LG Thrive Prepaid Android GoPhone (AT&T)
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- 3.2 MP camera with 4x zoom
- Memory expansion via microSD card slot with support for optional cards up to 32 GB
- Android 2.2 operating system
- Mobile Email with Gmail, POP3/IMAP, and MS Exchange support
- What's in the Box: LG Thrive smartphone, battery, USB cable, wall charger, CD with user manual and Flash tutorial, Quick Start guide
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This affordable smartphone is part of LG's entry-level Optimus One series. Features are par for Android smartphones, including 3G data, turn-by-turn GPS navigation, 3-megapixel camera, video capture, 3.5mm audio jack, and memory card slot.
The LG Thrive smartphone is the perfect balance of functionality and affordability, with the flexibility of a prepaid plan. It feature whip-fast processing on the Android 2.2 platform, PC-like browsing, and access to email, contacts, and calendar that sync with your web accounts and PC. The LG Thrive lets you have your world, your way.
Featuring Android 2.2 on the flexibility of a prepaid plan. View larger
Boost your data connection with WiFi and connect free to thosuands of AT&T WiFi HotSpots nationwide or share your mobile broadband connection with up to 5 other devices by creating a password-protected personal hotspot. The Thrive gives you the power you need to run the most demanding Android applications and games available on Android Market. Stay in the know with quick access to social networking with Facebook and Twitter and shoot sharp photos and video with Thrive’s 3.2 megapixel camera--which you can easily upload to Picasa or YouTube.
The LG Thrive operates on AT&T's Tri-Band UMTS/HSDPA 7.2Mbps and Quad-Band EDGE networks. Its 600MHz application processor has the power you need to multitask on the 3.2" HVGA full touchscreen. Enjoy PC-like web browsing with the built-in WebKit 2.3-based browser. Read your work email with Gmail, POP3/IMAP, and MS Exchange support, and get more done with ThinkFree Office which lets you view and edit Microsoft Office files and attachments.
With the 3.2" full touchscreen, enjoy PC-like web browsing, access Gmail, and get more done with ThinkFree Office. View larger
Keep in touch with social networking like Facebook and Twitter, or just entertain yourself with preloaded AT&T apps such as AT&T Radio, AT&T Navigator, AT&T U-verse Live TV, AT&T FamilyMap, YPmobile, and more.
Enabled for use on AT&T's lightning quick HSPDA 3G network, you'll be able to easily access the Internet as well as quickly download video, music, and more. Additionally, with AT&T's 3G network, you can make a call while simultaneously receiving picture/text messages and e-mail or viewing Web pages. This GPS-enabled phone can access the AT&T Navigator service for turn-by-turn directions.
The Thrive has voice commands and speech-to-text capability, with compatibility for Google Voice Actions. It has integrated Google account syncing for compatible Google apps such as Contacts, Gmail, Gtalk, Google Calendar, Picasa and Android Market.
The LG Thrive weighs 3.2 ounces and measures 4.47 x 2.32 x 0.53 inches. Its 1500 mAh lithium-ion battery is rated at up to 7.5 hours of talk time, and up to 20 days of standby time. It runs on the 850/900/1800/1900 MHz GSM/GPRS/EDGE frequencies as well as AT&T's 3G UMTS 850/1800/2100 HSDPA network.What's in the Box
LG Thrive smartphone, battery, USB cable, wall charger, CD with user manual and Flash tutorial, quick start guide.
Android Operating System
The LG Thrive runs the Android operating system--OS 2.2 (aka Froyo)--which provides a faster overall Android experience as well as greater multitasking capabilities. You'll be able to receive notifications, listen to music, and even record GPS data without keeping the application open. And it features a plethora of new enhancements, including an improved onscreen QWERTY keyboard, full push corporate e-mail, and support for Adobe Flash Player 10.1 for access to the full Web. It also offers enhanced Exchange support, with Calendar syncing, Global Address Lookup, improved security, auto-discovery, and more.
