LG Optimus 3D

The 3D gimmick works better than expected, but for a phone that promised world-beating performance, we did see more lag than we'd have liked, and it has average battery life to boot.


7.5
CNET Rating
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CNET Editor

Joe capitalises on a life-long love of blinking lights and upbeat MIDI soundtracks covering the latest developments in smartphones and tablet computers. When not ruining his eyesight staring at small screens, Joe ruins his eyesight playing video games and watching movies. Twitter: @Joseph_Hanlon


Design

It wasn't too long ago that the idea of a smartphone weighing 200g and measuring 2cm thick seemed reasonable; it was, after all, a mini-computer. We remember a colleague at the time when the Nokia N90 Communicator was released, measuring the weight of it in his hand while saying that he preferred a phone that felt like "it could kill a man". He no longer works at CNET.

The LG Optimus 3D isn't quite as thick or heavy. Its 12mm depth is similar to handsets from competitor HTC, but its 168g weight is considerably more, and when you match this weight with the 3D's 4.3-inch display, this handset seems enormous. Its 4.3-inch screen stretches across the face of this unit with a thin strip of touch-sensitive buttons below the display. There's micro-USB and micro-HDMI cable ports on the left-hand side of the unit — covered by those pesky plastic latches that only LG persists in using — and a standard 3.5mm headphone socket on the top.

Those familiar with LG's fashion-forward handsets of the past will not recognise the serious-looking Optimus 3D. There's no colourful trim, ala the LG New Chocolate, nor any lashings of stainless steel, as we saw on numerous LG phones before now. Instead, the Optimus 3D is encased in a presentable yet dull grey-coloured, soft-touch plastic with strips of faux-metal running along the top and bottom of the face of this phone. The result is a polished appearance, but it's anything but eye-catching.

The 3D's LCD display is of a decent quality, showing nice colour and some reasonably deep blacks. As with LG's earlier smartphone releases in 2011, this screen favours whites over blacks, with web browsing coming up trumps in this equation. One interesting thing that we noticed during our review is that this display is almost completely invisible when viewed through sunglasses with a polarising filter. We're not sure if this has something to do with the nature of its 3D display, but it's certainly a shame for anyone who works outdoors and wears a decent pair of shades.

3D: all it's cracked up to be?

If you read the LG marketing material for this phone, you'll know that 3D doesn't actually stand for three dimensions. Well; it does, and it doesn't. LG has been distancing itself from the gimmick that is a 3D smartphone since its announcement, telling us that the 3D in the title refers to the unique hardware configuration used by this handset; dual core, dual memory and dual channel — three Ds (see video below). It's just a coincidence, then, that the phone has a 3D display, and that two cameras are positioned to shoot side-by-side images, we guess.

The 3D effect is created in a similar way that Nintendo achieves 3D in the 3DS. A parallax barrier sits on top of the LCD panel and directs each of your eyes to see subtly different pixels. This type of 3D is dependent on the user holding the phone in the right position in front of themselves; a shift on any axis, and the 3D effect becomes confused, making it an experience that is impossible to share with several people at once. It's also likely to give you a bit of a headache if you use it for too long, so it's lucky, then, that this effect is only applied to a couple of 3D-friendly apps, like the image gallery, the camera, YouTube and a handful of pre-installed games.

This is also the key problem with this technology; there isn't much that you can do with it, and, at the end of the day, you'll spend much more of your time on the phone viewing the screen in 2D, just as you would with every other phone on the market. If you're shopping for a new phone, the 3D feature may catch your eye in the store, but is it enough to draw you away from the other top phones of the year? Perhaps if you have a 3D TV the decision could be a little easier, as you can connect your Optimus 3D to a compatible display, and show off your latest pics and videos.

Camera

Easily the best feature of this phone is its dual 5-megapixel cameras. Every step in the process of shooting and viewing photos takes on a new level of fun. The viewfinder shows you 3D in real time, so you can line up your shots and get the most out of your third dimension. Once we'd snapped off a few pics, we were pleasantly surprised with the results; the photos looked sharp, and the colour reproduction was bright without being unnaturally vibrant.

In the gallery, you can browse your 3D photos, but you can also see old non-3D photos in a whole new way. As we flicked through a gallery of images that we'd shot on another recent smartphone, the Optimus 3D took each pic, multiplied it and somehow interpreted which elements should be in the foreground, and which in the background — so the effect, as a whole, looks very good. In conjunction with the micro-HDMI port and the right TV, this could make for some amusing photo slide nights.

