Review: LG Optimus L3 PDF Print E-mail

With its hard lines and sharp edges, the LG Optimus L3 is a no-nonsense kind of a device. This entry-level Android smartphone is not out to make any great statements, and yet by its very simplicity, it does.

Aimed at the first-time smartphone user, the L3 is refreshingly simple. It takes a few seconds from boot-up to get used to the highly-responsive interface, and to find one’s way around.

Look and feel

Available in black or white, the L3 measures 102.6 x 61.6mm and weighs 110g. It’s 11.9 mm thick, making it the perfect size and weight to slip into one’s pocket.

It has a 3.2-inch QVGA touchscreen, which takes up most of the phone’s real estate. Since this is an entry-level smartphone, however, LG has attempted to cut costs. The TFT screen has been the biggest victim of this budgeting. While it is satisfyingly responsive, the screen offers a mere 240x320 pixel resolution. If the quality of your display is particularly important to you, you might want to look elsewhere.

In addition to the screen, LG has provided three additional buttons – frustratingly black against the black of the phone’s body and therefore impossible to identify without the aid of the backlighting. These are the standard Android fare, consisting of a back button, a multi-tasking button and a home key.

While the front of the phone is sleek and sophisticated looking, another cost cut was the phone’s back which is a simple clip-off piece of plastic. No doubt it makes the phone lighter, but it does give it a cheaper feel.

Interface, performance and usability

LG has put its own overlay on top of the Android Gingerbread 2.3 operating system, thereby simplifying navigation. It’s easy to access the main menu from any of the 5 home screens. A drop-down gives instant access to wireless, Bluetooth and audio controls. The main menu can also be displayed either as the default list of icons, or by category.

Unfortunately text input is not half as simple as navigating around the phone. The screen is really too small for typing, even in horizontal mode. A stylus is actually needed (though not provided) for accuracy.

Under the hood

LG may have cut corners with the display and casing, but not with the functionality. For such an affordable device, the L3 impressed us with its slick capabilities. It has a 800MHz single-core ARM Cortex-A5 processor, but with the low demands of the screen, it was perfectly fluid and responsive. The L3 also has 1GB of built-in memory for storing downloaded apps and games.

Multimedia

The settings on the 3MP camera are impressive: you can change everything from focusing modes to ISO. Unfortunately that’s the only thing impressive about the camera. There is no built-in flash, the colours come out rather dull and lag time of a few seconds between images being taken. The camera records video at 30fps, however, which means that the quality is decent, though the resolution is rather poor.

In terms of viewing video on the phone: playback is smooth, but the low resolution of the display is a letdown yet again. Audio also leaves much to be desired if you listen via the built-in speaker. Quality is somewhat better when you plug in and listen with earphones.

Battery life

Another place where LG thankfully did not skimp is with the battery. The 1500mAh offers an incredible (for a smartphone) 600 hours of stand-by time, and 10 hours of 3G talk-time. In practice we found the phone lasted a good 3 days of intermittent use without needing a charge.

Conclusion

If you want a phone that’s modern and capable, but does not come with the heavy price tag of more sophisticated devices, the L3 is a good bet. It’s affordable and functional, cutting out unnecessary trimmings without sacrificing the basics.
 
IN SUMMARY
 
Pros: Simple to use, responsive, great battery life
Cons: Screen resolution is out-dated, multi-media could be better. 
Rating: 7/10 
Price: R1 499
 
SPECIFICATIONS
 
OS: Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) 
Dimensions: 102.6 x 61.6 x 11.9 mm
Connectivity: GPRS, Edge, HSDPA 3.6 Mbps, Wi-Fi 802.11, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, MicroUSB.
Display: 240 x 320 pixels, 3.2 inches
Sensor: Accelerometer, proximity, compass
Weight: 110g
Camera: 3.15 MP, 2048x1536 pixels, autofocus, geo-tagging
Processor: 800 MHz 
Battery: Standard battery, Li-Ion 1500 mAh
Storage and memory: 1 GB internal memory
 

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