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LG Optimus Black review

 Review: July 2011  

Rating: 4 stars

In a nutshell: The LG Optimus Black is a higher-end Android phone featuring a NOVA display for improved readability in bright sunlight.

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The LG Optimus Black is a higher-end phone running Android 2.2 and priced at the same level as the dual-core LG Optimus 2X. What's that, you say, it costs the same as the 2X, but doesn't have a dual-core processor? Duh, why should I be interested in this phone? Well, good question, but the Optimus Black does have a few tricks up its sleeve, so stick with the review for now.

First things first, the Optimus Black is a nicely-styled smartphone with a sleek body measuring just 9.2mm at its thickest point and weighing only 109g. It has a large 4 inch display, with four Android touch buttons immediately below. The key selling point of the Optimus Black is probably its screen. 4 inches is large by any standard, and the pixel count of 480 x 800 is as high as you'll find on any phone in this price range. But it's the brand-new NOVA technology that LG's really pushing. NOVA is designed to offer improved outdoor visibility, more readability, more natural colours and 50% power saving compared to conventional LCD screens. It certainly delivers on that promise, but we can't say that it's better than the AMOLED technology used in phones like the HTC Desire S for example.

The phone is equipped with a 1GHz processor, which is certainly fast enough for the job it's been given, but it can't compete with the new dual-core phones such as the LG Optimus 2X. The phone also isn't the most up-to-date in terms of operating system, running Android 2.2 (Froyo). But it does have the latest Optimus user interface customisations of Android, which includes 7 home screens and some nice widgets, including a friendly weather widget and clock. You can pinch and zoom and rearrange items using the menus very easily, and we found it a nice user interface on a par with Samsung's Android customisations. The whole thing zips along too, thanks to the fast processor. Contacts are nicely integrated with social media and gmail. There's a "G" button on the side of the phone as well. Pressing the G key unlocks the "gesture" user interface. You can now start shaking and tapping your phone to get it to do stuff. Frankly, G might just as well stand for "gimmick".

The phone comes with two cameras - a front-facing 2 megapixel camera for videos and the main rear-facing 5 megapixel camera with autofocus and LED flash. Whilst the latter is average, struggling in low light, the addition of a 2 megapixel camera for video calling is very welcome.

Connectivity excels, with 3G HSDPA and Wi-Fi for always-on fast internet access, plus Bluetooth, USB, DLNA and a 3.5mm audio connection. Assisted GPS is here too of course, with Google Maps to help find your way. The internet runs smoothly on the Optimus Black, with that nice 4 inch NOVA display and a good pre-installed browser. There's built-in flash support, but watching the BBC iPlayer you might wish you'd chosen a dual-core option instead, as video can be juddery at times.

Finally, battery life. Better than average for a modern smartphone with its 1500 mAh cell, and the NOVA display is helping out too, of course, but you'll still need to charge every couple of days.

So, the LG Optimus Black. Well worth the money, with the 4 inch NOVA display and gesture-based user interface making it stand out from the crowd. There's really nothing not to like here, and it holds its own against competitors, but there's nothing truly inspirational here either, and the camera quality and Android 2.2 are a tad of a let down. All in all, a decent Android smartphone, but we'd pick the LG Optimus 2X or the very polished HTC Incredible S over the Optimus Black. Even the outstanding Samsung Galaxy S is now available at a similar price on contract.

The LG Optimus White is a special edition in a white finish.

LG Optimus Black features include:

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LG Optimus Black user reviews

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Average rating from 11 reviews:

Reviewed by oreo from oreo on 7th Jan 2013
Phone force closes almost everytime, battery runs out fast, camera couldnt work anymore, lag very very lag. Have to constantly remove battery and turning it back on again which is highly time consuming and fustrating!! Gives me a major headache. Cant wait to get a new phone. And not to forgot, many of my friends have complained about the same problems too and all changed phones in less than a year. I really hope they could make better improvements in the phone.