With integrated Google technology, the LG Thrive brings one-touch access to the popular Google mobile services millions use every day, including Google Search by voice, Google Maps with Street View, GTalk instant messaging (with presence capabilities), YouTube, and Picasa. The LG Thrive also provides easy access to both personal and corporate e-mail, calendars, and contacts supported by Exchange Server and Gmail. And through Android Market, you'll get access to thousands of useful applications, widgets, and fun games to download and install on your phone, with many more apps being added every day.
AT&T GoPhone Service
AT&T's pay-as-you-go GoPhone plans are wireless plans made easy, simply pay in advance for what you need. No long-term contracts, credit checks, or surprise bills--just all the benefits of wireless, with no complications. In addition, AT&T's Rollover Balance feature lets you carry over your unused account balance when you purchase refill minutes before your balance expires.
Other great GoPhone features include no long distance or roaming fees across AT&T's national service area, the ability to track usage via text messages with an updated balance after each call, and the ability to refill your minutes 24-hours a day, 7-days a week. You can also choose to add international long distance for calling to over 50 countries (including Mexico landlines and Canada) for just $10 for 250 minutes. And you can cancel any time without penalty.
GoPhone Plan Options
- $50 Monthly Unlimited Plan includes unlimited talk, text (both U.S. and internationally), and access to Internet data and web browsing (smartphone users must purchase a separate data package).
- $25 Monthly Plan includes 250 minutes of talk time, unlimited text messages, and international texting at 25¢ per message. Data and mobile web browsing is charged per use, or you can buy a package.
- $2 Unlimited Daily Talk & Text is a good plan for those who do not use their phone every day, and data packages can be added. It's charged ONLY on days when the phone is used to make or receive a voice call (including a call to voice mailbox), use IM, or send a text or picture/video/sound message. Data is charged per use, or via a package.
- Per Minute enables you to make phone calls at just 10¢ a minute--perfect for those looking to use their phone very infrequently or for emergencies. You can also send texts at 20¢ per message (25¢ per international message), or choose a monthly package. Data is charged per use, or via a package.
Smartphone users can use any of these GoPhone plans, however, a smartphone require a data/web package to use data/web services. Pay-per-use data/web is not available on smartphone devices. Data packages for all GoPhone plan options (for mobile web access for e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, and more) include the following:
- 500 MB for $25
- 100 MB for $15
- 10 MB for $5
Data packages are good for 30 days, as long as your account balance is not expired. Standard rates apply if feature package is not renewed after 30 days.
How to Refill Your Account
For your convenience 24/7, you can add money to your account in a variety of ways and in a variety of amounts.
- With Rollover Balance, if you refill your account before your balance expires, you keep your unused balance.
- Purchase a refill card at any AT&T store and over 200,000 other retail locations in the U.S. Most refill cards will let you dial *888* to refill using the PIN number on the card.
- Use a credit/debit card and visit att.com/mygophone to refill online. You can also set up Auto Refill and Text to Refill, which enables you to refill directly from your phone.
To check on your current balance, dial*777# and press SEND to receive a text massage indicating your account balance and expiration date.
AT&T GoPhone refill cards are available in these amounts:
- $15 (30-day expiration)
- $25 (90-day expiration)
- $50 (90-day expiration)
- $60 (90-day expiration)
- $100 (1-year expiration)
Top customer reviews
If you are looking for a budge phone where you have full control over the cost then this is for you. You don't HAVE to buy a data plan, but I've found that I get by perfectly well (google account sync, periodic checking static web sites, downloading games) with the plans I mention above, because everything carries over month to month so you buy the 500MB packages when you get low and buy the 10MB packages to keep your balance "alive". All the other "fun" stuff I just do at home connected to my wifi...
1] Phone Review
This phone is like having an iPod Touch that can leave your WiFi network when necessary. It is exactly what I was looking for. I work from home, travel every 2 months, and could not justify paying $70+ a month for a phone that I'll barely use off of a wireless network. My only regret is buying this from the AT&T store when I could have gotten it a bit cheaper on Amazon.com.
The graphics look great and the touch screen is very responsive. ** The screen can scratch after some use though, so I would suggest using a screen protector. I have a small 1-2cm portion of my screen that has several small scratches in it that is distracting in sunlight when there is no screen protector in place. I bought the stock screen protector from the AT&T store. It has worked well to protect the screen and diffuses the appearance of the small scratches so they cannot be seen.
