When covering Android smartphones we generally evaluate high-end handsets aimed at mobile professionals. However, such devices are not the only drivers of the impressive growth that Google's mobile OS has shown since its launch in October 2008.
Also in the picture are budget smartphones like LG's recently released Optimus One. This may be a low-end device, but it runs the latest 2.2 (Froyo) version of Android, with one or two added interface tweaks from LG. The hardware is respectable if not exciting: a 3.2in., 320-by-480-pixel capacitive touch-screen; a 600MHz processor, 170MB of internal storage, 2GB of storage on a microSD card and a 3-megapixel camera. The hardware design is workmanlike, but we appreciate the rubberised rear cover, the physical (rather than touch) buttons beneath the screen and the location of the 3.5mm audio jack on the top of the device.
LG Optimus One: a budget Android 2.2 smartphone
LG's tweaks to the Android 2.2 interface are a mixed bag. There's a useful addition to the pull-down Notifications bar that lets you quickly toggle Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, 3G and the ringer on and off. LG's mobile-phone-style portrait-mode keyboard with multiple letters per key is less successful, in our opinion. Fortunately, you can opt for the standard Android QWERTY keyboard by making a long press in a text-entry box and selecting 'Input method' from the resulting menu.
As far as apps are concerned, on top of the standard Android 2.2 collection you get Thinkfree Office for viewing Microsoft Office documents, plus Facebook, Twitter and YouTube clients (note that Flash 10.1 is not supported on this low-end device). Full access to the Android Market means plenty of choice for augmenting the preinstalled apps.
According to LG, the Optimus One's 1,500mAh battery delivers up to 8 hours of 2G talk time (7.5h 3G) and 700h on standby (550h 3G).
The LG Optimus One is available starting at £20 per month on contract from T-Mobile, 3, Carphone Warehouse and Orange. It can also be picked up SIM-free for around £250.
You won't be pulling out the Optimus One to impress your friends. However, it delivers a genuine smartphone experience at a good price and is to be commended for that.