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Review: LG Optimus S

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The LG Optimus S runs the Sprint ID interface concept on top of a fairly basic, stock Android interface. Sprint ID lets you download packs of custom goodies. Each pack contains a selection of apps, widgets, wallpapers and ringtones, and they are grouped either by lifestyle themes, like "Socially Connected" or "Home Base," or brands, like "Yahoo!" and "EA" for Electronic Arts gaming. You can download these packs from a separate store that Sprint has set up, and the packs are all available free. Some of the apps that come with the packs are only demos, especially the games with the EA ID pack, and many are simply links to download apps from the regular Android app market. The phone lets you preload 6 packs at a time, and it's fairly easy, though not very quick, to remove an ID pack and all of its contents from the phone and load a new one in its place.

I have some problems with the Sprint ID concept on the LG Optimus S. The selection of apps in each ID pack can be way off topic. You'll find the same selection of games and demos show up in many packs, even when they aren't related to the lifestyle brand you picked. Apps and widgets show up on the homescreen, but they aren't arranged in any logical or innovative way. The organization seems tidy, but it's not useful. This all seems to defeat the purpose of Sprint ID. Sprint ID is supposed to help new users set up their phone in a specific, customized way. Each ID pack should correspond to a different use scenario. When I want to go golfing, I switch to my Golf Enthusiast pack, and the phone should present everything I need and nothing I don't. For instance, do I really need TweetCaster for golfing? Or the WeReward online coupon app? Unfortunately, these ID packs don't usually offer everything I need, and they certainly don't exclude everything I don't. Some very obvious, even free options are left out of the mix, and what remains might leave new users even more confused.

The Optimus S is the second phone I've used with Sprint ID, after the Samsung Transform, and I'm happy to report that Sprint ID seems to run much smoother and more quickly on the LG device. Though the Transform had a faster processor, the LG Optimus uses Android 2.2, and that seems to make a significant difference every step of the way. ID packs downloaded faster, and the phone switched from pack to pack in a matter of seconds, much faster than the Transform. Though the initial download time for a pack was still quite long, once you have a full complement of six packs loaded, the faster interface on the Optimus S makes the whole system much more user friendly and convenient.

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I think Sprint ID is a nice idea, and it will get even better once more ID packs hit the Sprint ID market. There are some cool, branded packs coming from big names in entertainment, like Oprah and MTV. But more work needs to go into compiling, choosing and arranging the apps in each pack. Sprint needs to get rid of the unnecessary junk and offer a unique layout and style for each ID pack.


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