LG Optimus Sol – The Perfect Choice for Outdoor Use

The smarpthone is powered by Gingerbread with Optimus 2.0 UI

By on March 19th, 2012 21:52 GMT
One of LG's mid-ends Optimus series smartphones, the Optimus Sol was built around its Ultra AMOLED display. Just like the Optimus Black, the selling point of Optimus Sol is the exceptional screen and clean design.

For those who are using their handsets mostly outdoors, this could be the perfect choice. However, this comes at the expense of hardware configuration as LG decided to aim mid-range smartphone market with this one.

Display aside, LG Optimus Sol does not stand out, so those who are not in need of the perfect phone for outdoor use may want to think twice before getting this one. 

As the name suggests, Optimus Sol (Sola means sun in Spanish) fairs excellent even when exposed to strong sunlight. Still, the colors seem a bit oversaturated especially when it's used indoors. 

LG Optimus Sol was officially announced back in August. The smartphone was showcased for the first time at IFA 2011 in Berlin and hit shelves soon afterwards. Currently, LG Optimus Sol can be purchased for as low as 300 USD (200 EUR), but the price may vary depending on the location. 
Design

Following the same design line of the Optimus series, LG Optimus Sol features a minimalist look. At first glance the smartphone features the same level of elegance as the Optimus Black, however, it kind of fails when it come to materials used for manufacture. 

LG Optimus Black is made of cheap plastic, though this one looks a bit better in comparison with other mid-budget smartphones. More importantly, the back cover's paint doesn't wear off too fast, though I suspect after several months it may need to be replaced. 
When it comes to shape and weight, LG Optimus Sol is one of the best in its class. The smartphone measures 122.5 x 62.5mm and is only 9.8mm thin. Given the fact the Optimus Sol is made of plastic, the smartphone is pretty light at only 110g.

The handset doesn't have too many external buttons and ports on the outside, but those included are crowded on top side. While the right side is pretty clean when it comes to external keys, the left side features the dual volume keys. Nothing on bottom side either, so the rest of the buttons can be found on top side, including the microUSB, a power on/off button and the 3.5mm audio jack. 
On the backside there's a 5-megapixel camera without flash. In addition, at the base of the battery cover there's a small loudspeaker. The microSD card slot for memory expansion has been placed under the back cover near the SIM slot.

Instead of the usual four touch-sensitive key placed at the base of the touchscreen, LG Optimus Sol comes with only three: Menu, Home and Back. Modern smartphones that are expected to hit shelves within the next few weeks, come with only three touch-sensitive keys. They all miss the Search key, though it's not clear why LG decided to build the Optimus Sol this way as well.

Overall, the Optimus Sol is a stylish mid-budget Android smartphone, but I wouldn't put this one among the best looking handsets designed by LG.  
Display and Camera

LG Optimus Sol comes with a medium-size 3.8-inch Ultra AMOLED capacitive touchscreen display that supports 480 x 800 pixels resolution and only 262k colors. This is the main strong point of the device, and the reason it makes the perfect choice for those who want an affordable smartphone that can be used outdoors.

However, as I already mentioned earlier the screen's colors are so oversaturated that it makes your eyes bleed. If you can attune to the display's colors than you won't have any problems with it, otherwise you may want to try and set the brightness a bit lower.   
Even though the Optimus Sol is a mid-range smartphone, LG put Corning Gorilla Glass coating on the Ultra AMOLED display in order to protect it from scratches and scrapes.

The 5-megapixel camera on the back can shoot 2592 x 1944 pixels pictures and 720p (at 30fps) videos. Unfortunately, there's no LED flash, which means users won't be able to take pictures while in darker environments.

Although the camera does not feature a dedicated key, user will be able to quickly open it up from the shortcut placed on the home screen. There's also a touch shutter that appears on the right side of the camera interface.  
The latter is well designed to offer quick and easy access to complex features and settings. You get Focus, Face tracking, ISO, White balance, Color effect, Shoot mode (Normal, Panorama, Continuous shot), and Timer.

Unfortunately, this is not among the best 5-megapixel cameras out there. In fact, it looks like the Optimus Sol has the same module camera as the Optimus Black, which we already reviewed last year.  
Menu and Software

Unlike Optimus Black that was shipped with Android 2.2.2 Froyo, the LG Optimus Sol is powered by Google's Android 2.3.4 Gingerbread operating system on board. Furthermore, the smartphone runs LG's proprietary Optimus 2.0 UI. 

This is the standard user interface that comes pre-loaded on all LG Android smartphones since last year. The smartphone comes with 7 default home screens, which can be edited, deleted and created again.

There's also a set of widgets and apps that can be added on any of the seven panes in order to be more easier to access. It also comes with the LG Home launcher, the same that comes pre-installed in most Android smartphones.   
However, all these tweaks made by LG to make the stock Android look more appealing might be changed once the first LG smartphones with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich platform will be launched on the market.

