Ting Optimus S Review

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This post will become both a review of Ting and a review of a refurbished Optimus S.

The phone arrived last night via FedEx 3-day. Contrary to the instructional video, but perhaps in-line with the product description, it did not come with an SD card. The phone auto-updated to Gingerbread within its first few minutes of Wi-Fi access. It’s a refurbished phone; there is one ~2mm square scratch on the back cover, and fine abrasions from use. Screen and front face are perfect. I’ll do worse within the next month.

I activated the phone using Ting’s web interface. Ting assigned me a phone number within my area code. The data connection must be on to activate the phone.

I’ve used a number of smart phones, and am perhaps most familiar with the Nexus series. That said, it’s my first personal smartphone.

I’m impressed. From a processing perspective, it’s the equivalent of the computer I took to college. Snappy, apps install easily, and it gets everything a smartphone ought to do done. It’s a tricorder. Gingerbread is sufficient to run every app I’d like to run at present.

Best of all, at $63 + shipping/tax, it’s more than an order of magnitude less-expensive than the machine I took to college.

Spec-wise, it is almost as capable than the once-flagship Nexus One that I once lusted after. The Optimus S doesn’t suck, and you can buy seven of them for the cost of a current flagship phone. Late adopters get the benefits of a polished product at a low price.

Edit:

Camera

Not great, not awful.

Focus is reasonably quick. Close focus is about 2″. Test photo above shot in relatively low ambient sunlight (click for unedited output). After the Gingerbread update, the dedicated shutter button must be held down longer (?)┬áto start the Camera app.

And, first-pass GIMPage:

It’ll do. Image quality surpasses my previous phone, but doesn’t match a dedicated camera.

Edit: 9/27/2012:

No hiccups at all. Phone continues to exceed expectations. Ting’s 3G delivers pages at a plenty-useful rate for web surfing. Most browsing has been on WiFi, but occasional browsing + 3G-enabled standby has pulled down 12.8 MB in 5 days.

Ting customer service was again responsive. I sent a note about the absence of an SD card with the phone (and a second asking them not to send one; don’t need two, especially when shipping costs more than the card), and they were back to me in a reasonable period of time (~5 days, with an apology for tardiness).

Can’t wait to test the coverage in the mountains. It would be very nice to drop Verizon.

Edit 10/6/2012:

Still very happy with the phone and the service. Leaving Gmail running with background data + some web-browsing/downloads has only pulled ~32 MB in the last 15 days. I spend much of my day and night near WiFi service, for whatever that’s worth. Phone battery easily lasts two days with my usage. Accidentally leaving Strava (a cycling app) running continuously drains the battery through GPS usage after ~6 hours. Interacting with hardware like my car (using Torque, see blog post) has been joyful.

Edit 11/9/2012:

Phone has needed one reboot in the past month in order to reset the 3G modem. Cant-be-disabled pop-up warning when service is lost is unpleasant, but easily dismissed. Gently dropped the phone a few times (including 10 minutes ago); no problems.

Camera isn’t great, perhaps due to on-the-fly image compression. With the GIMP, I’m able to salvage medium-print quality (See carabiner review) images at 550×300 or so, but it’s work. Go elsewhere for a quality imaging solution.

Ting service has been great.

I’ve been happy enough with Ting and the Optimus S that I just ordered one for my Dad.

Edit 11/30/2012:

Just took a trip all from North Carolina to Virginia to New York. Coverage was plenty ample everywhere I needed it. Data was a little cranky in a rural setting, but perhaps no worse than other carriers. In NYC, it was fine. Not as fast as a friend’s Verizon 4G service, but good enough to get me lots of useful information.

Awesome, perhaps better than expected. The jury’s still out on coverage in the mountains, but otherwise, I’m sold.

Did a nice accidental drop of the phone; works fine, no damage. Dad’s refurbished Optimus S also has no obvious faults.

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