The sound quality through the speaker is a bit weak but a set of headphones sounds great especially with Pandora or Audible audio books. One strange thing I've noticed though is that in a quiet room with ear bud headphones even the lowest volume setting can seem too loud. This might be related to the headphones I am using or the fact that I am near sleep and sounds that were once comfortable seem louder as I drift off. If you encounter this one a workaround is to buy headphones that have a built in volume control.
I've seen other professional reviewers state the phone is not overly attractive but I think it looks nice. The screen cleans easily and every button is where you would expect it to be on an Android phone. No phone snobs have made fun of my phone for its appearance.
So far the phone has been powerful enough to run almost every app I've thrown at it even though it only has a 600mhz processor. I've seen Angry Birds Rio and Plants vs Zombies slow down when the graphics/physics get very intense on a complicated map but it has not impeded my game. There were two "free app of the day" games that used intense/3D graphics that didn't even install on the device, but I have played other graphics intense games with no issue.
The camera is average and what I expected. Using the free app of the day Retro Camera app I made some great pictures while on a trip out West. I also used the Daily Roads Voyager app to take time lapse pictures of a drive through Death Valley and the results turned out great. I did not expect high resolution images/video and the quality is not horrible. The audio quality on videos is a bit poor.
The battery life has been what I expected. I can actively play Words with Friends, pirate games, air traffic control games (intermittently letting the phone rest while I watch tv) for about 4-5 hours before it starts to get low on battery. Otherwise in standby mode with WiFi, Skype, Facebook, and email apps running it tends to stay almost full all day long. I believe actively interacting with the screen is what drains the power the fastest. Streaming music, or some other passive actions tends to drain it slowly.
One other reviewer suggested turning off unnecessary features such as Bluetooth when not in use and I agree. Leaving GPS on will definitely drain your battery. I suggest using a wired power source when using this phone for navigation.
I would recommend this phone to anyone who has been looking for a reasonably priced prepaid Android phone or someone who has wanted an Android version of an iPOD Touch.
(That being said the AT&T salesperson that I purchased the phone from mentioned that I could likely use the same GO plan with any Android phone in their store. Though I would never purchase a $500 phone for any reason, I am wondering if it would be possible to buy a used/unlocked more powerful phone from the Web and use the SIM card from this phone in it.
The interface is not an iPhone interface but it looks great. The operating system runs fairly smooth and has a small learning curve. What I like most about the Android interface is its flexibility. You can easily download new keyboards, animated backgrounds, new widgets, and a host of other features not included in the original install. The voice to text feature in the included Android Keyboard works really well when searching for directions or locations, but really isn't a substitute for texting or updating Facebook yet.
One of the greatest values of this phone is its built in GPS and software. The Google Navigator software allows you to download a route via your wireless network and drive that route without need of a data connection. If you get a little off your route the navigator can even get you back on course without having to download new maps. If the navigator doesn't give you enough assurance for a few dollars you can download some offline GPS applications and use the device just like you would a Garmin/TomTom. (If you did this you would likely need to buy a bigger SD card than the included 2GB card.)
I used the built-in Google Navigator on a recent trip out west and enjoyed it. I found though that Utah and a lot of national parks do not have data service. That means that you can't do new searches while you're in the middle of say... Death Valley. What I did to mitigate this was download a free 7 day trial of an offline GPS program. I found my phone worked much better than my wife's iPhone using MapQuest's free software.
The biggest downside to the Android operating system is the fact that some apps must be installed on the built-in flash memory. That means that after a while you'll find yourself running out of built-in storage space. Many Google apps do not move to the external SD card. The key is to preferentially install apps that can move to the SD card, and to remove any apps that you do not use regularly. If you purchase an app from Google or Amazon you can always download them again later.
3] Data Plans/Usage
You do not have to pay a regular monthly fee for data but purchased data does expire after 30 days. If you add more data before the 30 days expires then your existing data gets extended for another 30 days. Money you have placed on your account expires at a different rate based on the amount of cash you have put down. For instance, I put down $25 and it is good for 90 days.
