By July 28, 2011

LG Optimus 3D Review

Optimus3D-main Announced a few months ago at MWC 2011, it is finally here on British shores, the Optimus 3D from LG is the first 3D phone available on the market and that is not the only thing it has to show off. The Optimus 3D also boasts a 1GHz dual-core processor, 512 MB of RAM and 2, yes count them, 2 cameras for taking 3D photos!

But is this the phone to rule them all? Is this better than the rest? Should you embark your journey into the visual third dimension astride the Optimus 3D? Well, read on to find out!

 

10 Second Review:

  • Device: LG Optimus 3D
  • Price: £389 ex-VAT (£466.80 including VAT) SIM Free
  • Summary: An Android 2.2 Smartphone with good specs but with the ability to view content in 3D, it makes it so much cooler than the rest.
  • Best of: 3D, Android 2.2 Froyo, Screen
  • Worst of: Slow Android skin, weight, 4.3" screen may be too big for some
  • Buy it now from Clove

 

What is in the box?

  • LG Optimus 3D
  • Battery
  • UK 3-Pin USB Charger
  • USB to Micro-USB Sync/Charge cable
  • Earphones
  • Warranty Info
  • User Guide
  • Getting started guide
  • Troubleshooting guide

Check out Matt’s unboxing video of the LG Optimus 3D below!

Optimus 3D

Optimus3D-box

LG Optimus 3D Specification:

  • 2G Network: GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900
  • 3G Network: HSDPA 900 / 1900 / 2100
  • Dimensions: 128.8 x 68 x 11.9 mm
  • Weight: 168 g
  • Display: 3D LCD capacitive touchscreen, 16M colours, 480 x 800 pixels, 4.3 inches
  • LG 3D UI
  • Accelerometer sensor for UI auto-rotate
  • Proximity sensor for auto turn-off
  • Gyro sensor
  • 3.5mm jack
  • Memory: 8 GB storage, 512 MB RAM
  • microSD, up to 32GB
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, DLNA, Wi-Fi hotspot
  • Bluetooth: v3.0 with A2DP, EDR
  • microUSB v2.0
  • Camera: Dual 5 MP, 2560?1920 pixels, autofocus, LED flash, Stereoscopic photos & videos; geo-tagging, [email protected] (2D), [email protected] (3D)
  • OS: Android OS, v2.2 (Froyo), upgradable to v2.3
  • CPU: Dual-core 1GHz ARM Cortex-A9 proccessor, PowerVR SGX540 GPU, TI OMAP4430 chipset
  • Stereo FM radio with RDS
  • GPS with A-GPS support
  • Digital compass
  • HDMI port
  • Digital compass

 

General

The power button and the headfone jack reside on the top of the LG Optimus 3D.

Optimus3D-top

While only the microphone is on the bottom of the device.

Optimus3D-bottom

The Micro-USB port and Micro-HDMI are on the left hand side of the handset; Both being covered by a flap to prevent dust and other small things getting stuck or wedged in it.

Optimus3D-left

On the right hand side of the Optmus 3D are where the volume rocker and the 3D toggle button live.

Optimus3D-right

The 2 cameras for 3D photos, LED flash and speaker are on the back of the handset.

Optimus3D-back

Whereas the front is dominated by the 4.3" screen but there is enough room for the ear speaker at the top and the 4 capacitive Android buttons are at the bottom in the order: Menu, Home, Back and Search.

Optimus3D-front

 

Review:

The LG Optimus 3D is the first device with said ability that has graced out shores with it’s presence. Whence I first turned the handset on, I expected everything to jump out at me, making be wowed by the immersive experience when using this device. However, this turned out to be as true as Santa. As it turns out, the 3D mode only works in the landscape orientation. A big let down but nonetheless, it is cool. Anyway more on the 3D aspects of this device later.

As usual, I will begin this review talking about the hardware, and in short, it is just slightly more than average. The Optimus 3D is almost entirely made out of plastic, which should automatically lower the bar but it appears to be fairly high quality which makes the previous statement all together more acceptable. However, as with every plastic phone that I can think of, there are some squeaks and creaks when you operate it normally although it does not feel like it will fall apart if you lay a feather touch upon the casing.

Optimus3D-back2

I said it was almost entirely made out of plastic and this is because on the back of the handset, there is a silver strip that houses the two cameras and LED flash that when holding it in your hand, gives a slightly more secure feeling hold on top of jazzing up the relatively boring back. 

Now with all of that plastic, you would expect that it would be relatively lightweight, but that unusually is not the case. At 168g it does weigh quite a lot in the hand and it does weigh more than pretty much every other Android handset on the market and it could be awkward for some users.

