LG Optimus V for Virgin Mobile: Two Months Later


optimus

UPDATE 4/7/11: Information about the supposed “data plan fees” has been posted.

First of all, I would like to thank everybody for the comments on my first post about this phone. It’s been great getting some feedback and inquiries on this amazing device.

Second, another big “thank you” to those of you who have used my Kickbacks Code (dJWQc09H) to score me some additional minutes! Thanks to you (and the many I’ve convinced to make the switch), I’m nearing my annual $230 limit and I haven’t used a single paid minute since March 5, 2011 since it seems that the bonus minutes rollover into the next month. I still have 98 remaining and with the way I talk, that could last me a while. But since I’m still paying my $25/mo., they are not really “bonus” minutes if you think about it 🙂

Anyway, onto the update that includes some of the features I’ve been messing with lately.

Music Player: I’ve only used this a few times and on one occasion, I was unable to receive text messages. My wife even called me later to ask me if I was okay since I wasn’t responding to her messages. Maybe I was just caught up in the podcasts I was listening to at the moment and I did have it on vibrate, so there’s a chance that it was just my ignorance showing on this one. Either way, I never intended to use this as a music player other than loading some MP3 files on the microSD card to use as ringtones.

Built-In Memory is Lacking: If you start loading up your phone with apps, chances are you will start to get the “Low Phone Memory” status message at the top of the screen. The Optimus V is packed with 512MB of RAM to run them and sure, it sounds like more than enough to run what you have but you will really be surprised at how soon those resources are used up. Even if you move some apps to the microSD card, there’s a chance you will still get the message. Sadly, I’ve had to uninstall a lot of apps – even those not too graphically intense – in favor of ones I really wanted or needed. I suppose clearing out the phone’s cache could help; I’ve only deleted long text conversations. Also, apps running in the background will eat up a lot of RAM.

Amazon App Store: I was referred to the app store by a friend of mine and I’ve been grabbing apps there since. What’s great about it is that they offer one normally paid app for free every day which a great way to try out some apps you’ve been curious about and if you don’t like it, delete it. Since using the app store, I have downloaded a few free games including Fruit Ninja, Angry Birds Rio and Angry Birds Seasons. One other app is so good it requires its own section, so here it is.

SwiftKey: As you might have read in the first review, I have a love-hate relationship with Swype, a text input option that comes with the phone. I tolerated its faults since I didn’t care much for the Android system keyboard’s suggestions or overall functionality. So when SwiftKey was the Amazon App of the Day about a week ago, I thought I’d give it a try and I have to say that this blows the aforementioned keyboards away. Predictive text is much more accurate, and it will also remember some of your more commonly used words and as you type, they will pop up. I’ve sent text messages only typing one letter then pressing the space bar, an option that will choose the middle suggested word. It makes typing much easier and enjoyable and even if you have to pay for it, it’s worth every penny.

Battery Life: While battery life continues to be a concern, I came across an app that has definitely extended its life: Juice Defender. JD offer several levels of energy-saving options from Default to Advanced. So far, I’ve only dabbled with Default and saw a notable increase in battery life since it will disable your mobile data until you decide to turn it on (and a widget can be placed on your Home Screen should you need to use data a moment’s notice). Juice Defender also acts as an app killer to keep your phone’s memory in line, making it run a bit smoother – although I’ve still gotten the low memory warning after installing JD. Either way, it’s a nifty app that is worth a look.

Endomondo: While not a fitness nut, I do take pride in the fact that I remain active and lost 100 pounds over the course of several years. That said, my love of fitness and all things geeky or gadgety gives me a reason to mention Endomondo. I won’t say much about it here; just go to my weight loss blog and check out my review over there.

