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We've been rather hard on the LG Optimus GT540, and not without good reason. Its specifications are very much at the lower end of the pile as far as a modern smartphone is concerned, and it is not going to be the kind of handset you'll rush out and buy if you want the latest features.
But given that it's free on £15 a month contracts, you don't really have the right to expect top notch features.
And, taking that into consideration, we have to say that the LG Optimus GT540 is a nicely rounded phone. There's nothing outstanding about it, but the features fit together well enough, rivalling those of a higher end handset thanks to the same Android experience (albeit Android 1.6).
The price is certainly very attractive, and that may well be a significant factor for many people in deciding whether or not to opt for this, rather than another Android handset - especially when most of the times the Optimus GT540 performs admirably.
There are plenty of shooting options on the camera, and while it is not great, it is good enough for everyday point-and-shoot use. It has no flash though, so beware of poorly lit indoor shots.
The physical design punches above its weight, and makes the LG Optimus GT540 look like a more expensive phone than it actually is.
LG's skin for Android is not unattractive, and some people will find it preferable to the vanilla option. But whichever you prefer, it is pretty easy to switch between them.
Battery life is good, and we'd even go as far as to say it may stretch over two days for some users – which is a real plus point for an Android handset.
The FM radio has to store each found station individually, which is a bit of a bore when you are initially scanning for finds.
The Web browser is lacking in features, so it can be slow and a little painful to use at times, which reflects throughout the UI with the processor seeming to lack any real grunt - although text reflow is a nice addition.
The resistive touch screen requires a fairly hard press, and is not always as responsive to finger touches as we would like.
Android 1.6 has to be a big downer if you are the kind of person who likes to have the latest kit in your pocket. Android 1.6 is serviceable, but you do miss out on the latest tricks and tweaks, like sat nav and Live Wallpapers.
There is no doubting that the LG Optimus GT540 is attractive in pricing terms, and LG has done a good job of making it look attractive both physically and in terms of its own Android skin.
The resistive touchscreen lacks responsiveness at times though, making you feel like you're swiping through treacle, and the screen itself is a bit too small for media rich activity like Web browsing. We'd have liked to see a higher resolution for video capture too, although video playback is well thought-through.
But battery life is good and for the price it's a phone that might make inroads into the under-populated mid-range Android market.
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