2010 may well be remembered as the year of the great smartphone showdown with Google’s Android gaining prominence, Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 looking fantastic and Apple all but forced to make a play with new tech mid-year to keep the wolves at bay. Somewhere in amongst this furious melee will be LG, which is looking more and more like a small fish in a big pond if its Mobile World Congress showing is anything to judge by.
Alongside the announcement of the LG Mini, the Korean manufacturer put forth the GT540; a low-end touchscreen that would have been tossed immediately into the “who cares” bin if it wasn’t for the fact that it runs Google’s Android OS. That’s right, for the first time since the commercial launch of Android we are talking about a phone running the software which could launch in stores for under AU$300 (US$268). Though no official pricing is available at this time, an LG spokesperson told us that the company is pitching the GT540 to carriers as a possible prepaid handset from launch, or to be otherwise available on the lowest post-paid price tiers.
All of sudden the GT540 seems much more interesting. Running on Android 1.6, the GT540 would offer full access to everything you’d expect from a top-line Android model for about a third of the price. You’d get push email, access to the Android market, media playback, plus hardware features including HSDPA, Wi-Fi, a 3-megapixel camera and microSDHC memory expansion support.
LG’s track record on smartphones in the last few years has been pretty dismal, but the GT540 could indicate a shift of direction that would be a major boon for both LG and its customers. An open-source platform like Android lends itself to the low-end market, and the GT540 looks like an excellent introduction to smartphone features without demanding the smartphone premium. Look out for a full review of the GT540 when it’s released in the next few months.
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