A] Saving money on purchased data
The most economical way to manage your data plan is to initially buy 500mb of data for $25 then set up an auto-renewal via [pay gonline dot com] for 10mb at $5 every month.
There is a big red flag to look out for though. When you do this you'll notice that the renewal date for the data plan is set for one day after your current data plan expires. Brad noticed this a few weeks ago and noted it in the comment section. I noticed this again tonight when I set up the auto-renewal. It appears that AT&T never intended for their auto-renewal service to extend your previous data plan. Instead it appears that they allow your current data plan to expire, then they add in the automated renewal. Again, this is how the process *appears* to work, if you want to know for certain you should contact AT&T Customer Support.
So Brad appears to have found a workaround for this issue. There is a way you can setup the data renewal so it renews on a different schedule than your data expiration.
*** Please remember that when you make data plan purchases you do so at your own free will. Neither I or anyone else in the comments section of this review are responsible for purchases you make. If this workaround does not resolve the problem I am not responsible for money you gave to AT&T. When you purchase data in $5 increments from AT&T you are purchasing data, not a clever means to workaround a limitation of their web site. This workaround process will cost you at least an extra $5 just to use the workaround to change the renewal data to a different schedule than your expiration date. ***
[Setting up Automatic Data Renewal]
i. Go to [pay gonline dot com] (please note there is just one 'o' which is shared between the two concatenated words)
ii. Log into your account. (If you don't have a pin or have forgotten it; have it text messaged to your phone)
iii. Click on 'Account Summary' from the menu on the left and scroll down to the Feature Packages section. Note your data package and the date it is set to expire.
iv. Click on 'Automatic Feature Package Renewal'
v. Confirm that you do not currently have auto-renewal set up for a data plan and click 'Yes' under the 'To setup automatic feature package renewal on another feature select Yes.' heading.
vi. Select the 10MB for $5 from the renewal options and confirm that you want this setting.
vii. Select 'Automatic Feature Package Renewal' again from the menu on the left. Note that the Auto Renew date is now set exactly one day past the expiration data for your current data plan that you observed on the 'Account Summary' page.
At this point it appears that your current data plan will expire before the auto-renewal takes place. To fix this, simply add an additional $5 data plan by following the steps below:
[Changing the renewal date to a different schedule than your current data expiration rate]
i. Select 'Buy Feature Packages' from the menu on the left.
ii. Under the 'Data Packages' heading, select 'Data 10MB $5.00' and click Submit.
iii. Click on 'Account Summary' from the menu on the left and scroll down to the Feature Packages section. Note your current data package is now set to expire on a different schedule than your renewal. Your next renewal should now take place before your current data package expires.
** Remember, your account can only auto-renew if you have added enough money to your account.
** Remember, you don't have to use this workaround. Simply picking up the phone and calling AT&T may be enough to get the renewal data to occur on a different schedule than your data plan expiration.
IV: Go to Brad's review of this phone and mark it as helpful as thanks for his hard work on finding this option and other workarounds for this phone.
B] Curtailing data usage
One key to curtailing data usage is to turn off 3G/Edge access (when not needed). By default there is indeed a widget labeled 3G that when toggled will turn on/off 3G/Edge access. (Thanks to Brad for reminding me of this in the comments section. I had uninstalled all of my widgets while cleaning up and had forgotten to re-enable this one) This can also be accomplished by going to Settings > Wireless & networks > Mobile Networks > Data enabled. This gives you the assurance your phone is not using paid data time without your permission.
The problem is that when the mobile data network is enabled you have no inherit way to control which running applications access the network and how much data they use. Worse still is that when using the built-in task manager killing some apps (such as Skype) only causes them to re-spawn into memory. So you can't just easily kill all the data hogging apps out of memory.
There are various task managers you can download that will allow you to do a Force/Stop on Skype and other re-spawning applications to keep them from running. I am currently using Task Manager from the Marketplace to kill those apps. Just remember that some applications spawn themselves as soon as data access is detected so you may need to use the Task Manager to kill them after you turn on mobile data access.
An application called 3G Watchdog can be used to monitor your data usage over time, and the AT&T Mobile Care software will tell you how much data you have remaining on your plan.
