After being a T-Mobile customer for 8 years I finally dumped them when I found the phone and plan I'd been waiting for: the Android 2.2, LG Optimus V with the Beyond Talk plan.
An Android 2.2 operating system powers the LG Optimus V (V stands for Virgin... the S is Sprint's phone, but both share the Sprint mobile network) and allows for zippy web surfing via the 3G network. Apps open quickly and transitions from one thing to another are smooth. The processor seems up to multitasking and I had no problem downloading apps and emailing at the same time.
The body of the phone is comfortable to hold with a slightly rubberized feel, and the screen is bright and clear. I did note the back cover of the phone is a tad flimsy, so be careful pulling it off and on to put in the battery. Bear in mind I'm used to a Nokia E71 phone, which has a metal back, so that may just be something that bothered me and won't phase anyone else about this phone. The four navigation keys on the front of the phone are sturdy and responsive.
The touchscreen doesn't seem to respond as easily as my iTouch does, but then again, it may be me and the way I was gingerly giving it an initial once over. I have texted and emailed using Swype (a cool technology included on this phone that basically allows you the ability to move your finger over a keyboard and have it intuitively guess at what you're trying to type without you lifting your finger) on this phone, and it works well. I'm pretty slow at it, but practice will undoubtedly help.
The camera is a 3.2mp without a flash. I'm not overly impressed with the quality of the photos I've taken, but I don't use my phone-cam as my primary camera anyway. You can also take video with this phone.
Charging this phone can be done by two methods: USB or travel adapter. The travel adapter (included in the package along with the USB to phone cord) attaches to the USB end of the cord that attaches to the base of the phone. You can charge your phone via either AC or USB - AC seemed to do it a tad faster, but be prepared to have a full recharge take 1 to 2hrs.
This takes us to the downside of this phone: the battery life. If you are downloading or surfing the web, this phone sucks down the juice. There is a free app called Juice Defender, which will prolong your battery life - I highly recommend it along with Hotspot Widget, which allows you to use Hotspots for Wi-fi. Talk time on the battery is estimated at 6hrs, with up to 3 days of standby time. This would only work if you never checked the web, emailed, texted or played with apps!
The phone weighs 4.69 ounces and is a tad thick, but not much more than an iPhone with a hard case on it. It ships with a 2GB micro SD card in it, but I recommend picking up at least an 8GB card or larger to replace it. Adding apps will quickly diminish the 2GB.
No flash player is yet available for this phone - or so I've heard, thus 'flash' doesn't play on it. You can view YouTube videos and there are several TV apps, so not really an issue for me yet and probably something that will be fixed with firmware in the future.
I suggest purchasing a case to protect it, as none is included in the phone package. LG Optimus S and T cases will work with this phone. Deals with a case, charger, screen protector, etc... like this: LG Optimus S LS670 Full Diamond Bling Black Zebra Skin Hard Case Snap on Cover Phone Protector Sleeve + Mirror LCD Screen Guard Film w/Cleaning Cloth + Free Biodegradable Screen wipe are available on Amazon.
The Beyond Talk Plans:
No deal out there comes close to this one. Yes, the phone is an initial chunk of change, but it's an Android phone that will offer excellent call quality on the Sprint network and data at 3G speeds - unlimited data, text and email - for $25 a month with 300 anytime minutes. GREAT deal! A bump up for $40 a month gives you 1200 anytime minutes a month and unlimited data, text and email, or for $60 a month you get unlimited everything. NO CONTRACT. You can pay via gift cards you purchase with cash, or have a debit or credit card on file with Virgin Mobile. You can choose to have them take the plan fee out each month, or you can tell them you'll do it yourself via the online payment section. Really, really easy and no taxes or hidden fees. If you go over your minutes it's an additional 10 cents a minute, and minutes don't rollover to the next month.
Virgin Mobile coverage maps are available on their website. Check it with your address to see coverage in your area prior to buying the phone. There's a way to check voice coverage and then click over to data coverage.
'Porting' Your Number (Keeping Your Old Number):
If you want to keep your same cellphone number (the one used by another carrier) you need to keep these things in mind.
1. You have to be in the same area code to do it.
2. You cannot cancel your previous service prior to calling Virgin Mobile to set up service.
3. You cannot activate your LG Optimus V on Virgin Mobile's website, you must call them to tell them you want the same number.
4. You need to have your old number, account number for the other provider, and a bit of time (up to 72hrs, although it took VM only 1hr to port my number...) to switch the old number to your new phone.
5. You must have your LG Optimus V charged to be able to receive a text letting you know the number has been switched and your old service has been cancelled.
6. Calling your old provider to make sure your service has been cancelled and to pay off any lingering debt with them is advised.
Call to 'activate' your Virgin Mobile service after the number has been ported to your new phone. They will ask you how you are paying for your service and have you do a test call.
If you don't have an old number, you can either call Virgin Mobile to activate the phone or do it on their website.
The LG Optimus V phone is my first android smartphone and so far, I'm very impressed. GPS, email, web, checking in on eBay and Amazon... all very exciting and something I thought I'd never be able to afford as I couldn't justify spending $70 a month for it with T-Mobile or ATT.
In a few months the purchase of this phone will pay for itself and with no contract I'm sure I'll feel good about having the option to change, even if I never do. If you don't want to be under contract, but want to enjoy the perks of new technology at a reasonable price per month - get this phone and the Beyond Talk plan. Heck, get them for the entire family! You won't regret the purchase.
UPDATE: March 13, 2011
Found several FREE apps in the 'Market' of note.
1. ShopSavy: uses scanner technology to scan items in the store and then give you the best price for that item online or locally. Works very well!
2. GasBuddy: gives you the current prices on fuel at different grades. Type in a zip code or name of a place to get the listings. You can also add a price as you see it to assist others using the app.
