With the world moving towards dual core based processors, the LG Optimus Black P970 is a bold effort from LG that comes with a single core. But the Optimus Black has its own share of limelight because of its Nova display which is touted as world’s brightest display with 700 nits of brightness, it is at present the best display as far as mobile devices go, of course iPhone’s apart.
Look and Feel
As the name signifies, The LG Optimus Black dresses in a full black colour body, to which the Korean company has tried to give a unibody look. The device misses completely on hardware buttons, if we discount the two side buttons that control the volume and the special LG key that is used to control gestures.
The device is extremely lightweight at 109 gm that includes a battery pack. The lack of hardware buttons on the front gives this device a sleek and a clean look that makes it an interesting object to be held and not to be hidden inside the pocket.
The edges are rounded and the bezel has a slight curve that gives it a bold and a slightly bigger look than a regular 4 inch screen based smartphone. Overall, LG has worked hard in making this phone flawless in terms of design minus the plastic back cover which seem to prehistoric now.
Powered by LG’s Nova technology, the display on the Optimus Black is probably one of the brightest displays available on any mobile device as of now. LG claims the display to be of 700 nits (unit to measure brightness) of brightness – no other device or display manufacturer has claimed such a feat so far.
On the technology front, the Nova display technology makes use of the in-plane switching technology that reduced colour distortion and contrast loss at various angles of viewing. This display also offers better efficiency and no colour bias for neutral colour tones. But the blacks appear a little out of place and are not as deep as expected, a little more tweaking is required from the manufacturer.
In real world applications, the Nova display does its magic and lives up to its name. The resolution of 480 x 800 pixels is enough for most applications and usages while the colour reproduction on this device is excellent. The brightness level of the device can go really high but you will not be admiring that for a long time as it consumes battery and puts a lot of strain on the eyes as well.
Processor and Display engine
The Optimus Black utilises the Texas instruments OMAP 3630 chipset that includes a 1GHz single core processor along with a PowerVR SGX530 GPU. All in all, the combo works well for this phone offering fluid touch operations and faster execution of commands and application requests.
The phone also features a 512 MB of RAM and 2 GB of internal storage which works well with the TI chipset and enhances the experience for the user.
The Optimus Black did not suffer an application crash or froze during the entire time we were using it. It’s a good idea for the users and potential users to install a task manager application on this device as there are a lot of native apps that tend to start up with the device and eat a considerable amount of RAM making operations slower gradually. One such process is the music player that always keeps running but is very light on resources.
The Optimus Black comes with an older version of Android, the Android 2.2 Froyo (Frozen Yoghurt). LG has promised that the device will soon be getting an Android 2.3 Gingerbread upgrade but we would have been really happy if the device came preloaded with Gingerbread.
Despite of having an older operating system, LG has done a lot of customisation to the layout of this phone and made it visually appealing as well with the use of Optimus UI 2.0. Users can control the way they want the device should look. Even in the default mode, the User Interface is quite intuitive right from the home screen to the menu.
A nice addition to the menu layout is the inclusion of downloaded apps bar which includes all the downloaded application and keep them separate from the native or preinstalled apps. So users know which applications are installed by them and where to locate them
Gestures UI 2.0 is also included in the new interface and users can customise the way their device behaves with certain gestures. The little G button on the side of the device is used to trigger some of the gestures but users can choose and customise gestures the way they want too. Some of the best gestures available are the shake to connect/disconnect call gesture and the flip gesture that puts the device is silent mode automatically as soon as the device is turned over and kept screen facing downwards.
Performance and usage
The Black offers excellent performance that makes usage of this device fun and easy too. During the course of the review, which was well over 10 days, the device underwent a lot of application testing and stressing but the device never hung or froze. As mentioned earlier, if many applications were opened at the same time, it might result in slightly degraded performance but unless you are a hardcore user you won’t feel the difference.
The 4 inch capacitive touchscreen is a major plus point of this device; all the gestures are very accurately registered and translated by the device.
The onscreen keypad is nicely designed and spaced out as well, although fat fingers might have a slight discomfort while using this devise but this problem can also be overcome with a capacitive touch stylus that can be bought off from any mobile accessories shop if needed.
Camera and Multimedia
In the world where the smartphone cameras are going in to dual digits, the Optimus Black stays with a 5 megapixel back camera only. The camera is supplied with a LED flash also which definitely aids in low light photography but to an extent only.
The image quality of the camera is good rather better in both the outdoor and indoor modes provided the lighting is sufficient, wherever the light goes down the flash fills in some light and compensates. The colours are captured nicely with details but the 5 megapixel resolution limit the usage of the pictures. The device captures 720p high definition video at 30 frame/ sec so not problems in that department as the videos are good and smooth at all times.
On multimedia front, this device goes the extra mile. The UI is tweaked to scan for media every time the phone is turned on and updates the library automatically making the media ready to play anytime. For making this, the application always runs in the background utilising a minute potion of the RAM which is justified.
When it was lunched way back in April, the device was priced at good Rs 27,000 but as of now the market price of this deice has come down to about Rs 25,000 which is not much of a relaxation but still better.
Looking at the price tag, the LG Optimus Black looks a little on the expensive side but when considering its technology, like the NOVA display and the overall performance of this device, this device does not turn out to bad at all. I would not recommend a straight run and buy for the Optimus Black but a slight wait as the prices are coming down slowly and another Rs 2000 less on this device put it in the preference list automatically.
The Optimus Black, in fewer words, is a simple but great looking device with a cutting edge display and modest performance. It is meant for people for those who style matters but not at the cost of performance.