It's easier than ever these days to get an Android smartphone. There are many budget models on the market, like the slate-style Motorola Charm and the sliding Samsung Intercept, both of which retail for under a hundred dollars. But LG has topped them all with the cheapest Android handset we've seen yet, the LG Optimus T, which is priced at a very affordable $29.99 after a mail-in rebate and a new two-year service agreement with T-Mobile. At such a low price, you might expect a clunker of a phone, but we were pleasantly surprised by the Optimus T's offerings; it ships with Android 2.2, has both Wi-Fi and 3G, and can act as a portable Wi-Fi hot spot for up to five other devices. Sure, it's not as great as the top-of-the-line Android phone, but for what you get, the LG Optimus T is a fantastic value.
LG went simple with the design of the Optimus T. Measuring 4.47 inches long by 2.32 inches wide by 0.52 inch thick, the Optimus T is a minimalist touch-screen-only phone, with rounded corners and a slightly curved back coated in a soft-touch material. The phone is relatively lightweight at 4.5 ounces, and has a nice comfortable feel in the hand. It comes in two colors: burgundy and titanium gray.
Dominating the front is a 3.2-inch, 16.7-million-color LCD display. While it's not made out of glass, and its 320x480-pixel resolution is not as high as some other Android phones (like the Droid Incredible or the MyTouch 3G), we think it looks great. Graphics pop with color, and text is legibly crisp. You can adjust the brightness, the screen timeout timer, and the animations when opening and closing applications. The capacitive screen feels very responsive for the most part, and we're glad to see that it has multitouch and pinch-to-zoom support. The phone also has a proximity sensor and an internal accelerometer.
The Optimus T ships with the stock Android 2.2 user interface, so there shouldn't be any surprises for longtime Android fans. You get the usual five customizable home screens, along with three shortcuts along the bottom to the phone dialer, the main menu, and the messaging in-box. The phone dialer app is pretty self-explanatory, with a roomy virtual keypad and access to the call log, the contacts list, your favorites list, and a new text message. We're also happy to note that the Optimus T comes with the Swype keyboard in addition to the default Android virtual keyboard.
Underneath the display are the usual Android hot keys--the menu and search keys are on the left and right side, while the Home and Back keys are housed within a center panel. On the right spine is the volume rocker, the 3.5-millimeter headset jack and screen lock/power key are on the top, the Micro-USB port is on the bottom, and the camera lens is on the back. The microSD card slot is located behind the battery cover.
As we mentioned above, the LG Optimus T ships with Android 2.2, which is quite impressive for a supposedly entry-level smartphone. Android 2.2 has plenty of improvements over 2.1, which include voice dialing over Bluetooth, app storage on a memory card, a new camera viewfinder, app sharing, and Facebook integration. However, due to hardware limitations, Flash 10.1 is not available with the Optimus T's browser even though Android 2.2 technically supports it.
But all is not lost, as the Optimus T has not only Wi-Fi and 3G, it also has tethering and Wi-Fi hot-spot capabilities. The Optimus T will also be one of a few T-Mobile smartphones to let you make calls over Wi-Fi, though the feature is not available at launch. Other connectivity features include Bluetooth with A2DP support, and GPS. If you decide not to use Google's own navigation feature, the phone does come packaged with T-Mobile's TeleNav GPS Navigator app.
Other apps preloaded on the Optimus T include demo versions of Diner Dash 2, Doodle Jump, and Pac-Man, DriveSmart, ThinkFree Office, Twitter, and YouTube. Of course, it also supports the full suite of Google services, like Gmail, Google Maps, Google Talk, and Google Voice Search. In addition to the Android Market, the Optimus T also has T-Mobile's own "AppPack" store that features recommended apps.