The processor inside the LG Optimus 3D may be dual-core but does that in no way make it the victor of the spec race. While 1GHz is not shabby by any one’s standards, it is not up to scratch with the current mid-2011 smartphones which are all at least 1.2GHz or above. Now I am not saying that it is not powerful or sluggish at all, the Optimus 3D can keep up with every task and chore I gave it, performing them almost without flaw. Notice the "almost": When using the device, it just gives a sense that it is not fast enough, just, like less than half a second slower than it needs to be. For example, when pressing the power button to turn the screen on, it takes about half a second to a second before it springs into life. Just not fast enough for mid-2011. Just.

On the contrary, the benchmark scores from Quadrant are actually quite good. At 2679 the Optimus 3D is above most current Android phones including the HTC Sensation and the Motorola Atrix but it is still less than it’s brother, the LG Optimus 2x and the reigning king of the benchmarks, the Samsung Galaxy S II.

device

The screen on the Optimus 3D is also pretty average. It does not blow me away like the Super AMOLED Plus screen on the Galaxy S II or does it not pain me like the QVGA screens on lower end handsets. At 480 x 800, it is on the higher end of the screen resolutions, however, with the introduction of qHD resolution screens, it falls once again into the average category. But this lower resolution could be because of 3D doesn’t work in qHD. Now that is just me guessing and speculating.Optimus3D-angled-right

The one thing that is above average about the screen is the colour vibrancy. They do really pop out more than a standard LCD screen and I think LG slightly changed this screen as well as it’s brother, the Optimus 2x for the better. Reds, greens, yellows and blues all pop out, drawing your eye to the vibrancy of the colours; Making it a pleasure to look at.

 

LG has implemented the same skin that they placed on the Optimus 2x on the Optimus 3D, now as I said in the previously, there just seems to be an average feel about the Optimus 3D and this continues with the Android skin LG has laid over Android 2.2 Froyo.

You get past the lock screen by simply sliding your finger up the screen.

Lockscreen

From there you are greeted by the homescreen which like every other Android homescreen as you can put anything you want on to it as long as it is either an app, widget, shortcut or folder.

homescreen1homescreen2homescreen3homescreen4homescreen5homescreen6homescreen7

You can change how many homescreens you want to use by entering the leap view which is done by pinching your fingers outwards. From there you hold down on the page you want to remove and drag it down to the bottom of the screen to do so. As for the leap view, it is supposed to be a way to quickly move between homescreens but in practise, I always find that it is easier just to swipe sidewards to the desired homescreen, rather than flying out and then flying in.

leap

At the bottom of each screen, there is a dock, similar in look to Samsung’s TouchWiz and Apple’s iOS because firstly there are 4 spaces, 3 for apps and the fourth is for the app drawer and secondly these apps stay with you as you slide between homescreens. You can change what apps are placed in the dock by entering the app drawer and then dragging the desired app to the dock at the bottom of the screen.

appdrawer

Just like nearly every Android phone, you get to the notification bar by touching the top of the screen and simply dragging your finger down from top to bottom. Once you have done this, you will not just be shown any notifications that might be there, but there also are some toggles for system functions such as ringer modes, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS and a toggle for turning data on and off but there are music controls in the notification bar as well.

notification

The skin that LG has placed over Android 2.2 Froyo is welcome but I do not see it enhancing the user experience of the device at all. It is nice to look at, there are some cool and useful widgets but there isn’t anything that makes me just go wow; Continuing on with the averageness of the Optimus 3D.

 

Google Services

Everything from email to calendar through to contacts is all natively built into the Optimus 3D at an OS level and the inclusion of Google services are in my opinion one of the best things about the Android mobile operating system.

Like most Android handsets, the Optimus 3D comes with two email clients. The first is LG’s own that works with services such as Microsoft Exchange or any other IMAP or POP email service. So if for some reason you are still using Yahoo! mail or Hotmail, you are covered. The second is the Gmail client from Google that works great with, as you would guess, Gmail. I would personally recommend Gmail however if you are stuck with a non-Google email, your options are limited to LG’s pre-installed email client.

gmail

The calendar on the Optimus 3D is, as you would expect, is also a very good experience. You can either view appointments in an agenda, day, week or month view. This can sync with your Gmail account for ease of use and just in case the worst happens, all of your appointments are stored in the cloud so you will not lose them. There are two calendar widgets available; a big one as well as a small one.

calendarcalendarlandscape

Contact syncing is one of the all time great things that have come out of Google. Those who have read my other reviews, will know that I have lost/broken/smashed many phones and I have lost all of some 400+ contacts way too many times. So with Google to the rescue, it doesn’t matter if you drop this off a cliff, you will still have your contacts saved with Google.

