LG Optimus L3 II review
Android 4.1.2 (JellyBean), 3.2in 320x240 display
The LG Optimus L3 II is one of the cheapest smartphones around. It’s the most basic model of LG’s inexpensive Optimus L range and you can get it from just £90 SIM-free. Although it's cheap, it runs an up-to-date version of Android, 4.1.2 Jellybean.
It’s quite short and stocky, and its bulk makes it feel much heavier than its 107g weight. We didn’t mind this, though, as the extra heft makes it feel more durable and better made than its flimsy, plastic pop-off back might suggest. Its curved corners make it very easy to hold, too, and it’s small enough to use comfortably with one hand.
It’s not particularly good for playing 3D games either, as we couldn’t even install our usual 3DMark graphics benchmark tests. It will still run games like Temple Run 2 and Angry Birds, but anything more taxing is likely to produce a significant slowdown in frame rate.
The Optimus L3 II's 3.2in screen also made web browsing quite frustrating, as it only has a tiny 320x240 resolution. We had to zoom right in on desktop web pages to make the text legible, and even then there was a slight delay in the text becoming clear enough to read from its mass of blurry pixels. Zipping through image-heavy pages wasn’t one of its strong suites either, but at least its responsive touchscreen alleviated the pain a little with smooth pinch-zooming and finger-scrolling gestures.
However, the low resolution also means using standard Android apps isn't as comfortable as it could be. For example, reading email or looking at the calendar, isn't as good as on phones with higher resolutions.
The screen’s overall image quality is fairly average. Solid blacks weren’t particularly deep and colours lacked the rich vibrancy of slightly more expensive phones. It also had fairly low contrast, but flaws like these are easily forgiven considering the L3 II’s price.
With such a small screen to power, we had hoped this might translate into a longer battery life, but its 1,540mAh battery lasted just 5 hours and 58 minutes in our video playback test with the screen set to half brightness. This would be a poor score for any phone, even at this price, and we’ve seen other budget handsets last over 11 hours under the same conditions.
Typing was more problematic. With so little space available, the keys felt a little cramped. We were still able to type relatively accurately, but typing at speed produced a lot of mistakes. We liked the main layout of the keyboard, though, as we didn’t have to access a second keyboard layout to get numbers or different types of punctuation; instead, just hold the relevant letter key down to access the number or punctuation character you want.
LG hasn’t made too many alterations to the operating system, but we wouldn’t expect much customisation at this price. Besides, stock Android is so good that customisations can often ruin the entire experience. There are five home screens and its drop-down quick setting buttons can be rearranged and customised to your liking, but strangely this doesn’t include its main settings. Instead, it’s relegated to a tiny button below the brightness settings, which is much less obvious.
The L3 II’s 3.2-megapixel camera was equally disappointing. Even in bright sunshine, our outdoor shots came out looking quite cool and dull, and there were great swathes of each photo where the pixels blurred together. It fared better indoors, but any increased sharpness soon dulled when it tried to cope with lower lighting conditions. Recording video was equally blurry, but we were pleased to see that its voice recognition feature worked without a hitch, allowing us to take photos with our voice instead of having to hit the on-screen shutter button.
There's no denying that the LG Optimus L3 II is very cheap. At just £90 SIM-free, it's one of the cheapest phones that we've ever seen. However, we'd suggest caution, as the small screen size, low resolution and sluggish processor all count against this smartphone. Spend a little bit more money and you can get a much better smartphone, such as the Budget Buy-winning Huawei Ascend G510.