Today we bring you LG’s budget smartphone, the Optimus L3. We had no idea what to expect from this little phone when we received but we were excited to see what LG thinks a low budget smartphone should be.
We have been spoiled by LG’s minimalistic smartphone boxes which, when you look at you start to think how they were capable of fitting everything inside. Here’s what you will find inside the box of the L3:
- LG Optimus L3
- Charging Adapter
- USB Cable
- Quick Starter Guide
We were a bit disappointed LG didn’t include phones with the L3 since it has a 3.5 mm jack and they would be handy in order to take calls while driving for example. If you want to know more feel free to check out the unboxing video below.
Design and Ergonomics
As the name implies this little budget phone follows the design lines of its bigger brothers from the L series.
On the front of the L3 we find the 3.2-inch screen, the loudspeaker, the luminosity sensor on the top and the buttons, options, home and back, from which the home button is the only physical button.
On the left we have the volume rocker while on the top of the device we have the 3.5 phone jack and the lock/power button. On the bottom you will find the microphone and the micro USB cable slot.
The right side of the L3 is clear of buttons, which allows right handed people to easily grab the phone and press the volume rocker on the left side without having to worry about pressing any button on the right. On the back you will find the 3.0MP camera, without LED flash.
If you remove the back cover you will see the 1500mAh battery and the micro SD card on the left. The SIM card slot lies beneath the battery, which might be an inconvenient if you need to remove it for a short period of time because you will have to shut down your phone.
The L3’s screen is not the best screen we have seen from LG, by far. First, it has so little ppi that you can actually see the pixels wandering around when you’re using the phone. Then you have to worry about the viewing angles, because, a bit like the L5, but much worse, the L3’s screen obliges you to look straight at it if you want to see anything whatsoever.
If you tilt the screen back or forward a bit you will lose sight of what is being displayed since it turns so light or dark that you simply can’t discern what is being shown. The same happens if you tilt it to the right or left.
Since the L3 is clearly a budget phone, with a price tag of 99€, everyone knew LG had to cut some corners, but the screen was definitely the wrong spot to spare expenses, it doesn’t even have enough resolution to show letters or icons without them getting pixelated. My ZTE Skate cost me the same and besides having a 4.3-inch screen, it doesn’t have this poor display capabilities. Being a fan of LG myself, I was a bit disappointed by this.
Performance and Software
The L3 comes with Android 2.3.6 and taking into account that every other smartphone on the market has Android 4.0.4 of newer, it comes as a disappointment as well. But since the L3 has an 800MHz CPU and only 256MB of RAM it probably couldn’t even handle ICS, much less the new and improved Jelly Bean.
When it comes to storage space free to use, you have 1GB of internal memory and 150MB of system memory that allows you to install updates and install new applications. Bear in mind that with only 150MB free to install applications you will have to install them to the system memory and then move them to the internal memory (if they let you). Having said that, after we updated all the pre installed applications there were only 45MB of system memory available.
This time LG didn’t forget the ability for users to migrate their applications to their SD card, like in the 4X HD, which in this case would be a major disaster taking the memory values we told you earlier into account.
When it comes to preloaded applications LG has kept them to a minimum, as they usually do, and you will only find the Remote Call Service and Polaris Viewer. If you want to you can go to the preloaded applications on the menu and install LG Smart World. Keeping the preloaded applications to a bare minimum was a very good decision by LG.
As far as customization goes don’t expect much, you have 6 homescreens where you can only change the wallpaper and add widgets and application shortcuts. Besides that you can’t customize anything else, not the lock screen and not even the number of homescreens.
This wouldn’t be a LG device without some kind of Quick Memo functionality, and I found it. If you press both volume up and volume down buttons simultaneously for about 3 seconds the Quick Memo screen will appear just like in any other L series device. You can use this functionality to save a few memos or to take screenshots without having to install a new application for that purpose.
Again we ran the usual benchmark tests, AnTuTu, NenaMark 2 and Quadrant Standard, you can take a look at the results below.
I have no complaints about the L3’s performance. It responds rapidly and well to the users requests. Making calls has never been disappointing, I was able to hear the other person very clearly and they had no issues hearing me, this says a lot about the speaker and the mic. The device also held good signal during calls even when the signal was at a bare minimum.
The keyboard is a little small in portrait mode, due to the 3.2-inch screen, but you seen to make very little mistakes nonetheless. If you have very big thumbs, simply turn the L3 into landscape mode and you’ll be just fine.
Connectivity and Battery Life
The L3 loaded web pages pretty quickly but the quality of the screen was so bad I held back from web surfing altogether, just visited a few websites here and there and checked my emails all through the week.
All in all it synced emails quickly and captured Wi-Fi networks very easily and quickly. You can also check the results of the SpeedTests below.
As far as battery life goes the L3 behaved good as well. The battery seemed to last a long time in standby, half a charge lasted me about 5 days with regular email checks and a few messages here and there. Charging time wasn’t big as well, just about 2 hours to fully charge the battery, so that’s a plus.
Taking into account you don’t have a massive screen sucking the life out of the battery, as has been usual in most smartphones, the battery seems to last much, much longer.
The L3 has a 3MP rear camera and no front camera.
The major drawback I saw in the rear camera was the lack of a LED flash, since that takes away the possibility of taking photos in environments with less light. Nonetheless we took a few snapshots in various lighting conditions so you can take your own conclusions.
We also recorded two video samples, one outside and one indoors so we could see how the camera handled moving objects and darker environments.
Indoor Sample Video:
Outdoor Sample Video:
Video Review Part 1:
Video Review Part 2:
I must say the L3 is a great little smartphone for people who have found themselves without their old phones and only need the phone to make phone calls and send text messages.
If you are looking for your first smartphone and want one to check your emails, browse web sites and play any kind of games, don’t go for the L3. The screen has so little resolution that your head will be hurting before you get to the end of your email. You won’t fin another budget smartphone on the market with the L3’s price tag but for 20/30€ more you will be able to find a smartphone with a much better screen. I have to say that this was the first smartphone that I’ve tested from LG that really disappointed me, I expected better…
Again, the L3 is a good smartphone that has great battery life and is able to make and receive very clear phone calls. If you don’t mind the ridiculously bad screen and the possibility that you’ll run out memory to updated the preloaded applications, go for it. All that’s left to say is thanks to LG for allowing us to test the L3.
Review by: Cátia Sofia @ Android Emotions