3. Speed Test : gives you the current speeds of your internet upload and download. Noted that my wifi is much, much faster than the 3G network, thus when home I switch my settings from mobile to wifi.
4. Amazon Kindle: read all content on your Kindle, also on your phone.
5. Radar Now: shows current weather maps as shown on your TV weather report (satellite maps) in real time, via GPS.
6. HP Photo Print: found my home network printers and printed photos taken on my phone after uploading to the printer via this app. Also can use Photoshop Express (also free) to tweak the photo prior to printing.
7. SilentBoot: once downloaded an on, this allows you to turn your phone on and off without any noise.
8. AVG free antivirus: still a good idea to run an antivirus whether it's on your PC or phone.
9. Google Sky: really fun app that shows you the night sky (stars, constellations) and moves with you according to GPS location... play with this one!
10. Quick Settings: very easy way to turn on and off wifi/gps/mobile... and a host of other things like uninstalling apps you no longer want.
11. Zedge: lots n' lots of wallpapers and ringtones for free.
12. Memory Booster lite: frees up unused memory to use by the processor.
13. JuiceDefender: runs in the background to save your battery from draining too quickly.
14. World Newspapers: just like the title implies, access to worldwide news via newspapers, but also magazines, webnews, social networking, etc... fun to browse and in many, many languages.
15. Tune In Radio: allows you to pick up radio stations and podcasts by state. The 3.5mm headset jack (standard - like on iPods and other MP3 players) is great and this app plus your music library on a SD card means you can choose to leave your music player at home as it's all on your phone!
Battery drops quickly with a lot of app use, but without it the phone holds a good charge for several days. I simply keep topping the battery up whenever I'm home and near the charger. The manual says not to let the battery be completely discharged.
Also on the subject of 'battery': The battery also is somewhat loose in my phone. Not sure if that's all Optimus V's or just mine. Sometimes my screen goes black and it's a loose battery. A small bit of tape fixed the problem and is unseen under the back cover of the phone.
The Voice Recognition software on this phone seems to be fabulous! Both voice dialing and voice input for texting (instead of typing) seem to work great for me. One suggestion for texting via voice: make your sentences short. This seems to give me the most accurate input.
Overall I love this phone and look forward to using it and Virgin Mobile for a long time! Call clarity is great and so far the Android Experience is all I would have wished it to be. I've watched lots of YouTube videos, emailed, msg'd, all with great ease. The calls have been clear on both the sending and receiving end, and I've yet to find an area where I have not had service. That's a pretty big deal considering I don't live in a major metropolitan area. Great find, and happily discovering new things I like about the phone every day.
Phone continues to give great service, but occasionally freezes when trying to dial. I end up taking the battery out and reseating it, which seems to solve the problem. Did I mention you can't turn the phone off either? I'm considering a new battery for it...can get it off of Amazon for about $13. Anker 1600mAh Li-ion Battery for LG Optimus V VM670 (Virgin), LG Optimus S LS670(Sprint), Optimus One P500, Optimus T, Optimus U, Optimus C LW690, Optimus M MS690 Fits LGIP-400N - White
Service for the phone has gone up in price from $25 a mo to $35 a mo for 300 minutes with unlimited talk and text. Fortunately for me, as I got in with the $25 plan, my price DID NOT go up. Thought that was darned nice of Virgin Mobile! Hope it lasts.
Received a text from Virgin Mobile today informing me that Internet speeds would be reduced for Beyond Talk customers if they go over 2.5GB of useage per month. The Internet speeds for 3G with Virgin Mobile have been spotty lately, which makes me wonder if that's part of a transition to this new policy. Time will tell if I will stay with Virgin Mobile or switch to something else. I don't use much data, but it bums me out that Virgin Mobile is going the way of several other providers and doing this now. The phone is still a good one, and the plan is good for the money, but definitely not for those who don't want to wait too long for Facebook to load!
Over the past two months or so the LG Optimus V has been acting fussy. The touchscreen became less responsive, sometimes the phone wouldn't turn off, and hanging up from a call became impossible without taking out the battery! I have been very gentle with the phone and it's only been dropped twice, while wearing an Otterbox case. 3G speeds are excellent in the right location, but terrible in others. I don't blame the phone for that one.
I read a bunch of phone reviews and decided that for my budget, Virgin Mobile is still the best deal out there next to Tracfone which has such a poor phone offering I can't convince myself to jump ship. Today I purchased the HTC One V Prepaid Android Phone (Virgin Mobile)
and can activate it with my current number online, once I log in to my Virgin Mobile account. I chose the One over the HTC EVO V 4G Prepaid Android Phone (Virgin Mobile)
because the EVO is $100 more and I don't have 4G coverage in my area, so paying for that option when I can't use it seemed wrong for me.
I will update again when I activate (I'm waiting for Amazon to ship my OtterBox 77-20718 Commuter Series Hybrid Case for HTC One V - 1 Pack - Retail Packaging - Black
before I do so. I'm optimistic that the LG issues will not be present on the HTC phone, and since the LG Optimus V has been replaced in the line-up with the LG Optimus Elite Prepaid Android Phone (Virgin Mobile)
which gets so-so reviews, I feel good about this new purchase.
I'll also let you know if a phone call to Virgin Mobile won't help me keep my grandfathered in $25 a month with the new phone. Fingers crossed!
Been using the HTC One V Prepaid Android Phone (Virgin Mobile)
for about 4 months now - had to upgrade to $35 plan to get it to work - and I love it! It's a huge step up from the LG Optimus in both speed and features. The LG Optimus was good and I'm glad I bought it initially, but the HTC One V is great - and what I would recommend over this phone at this time for 3G users on Virgin Mobile's network.