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LG Optimus Sol (LG E730)
Black slabby Android phones are very common these days, so how do you differentiate your product from others on the market? With the LG Optimus Sol, the unique selling proposition seems to be that the handset's display works well both outdoors and indoors.
The "Sol" in the phone's name means "Sun". In order to make the Optimus Sol visible in sunny conditions, the handset has what LG call an "Ultra AMOLED" display. This 3.8" 800 x 480 pixel panel is the latest iteration of AMOLED technology, and since LG have a strong reputation in display technologies then there's a good chance that it will be every bit as good as they say.
Unlike the not very popular Optimus 3D, the Optimus Sol does seem to address a real market. If you try to use a standard TFT LCD display outdoors then the ambient light does wash it out and make it difficult to read, but even AMOLED displays suffer somewhat when the sun is really bright. Electronic paper displays, such as those found in the Amazon Kindle and Motorola FONE work very well in sunlight, but they are useless in the dark. AMOLED based displays seem to offer the best compromise in these situations.
One side effect of the different technologies is the different power drain characteristics. TFT displays always draw the same amount of power from the battery, no matter what is displayed. AMOLED screens draw more power from the battery when they are brighter and much less when darker, so LG are shipping the Optimus Sol with a specially designed dark UI to maximise battery life.
Display aside, this is a fairly typical upper midrange Android smartphone with a 1GHz single core CPU and 512Mb of RAM, a 5 megapixel primary camera plus a VGA video calling camera, WiFi 802.11 b, g and n connectivity plus 3.5G, DLNA, a media player, FM radio, Bluetooth, GPS, a microSD slot (with 2GB in the box) and all the usual Android features. An NFC variant should also be available, although NFC is not installed as standard. The operating system is Android 2.3 with LG's own Optimus UI on top.
It's a little disappointing to find that the video capture resolution is only 640 x 480 pixels at 24 frames per second. We can't see any reason why the Optimus Sol shouldn't have better video capture capabilities than this, and it's probably the biggest weakness that we can see in this device.
Inside is a relatively large 1500 mAh battery, and the Optimus Sol measures a fairly typical 122 x 63 x 10mm. It will be available in "Black" and "Titan" colour schemes. It will ship in Europe in mid-September followed by Central and South America.
As ever, LG did not give any guidance on pricing, but the Optimus Sol is pretty close in specification to the LG Optimus Black which currently retails for about €300 including tax, so expect the Sol to be roughly similar at launch and then a bit cheaper in the long run.
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