LG (like Sony and HTC) has streamed its 2012 line-up to just four phones. The LG Optimus L3 is the baby of the range, a small, Android equipped smartphone priced between £69-150. LG has lost ground to rivals recently, can this pocket-rocket win over the entry-level market?
First impressions of the L3 are mixed. The sharp rectangular edges are certainly different, but we're not sure that's a good thing, because they give the phone a severe look. The front of the phone is covered in glass and the black space around the screen part of LG's ‘floating mass’ design, with hidden touch-sensitive Android controls.
Turn the phone over and you'll find the back is very different - it's curved with a more subtle crisscross design, which fits neatly into the palm of your hand.
The LG Optimus L3 feels solid and well built, with volume rocker on one side, micro USB at the bottom and power and 3.5mm jack on the top. Internal memory is 1GB, which is generous at this price point and can be expanded using a microSD card which, (unusually) is located in the side, rather than underneath the battery.
LG Optimus L3 - Screen
The screen is an average-sized 3.2-inches, which is just about passable for browsing the web and watching movies. What lets it down is the resolution - 240x320 is very low, pixels are visible, off-angle viewing is poor and it’s very hard to see in bright sunlight.
This isn't really a surprise at this price point - with cheaper Android phones the compromise tends to be the screen. Put simply, to get a better screen spend more money.
The keyboard is a little small if you’ve got large hands, but turn on predictive text and with a bit of practice you'll soon be firing off emails.
LG Optimus L3 - User Interface
The Optimus L3 runs Android Gingerbread 2.3.6, rather than the newer Ice Cream Sandwich, at the moment LG to upgrade the UI. LG’s mobile phones run close to the vanilla Android experience.
Browsing is passable, namely because of the wrap to text feature, whereby you zoom in, double tap and the text realigns to fit.
LG Optimus L3 - Multimedia and Camera
The camera has a resolution of 3-megapixels, which is a little lower than we'd like (5-megapixels is our preferred minimum), but in good conditions it captures adequate photos, with a respectable amount of (rather soft) detail. Colours do seem flat though. Without autofocus close-ups are near impossible and the lack of flash rules out evening or low-light photos.
The LG Optimus L3 also captures VGA movies, which are incredibly soft with obvious artefacts and drab colours, but they’ll be fine if you want a quick video for posterity.
Overall though the L3's fine for off-the-cuff social networking-bound snaps, but we wouldn't want this to be our primary holiday camera.
LG Optimus L3 - Performance and Battery
The LG Optimus L3 includes an 800MHz processor, which is more power than we'd expect at this price. This is the same speed as the Samsung Galaxy Mini 2 and the Huawei Ascend Y 100, but more powerful than the HTC Desire C.
We had no issues swapping between applications, the LG Optimus L3 generally felt smooth, although in a years time with multiple apps installed we’d be curious to see if it still runs smoothly.
LG Optimus L3 - Conclusion
The LG Optimus LG is worth considering if you’re looking for a first smartphone. Looking online it’s as low as £69.99 on PAYG, certainly don’t pay any more than that. £69.99 is the same price as the Huawei Ascend Y 100, but the L3 offers a bigger screen, more storage and better camera, although the screen is poor.
If you have a bit more budget we’d suggest opting for the Huawei Ascend G300, which is £100 on Vodafone, or alternatively try the T-Mobile Vivacity is just £49.99 and includes a 5-megapixel camera with flash.