Before we begin, let me direct you back to a review I conducted some months ago on a very similar telephone by the name of LG Optimus U. This is essentially the same piece of hardware with a slightly different set of apps, costing a different price and having a different carrier. Comparing the two would be an exercise in futility because this isn't the sort of phone you decide on first, then figure out what carrier you want later. This is the kind of phone you find while you're shopping for a new phone on a carrier you trust. Who would buy such a phone? What uses are there for such a phone as this? Would I use this phone? Let's talk.
Let's take a quick peek at our unboxing/hands-on with this device in a video that would make Steven Spielberg and David Fincher weep with joy. Unboxing! The greatest epic:
Why and What
Lets continue on by noting how many apps this device comes loaded with - 34. That's the next best thing to none. I challenge you to find a phone that comes with less that's carried by a group that isn't a Nexus S, and you know what I mean. It's refreshing to see a group like Virgin Mobile releasing a phone like this with as few apps on it as it does. That said, lets discuss what this phone is for.
This phone comes in a box that's meant to be placed on a shelf or hung on a metal bar like a Star Wars figure. It's made to sit at Target next to the phones that are out on display looks magnificently pretty and absolutely simple to use. There's about a million billion other products that use this same tactic, but not very many that use it in the same way. There's a brand in Japan that uses this tactic, a clothing brand called Bape - you can find this brand in LA and New York as well - they do the same thing with $400 shoes. Because the product is in a simple plastic and cardboard case, the price becomes irrelevant.
Who and Where
The LG Optimus V is an Android phone that you purchase from a store, open the box, and activate on your own time with Virgin Mobile. It's extremely simple and quick to do this. Once you've got the phone activated, you've got a full Android experience, Google's Android Market, Android 2.2 Froyo (nearly the newest version of the OS,) and a generous camera for the price that the phone and its data plan add up to.
As for specific bits beyond photo and video quality I'd be looking for in any Android phone, first of all, yes, you can install non-Market apps. This means you can buy apps from sources other than the Android Market and install them no problem. Next, you're able to use GPS for maps, call and text, and have the browser-based Android Market send apps to the handset - all of these should basically be given on an Android phone, so if they're not there, I'll pretty much call the phone DOA. This one's good on those bits. The only thing I'm seeing missing here that I'd definitely have trouble living without at this point is the option to turn the handset into a portable hotspot for internet that I can access via my laptop. I need it! V doesn't have it.
But you can download apps, and the phone runs the very current Android 2.2 Froyo mobile OS. This means that this device can run most of the apps on the market (no one device can run ALL of them,) and run them relatively well. There is a bit of a downfall in this phone in that it's not made for high-powered games that require things like dual-core processors. This should be recognized by you, the consumer, before you purchase, or you'll be sorely disappointed. If you understand that this phone isn't the most powerful unit on the market and use it for apps and games that don't expect it to flip out for you, you'll be good.
Wrap-Up and Verdict
The cheapest plan you can get this phone on is $25 a month - the only thing this limits you on is how long you can talk. Text messaging and data (how much you can download, upload, browse the web) is unlimited. This is an amazing deal, if you ask me, especially if you just want an email/music box in your pocket. Pandora and email everywhere you go, unlimited for $25 a month! This is super awesome.
Then there's the reasons you wouldn't get it: you want a bigger Android phone. That's it. If you need a phone and want one that'll give you data, but you don't care how big the screen is or how powerful the games you want to play are - this is definitely the little man for you.