Google Maps Navigation: A GPS unit was about the last thing I had ever intended to use my for. It just didn’t seem like the right thing to do when you already have a GPS unit on your dash, you know? Why make things more complicated? That was how I thought before I actually tried the phone’s navigation system and wow, to say that I’m impressed is an understatement. In fact, I’ve since replaced my Magellan unit with my phone. In the few days I’ve been using it, navigation has worked amazingly well which is a good thing when I was delivering pizzas for a friend’s restaurant in an area I’m not entirely familiar with. I have, however, encountered a few flaws. If you are using voice input for your destination and the street name is a different language or uncommon, it may not recognize it. For example, the street “Bouquet” returned as “book ok” and it also has problems with to/two and the like. Granted this only happened a few times but it can be frustrating so if you want to avoid this mess, just type it in. When data is enabled, you get voice prompts with also tell you which side of the street you destination is on. Also, when you arrive, it will show you a Street View of the destination which I thought was an interesting touch.

Additional $10 Monthly Data Fee: In the Comments section of the original review post, one reader posted that Virgin Mobile has charged him an additional $10/mo. for data on his Optimus. I’m not really sure what to say about this because my bill remains at $25/mo. I have contacted Virgin Mobile and will post their response when I get it but as of now, aside from their Blackberry phones, I know of no additional fees for data plans on any other Virgin Mobile smartphones.

UPDATE 4/7/11: We can officially put the rumors about the data plan fees for this phone to rest. Here is the reply I got today (at least the only part that really matters):

Plans [Incident: 110403-001541]: Let me confirm you that the only phone model that needs to have the $10 add on is the BlackBerry Curve since it has other features like the BlackBerry messenger and MyApp and it is required for the customers to pay the extra $10 in order to be able to use the full service. On the other phones it is the same price ($25, $40, $60).

So there you go, guys and gals 🙂

Tethering: It is possible with this phone and a certain app but be warned that this could be a violation of Virgin Mobile’s TOS and lead to cancellation of your service. If you really must know, here’s a video on how to do it.

Cheap Car Charger: If you are lucky enough to have a Dollar Tree store in your area, check them out. I bought a USB cable that fits the phone as well as a dual-outlet USB charger that plugs into you car’s cigarette lighter (or power) port. They work great and I can’t complain about the $2 I spent on them.

Price Increase: Finally, to wrap things up, the Optimus V has seen a $50 hike in MSRP, making it $199.99 (as of this post) as opposed to its initial offering of $149.99. My guess is that all involved saw how much the phone was in demand and decided to make a few more bucks on their end. I’m just glad I bought mine when I did.

UPDATE 10/17/11: Price has been reduced to $129.99.

All in all, I’m still getting a tremendous amount of use out of this phone and don’t regret buying it for a minute. In fact, I was in Target the other day and saw someone buying one. As a happy owner, I had to walk up to them and tell them what a great phone it is and showed them a few features as they paid for it. I know, perhaps I’m going a bit too far but this phone, while not entirely perfect, is definitely one of the best out there at the moment.

Of course, paying a mere $25/mo. for service probably has a lot to do with that assessment, too 🙂

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20 thoughts on “LG Optimus V for Virgin Mobile: Two Months Later

  1. Hey Dave,
    Thanks for the link luv. I am glad you are enjoying the phone and the free apps. I am still loving this phone. I had to delete some apps, too, after figuring out some of the apps don’t like to hide out in the microsd slot because it is too dark in there.

    Some of the free paid apps can be later installed in the future once you have activated the purchase on amazon, but don’t quote me on that. I have done it a few times already after a week’s time but will see if they are still free and downloadable again even when they are back to being paid apps.

    One interesting thing I wanted to share with you. On the navigation you don’t have to have your data connection on if you already have set or programmed your destination in the phone. I don’t have a data plan and am still on my $15 every 3 month top up plan but use the wifi constantly. I turned on the GPS widget and drove to the supermarket and it worked and the voice nagged me to my predetermined location. However, when I tried to set up a new location when I was about to leave the supermarket, the navigation did not work for me. So at that point, I needed to have a data or wifi connection.

    Cheers!
    Android Noid

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    • No problem. Just returning the favor.

      I know iTunes allows you to download any apps that you have already downloaded whether they were free or paid. Perhaps it’s the same with Amazon.