There's also a notifications area where users can make several quick settings such as: Profile, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, Data network and music player.

Aside from that the Optimus Sol comes pre-loaded with a slew of productivity and entertainment applications and services. With Polaris Office users will be able to create or edit documents while on the go. There's also a small notes-taking application suggestively called Richnote.   
Facebook and Twitter apps are included as well, along with a special LG marketplace that enables access to most important Android apps. Other apps bundled include: Wi-Fi Cast, SmartShare, RemoteCall, FM Radio, YouTube, Weather, Voice Search and more.

It is also worth mentioning LG Optimus Sol offers access to more than 450,000 apps via Google Play Store. I'm not sure why LG would also include its own marketplace that has much less apps and is not that user friendly as Google's apps store.

Furthermore, the phone's Gallery features 3D effects and animated transitions. You'll be able to share the pictures directly from here via Facebook, Twitter, Bluetooth or Picasa.   
Obviously, the smartphone does not come with a physical QWERTY keyboard, instead it offers users the option to type using a virtual keyboard. Unfortunately, I was a bit disappointed by the virtual QWERTY keyboard, which is not that touch responsive and accurate in comparison with other devices in its range. However, user can always install additional input methods.

Communication

When it comes to connectivity, LG Optimus is an all-rounder. The smartphone is packed with all sorts of communication technologies, including Wi-Fi and Bluetooth support. Aside from that, the smartphone feature Wi-Fi hotspot and DLNA functions, as well as Wi-Fi Direct, HSDPA (7.2Mbps) and HSUPA (2.9Mbps).    
With the SmartShare application that comes pre-installed on the smarpthone, users will be able to take advantage of the DLNA function, allowing users to play media on other compatible devices.

Wi-Fi Direct is a rather new technology that will enable users to connect their devices directly through Wi-Fi connection without the need of a Wi-Fi hotspot.

The integrated WebKit browser does an average job, so I would recommend using another mobile browser instead. Flash and multi-touch support are included as well, along with zoom and text reflow.   
There's also a built-in GPS receiver that works perfectly with Google's Maps. It's pretty accurate, even indoors. LG Optimus Sol supports GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 and HSDPA 900 / 2100 networks. I was completely disappointed by the in-call sound, which is fairly distorted.

Processor and Memory

LG Optimus Sol is equipped with a single core Qualcomm MSM8255 Snapdragon processor clocked at 1 GHz. In addition, the smartphone packs an old Adreno 205 graphics processing unit.These standard for mid-range Android smartphones, so expect mildly performance from LG Optimus Sol. It also comes with 1GB of internal memory, 2GB of ROM and 512 MB of RAM. The storage can be expanded via microSD card up to 32GB.  
Overall, LG Optimus Sol is not the fastest mid-range smartphone on the market, on the contrary. The phone runs pretty well for a while, but after several apps remain opened in the background you'll experience lags. I noticed that the dialer is very slow, especially after you and a conversation.

Multimedia

First of all LG Optimus Sol is no a music phone. It does not have any special hardware of software that might improve its multimedia features, so don't expect it to perform very well when it comes to music listening. 
However, the music player that can also be used as a widget directly from any of the seven home screens offers medium quality sound. Users can filter the music by album or artist. Search is available as well, alphabetically or regularly. If the album or song you're listening features an art image it will be displayed in the Now playing screen. 

The headphones that comes in the sales package are average at best, so you might want to change them in case you're looking to improved your entertainment experience. Optimus Sol also features an FM Radio function, which requires the use of headphones as antenna.  
Battery

LG Optimus Sol drains power from a 1500 mAh Li-Ion battery, which is rated by the manufacturer for up to 100 hours of standby time or up to 4 hours of talk time. However, we have been able to use the phone for up to three days on average use, but we can estimate that you will need to charge it at least once at two days on heavy use.   
Impressions

The Optimus Sol is all about the Ultra AMOLED screen. Other than that it falls into the mid-range category without anything to make it stand out from the crowd. Those who are in need of a phone that is perfectly usable outdoors regardless of the weather can definitely try this one out.

The Good

The only thing that I found to be innovative is the phone's screen. Aside from that the only think that might attract Android fans would be the stylish design. Hopefully, LG will update this one to Ice Cream Sandwich sometime in the not so near future, though we doubt the Optimus Sol will be scheduled for the upgrade.

The Bad

Optimus Sol's screen can be the phone's strong point, but also one of its downsides. With its colors pretty oversaturated it's gonna take a while until one can get used to it. The mediocre sound quality and camera are also among the negatives of the phone. However, given the fact that we're talking about a mid-range handset, these should be seen as “average” rather than “mediocre.”

Sales Package

LG Optimus Sol handset
1500 mAh Li-Ion Battery
Compact Charger
Manual
Stereo Earphones
USB Data Cable
LG Optimus Sol
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   LG Optimus Sol

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