Excitement about top end Android phones like the Desire HD and the platform’s failure to catch fire in tablets, courtesy of the Folio 100’s failure, has deflected attention away from the budget end of the market.
The excellent HTC Tattoo and the HTC Wildfire both proved that top-end Android software could be offered without a prohibitive level of compromise. And the LG Optimus One has again shown that this formula can work with the very latest Android software.
The announcement that this bargain Android blower had shifted a million units worldwide, in the process becoming LG’s fastest selling phone ever, showed that Google’s platform needn’t become hugely fragmented by dipping into the lower end of the market. The Optimus One’s spec sheet won’t be winning any awards. A basic 3 megapixel camera and 600MHz CPU might not excite, but the inclusion of Android 2.2 FroYo, along with the company’s best touchscreen yet, shows that just because the phone doesn’t cost much money doesn’t mean it should lack the latest skills.
In fact, you could say that the Optimus One acts as a vital pointer for rival manufacturers looking to better their market position using Android. LG has crucially decided against layering a custom skin over FroYo, instead letting the current iteration of Android do the talking. It’s a wise move and one which Sony Ericsson really could learn from. Word to the wise is that its X10 successor, the Anzu or X12, will come with FroYo early in the New Year. Considering Gingerbread will be out in the wild by then, that’s criminal. Surely it should have learned from the X10’s failure to do the business on a creaking Android 1.6 build? LG released the Optimus One with the best software available at the time of its September launch. In using a custom skin for its Android phones, Sony Ericsson isn’t able to offer its users the most up-to-date Google experience.
With the Optimus One, LG has realised a vital Android fact. Namely, software is the king. Megapixels are great, lush screens even better, but if the software isn’t up to snuff, the whole experience falls down. Average Joes don’t worry about epic tech specs, instead focusing on straightforward user experience. To that end, the phone has sold shedloads and reviews have been largely favourable. Chuck in cheap deals, such as Three’s £15 a month package, and you can see why other mobile makers need to look to LG for inspiration in this instance.