The flaw of the Task Manager and the fact that there is no built in firewall are inherit deficiencies of Android and should not be singled out in this phone.
These days I generally just turn on/off 3G data access when I need it and I've stopped worrying about wasted MB. If you use your phone in a fashion in which its only on the 3G data network when you are actively using it then you probably won't use that much data.
4] Upgrading the Phone
AT&T has released Android update 2.2.2 for this phone. The major feature of this update is the fact that it gives you the ability to gain access to the Amazon app store (and presumably other apps stores) without having to use any hidden menus or root your phone. I was able to perform this update even though I have rooted my phone.
To preform the update navigate to the following Settings menu:
Settings > About Phone > Software Update > Update Now
The process should take a few minutes and give some indication that it is working after a couple of minutes. Many people in the comments section have reported trying to upgrade their phones but having the process hang. Brad in the comments section has found a way around this problem:
Brad: "I went into Settings -> Applications -> Manage Applications -> All. I then tapped "com.lge.omadmclient", and then tapped the "Clear data" button.
The first time I tried to update, I got a force close prompt. However, I was immediately able to try again, and successfully got it to update. It only had to check for about 15 seconds before it found the update."
After following the steps (and possibly the Clear Data workaround) above you should have an upgraded phone. You can verify this by navigating to the following Settings menu:
Settings > About Phone - Scroll to the Android version, it should now read as 2.2.2.
In order to allow the phone to install the Amazon app store and subsequent Amazon apps you may need to check the following Settings item:
Settings > Applications > Unknown Sources
5] Rooting the Phone
** I take no responsibility if you use these sparse instructions to somehow damage your phone or void your warranty. Rooting the phone is a risky undertaking.**
I found a free app called DroidWall that appears to be exactly what prepaid Android phone users need. It allows the user to specify which applications have data access. It also allows one to specify whether a particular application has access to the Wifi Network, the mobile data network, or both. The problem is the application requires root access to your phone.
Root access refers to the security access running applications have to your phone. By "rooting" your phone you give certain applications access to features of your phone previously protected by the operating system. In the case of DroidWall, rooting the phone gives the application access to native Linux settings that make the firewall operation possible.
There is some risk in rooting a phone. Some online have said that rooting the phone voids the warranty and prevents you from getting future updates. Others claim you only lose future updates if you uninstall the stock software from the device. I can state that I have rooted my phone without removing any of the stock software and I was able to receive the 2.2.2 update.
Rooting the phone is definitely not something that can be done by the average phone user. (This is despite the fact that PC applications exist that can root the phone in one click. That's because the initial setup can be a bit daunting.) There may be easier ways to root the phone but I have not explored them.
A few weeks ago I took the plunge, followed a tutorial online using SuperOneClick, and was able to gain permanent root access to the phone. Getting SuperOneClick to work was a bit difficult as I had to find an old version of the application that contained a hack that would work. That particular version of superOneClick also set off alarms in my virus scanner because the hack itself is indeed virus-like behavior. (It breaks into the Android Linux OS and gains top security access.) After using SuperOneClick I had to download the BusyBox installer from the app store and that is how I gained permanent root access.
Overall I am glad I rooted the phone. The DroidWall program works well and has probably saved me several MB of data while on the 3G network. In order to get web access to work with the firewall you do have to give network access to more apps than just "web". I'm still uncertain of the exact combination but I think it requires you also give the Linux kernel and the LG software 3G access before the browser will work.
Rooting the phone also allowed me to easily install the Amazon App Store, but as you may have read above there is now an update for this phone that allows the Amazon app store to be installed.
The only thing I have not been able to do is overclock the processor. Apparently the included Linux kernel on this phone does not allow the processor to be overclocked to 800mhz. I've found that I would need to upgrade the Linux kernel to a patched version (that adds some other fixes/features) before I could overclock it. So don't expect to overclock the phone just because you gain root access. (Though with some work it apparently is possible to overclock the processor.)
Remember a rooted phone is a vulnerable phone. Some apps could hide code to take advantage of a rooted phone, steal your data, and user your phone to spam or attack others on the internet.