      Good to know about the data connection and GPS. I will have to give it a shot sometime, but I would think that if it saves the voice prompts, more memory is taken up. Still learning…!

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  2. Thanks for the review and suggestions, Dave. If I get the phone, I’ll use your tips. I’m really high on the Op V, but was also burned by the price hike. I may wait to see if there’s any new smartphone announcements around E3. It blows my mind that someone would actually raise the price of hardware, but I guess it’s offset by the cheap price and decent service. Still wish I had gotten one when I had the chance, grrrrr.

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    • No problem and glad I could help.

      Yeah, the price increase was a bit of a disappointment but chances are it will drop once again. I was fortunate enough to find 2 at the last store I shopped, which was Radio Shack. The local Targets and Best Buys were out of stock or had no idea what I was talking about.

      Good idea about waiting for E3; who knows what will come out of it. Usually something pretty cool. I have heard that VM will be adding a few more models including the Apple Peel conversion kit so that might be something to wait for it that’s your thing.

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  3. I am planning on picking up a LG Optimus V this month. I will active with your Kickbacks code. Your two reviews are great. I am currently an iPhone user and find that I rarely use the minutes on my phone. I really only want the sms and data. Virgin Mobile looks like a great solution for me and this phone sounds like it will be very comparable to my iPhone 3GS.

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    • Hey, thanks and glad I could help.

      Competition is a good thing and I’m definitely not against iPhones in any way. They are truly amazing devices and, if not for them, I don’t think we’d be at the point we are with smartphones. Having a slew of iPod touches around here, I know that the OS is very user-friendly and everything just feels right.

      What I am against, however, is the outrageous cost and being tied to a commitment for 2 years. Like you, it wouldn’t benefit me with the monthly minutes I use but I would definitely take advantage of the data. This is where Virgin Mobile’s Optimus V wins hands-down: unlimited data and no contract. Like other phones, you will have occasional glitches but I have to admit that I’m willing to live with them for all the benefits I get from it 🙂

      Thanks again for the comment!

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  4. Do you ever have data problems or problems connecting to Virgin Mobile’s share of the Sprint 3G network? My wife has a VM Rumor Touch — way less data hungry than any smart phone — and sometimes cannot connect. I have a Sprint phone and can usually connect fine when she cannot.

    There are aslo a number of complaints on forums about data connection problems with VM phones, especially the Optimus V. But it sounds like a great deal that makes me wish I was not under contract.

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    • As with any smartphone, there are times when it does have trouble connecting but it hasn’t been a big issue with me. Most of the time I can connect pretty easily. At my job’s former location, it would have trouble but at our new office there isn’t an issue so I guess geography may have a lot to do with it. I had the Kyocera x-tc before this and it was miserable at connecting/

      Remember, too, that the Rumor Touch and x-tc are feature phones so naturally, they won’t be as hungry. The Optimus V is running Android, trying to connect (provided your data is on), running apps, etc. I have learned to keep the data off until I really need it as it saves lots of battery life. Overall, I’m still satisfied enough to recommend this phone. As the saying goes, your experience may vary 🙂

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  5. I got my LG Optimus V two days ago and used your kickback code. I am really enjoying this phone. It is a bit more difficult to use than my iPhone 4, and the user interface isn’t as polished, but I am loving all of the customizations that I can do without needing to root the phone. My iPhone 4 is jailbroken and can’t do half of what I can do with this Optimus V. I thought the speed would feel slow to me since I am used to the iPhone 4, but that hasn’t been the case. The Optimus V moves along nicely. The Google Voice integration with GrooveIP will help me avoid needing to use minutes, as well as the Skype integration. I love how these apps can truly integrate into the phone.

    I also love that I am not locked into only one app store. Grabbing a free app from the Amazon App Store daily is awesome (though I know I will end up running out of space if I keep doing this.)

    A bit more than 24 hours into owning this and I am really enjoying it. I still love my iPhone, but the Optimus V is certainly looking like it will be a suitable replacement and with Virgin Mobile’s service a nice money saver.

