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LG Optimus L3 2 Review: In Depth

The Good

  • Excellent battery life

The Bad

  • Weak design, cheap materials
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We’re taking a look at the new LG Optimus L3 2, a pint-sized Android smartphone that may not be to everyone’s taste but still has a lot to offer.

LG Optimus L3 2 Review: Design & Screen

When it comes to the design of the L3 2, we have a love/hate relationship with it. In the hand, its small body is easy to hold and easily pocketable, plus we’re fans of the hardware home button which doubles as a multi-coloured notifications light, but the all-plastic body and especially the faux-brushed back look and feel cheap.

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The screen is another shortcoming on the L3 2. With a 3.2-inch QVGA resolution IPS LCD, web text is almost illegible without zooming and aspects of the Android Jelly Bean experience clearly haven’t been optimised for such a small display.

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That being said we are impressed with the colour performance and viewing angles on offer.

LG Optimus L3 2 Review: Operating system & Performance

The L3 2 is certainly the most basic device we’ve seen running Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean, but despite its frugal spec sheet, navigating its Optimus UI is surprisingly smooth. Unfortunately slow-down isn’t far away with typical actions like opening apps or multitasking having a tendency to result in lag.

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LG’s own apps and shortcuts like QuickMemo work without trouble on the phone’s hardware, but as we’ve already mentioned, some stock elements of the Android experience don’t function quite so well, with the tab number in Chrome being practically indistinguishable and Google Now cards not fitting on the screen.

With a 1GHz single-core chip and 512MB of RAM we weren’t expecting a whole lot from a device that has to run such a rich user experience and although it performs better than anticipated, don’t expect anything beyond basic smartphone functionality out of the Optimus L3 2.

LG Optimus L3 2 Review: Camera: Stills and video

Unlike its bigger brother, the LG Optimus L5 2, the L3 2 downsizes on the camera front, moving from a 5-megapixel autofocus snapper to a 3.2-megapixel fixed-focus rear camera.

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Stills across the board are underwhelming, with narrow dynamic range a weak colour reproduction save for shots taken in bright sunlight. Low light environments struggle with noise and as there’s no LED flash it’s almost impossible to correct, whilst the fixed focal length mean that macro shots are out of the question.

Video is usable but only really when view on the device itself. Blow up the 640×480 footage onto anything larger and you’ll see a severe lack of definition and detail as well as weak audio recording.

LG Optimus L3 2 Review: Multimedia & Storage

Being an entry-level device, this little LG is quoted as offering up an acceptable 4GB of inbuilt storage, which for a few extra apps and an album of music is acceptable. However, in practice free space is limited to just under half of that at 1.75GB; a result of Android Jelly Bean and LG’s user experience taking up space in tandem.

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Thankfully LG has bestowed the Optimus L3 2 with microSD card support up to 32GB, which we’d suggest populating with music rather than pictures or video as watching content on that lacklustre display isn’t very enjoyable.

LG Optimus L3 2 Review: Connections & Battery

For such a simple handset, you still get an array of connectivity options to keep you in-the-loop such as 3G, WiFi with hotspot functionality, Bluetooth 3.0 and microUSB connectivity, meaning that it’s easy and simple to share content, push music to wireless speakers or pick up emails.

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Ill will towards the L3 2’s display aside, its low resolution and small scale are likely the biggest contributor to such stellar battery performance. The surprisingly large removable 1540mAh battery should see you through anything up to two days between charges depending on usage, but it certainly impresses above so many other Android handsets around.

LG Optimus L3 2 Review: Conclusion

There are a few unavoidable shortcomings with LG Optimus L3 2, especially when you weigh up the experience it provides against other Android devices in the same class. The screen and the design are the most obvious weaknesses, while incompatibilities within the user experience are an unwelcome surprise.

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Despite this though, it’d still make a great device for those new to smartphones or looking an affordable, compact device that’ll let you check up on social networks, emails and your favourite websites on-the-go.

At £129.95 SIM-free it’s a little dear, but only really when compared against the likes of Nokia’s entry level Windows Phone – the Nokia Lumia 520, that for the same money offers a WVGA 4-inch display, a more premium user experience, a better camera and a dual-core Snapdragon processor at its heart.

Specification

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