6] Amazon Application Store
The Amazon Application Store has one feature that the Android Marketplace does not have, and that is the free giveaway of a new app every day. I have to admit this marketing tactic has drawn me to using Amazon to search for apps instead of Google.
Previously AT&T didn't allow installation of the Amazon Application Store. I will leave the follow instructions as a part of this review just in case anyone has need of them. The recommended action to upgrade the phone's OS to Android 2.2.2 and then install the Amazon app store.
[A: Using the Hidden Menu (Courtesy of Brad from the comments section)]
** Important, you must follow these instructions carefully. Selecting another setting in this hidden menu could have adverse effects on your phone. You would most likely have to confirm any adverse changes you made to the phone's settings but it is still a good idea to be careful. I take no responsibility if you harm your phone by following these instructions or by making a mistake following these instructions. Do this at your own risk. **
1) Open up your phone's dialer
2) Type the following characters without pressing the call button:
3) This will display a hidden menu.
4) Scroll down and select "Unknown Sources Test."
5) Check the "Unknown Sources" box on the screen.
6) Back out of the menu system with the back button and install the Amazon App Store.
**Thanks Brad for providing this information. I do not know if this setting is permanent or if it must be done per application installation as I have already rooted my phone.**
[B: Using Side Loading Software and a PC]
Just search for the instructions on connecting the LG Optimus One to your computer. Download the drivers linked from those instructions and install them. Then find the instructions on using Side Loading software to install the Amazon App Store on the phone.
One important thing to note is that even when you get the Amazon App Store installed on your phone you'll still need a PC to install any other apps you download via Amazon. (Unless you have root access to the phone)
Basically the process to install an app from Amazon (without root access) is:
1) Download an application via the Amazon App.
2) Ignore the error message about not being able to install 3rd party apps.
3) Use one of the various means to get the app transferred to your PC. (Such as dropbox)
4) Hook the phone to your PC.
5) Use the Side Loading software to install the app.
I hope this review helps someone out there, who like me, has been looking for a good prepaid Android phone without a commitment. Feel free to ask any questions you have and I'll do my best to answer them. Though admittedly those in the comment section have proven more adept at answering questions and researching workarounds (such as Brad) than I.
>>>>Change Log History:
May 5, 2012
* I have all-but abandoned this review. I apologize to anyone who was waiting on additional information about forcing applications to install on the SD card (without rooting) or placing a ROM on the device with a later build of Android. I find that I do not have the time or expertise to relate this information to you. If you google LG Optimus or LG P506 in relation to roms you will likely find the information you are looking for. I will leave this review as-is for the foreseeable future.
* I am still using the rooted phone without any major problems. I have noticed that some free apps from Amazon are incompatible with this phone. Yet almost every app I have tried to install on this phone has worked without incident.
December 13, 2011
* Added information about setting up a auto-renewal of data feature to save money.
* Older history items from the Change Log have been moved to the bottom of the review.
August 1, 2011
Updated some information in the review based on my extended experience with the phone.
July 30, 2011
** Added information from Brad in the comments section regarding how to upgrade your phone to 2.2.2 which will give it inherit Amazon.com app store access.
June 24, 2011
** Please read the comments section for information from reviewers if you're interested in moving your standard GO Phone SIM card to this phone.
June 23, 2011:
** Added simpler/easier instructions for installing the Amazon App Store and Amazon Apps on this phone without Side Loading software courtesy of Brad in the comments section. (Thanks Brad. BTW Brad has a great review of this phone in the review section.)
June 18, 2011:
** Added advice about the screen and scratching.
June 9, 2011:
** Added a separate section on my experience with rooting the phone
I made the decision not to buy data for my phone, but it works out well for me because both my home and my work have WiFi so I'm almost always able to get on the internet. While I wish the camera had more mega-pixels, the 3.2 it does have do a nice job. I really don't have any complaints about this phone, other than the fact that I was so overwhelmed when I first got because I didn't know where to start with everything it could do! I would definitely recommend this to someone looking to upgrade their phone for a relatively cheap price.
I also read somewhere that this phone will be eligible for the 2.3 gingerbread software upgrade, so my fingers are crossed.
Also, battery life it really good for how much I use the phone.