturer doesn't want to be in the spotlights with their Android devices. LG GT540 is just another low-budget smartphone, that follows the first LG try on the Google's OS, the LG GW620 launched in November 2009.
Also known as GT540 Optimus, the device seems to be targeting those that didn't have an Android smartphone before, but also don't have the money or the will to buy a more expensive and feature-wise device. If you look at the GT540's spec sheet you would be surprised by the number of features it has, but that seems to be a standard even for low-budget Android smartphones nowadays.
LG GT540 Optimus was announced in January 2010 and launched on the market a few months later, in July 2010. The smartphone is available in three color schemes: Black, White and Pink. The unlocked version of LG GT540 Optimus can be bought for around $240, but the price may vary depending on the location.Design
I was expecting something stylish coming from LG and I wasn't disappointed. LG GT540 Optimus is an elegant smartphone, small and sleek, and with nice curves. The plastic makes it look stylish at first glance, but I got a feeling that the paint will wear off after a short period of time. Further, the device has an aerodynamic layout that strongly resembles the “pebble” form factor.
The 3-inch resistive touchscreen seizes the entire front part of the smartphone. There's also an in-call earpiece above the display, but the GT540 lacks an ambient light sensor, as well as a proximity sensor. Just below the screen there are two touch keys, the Menu key and the Back key. Right under the two touch keys there are three physical keys, the usual Accept and End calls keys, as well as the Home button.
The right side of the phone features a dedicated camera button, the Search key and the microUSB port. The left side of the phone includes only the dual volume key, while on top of the phone there's 3.5mm audio jack port. The 3.0-megapixel camera on the backside of the phone has been encased into a metallic frame and sunk a little bit down to offer it some protection against scratches.
The microSD card slot for memory expansion has been place under the back hood, but fortunately users won't need to pull out the battery to replace the memory card.
The plastic was processed in a way that it resembles a brushed aluminum alloy, which gives the phone a certain kind of elegant “ruggedness.” Besides the fact that it looks good, the plastic helps users keep the phone free of grease and fingerprints.
LG GT540 Optimus measures 109 x 54.5 x 12.7 mm and weighs 115.5g (including battery). Overall, the phone makes a good impression at first sight, but the fact that is made from a cheap plastic may take its toll on the paint, which might wear off or get chipped with time.Display and Camera
The GT540 Optimus comes with a 3.0-inches HVGA resistive touchscreen with 262k colors support, but only 65k effective (320x480 pixels resolution). If you had an Android smartphone with capacitive screen before, then this one will probably make your life a nightmare.
Even though it seems to be working better than a usual resistive touchscreen, its small size as well as the technology embedded will give you hard time when you want to access the notification bar on top of the homescreen or when you want to use the virtual QWERTY keyboard.
Further, the display is not so good under the sunlight and you'll have serious problems using it outdoors. Still, the image is pretty decent and the accelerometer works smoothly most of the time, but it will take a few seconds to turn the image from portrait to landscape mode.
The 3.0-megapixel camera lacks any flash capabilities or any other fancy feature, except a handful standard ones like geo-tagging, face and blink detection. The maximum resolution that can be used to take pictures is 2048x1536 pixels.
The user interface is pretty simple without any complex settings and can be browsed by touching the wheel that appears on the left. The shutter of the phone is the dedicated button on the right side of the phone or you can use the touch shutter that appears in the right corner of the camera interface. Both are responsive enough and can be used with ease together with the autofocus feature.
Users will be able to record clips (640x480 pixels) at 17fps, which has also become standard for Android devices. Unfortunately the quality is very low when it comes to recording clips. Overall, I think the 3.0-megapixel camera takes decent pictures for an entry-level Android smartphone that is not focusing exclusively on its camera module.Menu and Software
LG GT540 Optimus comes with Android 1.6 OS out-of-the-box, but it seems that an upgrade to version 2.1 is possible. Unfortunately, I'm not able to confirm it yet, as I haven't found any official updates on the manufacturer's website.
The UI of the device looks pretty simple, very close to the Vanilla one. It features three homescreens that can be populated with widges, shortcuts, etc. At the base of the homescreens there are three shortcuts that are not customizable: Dial pad, Drawer and Messaging. The four icons above are by default: Contacts, Email, Browser and SNS, but they're customizable. You can even add more homescreens, up to six, if you're not content with the three default ones.
LG added a quick connectivity menu inside the Notification bar, so if you want to activate your Wi-Fi or GPS connectivity just pull down the Notification bar and you will have access to any connectivity setting. Clicking the Drawer button will get you into the main menu of the phone.
The layout is obviously the same as the one in the Vanilla version of the OS, but LG also included the Home Selector option where you can choose between Android Home and LG Home. In case you choose the first option all your apps will be shown in the main menu in alphabetical order, but if you choose the second option you'll notice that all third-party apps that you install will be grouped at the bottom of the main menu.
Here is what you can find: Alarm Clock, Browser, Calculator, Calendar, Camera, Contacts, Email, FM Radio, Gallery, Gmail, Google Talk, Home selector, Java Downloads, Maps, Media Player, Market, Messaging, Music, Quickoffice, RSS Reader, Settings, SNS (Social Networking Services), Video Editor, SIM Toolkit, Voice recorder and YouTube client.