On top, you can see the two photos taken by the phone's stereoscopic cameras, and below you can see the resulting 3D image.
(Credit: CBSi)

Performance

You'll remember that earlier, we referred to the unique three Ds in the hardware configuration of the Optimus 3D (dual core, dual memory and dual channel). This configuration is supposed to be the best-performing dual-core experience in a phone to date, with power when you need it and battery savings when you're not pushing it to its limits. We kept a close eye on both elements of performance during our tests, but neither really lived up to the hype created by LG in its marketing materials.

The performance we saw during our review was solid, but far from blisteringly fast. Moving through the menus on the phone is zippy enough, but you can definitely see it thinking. There's a slight animation judder when you scroll between the home screens, for example, and opening apps were preceded by a slight pause. We also saw a little lag in the browser; subtle animation stutters while scrolling over full-size pages as off-screen elements are rendered. These are all fairly minor issues to take note of; none of them impacted the functionality of the phone, but they did subtract from the notion that the Optimus 3D is amongst this year's fastest Androids.

Battery life is pretty average, as well. With heavy usage, the Optimus 3D drew more power than most recent Android smartphones, but was more power efficient than the Samsung Galaxy S2. We managed to get through a full work day with the Optimus 3D with about two hours of actual screen-on usage, and with our work email syncing in the background.

Overall

LG sacrifices the sleek curves that its phones are known for to pack as much tech into the Optimus 3D as it can — an approach that we would heartily approve of if the 3D had shown performance above and beyond other handsets in its league. It doesn't, though; there are twitches of lag across the user experience and average battery life, in a phone that is significantly heavier and somewhat thicker than the Galaxy S2 and the Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc, to name a few.

Its 3D camera and apps are lavish gimmicks, but they are also the best elements of this smartphone. The cameras take nice photos, and the 3D effect looks great when applied to everyday items and familiar faces. The glasses-less 3D display is difficult to use, and it will likely give you a headache, but it's a cool effect in short doses.



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ShukriJ Facebook
8
Rating
 

ShukriJ posted a review   

The Good:3D videos, games, camera, good performance

The Bad:LCD, heavy, the coast for an effect you might not want

The battery life has been improved with the updates, and it isn't that bad if you moderate your usage, like cut out the unnecessary widgets and use 3D mode when you have your charger around, even if it drains quicker but once you stop using it heavily a 4% charge can last more than 3 or 4 hours, which is good

What I didn't like about it though, is the finishing touches, this phone can do almost everything a phone can do, but with no style, not appealing, the menu is just black, and the home screen is pretty much the only screen you'll be using, and its not that rich either

A really really bad side is the LCD display, you invest a great deal of cash in this device, similar to any android high end smartphone, to get an LCD display

The bad side to 3D effect, it's cool but not that effective, I showed my phone to a few people whom are not familiar with 3D, and you'd expect a response like "wow", but the first thing they'd say is "what's that? ..or ..what am I supposed to see?" then you'd get that "oooohhh it's a 3D"

Another bad side is that the phone is heavy, Samsung doesn't brag about its very slim Sgs2 for nothing, its heavy if you want to browse the internet for long periods, and not sexy as a phone

Finally, LG doesn't seem to care with old customers, I'm talking about the android updates here, the 2.3 was released to Jordan in 18-February, and only in the service center ..on the other hand they release new phones almost twice in a month, or maybe more, so your phone loses its price quickly

 

Maverick_John posted a comment   
Australia

Joe i'm going to disagree with the battery comment. This phone has the worst battery from the smart phones out there, I wouldn't say this if im not 100% confident with my comment. The battery life in the galaxy s 2 was better than lg O3D, i'm starting to believe you may have had a faulty sgs2. My mate and i pitted our phones against each other (O3D vs SGS2) and the Lg optimus drains like running liquid through a pipe.
On standby for 1.5 hours drained the battery to 95%, it played 2.5 hours of 3d gaming and simple web browsing for a couple of hours with little work on the camera etc got 7 hours of battery life before going flat.

 

Joseph Hanlon posted a reply   
Australia

Hey John, I'm not sure my comments about battery life were 100% clear in the review. In my experience the 3D had better battery life than the SG2 with comparative use, but it doesn't have great battery life compared with other phones we've seen this year, esp the single-core Android phones.

Battery life tends to equate to screen time. It sounds like you got about 5-hours of actual use out of the 3D plus a few hours of standby, which is pretty good.

I suspect the firmware on the GS2 I reviewed might not have been 100% optimised, so I'm taking a look at it again with new firmware now. I'll let you know how it goes.

 

Maverick_John posted a reply   
Australia

The battery is definitely worse than its single core brethren but my experiences led me to believe its worse than its dual core brothers as well, anyhow i think it has probably got to do with it running froyo over gingerbread. Ill keep my eyes on the update, its too late for me i got myself the O3D, predominantly for bragging rights but unfortunately my disappointment on the battery life left me bragging about a phone even i could not enjoy. The sensation i had a play with at the preview event i enjoyed it but i could not agree with you more on the review... i wish i could play with all the phones lol.

