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  • PC Mag LG Optimus C Review (Cricket Wireless)

    With the Optimus C ($129.99 after $50 mail-in rebate), LG has now managed to bring its budget-priced Optimus line to the top seven wireless carriers in the U.S. This is great news for everyone. On other carriers, the Optimus phones stand out as high-quality, budget-priced Android smartphones, which is already enough to recommend them. But on Cricket Wireless, the LG Optimus C is the cell phone to get; that it's also a fantastic value just makes it even better. It is an easy Editors' Choice for smartphones on Cricket.
    Design and Call Quality

    Physically, the LG Optimus C is identical to MetroPCS's LG Optimus M ($149, 4 stars). It is made mostly of silver and chrome that really pop. It measures 4.6 by 2.2 by .6 inches (HWD) and weighs a slightly heavy 5.4 ounces. This is the same weight as the Optimus M, but still nearly an ounce heavier than some other Optimus phones. The screen is a 3.2-inch, 320-by-480 pixel capacitive touch screen, which may not be on par with high-end Android devices, but still looks sharp and clear. The on-screen Swype QWERTY keyboard is a bit cramped for typing, but you get used to it quickly and it isn't a deal breaker. There are four physical function keys below the screen that light up whenever the phone is touched.

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    The LG Optimus C is a tri-band (850/1700/1900 MHz) EVDO Rev. A device with 802.11b/g Wi-Fi. It connected to my WPA2-encrypted Wi-Fi network without a problem. Reception was decent, but I was roaming on MetroPCS's network here in NYC, so I'm not willing to draw a conclusion about native Cricket coverage. Call quality was decent overall. Voices sounded nice and clear in the earpiece, with a slightly hollow quality. On the other end, calls made with the phone were a touch muffled with some background hiss, but still audible. Some background noise came through as well, though I was still able to hear voices above it. Calls sounded very good through an Aliph Jawbone Icon Bluetooth headset ($99, 4 stars) and voice dialing worked well without training. The speakerphone was also just loud enough to use outdoors. Battery life was average at 5 hours and 49 minutes of talk time.

    Cricket's monthly plan for the Optimus C costs $55 for unlimited voice, data, and texting, which is a pretty terrific value for the price.

    Specifications

    Service Provider Cricket
    Operating System Android OS
    Screen Size 3.2 inches
    Screen Details 320-by-480, 262K-color TFT LCD capacitive touch screen
    Camera Yes
    Network CDMA
    Bands 850, 1900, 1700
    High-Speed Data1xRTT, EVDO Rev A
    Processor Speed 600 MHz
    More


    Apps, Camera, Multimedia, and Conclusion
    The Optimus C runs on a 600 MHz Qualcomm MSM7627, ARM11 processor. It runs Android 2.2, "Froyo," which gives it a significant performance boost and expanded feature set over devices still running earlier versions of the OS. There are five customizable home screens you can swipe between, which default to displaying Facebook status updates, text messages, and weather. Though I found all of these quite useful, they are easy to change. LG added one visible feature to Android, the ability to arrange your apps into folders.
    Luckily, Cricket leaves the Optimus C mostly free of bloatware. The browser worked well, though the phone's CPU is too slow to support Flash. LG includes official Facebook and Twitter apps, and Google Search is preloaded and set to default on the phone's home screen. You also have access to the Android Market, which is home to more than 100,000 downloadable apps; these should all work well, given the phone's standard resolution and Android 2.2 build.



    A microSD card slot is located underneath the battery cover, and the phone comes preloaded with a 2GB card; my 32GB SanDisk card worked fine as well. There's also about 170MB of free internal memory. The music player is stock Android. It was quick and responsive, and displayed album art when it available. Sound quality was excellent over both a pair of wired 3.5mm headphones, as well as Altec Lansing Backbeat Bluetooth headphones ($99.99-$129.99, 3.5 stars). Video playback was also solid, and videos played smoothly in full screen, with stereo audio via wired headphones and Bluetooth.


    The 3.2-megapixel camera has auto-focus but no LED flash. Photos taken were mostly good, with average detail and fairly balanced lighting. Photos taken indoors didn't look as good as those taken outside, but were still usable. Shutter speeds were average, though the auto-focus added a slight delay. Videos record at 640-by-480-pixels and 18 frames per second in good lighting, and they looked pretty decent. Overall, you wouldn't want to replace a good digital camera with the Optimus C, but it'll do in a pinch.


    At the end of the day, the LG Optimus C is just like all the other Optimus phones out there on other carriers, which is a good thing; the Optimus phones are the best entry-level Android devices. Cricket's other Android option, the Huawei Ascend ($139.99, 3 stars), is currently $10 more expensive than the Optimus C, and also far less powerful. We haven't reviewed the BlackBerry Curve 8530 for Cricket, but the version we looked at for MetroPCS ($169.99, 4 stars) is a solid device for users that like to text and e-mail; it has a fantastic QWERTY keyboard and good voice quality. But the Optimus C has a better Web browsing experience, as well as a much better third-party app catalog. That, combined with its many other functions and exceptional plan pricing, make the LG Optimus C a winner.
    Benchmarks

    Continuous talk time: 5 hours 49 minutes


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