The Optimus T and Optimus S dish out a tasty serving of vanilla Froyo
, each lightly sprinkled with a unique combination of toppings. In both cases you'll experience the complete Froyo goodness, including WiFi hotspot functionality (albeit subject to carrier provisioning and pricing). All the usual applications are present, including Gmail, Latitude, Maps, Places, Search, Talk, and so on. Unfortunately, this also includes Android's lackluster music player. Performance-wise, the UI is responsive and everything feels quite snappy, as you'd expect from a pair of modern phones running plain Android 2.2. The web browser handles large sites like Engadget without fuss -- albeit without Flash, since it's not (yet) available for these devices. But we're most impressed with how the Optimus T and Optimus S fared in the Quadrant benchmark, scoring higher than the Droid.
T-Mobile's Optimus tweaks the default UI somewhat, but manages to avoid souring the original flavor. The notification area gains a row of toggles for WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, data, and mute, while the app tray groups pre-installed applications on top and downloaded applications below. Strangely, holding down the app tray button doesn't bring up any home screen thumbnails. T-Mobile chose to replace some of the standard Android widgets (such as the clock and calendar) with custom, HTC Sense-like widgets (some better, some worse). As we've already mentioned in the camera section, T-Mobile also wisely chose LG's camera interface. A few game demos come pre-installed, along with T-Mobile's App Pack -- a carrier-sanctioned subset of the Android Market that we've seen on other phones from the carrier in the past -- and Swype
, which is the default keyboard upon first power-on. You'll also find TeleNav
bundled, but no sign of the Facebook and Twitter apps. T-Mobile's add-ons include DriveSmart: when manually enabled, this app minimizes driving distractions by silencing notifications, routing calls to voicemail or a Bluetooth headset, and optionally auto-responding to calls and texts. DriveSmart Plus, a downloadable upgrade, automatically detects vehicle motion, and adds parental controls.
Sprint's Optimus keeps the original dessert almost uncontaminated. What is normally the browser button to the right of the app tray button is replaced with a Sprint ID
button. Sprint ID, which you'll remember from our Samsung Transform review
, bundles wallpapers, shortcuts, widgets, applications, and ringtones into themed packages available for download from Sprint. While possibly helpful to first-time users, it seems like a waste of valuable home screen real-estate to seasoned Android freaks like us. Oddly, Google's Car Home application is missing, but thankfully, Sprint pre-loads the Facebook and Twitter apps.
There's absolutely no doubt that the Optimus T and Optimus S offer incredible value. With nice hardware, up-to-date software, and most importantly, solid performance, there's a lot to like for both first-time Android users and smartphone aficionados on a budget. T-Mobile's version seems to be the winner here, with a lower price, a better camera implementation, useful extras (FM radio and WiFi calling) and wordwide roaming, but we're also madly in love with the purple finish on Sprint's model -- so it's a tough call. No matter which one you end up picking, the Optimus T and Optimus S paint the same picture the Comet did: the days of the dumbphone and feature phone are numbered. In our book, that's a good thing.