In early 2011, Virgin Mobile released an entry-level, competitively priced Android device known as the LG Optimus V. Save for a few cosmetic changes, the V was similar to the all the other Optimuses (Optimii?) released during that time, like the T, S, and M.
If you were fond of the Optimus V's specs and commitment-free plan, but prefer a tactile keyboard to go with your flying fingers, the V's second iteration, the LG Optimus Slider, may be worth considering. Other than the keyboard and a slightly faster processor, however, it isn't that much different from the V. It still boasts the same 3.2-inch touch screen and 3.2-megapixel camera as before, though it's priced at $179.99.
The bulky LG Optimus Slider measures 4.53 inches tall by 2.32 inches wide by 0.58 inch thick. And at 5.11 ounces, it's a heavyweight. I could stuff into the back pocket of my jeans, but it was a snug fit.
On the left side are a volume rocker and a Micro-USB port with a small cover. Up top are a sleep/power button and the 3.5mm headphone jack. To the left is a shortcut camera button that'll open the camera app when the display is on and the phone is unlocked.
The back side is made out of plastic that has a smooth, black matte coating. I like this material since it lends the handset a more luxurious feel. In the center is the 3.2-megapixel camera with no accompanying flash. To the right of the lens are three small slits for the speakerphone output. Using a small indentation on the bottom of the device, you can pry the backing off to expose the 1,500mAh battery.
Slide the handset open to show the four-row QWERTY slide-out keyboard. It lights up when in use, and although the spaces between the keys are minimal, the keys are generously sized. They're easy to press, and each button bubbles slightly above the surface, which makes typing much easier. The keyboard includes four navigational arrows, a shortcut button for emoticons, and also a ".com" button for typing in Web sites. The sliding mechanism for the keyboard is sturdy and snappy.
The 3.2-inch HVGA touch screen has a 320x480-pixel resolution, with a pixel density of 180ppi, so don't expect rich graphics. Menu icons and text rendered crisply, but more complex videos, photos, and images appeared grainy and pixelated. And even though colors weren't "muted" per se, they weren't as vibrant or as rich as I've seen them in other no-contract devices (like Boost Mobile's LG Marquee, for example). Fortunately, the screen is responsive to the touch, and pressing on icons, swiping through home pages, and pinch zooming was a breeze.
Below the display are the four usual navigation buttons (home, menu, back, and search) that also rise above the surface for easy pressing.
The LG Optimus Slider runs on an 800MHz processor. Though it's not as zippy as the dual-core LG Connect 4G, simple tasks like switching from landscape to portrait mode, opening the camera app, or zooming in on photos ran smoothly.
The phone runs Android 2.3 Gingerbread and is preloaded with some Google apps such as the Play store, Maps with Navigation, Gmail, Talk, YouTube, and Places. Others, like Google Search, Books, Messenger, and Plus aren't included.
The handset is equipped with Mobile ID, located at the third icon in the home screen's dock. With ID, you can customize your five home screen pages with certain preselected apps, widgets, and other items, depending on which ID profile you choose.
For example, if you select the MTV package, you'll get apps and widgets pertaining to the music news channel. You can also choose a Green package, which includes tools to help you lead a more eco-friendly lifestyle. Just note that deleting a Mobile ID package won't uninstall the apps that you downloaded -- you'll have to remove those apps manually. I don't like that Mobile ID is so integral to the phone. You can't remove the function from the home screen's dashboard, so the only choice you have is just to ignore it. Right now, there are six available packs online.
For commutation, the Slider is equipped with several basic task management applications, like a clock with alarm features, a calculator, Bluetooth 3.0, a calendar, text messaging (with Swype), and a voice dialer.
One extra goodie is ThinkFree Office. This app's sticker price is $8.70 at the Play store; it's a mobile office suite that lets you access word documents, spreadsheets, PDFs, and more.
The 3.2-megapixel camera comes with a few editing features including a 4x digital zoom; five white-balance modes (auto, incandescent, daylight, fluorescent, and cloudy); geotagging; four focus options (auto, normal, macro, and off); five photo sizes (ranging from 3-megapixels to QVGA); three photo qualities (superfine, fine, and normal), seven color effects (none, mono, sepia, negative, aqua, sketch, mono-negative); and five ISO choices (ranging from 100 to 800).
The video recorder has similar offerings, such as the same color effects and white-balance options. There is no zooming or autofocus, but there are four different shooting modes (high, low, MMS for sending videos, and a YouTube mode for posting videos).