NicholasS Facebook
5
Rating
 

NicholasS posted a review   

What about the HTC EVO why does it get over looked?

 

Maverick_John posted a reply   
Australia

Because it didn't get an Australian release.
Try researching a little on where they will contract deals for each phone. HTC released the EVO for the US market

Maverick_John Facebook
8
Rating
 

"Great 3d feats, Very poor battery"

Maverick_John posted a review   
Australia

The Good:Great phone and 3d control, flawless motion and speed

The Bad:The battery life makes the desire HD look awesome.

Phone has great speed and beautiful looking screen even with its 800 x 480 resolution the vibrancy and clear text is nice.
3d display in hd is a first for glassless 3d technology. Great presentation. People sensitive to 3d imagery will perhaps decide to carry some anti nausea medication.
Social is a great alternative to friend stream (HTC proprietary) with just as effective communication options and ease of use.
Email client is great as it connects to microsoft exchange as well as POP 3 accounts and HTML clients.
Nice options are available to organise your application listing, including the typical iphone/galaxy presentation of pages, an alphabetical listing or group categorising with the ability to allocate the categories you wish to place the app in.
Applications that come with the phone are fairly limited. There is lots of optus bloatware (14 to be exact), but thanks to this phone you can minimise the category of optus apps to make your app browsing easier. An office app comes preloaded and another small array of useful apps, but nothing spectacular, it seems measly compared to HTC's offerings.
The specs on paper look a little poor 1 ghz dual core with 256mb x 2 ram totalling 512mb. But don't let this fool you the phone runs flawlessly with multiple apps open. LG's tri dual technology works well. (dual ram/ dual cpu/ dual channel).
Now onto the fun stuff 3D. The dual 5mp camera on the rear takes some snazzy 3d pics, but you have to make sure the room is well litl as the camera's LED flash will not work on 3d shots. standard 2d shots will utilise the LED flash only. For a 5mp camera though it takes might nice shots. The Video recording will record at 720p for 3d or 1080p for 2d. It would be nice to have a arm movement stabiliser but it is only a mobile camcorder.
3d gaming is nice you get 4 built in games asphalt 6, lets golf 2 and N.O.V.A from gameloft and gullivers travel and in the 3d marketplace gameloft offered another 3 games for free totalling 7 games, assassins creed, real football 2011and spiderman. The games run well but each user will have to adjust the 3d control to suit their vision.

The biggest problem i have found with this phone is its extremely poor battery life. It makes my Desire HD look like an awesome battery life. It struggles to meet a normal 8 hour day without requiring a charge, this is just with social network updates and email updates. With an hour or so in a day regular web browsing. If you want to play 3d games, you can expect 3 hours of battery. I recommend buying one of those energiser rechargers to keep with you.
The plastic feel is nice but you cant help but notice how much more the aluminium body of HTC's feel nicer and more solid.

Summary: great phone with nice 3d features, nice offerings for apps. Camera is good for a 5mp but 8mp is the current standard for most phones. 3d photos/videos is a good are great. Battery is a big downfall making it hard to keep a working days life.

 

ozoneocean posted a comment   
Australia

It certainly looks powerful, but isn't HTC's EVO 3D already out in the US? That records and displays 3D content.

HARDY
10
Rating
 

HARDY posted a review   

Anyone! What is the battery life??? No one is talking about it. Though, 1500mA does not seem enough to me as other are offering upto 1950mA. Also I am a bit confused about the RAM 4GB or 4Gb. One review on the internet said 512Mb of RAM whats happening there???

Although, benchmarking figures for this phone fly thru the roof and is the top most in 2011, beating all the competitors -> Samsung Galaxy S2, Motorola Atrix, Sony Experia Arc, HTC Incredible S etc.

Rius
6
Rating
 

Rius posted a review   

God why look so laggy?

 

SSS posted a reply   

Looking laggy??? I don't think so, where are you looking.... also, these are all pre-production models rushed up for MWC 2011..

 

MEEE posted a comment   

4GB RAM, OMG!!




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User Reviews / Comments  LG Optimus 3D

  • ShukriJ

    ShukriJ

    Rating8

    "The battery life has been improved with the updates, and it isn't that bad if you moderate your usage, like cut out the unnecessary widgets and use 3D mode when you have your charger around, even i..."

  • Maverick_John

    Maverick_John

    "Joe i'm going to disagree with the battery comment. This phone has the worst battery from the smart phones out there, I wouldn't say this if im not 100% confident with my comment. The battery life ..."

  • NicholasS

    NicholasS

    Rating5

    "What about the HTC EVO why does it get over looked?"

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