We’ve seen 3D on TVs, theaters, tablets and cameras so it made sense that the tech would finally show up on smartphones. The LG Optimus 3D is one of the two smartphones that we know of that’s here locally that can do glasses-free 3D (the other one being the HTC EVO 3D). But is the allure of mobile 3D enough to get you to drop the money for it, or is it simply a gimmick that you can ignore?
If there’s one thing you’ll notice with the Optimus 3D right away, it’s the sheer size of it. At 128.8 x 68 x 11.9 mm, this thing is big. Good news is that you’re also getting a large, 4.3-inch 3D LCD capacitive touchscreen that displays images at 480 x 800 resolution. The Optimus 3D isn’t an exercise of grace or sleekness – it’s big, brash and powerful, and makes no apologies for what it is. At the bottom of the generously large screen is where the typical Android navigation keys lie. On the left side sits an HDMI and a USB port while the volume rocker and the dedicated 3D button (where a camera button usually is) sits on the right. The Optimus 3D is capable of capturing stereoscopic 3D pictures via the dual 5-megapixel camera at the back while a smaller front-facing camera facilitates video calls. The power button and the 3.5mm jack are located on the top of the unit. The overall build quality is good, if a little boring.
LG proudly tells us that the Optimus 3D is powered by their “tri-dual” technology, which, in layman’s terms means that the Optimus 3D has a dual-core processor, dual channel and dual memory. Powering the Optimus 3D is a dual-core, 1GHz ARM Cortex-A9 processor with a PowerVR SGX540 GPU and has 512 MB RAM. Weirdly enough, the Optimus 3D is powered by Android 2.2 (Froyo) and not 2.3 (Gingerbread) like we thought it would, which is a slight blow right off the bat considering most other devices by its competitors have Gingerbread 2.3 right off the gate. Like any self respecting smartphone manufacturer, LG has opted to give the Optimus 3D some of their own apps and tweaks which include one of our favorite apps, Social+.
Like we said, the main appeal of the Optimus 3D is it’s ability to display 3D images without requiring 3D glasses. It does this via a parralax barrier screen, and while it does allow users to experience 3D without glasses, it has a few drawbacks. One of the major disadvantage of the technology is that parralax barrier screens has a very narrow angle of view, meaning that you pretty much have to be facing the screen dead on to fully experience the 3D effect. Another major disadvantage is that when you use the 3D effect, you’re also using more energy to power the backlight to make all the 3D magic possible, which ultimately leads to a shorter battery life.
Which doesn’t mean that there isn’t a bunch of things to do in 3D with the Optimus 3D. The Korean manufacturer has graciously loaded up our demo unit with a bunch of 3D content (which incidentally will also show up on retail devices) which include 3 3D games made by Gameloft – Nova, Let’s Golf 2 and Asphalt 6. You’ll also be able to film and capture images in 3D via the stereoscopic cameras located on the back, and view 3D YouTube content.
Probably the most pertinent question you have by now is whether the 3D effect is worth it. Well, from our experience, it was a mixed bag. The 3D games gave a good sense of depth (especially Nova, which is an FPS affair) and some of our shots using the 3D camera turned out well. Unfortunately, the Optimus 3D runs into the same wall that most 3D TVs we review hit – lack of content. 3D YouTube videos get old fairly quickly, and you’ll soon find out that the biggest source of 3D content is you. It would have been nice if users were able to use the 3D effect all the time, across all the applications we go to, but alas, you’re limited to the 3D space LG’s walled you in. There is hope though – LG themselves have announced the availability of their 3D Game converter to European markets but sadly, it wasn’t present during the Optimus 3D’s stay with us, nor was it available as a separate download on the Android app store.
Lest we forget, the Optimus 3D is still a smartphone, and to it’s credit, it’s a particularly solid one. The dual-core processor and the solid GPU means that the Optimus 3D is able to handle almost anything you’re able to throw at it. As is customary whenever we review an Android device, we loaded up AnTuTu, a synthetic benchmark that we’ve been using to gauge performance. Unfortunately, according to AnTuTu, the Optimus 3D only scored 5032 which is a ways off from the scores of LG’s fiercest rival, the Samsung Galaxy S II.
That doesn’t mean that the Optimus 3D is a slouch when it comes to performance, and as we said before, it’s a particularly solid device truth be told. Apps were stable and didn’t hang, calls made to and from it were clear and crisp and we never really experienced annoying slowdowns as a result of constant use.
Unfortunately, all those nice features built on top of the Optimus 3D means that battery life suffers, a lot. Like a lot, lot. An hour’s worth of 3D anything effectively nukes a quarter or more of the battery, and after a day of moderate use (3D, browsing, texts and calls) the Optimus 3D’s battery was near death at the end of the day.
So, is it worth dropping your hard earned money on? Well, if you absolutely need to have a 3D capable smartphone, the Optimus 3D is a reasonable, if not your only, choice at least locally (the HTC EVO 3D isn’t being officially sold by HTC locally). Unfortunately battery issues, disappointing benchmark scores and use of Froyo makes us hold off on a solid recommend for now.
Tri-dual tech ( dual-core processor, dual channel and dual memory)
3D without the goofy glasses
Comfortable to use and hold
Not a lot of 3D content
While the LG Optimus 3D does have its rough spots, it’s a pretty solid device overall. It’s ability to deliver glasses free 3D is a nice feature to have, even though you’re limited to what the device gives you initially and to the content you’re able to create yourself.
- Operating System: Android 2.2 (Froyo)
- CPU: 1GHz ARM Cortex-A9 processor with a PowerVR SGX540 GPU
- LCD size: 4.3-inch 3D LCD capacitive touchscreen, 480 x 800 resolution
- Physical Dimensions: 128.8 x 68 x 11.9 mm
- Weight: 168 g
- Band: 2G GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900, 3G HSDPA 900 / 1900 / 2100
- Internal memory: 8 GB storage, expandable through microSD cards