Text and photos by Gadjo Cardenas Sevilla
LG's Optimus Black ultra-thin Android smartphone has one of the brightest and most vivid 4-inch screens on the market today. It also has a lightweight profile, dual-cameras and LG Curated apps built in and is preloaded with Skype but is all this enough to make it shine against the competition.
We like LG's aggressivemess and the variety of devices it is putting out in the mobile space today. Certainly, the LG Optimus Black Skype Edition ($50 for a three year term on TELUS or $400 without) offers a good set of features for a middle of the road Android smartphone.
A single-core 1GHz processor, a 5MP AF with LED Flash rear camera and a rare secondary: 2MP front-facing camera that should put all other-front facing cameras to shame indicate that this device is designed around messaging and most likely with Skype.
LG has also outfitted the Optimus Black Skype Edition with a long lasting battery (amazing for such a thin device) that promises 250 minutes talk time on a single charge as well as 21000 minutes of standby.
And now a disclaimer: We could not test any of the phone or HSPA data functions of our review device since it didn't come with a TELUS SIM card. Most of our testing was conducted indoors and using our office WiFi.
We can't comment on the devices call quality, signal, speakerphone for the same reasons.
In terms of design, the Optimus Black is stylish, understated and we've grown very fond of its matte black plastic finish which we think should be used on all mobile devices and tablets moving forward. Lighter than any metal yet surprisingly rigid,smudge free and with ample tactile grip.
There are a few things that detract from the device's great overall package. It isn't sporting a dual core processor, which is fine since few programs can take advantage of this, however were baffled by the use of the one year old Android 2.2 version Froyo in a device launched mid-2011.
The Skype association is also strange since any Android device out there can run Skype, perhaps the added battery life and 2 megapixel camera improve on this experience but we're still not sure having Skype emblazoned on the device's name will attract more users.
Most of the competition is running on Gingerbread already out of the box or through carrier updates. One thing we've learned is that you'd better be happy with the OS version that ships on your Android phone when you get it since you will likely be stuck with it for a long ass time. While LG says the Optimus Black is upgradeable, it doesn't address the "when" and "how" which make it difficult to determine if users can truly expect an upgrade moving forward.
While a very attractive single-core, Android 2.2 device $400 is a bit steep for what you are getting, we would probably consider the chunkier LG Optimus 2X (which is also mired by the older Android 2.2 OS) but which has better specs and is slightly more futureproof. We will miss the Optimus Black's bright Nova display though.
Rating: 3 out of 5