With the launch of two high-end 3D smartphones over the last few months, I think I can safely concur that 3D on smartphones is not a trend that's going to die out soon. Fortunately, I got to review both the HTC Evo 3D and now, the LG Optimus 3D in quick succession and was thus able to get a nice idea of where 3D technology on smartphones stands and which of the two was better at it.
I threw every kind of video from our test library at the LG and it played them all without any issue.
The LG Optimus 3D is the latest smartphone that boasts a dual-core processor, in this case a 1GHz ARM processor complemented by a PowerVR SGX540 GPU. Like the Evo 3D, the Optimus also has a large 4.3-in display but with lesser resolution at 480x800 pixels.
The Optimus 3D comes with 512MB of RAM and 8GB internal storage. It offers DLNA support and allows for 3G connectivity (HSDPA 14.4Mbps, HSUPA 5.76Mbps). It has two 5MP cameras at the back with an LED flash and a secondary camera for video chats and calls. The LG also has a miniHDMI port.
The review model came with Android 2.2.2 (Froyo) but the phone is upgradeable to Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) once LG makes the update available.
3D Performance & Features
The good news first- 3D aficionados will be pleased to note that the 3D effects presented by the Optimus are much more obvious and in-your-face. Unlike what I saw on the HTC Evo 3D, the Optimus' display is not just capable of adding "depth" 3D effects but also effects that make stuff "pop-out" of the screen. The Optimus 3D's display is also much more forgiving of viewing angles and lets you enjoy 3D content even when the screen is held at an angle.
LG has also included a "3D space" in the phone that gives you one touch access to 3D content on your phone or on YouTube. It also provides access to a Gameloft online store from where you can download 3D games. The number of games available isn't great but hopefully that will improve in the future. The Optimus comes pre-installed with a couple of 3D games (that need to be downloaded) which is a nice addition.
Unfortunately, that brings me to the bad. In almost all cases (well, four cases to be precise, since there were four pre-installed 3D games), 3D served only as a distraction and added little to the experience or immersion. Also, again the matter of physical discomfort comes up and staring for more than a minute at the screen (when displaying 3D content) made me feel uncomfortable. About two minutes meant that my eyes would start watering. Again, as in the Evo 3D review, I would like to mention that it could just be that my tolerance to stereoscopic 3D is particularly bad.
Design & Usability
The LG Optimus 3D features a tweaked UI that fortunately makes working with Android a better experience. The touch input itself is good but I did come across times when the phone didn't recognize a tap at the first go and I had to tap a couple of times more to get something done. I don't consider this a serious issue though. The phone's interface is also smooth and fluid and I didn't come across any performance issues.
Like the Evo 3D, the LG Optimus 3D is also a large device that just about takes over your palm. The massive area devoted to the screen means that when it's switched on, it's a great looking phone. It's also well-built but, like the Evo 3D, is bulkier than most phones. The Optimus has a one-touch hardware button to access the 3D Space on the phone and it's in the place where usually the camera button lies. I found myself unintentionally pushing the button plenty of times when I wanted to shoot a picture and ended up getting annoyed.
The Optimus 3D's display looks quite good and its large size definitely helps. Visibility does become an issue under sunlight though and when switching to 3D mode, it becomes considerably dimmer even at full brightness.
Although the Optimus 3D's spec-sheet says that it has a 1500mAh battery, its battery life is poor. The battery had trouble lasting the day and often needed to be charged about 10 hours into the day. Playing 3D games for 30 minutes meant that the battery went from 90% to 25%. Call quality was also average with voices coming across strained and unclear. The Optimus 3D also needed to be re-booted once during tests after a session of shooting 3D videos caused it to hang.
The LG Optimus 3D's 5MP camera is capable of shooting good looking photos both indoors and outdoors. The indoor photos I shot had rich colors and photos shot in macro mode had excellent details. The only issue I had was that the images had some visible noise. The Optimus 3D's imaging prowess is further affirmed by the great looking 1080p videos it shoots. It's also able to shoot 3D images at 3MP and record 3D video at 720p.
Images shot with the Optimus 3D (click on images to enlarge in new window).
The Optimus 3D is also fantastic at video playback. I threw every kind of video from our test library at the LG and it played them all without any issue. I'm talking about videos ranging from 1080p DivX to 720p MKV to 720p WMV and the Optimus 3D didn't require me to install a third-party video player to play them all. The LG is also really good at playing music but unfortunately doesn't have an FM radio.
There isn't really a lot of competition when it comes to high-end 3D smartphones in the Indian market. While the Optimus 3D offers a better 3D experience than the Evo 3D, the HTC is the better smartphone overall on account of better battery life, slightly better usability, better screen and better call quality. On its own though, the Optimus is still a good smartphone to buy.
The LG Optimus 3D is available in India for Rs. 33,500.
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