Review: Bell LG Optimus Chic

During the summer of 2010, LG announced a new line of “Optimus” mobile devices, with the promise of a minimum of ten devices by the end of 2010. This new lineup of devices is expected to consist of a combination of Android and Windows 7 platforms, while also including a mobile tablet, the Optimus Pad. With TELUS recently releasing two Optimus devices (Optimus 7, Optimus One), Bell has followed suit and added to their LG Optimus Quantum with the newly released LG Optimus Chic. The LG Optimus Chic sports a 3.2” capacitive touchscreen with a resolution of 320 x 480 pixels HVGA and contains multi-touch, proximity, and light sensors. The Chic is approximately 112.5mm (tall) x 57.9mm (wide) x 12.9mm (thick), and weighs around 132g.

The Optimus Chic is encased in a glossy, black plastic with a silver/chrome rim and smooth, rounded edges. The glossy casing does make the device feel less expensive/durable than other devices on the market, while also making the Chic feel somewhat heavy. This device fits comfortably in the palm of your hand, and can easily be used with one hand.

The front of the Optimus Chic houses a 3.2” capacitive touchscreen with 320 x 480 HVGA. Below the screen are four capacitive shortcut buttons for Menu, Home, Back, and Search. Although these buttons are capacitive, I had difficulty using these buttons, as they often required substantial pressure in order to register my selections. The left side of this device sports a protected microUSB port for charging/PC connectivity, while the right side of this device houses volume rockers. The top of the device houses a 3.5mm headphone jack, and a small button for power/lock. This small button is often difficult to find when handling the device and is critical to waking the device (no other buttons will sleep/wake the Chic).

SIDE NOTE: Although the device is 112.5mm tall, the 3.2” screen is not adequate for the design of the Chic. Upon observation, it seems that LG could have offered a bigger screen by lowering the shortcut buttons on the face of the device, or stretching the screen vertically.

The back of the Optimus Chic houses a 5.0MP camera (auto-focus, geo-tagging, VGA video capture at 30fps). Removing the back panel of this device reveals a 1250mAh battery, which advertises up to 330 minutes of talk time, and/or 450 hours of standby time. It should be noted that a microSD port (up to 32GB support, 2GB card included) is revealed when the back panel is removed, while the SIM slot is revealed when the battery is removed.

SIDE NOTE: The battery is quite difficult to remove from the back of the device, which may prove to be frustrating when trying to perform a battery pull/restart or remove your SIM card, etc.

The LG Optimus Chic E720b is powered by a 600Mhz processor with 150MB of internal memory, and comes preloaded with Android 2.2 Froyo. This device is compatible with dual band HSPA 850/1900, and quad band GSM 850/900/1800/1900 frequencies. The Chic is powered by a 1250mAh battery, with up to 330 minutes of talk time, and/or 450 hours of standby time. The Chic supports GPS, +AGPS, and Bluetooth 2.1, while housing a Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g card for Wi-Fi support. It should be noted that most new smartphones ship with wireless “N” capability for increased speeds/connectivity and the lack of support on this device is disappointing. The Music player supports MP3, AAC+, WMA, and WAV with the addition of a built-in FM radio, while the Video player supports MPEG4, H.263, H.264, XviD, and WMV.

I tested the reception throughout various areas of the GTA, where I was able to consistently make and receive calls. All calls sounded loud and clear through the speaker, for both incoming and outgoing calls. The speakerphone sounded loud and clear, as I was clearly maintain a phone call while driving with minimal distortion.

The web browser performed very well on this device and was able to render various HTML webpages with ease. Common scrolling, panning, and zooming gestures were very smooth and accurate when browsing the web, as well as the loading of JavaScript functions. The only downside to the browser was the support for Flash Lite, and not Adobe Flash 10.1, meaning that pure Flash websites and videos were unable to load.

The music player was able to handle my daily music needs and included functions for track sorting and visualization functionality, while various apps from the Android App Market allowed me to add features for streaming content and lyrics. The video player also exceeded expectations due to the output video resolution and codec support for DivX and XviD. The camera on the Chic produced many detailed and colourful pictures while utilizing the various built in setting adjustments and shot modes (ISO, white balance, continuous, smile, beauty, art, panorama, face effect, cartoon, etc.). The only downside to the camera was the lack of flash capabilities, which would have helped during times of low light. The video camera was able to capture smooth and detailed video at 30fps and maintain a resolution of 640 x 480 VGA.

The battery life for the Optimus Chic was above average, and I noticed that I was able to last longer on a single charge, due to the large standby life. With some light browsing, heavy phone calls and text messages, I was able to last between two to three days before having to recharge the battery.

The Chic comes preloaded with Android 2.2 Froyo, which includes additional features and optimization. The home screen interface presents five separate screens, which can be populated with various shortcuts. The default keyboard is the Android virtual QWERTY keyboard, which can be used in either portrait or landscape modes. This keyboard is very easy to use and provides a means of accurate input on this touchscreen device; however, once the text was inputted, it seems that there was some lag between when the device registered the input and displayed the outputted text on the screen. The email and messaging applications are well structured and organized with added support and features for Gmail and Talk. The contacts application allows users to import contacts from social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Gmail, etc. and also uses smart dialling to predict the desired contact when dialling. The Chic also comes preloaded with other useful apps such as Facebook, FM Radio, Gmail, Latitude, Layar, MySpace, Places, Remote PVR, Talk, Twitter, YouTube, and Zoompass.

The LG Optimus Chic is a sleek looking device with a great camera and operating system in Android 2.2 Froyo. The most disappointing aspects of this device revolve around the hardware, as the processor lagged at times of user input, and using the capacitive shortcut buttons, in addition to the hefty weight, thickness, and minimal screen size. The battery for the Chic performed very well, which will be very helpful when using the numerous preloaded apps. Overall, the Optimus Chic is a nice entry level Android smartphone that takes detailed pictures and provides quick and efficient online access. I hope to see future LG Optimus devices, which are tailored towards more experienced and knowledgeable prospective consumers, looking for an alternative to the Samsung Galaxy Series, HTC, Dell, etc. I would also like to see a significant drop in contract prices (more specifically on a 1 or 2 year contract), as many consumers are fearful of committing to long-term contracts.

The LG Optimus Chic was recently released by Bell Mobility in Canada, under the following pricing structure:
• $249.95 (no term contract)
• $224.95 (1 year contract)
• $199.95 (2 year contract)
• $0.00 (3 year contract)

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