It has been a year since it was released in the market and it was the only device of the first L series that we hadn’t reviewed yet. This time we bring you the Optimus L7, also known as P700 given to us by LG Portugal for testing. Lets see what LG did with this device, is it just another medium range device or did LG brought anything new with it? Read on to find out.
Design and Ergonomics
The L7 presents itself with an appealing design, keeping the original lines of the L series. It has rounded corners and chromed sides all around the device, which gives it a more robust and professional look.
The size of the L7, which has a 4.3-inch screen, is perfect for one hand use and the user can easily reach the whole screen as well as all the buttons. The back of the L7 if rugged which also helps to the ease of holding it without the fear of letting it fall.
In the front of the device, the design lines are the same and we have the three usual buttons of the L series, the physical home button and the touch options and back buttons. Still in the front of the screen we have the 4.3-inch screen as well as the front camera and the proximity sensor that allows the screen to turn off while making a voice call.
When it comes to the sides of the L7, we can find the volume rocker on the left, and the right of the device is clear of any type of physical button. Both sides of the L7 are a continuation of the back cover but instead of the ruggedness we feel on the back cover, the sides are completely plain.
On the chromed top of the L7, we can find the 3.5mm audio jack that allows you to connect your earphones with the device, next to it there’s the power button. On the bottom of the device we find the microUSB slot that allows you to connect the L7 to your computer as well as to the charger adapter. You will also find the microphone on the bottom side.
The back of the L7 is all rugged plastic, as we said before, which allows the device to stay in your hands for longer. On this side we find the main 5MP camera was well as its Flash. Also on the back you will find the speaker of the L7.
When you remove the back cover you gain access to the removable battery and the SIM and microSD card slots.
This smartphone has a NOVA screen that gives the user great visibility outdoors and brighter and more natural colours. When the L7 was launched it promised to be the brightest screen on the world, and today, it might still be. It has an acceptable resolution of 480×800 pixels with 217 ppi, and its viewing angles are pretty large, allowing the user to lay it flat on the table and still be able to see what is displayed on the screen.
All the while, there’s a simple thing missing that makes the user cringe, which is the luminosity sensor. LG seems to have forgotten to equip the L7 with a luminosity sensor that would allow the device to automatically adjust the screen brightness according to the amount of light in the environment. This brings some inconveniences to the users since in darker environments the amount of brightness that comes out of the screen will hurt your eyes and you will have to go to the screen settings in order to adjust the brightness.
Durability is something that worries us all and the L7’s screen takes care of that with Corning Gorila Glass protection against falls and scratches. But be aware that with regular use, we started to notice some minimal scratches on the screen, which leads us to believe that this protection could be improved.
Like we saw in some other LG device, the touchscreen has some bugs. This situation isn’t as severe as the one we saw on the VU (that you can see here), but using the device while it is charging is difficult to say the least. Writing a text message or an email becomes very irritating when the touchscreen simply stops responding or starts to respond in a completely different place than what you touched.
Performance and Software
The Optimus L7 comes with Android 4.0.3 (Ice Cream), with the known LG user interface. In the L7 we can have up to 5 homescreens and choose the default homescreen. It is also possible to change the lockscreen adapting it to your needs. You can change the clock type and the applications that have quick access through the lockscreen.
Again, as with all of the LG devices we have tested so far, there is an apparent lack of official updates, which oblige the user to have an ancient version of a system that fixes bugs with every version update, and this is neither good nor acceptable. LG keeps their users from enjoying the latest features of Android and the L7 is a device that has been on the market for over a year, it should have received an update by now. Without official updates the users will eventually embark in other less desirable paths to get the new features they desire.
Proprietary applications wise, LG has the usual suspects preinstalled in their devices (besides the Android base applications):
- Application Manager
- Cell Broadcast
- LG Tag+
- Polaris Office
The L7 still has somewhat of updated hardware specs when compared to other devices available in stores. When it comes to processing power it has a 1GHz Snapdragon Cortex A5 and 512MB of RAM. Graphic processor lays its responsibility on a GPU Adreno 200. Internal memory all around is 4GB but only 2.4GB are available to the user, of course you can always expand the memory with a microSD card up to 32GB, but remember that you can’t install applications on the card.
With these specifications, even though modest by today’s flagship standards (bear in mind that the L7 has been available for a whole year), one would expect the user experience to be at least fluid, like some likewise devices, specifications wise. But no, using the L7 becomes a nuisance sometimes as it slows down significantly in a random basis, sometimes even when changing homescreens or trying to dial a number. This surely is due to the amount of RAM available, which is around 30MB, even with only the proprietary applications running.
Blame not the Hardware but the Software. A system update would surely clean up some of this poor performance and make user experience pleasanter, but we’re still waiting…
In order to systematically evaluate the L7’s performance we ran 4 benchmarks:
- Quadrand Standard
All of these benchmark tests were run with the device in factory condition, no applications installed besides the pre-installed ones. You can also take a look at the video review to see how the L7 behaved when challenged with Dead Trigger and Fruit Ninja.
Connectivity and Battery Life
As with all other devices of the L series, the L7 has NFC, which has proven to be quite useful, allowing the user to rely on the well-known LG tags that adjust the Smartphone for pre-established situations.
Besides NFC the L7 has Wi-Fi (802.11b/g/n), Bluetooth v3.0 with A2DP and GPS. When it comes to Wi-Fi, we made a SpeedTest that you can also see below. The Wi-Fi functioned well without any hindrances although we wish it had a better signal range, as when we compare it with other devices we notice the signal is weaker than usual when we remove ourselves from the router’s proximity.
The GPS also works properly and it takes around 1 to 2 minutes to get a fix on 3 satellites. With a clear sky and open space, you rarely have less than 6/7 fixed satellites, guarantying precision in the calculated position.
The 1700mAh battery of the Optimus L7 has a good performance, allowing a day and a half/two days of regular use. By regular use we mean making some calls, send some texts, check in on emails and browse the web a little, with Wi-Fi and GPS always on. If you add a little gaming to that regular use the battery life will drop to a day, day and a half tops.
If there’s a let down on the L7, it’s the camera. The rear 5MP camera and its LED flash companion don’t produce photos that will amaze you. The flash helps in low lighted environments but the photos still get pixelated.
The front camera does its job by guarantying enough quality for video calls.
Outdoors Sample Video:
Video Review Part 1:
Video Review Part 2:
We know this is not a new device, but we think it is fair to say that the L7 was a miss by LG. You can’t blame it on the hardware, since its specifications are amongst some of the devices that are still being released today in the markets, but software was a misfire and the proof of that is the amount of time you will waste in the application manager closing processes in order to free some RAM.
With a system update LG would probably get this device to work better and most of all more fluidly, since that with a price tag of 209.90€ you have loads of other options in the market with better hardware specifications and that already have updated software available.
On the positive side we have to commend LG for the NOVA screen that would have been perfect for regular use were it not for the lack of the luminosity screen. Sharpness and brightness are a great point in favour or the L7 when comparing it with other devices of the same price range.
Review by: João Mateus @ Android Emotions