LG Optimus 3D review: This summer, in 3D

This summer, in 3D

GSMArena team, 22 July 2011.

LG Optimus 3D 360-degree spin

The LG Optimus 3D stretches at 128.8 x 68 x 11.9 mm, which is about what you would expect from a device with a 4.3” screen and is just a few millimeters bigger than its Optimus 2X sibling. It’s not something you can slip in every pocket, but if you are opting for the 3D you already know what to expect. The weight of the handset is 168g is also a bit high for a high-end smartphone, but it’s excusable from a 4.3-inch gadget. In the end, we think the 3D logo will soften any user having troubles with its size though.

Everything you need to know about the 3D screen

Since the 4.3" stereoscopic LCD screen of WVGA resolution seems to be the feature that matters the most here, it is the place where we start our hardware inspection. The LG engineers have come a long way since we first met the handset back in Barcelona and the screen has been improved significantly as far as regular 2D viewing is concerned.

The Optimus 3D screen has very decent viewing angles, and so are the brightness and contrast. Of course, the LCD technology is still no match to the Super AMOLED Plus. Unfortunately, it can’t match the sunlight legibility of the Apple's Retina display either. But wait a second, none of them does goggle-free 3D, do they?

Here's the table with our brightness measurements. You can learn more about the test here.

Display test 50% brightness 100% brightness
Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio
LG Optimus Black P970 0.27 332 1228 0.65 749 1161
LG Optimus 3D 0.22 226 1019 0.49 520 1068
LG Optimus 2X 0.23 228 982 0.35 347 1001
Nokia X7 0 365 0 630
Motorola Atrix 4G 0.48 314 652 0.60 598 991
Apple iPhone 4 0.14 189 1341 0.39 483 1242
HTC Sensation 0.21 173 809 0.61 438 720
Samsung I9000 Galaxy S 0 263 0 395
Sony Ericsson XPERIA Arc 0.03 34 1078 0.33 394 1207
Samsung I9100 Galaxy S II 0 231 0 362

The goal of the Optimus 3D display here was to trail the leaders closely and be ready to catch up and even overtake them by playing the trump card. Now the question remains how much is the stereoscopic ace worth to you.

The 3D mode only works in landscape mode and the glasses-free viewing relies on a parallax-barrier technology. It's an extra screen layer that makes sure each eye sees a different set of pixels, giving a sense of depth. On the downside, each eye gets only half of the screen horizontal resolution.

Also, to be able to enjoy it fully you will need to find the sweet spot between your eyes and the handset's screen, which is different for everyone. It might seem a bit of a nuisance at first, but you quickly get used to it. A lot of the members of the team were put off at first but some saw the 3D images nice and crisp right off the bat. So we guess it’s a physiological thing to a great extent too.

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The display is pretty decent even if you only use the regular 2D mode

The other thing that you have to get used to is there’s no way to share the 3D goodness of the screen. Only one person at a time can watch the 3D effect. Looking at the screen at an angle, gets you a regular 2D image at best.

That aside, the 3D effects itself are pretty impressive, even more so if you are a fan of the technology - you know, the kind of guy who would go and watch any mind-numbing movie they threw at you, just because it's in 3D.

Now the 3D visualization is only available in applications that are specially designed for 3D viewing, but those are in no short supply on the Optimus 3D (we'll get back to them later). The regular Android interface looks just like on any other smartphone, you’ve seen.

Still, given it's the first attempt we've seen at a mobile glasses-free 3D screen for mass sonsumption, the Optimus 3D display does pretty well. We were pleasantly surprised and we believe the technology has a future in smartphones. Or at least the potential is there.

Design and construction

Despite its entirely plastic construction, the LG Optimus 3D is a pretty good-looking handset. The front is a well-done mix of faux brushed metal (the two plastic pieces at the top and bottom), touch-sensitive keys and an ample LCD.

The back has the LG’s trademark styling with a metal stripe on soft rubbery plastic. We liked that back in the Optimus 2X and a few months later we're glad to report we haven't tired of it.

