LG takes the laurels for the first glasses-free 3D phone to hit the UK market. We’re expecting big things of course, but in technology terms, first isn’t always best.
Regardless of the stereoscopic angle, the Optimus 3D also has a dual-core processor, stonkingly big 4.3in screen and full HD video recording.
Design and build
With two cameras and a technological breakthrough in screen design to incorporate, the Optimus 3D puts a bit of a dent in your pocket, measuring 128x68x12mm and weighing 168g. It looks pretty good though, in LG’s minimalist black plastic with a metallic band around the sides.
The standard four Android buttons sit below the screen and on the sides are a volume rocker and ‘3D’ button, plus microUSB and mini HDMI ports covered by plastic grommets. On top is a power/sleep button and 3.5mm headphone jack, while bulging out slightly from the back are the twin camera lenses and an LED flash.
Interface and OS
Android 2.2 Froyo is the operating system so it’s still a little behind the latest 2.3 Gingerbread version, though it’s likely to get an update in the near future to add NFC (Near Field Communication) for phone-based payments and SIP VoIP calling. LG has also put its own skin on the basic Android look and while it’s perfectly functional, it’s not as smooth or as good-looking as HTC’s Sense.
The Optimus 3D is powered by a dual-core 1GHz ARM Cortex processor, which was very nippy in general use, opening multiple apps with ease and showing no serious signs of lag when viewing movies or browsing the web.
The 4.3in capacitive touch screen is a sharp looking customer, with bright, vibrant colours and razor-like edges – and that’s just in 2D. It can of course also display 3D pictures and videos and it does so very well indeed, if a smidgeon dimmer than the 2D version.
There’s a very narrow viewing angle, and you have to hold the phone at just the right distance from your eyes to get the 3D effect, but it’s definitely there, and so long as you stay in the zone, it’s very effective, with a clear illusion of depth that draws the eye and makes even the most mundane images eye-catching.
It only works if you hold the phone in landscape mode however, and if it catches your eye too much you’ll find yourself feeling a little queasy after a while.
There’s not a huge amount of 3D content to choose from just yet, but there are a couple of 3D games and demos on board to show off the screen’s capabilities, all included in the phone’s ‘3D Zone’. Plus there are games available from Gameloft and you can view 3D clips and movies on YouTube and other sites. You can also use the settings to enhance the 3D effect or turn it off altogether to save on your battery, which you’ll be glad of.
The 5 megapixel camera includes autofocus, LED flash, multi-shot (up to six), geotagging, face-tagging plus a self-timer. Maximum resolution is 2592x1944 pixels and it produces good quality pics with reliable colour balance and crisp, sharp edges.
The 3D pictures look very effective too, though you’ll need to make sure your phone has enough power to take them – if the battery drops below 10 per cent it won’t even bother. You can’t take 3D pics in portrait resolution either as it only works in landscape mode.
It can shoot 1080p Full HD video at 30fps and these look really good, even when blown up on a full-size TV screen – the phone’s HDMI connection allows you to send your pics and vids straight to a suitably equipped TV without loss of quality. The resolution drops to 720p for 3D, but that’s still more than decent, and the effect works just as well for video as it does for still images.
Apps and browser
The Android browser displays pages well and supports Flash too, which gives it one up on the iPhone. There aren’t an awful lot of dedicated 3D apps available from the Android Market yet, though there are a few so-so games.
If the likes of the Optimus 3D and the soon-come HTC Evo 3D take off, we’re likely to see a lot more.
Media and connectivity
Films in 2D look very good indeed on the big, sharp screen and it can play back MPEG4, H263, H.264, WMV and even DivX video formats.
The Android music player is easy to use and the supplied headphones are a little above average quality with a decent amount of bass capability. It can play AAC(+)(++), MP3, WAV, WMA and OGG audio formats but there’s no FM radio on board.
Performance and battery life
A dual core processor plus a large 3D screen don’t seem to do much to prolong battery life, and we found that we never actually got a full day’s use out of it. It comes with 8GB of memory on board and you can bump that up to 32GB via microSD card.
- 4.3in 3D screen
- Dual-core processor
- HDMI port
- 3D stills camera
- Big and bulky
- Dated version of Android
- Poor battery life
- Not enough 3D content
Verdict: LG’s Optimus 3D is a classy smart phone and it’s made a little bit of history by being the UK’s first 3D phone. But it’s big and bulky, and if you can take or leave the 3D thing, you’d be better off with the likes of LG’s Optimus 2X.
More info: LG Optimus 3D spec