 

Text Entry Methods:

There are three ways of entering text into the Optimus 3D, which is pretty much standard on most Android handsets. The first is the portrait QWERTY keyboard which is my preferred text entry method and probably most people’s as well. Typing on this keyboard is a fairly good experience; no lag, text prediction is okay and the letters are about the right size for fast typing. Even though this is very similar to the version on the Optimus 2x, LG has fixed some of my concerns I had with it. Firstly, they placed a full stop button on the main screen rather than just having a smiley key on it but I would still like it if there was a comma button instead of a button for changing the language. Also, with some other keyboards such as the standard Android 2.3 Keyboard and Swype, you can hold down on a key and you can access other characters such as numbers and I would also like to see this included in LG’s keyboard as well.

keyboardportrait

The landscape variant of the keyboard on the Optimus 3D is very similar to the portrait one, except that the keys are larger. Everything stays the same, the predictive text, the QWERTY style of the keys and the punctuation key is present here as well.

keyboardlandscape

I have said over and over again, that the voice input method for entering text is probably the coolest way to do so on Android phones. I really appreciate how one can simply talk into the handset and for it churn out what you say as text on the screen. It makes it much easier when doing other things to reply to a text or something similar. I have found voice input on the LG Optimus 3D no better or no worse than any other Android, i.e. it is still very good.

voice

 

Internet

The ability to browse the entire web is one of the most appealing aspects of any smartphone and doing it well is essential and I am pleased to report that this is one area that the Optimus 3D has gone up and above average. LG has modified the standard Android browser for the better, making it look much more friendly and inviting with the blue bar rather than the harsh white of the standard Android browser.

browserportraitbrowserlandscapebrowserzoomed

LG’s browser has all of the features you would expect from a mobile phone browser: different windows, settings, bookmarks, pinch to zoom and text re-flow.

Text look crisp and clear on the Optimus 3D’s 480 x 800 display but text is not the only thing that looks great on the screen. Pictures and graphics look great in the browser and on the screen as well.

As you would expect, the Optimus 3D’s browser takes advantage of the built-in accelerometer which means you can view the web page that you have loaded in any orientation that you want.

As with every Android phone running version 2.2 Froyo or above, Flash 10.3 is supported in the browser on the Optimus 3D and it works as well as it can on a phone/touch screen.

 

Media

The music player on the Optimus 3D is also extremely well done. LG seems to have put in a lot effort into making this part of the software work exquisitely. The interface looks fantastic and well executed and you can view the music stored on your phone by either artist, song, albums or by a playlist you have created.

music2music11

As for playback, listening to music is frankly a quite good experience whether you listen through earphones, headphones or the built in speaker; The latter being surprisingly good.

The Optimus 3D comes pre-installed with the YouTube app that is exactly the same as any other Android device. You can browse through videos in a number of different categories such as most popular, discussed and most featured. You can also navigate to specific YouTube channels or videos by using the search bar. In terms of video quality, you can either choose between HQ (which is the default when viewing videos on Wi-Fi) and standard quality (which is the default when viewing videos on 3G) but they do playback smoothly most of the time on both of the Internet connection types. But this version seen on the Optimus 3D has been slightly changed so you can view 3D videos directly on the device.

youtube1

You can either view the videos in portrait or landscape. In portrait, the video is at the top and the video information such as the description; comments and related videos are at the bottom of the screen. But landscape is focused on just watching the video. In this orientation, the video fills the entire screen with no disturbances or distractions. You can go between these modes by either turning the handset in the desired orientation or by double tapping the video itself.

 

Camera

The cameras on the Optimus 3D is where this phone begins to get interesting because this handset is the first to ship with two of them! But this doesn’t mean that you have to shoot photos in three dimensions all the time, you can take pictures in 2D if you so wish.

The camera interface is yet another app gone under the LG makeover and once again for the better. The standard Android 2.2 Froyo camera user interface is frankly awful, really dull, boring and it just about gets the job done, but LG has once again put life into this app by sprucing it up a little. The buttons are more rounded, there is more colour and it is is just a slicker interface. And if you press the 3D button, it gives you a live 3D preview of your picture also!

cameraUI

On the left hand side, you have all of the settings for things such as the brightness, white balance, flash settings, image size and scenes while on the right you have the toggle to change between 2D and 3D shooting settings, the shutter button and the button to access the gallery; 2D or 3D versions depending what mode you are in.

Check out some 2D sample pictures below:

IMG018IMG022

IMG025

 

3D:
This is the undeniable the biggest selling point about this handset, not the dual-core processor, not the software but the ability to see into the third dimension without the need for glasses. The LG Optimus 3D uses a autostereoscopic display manufactured (big surprise here) by LG along with a IPS panel underneath, and the parallax barrier on top which results in an awesome glasses-free 3D experience!

