Every smartphone has its own unique features, and that is quite true for the Optimus Black. As mentioned earlier, we will be explaining how the gesture button functions. The name by itself is a giveaway - gestures are used as a control mechanism to interact with the Optimus Black. How the gesture button is used can be customized within the settings panel. This could range from holding the gesture button and swaying the phone left or right to alternate between pages, or just simply holding it and picking up the phone to answer an incoming call.
Even without the gesture button being held onto, you can also flip the phone over to mute an incoming call, snooze an alarm or pause a video. In fact, the whole phone is a controller. Double tapping either the left or right side will let you rewind or skip to the next track on your music list, while a single tap will move your images along when you view them in the gallery. These gesture controls aren't exactly new, given how Samsung did it previously with the Samsung Jet.
On the user interface (UI) front, there are some improvements. With Google Android 2.2 preloaded (and a confirmed future Android 2.3 update) on the Optimus Black, LG banks on the flexibility of the open source mobile OS to park its Optimus UI 2.0 onto the Optimus Black. Like most Android smartphones, customizing the interface is easy and intuitive by simply holding an icon and dragging it to the respective pages. Four apps or features can also be parked as permanent shortcuts. At this point, there's no doubt that the Optimus UI borrows heavily from a few earlier designs, that being the Samsung Galaxy S and Apple's iPhone to name a few.
That's not to say that there aren't any observable differences on the Optimus UI. There are three different menu layouts for you to choose from - category, page and list. The page layout is quite familiar, with all your apps listed onto various pages. Likewise, the list layout isn't a stranger, listing the apps from top to bottom, though we did spot an alphabet sidebar that lets you skip to an app based on their alphabet.
Its category layout is the real focus, allowing you to customize your apps according to their functions. By default, you start off with two basic categories - applications and downloads. Adding more categories will definitely help in searching for your desired app, such as the YouTube or Music app which can be parked under a multimedia category. We are definitely in agreement with the category concept, though you have to exercise caution and not overload the menu with categories that could mess up the layout.
As mentioned, what we have here is a pre-production unit, thus we'll have to end our preview right here. Fortunately, we won't have to wait too long, as LG has stated that the Optimus Black will be available by April 2011. retailing for S$768. Once we get our hands on a retail unit, we'll be commencing with our usual performance benchmark tests, giving you a better idea of how this svelte Android smartphone fares against the barrage of devices coming our way in 2011.