Fancy Phone

Table of Contents

I recently purchased a prepaid Virgin Mobile smart phone, the LG Optimus V. Since this is my first smart phone and my first LG phone, I thought that I would share my impressions with anyone else who is looking for a relatively inexpensive Android-powered phone. Man that is a dry introduction. I had a much more verbose introduction that talked about my experiences and requirements and such, but I figured that I should avoid writing four paragraphs about stuff that doesn't matter to anyone who is looking for a phone review :) ## On The LG Optimus V

Please note that this is my first smart phone, so any phone that does more than call people and tell time is pretty amazing to me. Having said that, this seems to be a fairly well-designed phone. Here's what I like:

barely notice it when it is in your hand. - Music Playing - Not a lot of phones are well-designed to play music, but this one does a pretty decent job. For example, it has a volume rocker on the side, and a standard headphone jack. These may sound like standard features, but not all phones are designed this sanely. - Expandable Storage - You can plug in a micro SD card, and the maximum storage size is 32 GB. That leaves a lot of room for future additions.

I can't really find anything that I dislike about this phone, but there is one small annoyance. After buying this phone, I realized that it used the ARM v6 processor, not the ARM v7 processor. What does this mean? Well, so far it means that I can't install Flash or Firefox. However, I can't really say that I have missed either of these applications. Also, the processor doesn't ever really feel slow. ## On Android

I gotta admit that I am very impressed with the 2.2 version of Android. It feels very smooth and well-polished, and I haven't really found anything that it can't do that I really need. Here are some of the things that I really like about the version of Android on this phone: - Portable WIFI Hotspot - That's right. Out-of-the-box, this thing can be a portable "MIFI" hotspot. You just need to install the free Quick Settings (which is very useful for a bunch of other things too). Once you've done that, just "unhide" the WIFI Hot Spot, and you're done. Then it's simply a matter of setting it up, which takes all of 2 minutes. - Linux Compatibility - Believe it or not, when I plugged this phone into my Ubuntu-powered netbook, two amazing things happened. First, my netbook recognized the device properly. Next, the phone recognized my computer. This has not been my experience with other gadgets, and it's a breath of fresh air. - App Store - I've heard a few negative things about the Android App Store, but so far, it's really been very useful. I've found and installed a bunch of terribly useful apps, and only one of those apps actually cost money, and it was only $0.99. - Google Integration - I know this is only a "pro" if you like using Google apps, but I do. I use a bunch of Google apps regularly, so I love that they all work so well with my phone.

The only gripe that I have so far about Android is that it doesn't support bluetooth keyboards. I would really love to do a few things on my phone that require a bunch of typing, so it would be nice to use a keyboard on occasion. ## On Virgin Mobile

I only have two requirements for a cell phone company; - Make it easy to activate and cancel my phone - Don't gouge me on usage

So far, Virgin Mobile has done a great job of satisfying both of these requirements. I spoke to three different people to set up my phone (my fault, not theirs), and everyone I spoke to was great. Also, I have a 300 minute plan with "unlimited" data access and texting for $25 a month. To me, this is a fantastic deal, because I don't talk on my cell phone very much. Also, if I use Skype or Fring when I'm at home on my WIFI network, then I don't have to touch those minutes. The only thing that I don't like about my Virgin Mobile service so far is that they seem to be blocking the IMAP an SMTP ports for Gmail. This basically means that I can't use a fat-client e-mail reader such as K-9 Mail. This isn't a huge deal, since I can still use the Gmail app to read my Gmail account and the Yahoo! mail app to read my other mail. It would just be nice to be able to use something like K-9 Mail so I could manage all of my mail from one more robust application. ## On VOIP And Activation

One nice thing about this phone is that you don't even have to activate it. One of my friends actually did just that. He bought it at Wal-Mart and used it as a Fring phone for a couple of months. Granted, he could only use it on a WIFI network, but he mostly works from home so this was not an issue. I also use this phone heavily as a Fring phone when I'm at home, and it does the job pretty well. It's not perfect, but it's cheap and it works pretty well most of the time. I also use it with Skype, but the Skype client is so bad that it only works about 35% of the time for me. One caveat that you should consider however is that you cannot use Skype over the 3G network. By that, I mean that you can only use Skype on a WIFI network. If you spend lots of time working from home or in places like coffee shops and airports, then this restriction may not be a very big deal to you. Please also note that Fring does not have this restriction. ## Favorite Apps

The Android app market is a bit of a mess, but there are a lot of very well-done applications that are available. Here are a couple that I already love: - TweetDeck

client. This app actually does such a good job managing my Facebook and Twitter feeds that I haven't installed either the Facebook or Twitter Android apps yet. - KeePassDroid

Yata

Dropbox

managing podcasts and syncing my Keepass database. - ConnectBot

server from a phone. - OI File Manager - It's amazing to me that an OS in 2011 doesn't come with some sort of file and folder explorer. Thankfully, OI is free, full-featured, and it works seamlessly with every 3rd-party app that I have used that needs a file explorer. - Juice Defender - Battery Saver - I was amazed by how effective this app was. It has easily doubled my battery life. - Wyse PocketCloud RDP/VNC - I use both RDP and VNC on my home network, so it's great to be able to check up on machines from my phone. - FBReader

but if you need to, then this free e-book reader works very well. - Jota Text Editor - This is the best text editor that I've found for Android, and it's free, robust and updated often. - TuneWiki

default. - Google Reader - If you are a heavy RSS feed user, then this is a great app, and it syncs seamlessly with your online Google Reader account.

Conclusion

I'm very happy with the phone after two weeks, and I love the freedom that it gives me. If you like prepaid plans and don't need to absolute best phone available, then the Optimus V on Virgin Mobile's network is a great option.