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    • Thanks for using my code! I’ve had about 9 of them this year and never knew who redeemed them so now that I know, I appreciate it very much 🙂

      Glad you are enjoying the phone. As you and I both said, iOS is much, much more polished and refined and quite frankly, does a more efficient job. But with Android’s assortment of widgets and customizations (including an option to tether this phone) as well as being able to use my own MP3s as ringtones without hacking, paying or using BitPim, it’s a hands-down winner no matter how you look at it. I definitely dig using Skype while at home using my wi-fi because it will deduct minutes if you use a data connection. Tried it — no such luck since you are dialing out. I’ll have to look into GrooveIP for Google Voice.

      Yes, I love the Amazon App Store and make it a habit to check it every morning. I got a great replacement keyboard app called Flex T9 Text that works better than Swype and SwiftKey (both of which were free on different days). You will definitely run out of space if not careful.

      Glad you are enjoying it and that my review helped you out.

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  6. Virgin Mobile has lowered the price to $130 now, I believe.
    I’m so glad to find more information on this phone that I plan to buy soon. You’ve presented information I haven’t found anywhere else yet. Thank you~

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  7. Okay, I have a problem with this phone and its only getting worst over time. What am I doing wrong??? My phone becomes very slow when sending out a text to one number. I type it the message, press send, and the message I just typed does not show on the screen. I go about my business. I go back to check for a reply, I open messages, and finnaly it shows that the message is “sending”. The other person doesn’t get my messages for over 30 minutes unless I keep refreshing the page which means getting out of messages, going to main page, getting back into messages and opening the message I sent out….which then opens and freezes and the bottom half of the “message” screen shows on top and the bottom is black! Lately it has gotten worst with it affecting the rest of the programs in my phone such as bluetooth…I’m driving and I turn it on to answer a call and doesn’t turn on until the 3rd try! GPS is the same thing…I open “yelp” and it says GPS is off when I just turned it on in “settings” but it would not show on the top of the “notification” box. I deleted a lot of my apps and close all working applications. I just noticed today that any alerts from FB I’m getting about 30-45 minutes later. Is there a setting I have wrong? I reboot it and nothing changes. Help!! Its two months old…I want to stay in love with this phone, but its about to get tossed agains the wall.

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    • I’m going to take a wild guess and say that the memory could be getting full. That’s happened to me. There is a setting within the Messaging app that allows you to limit text and multimedia messages. Try knocking those down and see what happens or even deleting older messages you might have hanging around because it all adds up. That’s about the only thing I can think of. I haven’t experienced the other problems you mentioned so I can’t say for sure what the cause might be, but I hope you get it resolved somehow. Could be too many apps on your internal memory and too much of the phone’s resources being used. Try moving as many as you can to the SD card with the App2SD app, which will also clean your phone’s cache to free up even more. I currently have about 30MB left on my internal memory and try to keep it between there and 20MB.

      You may want to contact VM and ask, that is if you want to deal with their Tech Support. I have in the past and it wasn’t pleasant! Good luck to you 🙂

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    • I have about five apps that I downloaded, but deleted most of them since the problem started. I think it might be something simple like you said “internal memory” with all the messages. Already deleted quite a few so I’ll delete a few more to see if anything changes. I did a few updates and that helped some apps work a bit faster. I’m getting the APP2SD and hope that helps solved most of the problems. Love this phone…just want to stay in love with it. Thank you for your advice!!

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  8. The “Low Phone Memory” issue that is reported is not related to RAM which is 512 MB and is more than sufficient for this device type. This error is due to the internal memory in the phone which is a mere 256MB. Out of this android system uses some for it and only ~192 MB is left for installing apps. This is really a small amount if you compare the amount of app that is there waiting to be installed. Also, when your free internal memory dips down to 30MB, you will start getting these messages. Then you either have to remove some apps or clear the app cache (App2SD). For a budget phone this is really great but the size allocated for app installation is really disappointing. On top of that, the pre-installed apps cannot be deleted occupying precious space. I hope VM will allow it to be removed!

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