LG Optimus L3 review

We review the LG Optimus L3, a budget blower that combines Android Gingerbread with a fashionable, minimalist design

Rating: 
3.5
Pros: 
Attractive design, Great battery performance, Low price, Good usability, MicroSD card support
Cons: 
Small, low-resolution display, Mediocre camera, Not the latest version of Android
Verdict: 
Compact, stylish design and decent functionality at an attractive budget price

The LG Optimus L3 (E400) is the first of LG's ‘L-Style' range to land on these shores, pitched at the affordable end of its new design-centric mid to low-tier Android phone line-up. It has launched with an enticing sub-£100 price tag in some pre-pay packages.

LG is looking to differentiate this budget Android handset by spotlighting its sharp, minimalist design, reflecting a consistent feel LG has deployed across the L-Style range. The L-Style series takes some of its headline design cues from the flagship Prada phone by LG 3.0 collaboration - albeit distilled for a more cash-conscious audience.

Packing the smallest screen of the initial L-Style trio - a modest 3.2-inch QVGA display - the Optimus L3 is compact, squeezing in at a reasonably slim 11.7mm. Its angular, slightly squat design ticks the Prada-lite boxes, as does the subtly curved metallic-look edges surrounding the casing and its textured back panel that offers a comfortable in-hand grip.

It's certainly chic for a budget handset. And at 109g all-in, it's no pocket-sagger, either, despite a sufficiently solid feel to it.  It's initially available in either ‘full black' or ‘soft white' bodywork.

There's no front panel clutter - the fascia is clean apart from the LG logo and one central home button below the display. Capacitive Menu and Back touch keys sit either side, illuminating only when the phone is active. Pleasingly, they're tuned to be responsive but not overly sensitive.

On top of the phone is a simple Power/Lock key and a standard 3.5mm headphone socket, while at the base is a regular microUSB port. A volume rocker is the only other buttonry on the device. There is a microSD slot, but that's hidden away under the back panel. The back panel also houses the L3's low-key, flash-free 3-megapixel camera.

As an affordably priced model, the Optimus L3 doesn't work the latest Ice Cream Sandwich flavour of the Android operating system. Instead, it ships with Android 2.3.6 (Gingerbread) - the most widespread version of the OS - running the show, powered by an 800MHz processor, with 1GB of user memory tucked away inside. Usefully, a hefty 1540mAh battery pack is standard issue, promising to keep the L3 ticking over for longer than your average budget Android device.

Of course, this isn't a device aimed at those after a cutting edge, high-end smartphone performance. For the cash, though, the Optimus L3 delivers a solid set of features and functionality inside some classy-looking bodywork.

Some compromises are inevitable. Those used to larger-screened smartphones will find the 3.2-inch display more limited as far as finger action is concerned, and it may require more scrolling than they're familiar with. It does little to hamper usability for everyday use, though.

The capacitive touchscreen performs up to scratch for this grade of smartphone, the transitions happening quickly enough with smooth scrolling action and precise control. Even with multiple apps running, there was no noticeable drop off in performance.

Naturally, you're not likely to get the sort of scorching performance of high-end smartphones, and for complex gaming you might want something with a bit more power under the bonnet, but for an affordable device the Optimus L3 is a capable handset.

The LG Optimus L3 user interface is a lightly skinned version of standard Android Gingerbread, and is straightforward to use. The four main quick key control icons anchored at the bottom of the screen are amply sized and the layout sufficiently spacious for the larger-fingered user to dab and swipe their way around. It has five co-joined home screens and, as usual, these can easily be populated with a variety of shortcuts, widgets and folders. There are no surprises on the widgets front - there are just ten, mostly standard fare Google apps.

As well as delivering message, download or other info, the drop down notifications panel has useful fast keys for powering on/off Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, data connectivity and silent mode - plus a music player control panel.

It's easy to work your way around the menus, with responsive finger control. Messaging is no problem either. Although you might expect it to be tight for typing on this relatively small display, in portrait mode the LG's Qwerty keyboard is surprisingly usable to type accurately at a reasonable lick, and you can rotate into landscape if you want a full screen length keyboard. There are no alternative keyboard options (such as Swype) to LG's default on this device but there is an optional predictive text option you can switch on, should you prefer.

Specifications

Typical Price £99.95 pre-pay (+£10 top-up) / free with 24 month £15.50pcm contract
UK Launch April, 2012
Network Vodafone, O2, Orange, T-Mobile, Virgin Mobile
Frequency GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900
Phone Style Candy bar
Thickness 11.7mm
Length 102.6mm
Width 61.6mm
Weight 109g
Built-in Memory 1GB of internal memory, 384MB of RAM
Additional Memory Up to 32GB via microSD card slot
High-speed Data HSDPA 900/2100
Connectivity GPRS,EDGE,HSDPA
Screen Size 3.2-inches (240x320 pixels)
Screen Colours 256k
Camera 3.15-megapixel
Designer Lens No
Camera Resolution 2048x1536 pixels
Zoom Yes
Flash No
Video Resolution VGA (640x480 pixels)
Ringtones Yes
Music Player Yes
Music Formats MP3, AAC, AAC+, AMR, WAV, AC3
Song Storage 1GB (up to 32GB via microSD card slot)
Radio FM Radio
Speaker Yes
Video Calling No
Internet Yes
Browser HTML

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