Reviewed by Sally from UK on 9th Jul 2012
Battery life on this phone is chronic,

Reviewed by d travers from england on 27th Mar 2012
nice and happy phone

Reviewed by Jack from England on 11th Feb 2012
I have had this mobile for 6 months and I have not had a single problem with it. I have had an iPhone 3g before this and this, for me, is way better.
Its faster for browsing and I much prefer Android than the apps on the iTunes market.
I got my LG on a contract from T-Mobile. The battery life is to be expected from a mid to high end phone any thing more than a day is a bonus on any mobile. I don't use the "launcher" I use the GO launcher from the Android market which is infinitely customisable.

Reviewed by Tino.P from England. Luton on 14th Jan 2012
Got this phone on contract from phones4u on o2. At first it was brilliant I couldnt of been happier with it. Since i had this phone i had sold my old lg GD510 mobile to my friend and gave him the charger that came with the optimus instead of the GD510's charger by mistake. Whenever I tried to charge it with the old charger it was acting really weird, if im sending a text and press 1 letter it would come up with 5 or 6 letters. if i click on an app in the menu it would open the one next to it, etc. Now it has got so bad that even though i have got the optimus charger back from my friend, the phone just does not charge, will not turn on, its basically one of them dummy phones that you see on the shelf in the shop. I phones various sources including LG and phones4u and both told me completley different things. In the end i had to go down there and make a scene to get any kind of help. As a result of that the manager kindly gave me a new mobile from his own money, only a basic one mind, and topped it up with 20 credit wich i was very greatful for and will be sending it off for repair on tuesday. I am wondering if anybody else has had any similar problems with their optimus P970 handset and if so please let me know and how you dealt with it. If you are considering buying this phone then i would say definatley get the samsung galaxy s2 instead, i could of got that when i got the optimus and am really regretting not getting it. Also the new grand theft auto 3 game that has just came to the android market is not compatible on the optimus... and it is on the s2.

Reviewed by nigel street from uk on 28th Dec 2011
I am on my second p970, the first lasted about 2 months. Although light and having a good screen size I am unhappy with the overall performance, the ring volume is not loud enough, it doesn't have a constant reminder telling you that you have missed a call or message and apparently you cannot connect to Microsoft Windows. I have e-mailed LG about this many times, they admit there is a problem, but have not offered a solution. I am going to send this junk back to my mobile phone company and buy something better.

Reviewed by phil from england on 22nd Dec 2011
Perfect size and Some powerful features and i personally love the styling on the white edition however the battery life is poor. I struggle to get through the day with moderate use. The gingerbread update is supposed to improve battery life but when will it be released. Lg have dragged their feet on this. Good for tehering, music, and watching video. Also good at hanging onto a signal. Video recording is average at best and battery life is scary. These last issues lose it a star.

Reviewed by Adreanna Morris from u.s.a on 21st Dec 2011
i cant download anything this phone sucks

Reviewed by Zoe from UK on 11th Nov 2011
Battery life is absolutely awful. Other than that, good phone!

Reviewed by Sam from England on 1st Nov 2011
At first this was the most amazing phone I had ever used. Light. Super quick. Brilliant display. Then it all started going down hill, the touch screen cannot keep up with typing speed. The WIFI and signal are both real dodgy, it takes longer to connect each time you use the WIFI. The phone is automatically set with Data Roaming on... so if you didn't know what that was and just carried your phone about you through out the day, your credit would be eaten in a few hours. Battery life is shockingly bad to the point my phone has to be charged every night. The phone in general overheats and the whole system crashes. I do not recommend buying this phone at all.

Reviewed by amaan from india on 16th Aug 2011
Now this phone is like the best in its price and as its display is concerned it even beats the top of the edge phone but the processor is surely not the best but its pretty descent but a very nice UI and i personally like the keyboard a lot its just too good the gesture key is also quite usefull at times. though the processor is not the best it plays games quite smoothly as compared to the samsung galaxy s2 as I've seen it gives game reendering issues as I've seen in splintercell conviction hd and hawx and actually these are the only two games which I've played on it which requires quite good graphics and i donno bout how other games play as I've not seen them so i would say its the bestbuy phone and one more thing that the hd videos also look amazingly good on the nova display

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