As I said in the opening sentence of this review, I was disappointed that everything not being in 3D, but when I took a step back into reality, I realised that situation would not be practical. Firstly the battery drain would be enormous if every menu, icon and app was in 3D, secondly, some people just simply cannot see in 3D or they experience extreme pain in doing so and lastly, to make it a clean and seamless experience I think that every app installed would have to be coded to work in 3D. Also, the 3D effect can only be viewed in the landscape orientation which automatically makes it inconvenient to have it in 3D when using the phone normally.

3D on the Optimus 3D is exactly the same as the experience as the Nintendo 3DS meaning you have look at the screen in exactly the right place for you to get achieve the best possible experience. To begin with, I found it really hard to find the angle but after 2 or 3 days, I began to fall naturally into the right position for viewing 3D content but of course the right position will vary from person to person.

Similarly to the 3DS, you can adjust the level of intensity of the 3D effect by either adjusting the scale mid-game or you can just simply turn the effect off entirely by pressing the 3D button on the bottom left hand side of the handset.

I have noticed after viewing 3D content non-stop for a while, perhaps 30-45 minutes without a break, my eyes begin to start hurting. As far as I am aware, this is an issue with this kind of 3D technology as many people who I have talked to or communicated with cannot play the 3DS or look at the Optimus 3D either in it’s 3D mode for any more than an hour without becoming subject to a slight pain. However, do not let this frighten you, there is a quick remedy, just look away or change into the 2D mode for anywhere between 30 seconds or 5 minutes and you eyes should stop hurting and then when you resume to being submerged in the 3D goodness.

As for the quality of the 3D effect, you will have to trust me (because you won’t be able to tell by the pictures) that it is really extraordinarily good. It really blows me away with how realistic it is and how bizarre it is at the same time!

If you end up purchasing the Optimus 3D, I highly recommend that before you jump straight into dealing with 3D, you first open up the 3D Guide which is exactly what it sounds like: A guide to everything about 3D on the handset ranging from creating to sharing.

3D space

The second 3D app I am going to talk about is the YouTube app which is the special 3D version allowing users to view specific 3D videos on their phone.

youtube1

LG has also worked with the mobile game studio giant Gameloft  to create many 3D specific versions of their greatest mobile games including N.O.V.A (Near Orbital Vanguard Alliance), Lets Golf 2, Asphalt 6 and Gulliver’s Travels. These are the same as their 2D brothers albeit you get the added bonus of seeing everything in the third-dimension which really adds to the gaming experience, especially when playing N.O.V.A.

NOVA2dNova3D

Lets Golf 2DLets Golf 3D

There is also some other 3D orientated apps such as the 3D Space is a centralised place with links to all of the 3D aspects of the device, all with 3D animations and on a revolving carousel.

3d guide

The last 3D app you can use on the Optimus 3D is the 3D Gallery which once again is exactly what it implies; A picture or video gallery but the interface is in 3D.

3d gallery3d gallery2

There is no shadow of a doubt that the 3D aspect of the aptly named Optimus 3D is cool, in-fact it is sub-zero but I feel that this is just a cry to differentiate from flood of similar looking Android phones coming out onto the market. Now don’t take this the wrong way, the 3D addition is a welcome addition but I’d rather see manufacturers trying to differentiate their handsets with faster, better looking hardware and more helpful and prettier software rather than trying to do it with things like 3D.

 

Voice Quality:

This is the one area I am truly surprised by as in it is fantastic! Every word was loud, clear and on both sides, easily understood even in the weakest of signal strengths. I do not know if it because LG has modified the radio with magic or something else, but nevertheless, good job LG!

 

HDMI Mirroring

Despite the fact that a HDMI to Micro-HDMI cable does not come in the box, the Optimus 3D does have a Micro-HDMI port which if you have the right cable, you can plug into you TV and mirror what ever is on the phone on your TV. Even though I have not used the feature with this phone in particular, I have used it on the Optimus 2x and I fully expect it to be the same experience as there is not much else it can do. But as I have not tested it out with this phone, I cannot comment on how works in practise with this specific phone.

 

Battery Life

The battery life, to be honest is once again rather average and that is because of the average sized battery which is at 1540 mAh. It got me through the day but not by much. I usually returned home with about 25-30% left of an original charge which is what I normally expect from a high-end Android handset.

 

Conclusion

The review of the Optimus 3D is probably the review I have enjoyed writing and testing out the most. I loved the The Optimus 3D is all in all a good Android handset even though most aspects of it are pretty average but with the addition of 3D, this particular handset is pushed  above most of the weaklings, putting it in contention with the likes of the Optimus 2x, HTC Sensation and Samsung Galaxy S II. But can I say should you choose the Optimus 3D over any of the others? Honestly, I cannot. They are all about as good as one another; They all have their quirks, strong points as well as weak points but if you are in this boat, ask yourself, do you really want to delve into the wondrous world of the third dimension or do you want to remain in the secure realm of the two dimensions?

 

Review by: Patrick

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