Net10 made big news at the end of the third quarter of 2011, announcing a pair of Android devices for their prepaid phone lineup. Both phones, the LG Optimus Q and the Optimus Net, debuted at the end of October, in plenty of time for the 2011 Holiday shopping season. The cost of the Optimus Q is $179, and the Net will be $30 cheaper. This article is designed to provide a quick summary of the features, but as more info becomes available I’ll put up a full LG Optimus Q review here.
I should point out here that the Optimus Q will also be available for Straight Talk and Virgin Mobile, but in this article I’m focusing on Net10 since these two phones are the first opportunity for Net10 customers to have an Android phone. The technical specs of the Q will be the same regardless of whether it’s the Net10, Straight Talk, or Virgin Mobile version.
Google is currently on it’s seventh iteration of it’s Android OS, and this one is known as 2.3 (“Gingerbread”). That’s what you’ll get with either of these Optimus devices, giving you access to the same Android experience found on many more expensive phones. The greatest appeal of Android is the availability of over 250,00 applications, or “apps,” in their online marketplace. These apps will allow you to customize your device to your needs.
As you might expect based on the similarity in their model names as well as the timing of their release, these two devices look very much alike. They share a similar design, size, and 3.2″ touch-screen (HVGA), with a couple of notable difference. The first difference was already mentioned above: price. And the reason for the Q being more expensive is that it includes a sliding QWERTY keyboard not found on the Optimus Net. As you might expect, this extra feature means that the Q is also slightly larger, measuring 4.53″ x 2.34″ x 0.58″ and weighing in at 5.51 ounces. This is nearly identical to the Net in terms of height and width, but the Q is 0.10″ thicker and a full ounce heavier.
The Optimus Q’s feature list includes the following:
- GPS navigation app installed
- 3.2 megapixel camera
- YouTube App
- video recorder
- mp3 player
- voice command support
- MicroSD card – 4gb included, with support for up to 32gb.
This is certainly exciting news for Net10 customers, but there are two major drawbacks to be aware of before you go ahead and buy this phone. While the price of the phone itself is, to me at least, pretty reasonable, you’ll also likely end up paying more for service. Read the fine print and you’ll see that the Optimus Q will work only with Net10’s most expensive plan, the $50 monthly unlimited option. This is bad news if you were hoping to use the phone on a pay-as-you-go minutes plan.
Next, and perhaps even more important, is the network coverage. Unlike all previous Net10 phones, this phone will work on Sprint’s network. A great selling point of Net10 is that you can use AT&T or Verizon’s pervasive networks at a fraction of the cost.
Going with Sprint is definitely a compromise, as their coverage isn’t nearly as widespread as the two aforementioned carriers. The only way to truly know whether this will negatively affect you, though, is to know your local area. Ask around of your family, friends, and neighbors whether they are happy with Sprint coverage in your area. If they experience large coverage gaps, you likely will too. In my own area (east of Minneapolis, MN), I find that coverage diminishes rapidly when I head out away from the larger cities and well-traveled highways. So it’s important that you carefully consider the impact this will have on your usability before you spend almost $200 on the LG Optimus Q.