Overall, browsing through the menu was decent, but you might get some hiccups sometimes, depending what apps you're running in the background.Communication
The GT540 Optimus includes all possible connectivity methods that have become standard for Android smartphones: GPRS and EDGE class 10, HSDPA 7.2 Mbps, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g, Bluetooth 2.1 with A2DP, microUSB. As you can see from the tests below, the device reached speeds of up to 1792 kbps download and 396 kbps upload on the Orange 3G+ network and 147 kbps download and 97 kbps upload on EDGE network, while the Wi-Fi connection reached about 11.2 Mbps.
These performances are close to excellent especially for an entry-level device. Although, GT540 features EDGE connectivity, I wouldn't recommend using the EDGE connection at all, as it might get frustrating to wait so much to load a rich-featured webpage. The 3G+ connection is far superior, only second to the Wi-Fi connection as you can see from the speed benchmarks.
The integrated browser WebKit cannot be closed and is not compatible with multi-touch for zooming in/out. The browsing experience is not that good, as the browser also lacks support for Flash.
The Android smartphone is compatible with all email clients and protocols (POP3, IMAP) and can be synchronized with Microsoft Exchange. It is also compatible with SMS, EMS, and MMS text features. Instant messaging options include Google Talk, but other IMs can also be installed. The interface is pretty straightforward and user-friendly. The Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g connectivity is another option that will surely reduce costs for those that are heavily using Internet browsing or data transfers.
The built-in GPS receiver works together with the Google Maps, so that you won't get lost. Even though you won't be able to take advantage of the vocal navigation unless you're living in the US or UK, Google Maps can offer you the rest of the features for free: routes, localization etc. I had no troubles whatsoever with the GPS, even when I used it indoors.
LG GT540 Optimus is a quad-band GSM (850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900) handset that is also compatible with HSDPA 900/2100 networks. The in-call sound quality is kinda crappy, as I experienced distortions and interruptions during some calls. I also noticed some GSM signal problems in areas with less coverage, where other phone still managed to keep the signal at good levels. Also, data signal was very low in these areas.Processor and Memory
LG GT540 Optimus is powered by a single 600 GHz processor. I haven't experienced any freezes, but don't expect transitions to be as smooth as other smartphones that are powered by 1Ghz Snapdragon CPUs.
The smartphone embeds 139 MB user available memory space and 156 MB RAM. The space storage can be expanded up to 16GB through the hot-swappable microSD card slot under the battery cover. The device comes with a 2GB microSD memory card, but that mostly depends on the location.Multimedia
There's nothing new in terms of look when it comes to music player, but I wasn't expecting any eye-candy changes. Further, users won't be able to enjoy extra options such as equalizers or visualization effects, as the only improvement that I can think of is the added 3.5mm jack port on top of the phone. Thus, you will now be able to add your own headphones for a better music playback experience.
The music player supports audio files in MP3, WAV, eAAC+ and WMA. The music sound is very good even for a high-end device.
LG decided to include a third-party video player that can playback DivX and XviD encoded movies. It is called Media Player and it was developed by ArcSoft Software. You won't have troubles to run clips smaller than 100MB, but when the movies are larger in size you'll start noticing that the video player will skip frames and it will lag.
LG GT540 does a great job as an MP3 player, as it offers some nice features for those who want to casually listen to some music or watch a short movie. Add to that the support for encoded movie files DivX and XviD and you have an excellent multimedia device.Battery
The Android device includes a 1500 mAh Li-Polymer battery, which has an officially stated life expectancy of up to 500 hours in standby and up to 5 hours and 30 minutes (7 hours and 20 minutes for 3G network) in talk-time mode. The high capacity battery did very well during our tests, as we only needed to charge it once per week. I'm pretty sure that with some tips and tweaks you will be able to get one week of use without charging it more than once.
I do not recommend keeping the phone set on the 3G network unless you're planning to browse the Internet. Also, the Wi-Fi connection is an important energy consumer, so I suggest disabling it when you're not using it.Impressions
LG GT540 Optimus can be easily advertised as “a smartphone for everyone”. Besides its good looking design and ergonomic layout, GT540 is a complete Android device, which offers all the standard features that a person would want from its mobile phone. It doesn't matter if you're a techie or a non-smartphone user, as GT540 can meet most of your demands. Of course, there are other expensive alternative, much better than this one, but if you're looking for an entry-level Android smartphone, GT540 Optimus can be a good start.The Good
The positive aspect of the device is that it's a very cheap Android smartphone, that includes a wide range of features, some of them also specific to high-end smartphone. I would enlist here: HSDPA support, accelerometer for auto screen rotate, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g and GPS receiver, hot-swappable microSD card slot (supporting card with capacity of up to 16GB), SNS (Social Networking Services) integration, DivX/XviD video support, Stereo FM radio with RDS, excellent music playback sound.The Bad
I think the resistive touchscreen could be much better, even for an entry-level device, but this is not really a downside if you have never used a smartphone with capacitive touch display. The only negative aspect is the fact that the display is not eligible under the sunlight. Other small downsides of the phone could be: lack of Flash support for the web browser, no voice dialing, as well as the low quality video recording feature.Sales Package
LG GT540 Optimus smartphone
1500 mAh Li-Polymer Battery