LG Optimus T review: LG Optimus T

LG Optimus T

Nicole Lee

Nicole Lee

Former Editor

Nicole Lee is a senior associate editor for CNET, covering cell phones, Bluetooth headsets, and all things mobile. She's also a fan of comic books, video games, and of course, shiny gadgets.

See full bio
5 min read

CNET editors pick the products and services we write about. When you buy through our links, we may get a commission.


LG Optimus T

The Good

The LG Optimus T has a simple touch-screen design, Wi-Fi, GPS, Wi-Fi hot-spot capabilities, 3G support, and a 3.2-megapixel camera, and it ships with Android 2.2. It's also very affordable.

The Bad

The LG Optimus T has a slower processor and lower resolution display when compared with higher-end smartphones. There's no LED flash, and it doesn't have HD video capture. Flash 10.1 is not available with the Optimus T's browser even though Android 2.2 technically supports it.

The Bottom Line

The LG Optimus T is one of the best entry-level smartphones you can buy, with a feature set that is on par with devices more than twice its price.

It's easier than ever these days to get an Android smartphone. There are many budget models on the market, like the slate-style Motorola Charm and the sliding Samsung Intercept, both of which retail for under a hundred dollars. But LG has topped them all with the cheapest Android handset we've seen yet, the LG Optimus T, which is priced at a very affordable $29.99 after a mail-in rebate and a new two-year service agreement with T-Mobile. At such a low price, you might expect a clunker of a phone, but we were pleasantly surprised by the Optimus T's offerings; it ships with Android 2.2, has both Wi-Fi and 3G, and can act as a portable Wi-Fi hot spot for up to five other devices. Sure, it's not as great as the top-of-the-line Android phone, but for what you get, the LG Optimus T is a fantastic value.

LG went simple with the design of the Optimus T. Measuring 4.47 inches long by 2.32 inches wide by 0.52 inch thick, the Optimus T is a minimalist touch-screen-only phone, with rounded corners and a slightly curved back coated in a soft-touch material. The phone is relatively lightweight at 4.5 ounces, and has a nice comfortable feel in the hand. It comes in two colors: burgundy and titanium gray.

The LG Optimus T has a 3.2-inch touch-screen display.

Dominating the front is a 3.2-inch, 16.7-million-color LCD display. While it's not made out of glass, and its 320x480-pixel resolution is not as high as some other Android phones (like the Droid Incredible or the MyTouch 3G), we think it looks great. Graphics pop with color, and text is legibly crisp. You can adjust the brightness, the screen timeout timer, and the animations when opening and closing applications. The capacitive screen feels very responsive for the most part, and we're glad to see that it has multitouch and pinch-to-zoom support. The phone also has a proximity sensor and an internal accelerometer.

The Optimus T ships with the stock Android 2.2 user interface, so there shouldn't be any surprises for longtime Android fans. You get the usual five customizable home screens, along with three shortcuts along the bottom to the phone dialer, the main menu, and the messaging in-box. The phone dialer app is pretty self-explanatory, with a roomy virtual keypad and access to the call log, the contacts list, your favorites list, and a new text message. We're also happy to note that the Optimus T comes with the Swype keyboard in addition to the default Android virtual keyboard.

Underneath the display are the usual Android hot keys--the menu and search keys are on the left and right side, while the Home and Back keys are housed within a center panel. On the right spine is the volume rocker, the 3.5-millimeter headset jack and screen lock/power key are on the top, the Micro-USB port is on the bottom, and the camera lens is on the back. The microSD card slot is located behind the battery cover.

As we mentioned above, the LG Optimus T ships with Android 2.2, which is quite impressive for a supposedly entry-level smartphone. Android 2.2 has plenty of improvements over 2.1, which include voice dialing over Bluetooth, app storage on a memory card, a new camera viewfinder, app sharing, and Facebook integration. However, due to hardware limitations, Flash 10.1 is not available with the Optimus T's browser even though Android 2.2 technically supports it.

But all is not lost, as the Optimus T has not only Wi-Fi and 3G, it also has tethering and Wi-Fi hot-spot capabilities. The Optimus T will also be one of a few T-Mobile smartphones to let you make calls over Wi-Fi, though the feature is not available at launch. Other connectivity features include Bluetooth with A2DP support, and GPS. If you decide not to use Google's own navigation feature, the phone does come packaged with T-Mobile's TeleNav GPS Navigator app.

Other apps preloaded on the Optimus T include demo versions of Diner Dash 2, Doodle Jump, and Pac-Man, DriveSmart, ThinkFree Office, Twitter, and YouTube. Of course, it also supports the full suite of Google services, like Gmail, Google Maps, Google Talk, and Google Voice Search. In addition to the Android Market, the Optimus T also has T-Mobile's own "AppPack" store that features recommended apps.

The Optimus T works well as a phone, with quad-band world roaming, a speakerphone, conference calling, voice dialing, text and multimedia messaging, and visual voice mail. The phone book is limited only by the available memory (the SIM card holds an additional 250 contacts), and there's room in each entry for multiple numbers, e-mail addresses, IM handles, and so on. You can merge contact information from multiple e-mail and social networking accounts, such as Exchange, your own POP3/IMAP servers, Facebook, and Twitter.

The multimedia features on the Optimus T are nothing unusual. The music and video players are the standard Android fare, with basic support for most music and video file formats. It comes bundled with the DoubleTwist syncing software, which is nice. The phone only has 170MB of built-in memory, but it does come with a 2GB microSD card for extra storage. The maximum card size is 32GB.

The LG Optimus T's camera takes decent pictures, but indoor shots suffered.

Last but not least is the 3.2-megapixel autofocus camera. Settings include five different resolutions, an adjustable ISO, white balance, color effects, a timer, brightness, six scene modes (Automatic, Portrait, Landscape, Sports, Night, and Sunset), four focus modes (Auto, Macro, Face tracking, and Manual), and 2x digital zoom. There's also a video camera here that can record VGA, QVGA, and QCIF quality video, but no HD. Picture quality was actually quite decent for a 3.2-megapixel camera. Images looked sharp, though colors seemed muted and dark, especially in indoor shots.

We tested the quad-band (GSM 850/900/1800/1900) LG Optimus T in San Francisco using T-Mobile. Call quality was good, but we did encounter quite a bit of background hiss. Callers sounded loud and clear aside from that, though.

On their end, callers said that they, too, heard quite a lot of hiss in the background during our call. They said our voice sounded a little harsh and processed, but they could still hear what we were saying. As for the speakerphone, callers said our voice was noticeably softer. Overall there were no major complaints, but it's not the best call quality we've heard.

We were pleased with the 3G speeds on the Optimus T. We encountered good 3G coverage most of the time, and managed to load the CNET mobile page in around 11 seconds. YouTube videos had only a few seconds' buffering time as well.

The Optimus T reminds us of its entry-level status with its 600 MHz processor, which is far slower than the speedy 1GHz of many of today's smartphones. Despite this, however, we rarely had a sluggish experience. We had no hiccups when launching and switching apps, or when scrolling through menus and lists. Zooming in and out of Web pages did seem a little choppy, though.

The LG Optimus T has a rated talk time of 11 hours and a standby time of 18.75 days. In our battery drain tests, we found it had a talk time of 10 hours and 36 minutes. According to the FCC, it has a digital SAR of 1.3 watts per kilogram.


LG Optimus T

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 8Performance 7