The LG Optimus Me P350 offers an attractive design, but cuts corners elsewhere to ensure the price remains low. It's best suited to smart-phone newbies who want to get Android on the cheap.
LG's Optimus One P500 was a decent budget Android phone, despite its shortcomings. The Optimus Me P350 feels like a successor to that handset, offering similar specifications and software for around the same price. But the playing field has changed slightly in the past six months, making it harder for a device like this to impress.
The Me is available on pay as you go for around £90, with SIM-free prices clocking in at about £130. You can also pick it up for free on a £12-per-month contract.
One thing is for sure -- the Me isn't likely to weigh you down. At around 130g, this petite phone is sure to slip into practically any pocket.
The Me boasts a playful design. The front of the device is predominately black, with a silver accent running around the rim. The battery cover is rounded, with a slightly rubberised texture, preventing the phone from slipping from your grasp. The back cover's metallic colouring lends the device a premium feel. The example we tested had a red cover, but other hues are available.
The 2.8-inch, capacitive touchscreen is arguably the Me's weak spot. It's smaller than the display on the Optimus One and has a lower resolution, which can cause issues when reading text or browsing detailed websites. Still, the screen specs are very much in line with those of other budget Android blowers.
Beneath the screen, you'll find the four traditional Android action icons, but they're touch-sensitive, as opposed to physical, keys. Those of you lamenting the passing of the humble button will be pleased to know that the call and call-end functions are operated by a rocker. The single piece of plastic stretches almost the entire width of the device, but it feels too springy for our liking.
Like the Optimus 3D, the Me runs Android 2.2 Froyo. It's therefore behind the curve when it comes to software updates, as many new Google phones ship with Android 2.3 Gingerbread. In reality, the differences are slight and the average user is hardly likely to notice what's missing. LG is looking to update its Optimus range to Gingerbread in the near future anyway.
LG has made some rather subtle tweaks to the Android operating system, with altered menus, exclusive widgets and time-saving enhancements. Our favourite is the bank of toggle buttons that appear when you drag down the notifications bar. These allow you to quickly control elements such as wireless connectivity, Bluetooth and GPS functionality.
Like practically every budget Android phone, the Me's CPU isn't up there with the 1GHz single- and dual-core chips in high-end handsets. The Me's 600MHz chip also means the phone doesn't support Flash. Together with the disappointingly low-res screen, this means Web surfing is something of a chore.
The phone's 3-megapixel snapper is very similar to that of the Optimus One, offering mediocre snaps and standard-definition VGA video recording. As with most budget phones, these elements are merely neat extras rather than true selling points.
The phone's 1,250mAh battery is pretty average. With careful power management, you can eke out just over a day's worth of use before you need to recharge, which is about average for an Android-based smart phone these days.
You might have expected LG to better the Optimus One with the Optimus Me. Sadly, the Me is inferior in all but a few areas. The screen is smaller, the processor isn't any faster and the camera's still mediocre. Check out the Samsung Galaxy Fit, HTC Wildfire S and Optimus One before laying down your moolah.
Edited by Charles Kloet