If anything takes away some points from the Optimus 3D design, it'd be the thickness. Now, we do realize it's probably impossible to squeeze all that functionality (including two cameras and a stereoscopic screen) in anything slimmer so we are not blaming LG here. However, the fact remains that, when placed next to one of its slimmer competitors, the Optimus 3D loses some of its appeal. It simply looks and feels chubbier.

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The LG Optimus 3D sized up against the Galaxy S II and the Optimus 2X

The increased thickness also has a slightly negative effect on handling. It's harder to wrap your hand around the Optimus 3D and have the entire surface of the screen within comfortable reach. It's not too bad though, and the result is most probably worth it.

Now that we’ve taken the 3D screen out of the way, we can continue our tour of the LG Optimus 3D externals. Just above the display, you can notice a video-call camera, right next to the proximity sensor and the earpiece.

LG Optimus 3D
The earpiece, the video-call camera and the proximity sensor are all on top

The four capacitive keys are on the opposite end of the front. The Menu, Home, Back and Search keys are haptic enabled and brilliantly backlit, and have the usual Android functionality upon a long press.

LG Optimus 3D
LG went with capacitive keys for the Optimus 3D

The left-hand side of the LG Optimus 3D hosts the HDMI and microUSB ports, neatly covered by plastic caps. The lids might get in the way a bit, but it's a price you have to pay for keeping dust and moist away.

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The two ports on the left are hidden under small plastic covers

The dedicated 3D key is on the opposite side of the smartphone, exactly on the spot usually reserved for a shutter key. The volume rocker is on that same side too. Both keys are a bit too flat and placed on the sloping rear half of the phone so pressing them is a bit tricky, but you do get used to it eventually.

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There's a dedicated 3D key on the right • The volume rocker is here too

The 3D key launches the 3D interface that LG cooked up for their latest smartphone. It also makes a point in a way that this particular part of the UI is quite important to LG (you know, like a mini-banner).

The top of the LG Optimus 3D hosts the power/screen lock key, the second microphone (the smartphone records videos with stereo sound) and the 3.5mm audio jack there. The power key has the same problem as the volume rocker and the 3D knob.

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The power key, the 3.5mm audio jack and a microphone pinhole is what you get on top

The primary microphone is located at the bottom of the device. Naturally, this is the one that is used when you make phone calls.

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The main microphone is at the bottom

Finally, we turn the LG Optimus 3D around to meet the dual 5 megapixel camera lens combo with a tiny LED flash squeezed in between. The loudspeaker grill is around too.

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There are two camera lenses on the back this time

The microSD card slot is under the battery cover, but fortunately it is hot-swappable. It handles all kinds of memory cards currently available so you can easily expand the Optimus 3D storage by up to 32 GB.

LG Optimus 3D
The microSD card slot sits under the back panel

Another thing of notice under the back panel is the 1500 mAh Li-Ion battery. It’s said to last for up to 100 hours of stand-by or up to 4 hours of talk time, not quite impressive numbers. Unfortunately, we can’t comment on the Optimus 3D real-life battery performance.

The general build quality of the Optimus 3D seems pretty great. The smartphone seems sturdy and its exterior durable enough to last for quite some time without losing much of its appeal. A big and heavy phone, not particularly slim either, it does look impressive and handles reasonably well.

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Handling the Optimus 3D

Reader comments

  • Android Man
  • 09 Mar 2014
  • mqM

To be honest LG was the first to market a 3D phone. and it looked good at the time. but 3D in general is dead and buried. people dont want headaches as this and the Nintendo 3DS gives you. 10 out of 10 for trying, but the market does not need this t...

  • Rastin
  • 17 Feb 2013
  • KhZ

Lg is very heavy than the other mobiles, i bought it 8 days before but now it does not work properly, i dont know why this company produce such things. i wish that they had gotten our means.

  • kc
  • 05 Feb 2013
  • q}8

Love this phone ten times better than any iphone ive had them all and this is the best phone ive ever used