These days, 3D tech is all the rage and with 3D TVs becoming an increasingly common sight in the world of tech and with Nintendo unleashing the 3DS a short while ago, it was only going to be a matter of time before someone decided to bring it to the mobile platform too.
The LG Optimus 3D claimed the world’s first 3D smartphone title and was launched with much hype and fanfare, however, there have been a few apprehensions about the device with many expressing concerns that 3D technology isn’t advanced enough to look good on a glasses-free display yet. Does the Optimus 3D manage to defy its critics?
The LG Optimus 3D very much reminded us of its other world’s first sibling, the LG Optimus 2X. It’s a bit plain (although still smart) with a smooth plastic exterior with the only splash of colour being the silver camera strip along the back panel. The minimalist design is not necessarily a bad thing though and in a way, we quite like how it hides the wonders which lie beneath.
Of course, with various 3D goodies under the hood the Optimus 3D isn’t as light or thin as other smartphones hitting the market at present. It’s by no means a brick but at 12.4mm thick and weighing 168 grams, it’s certainly at the bigger end of the size scale.
Up front is the 4.3-inch stereoscopic LCD capacitive touchscreen and although this handset has 3D at its very core, it doesn’t shove it in your face as the 7 homescreens and main menu are displayed in 2D. Even in the second-dimension, the display produces a fantastic picture with crisp, vivid images. Of course, there is a separate 3D menu in which all the third-dimensional features are displayed in a carousel, but you can also access all the 3D apps through a dedicated icon-based 3D section in the main menu if you’d rather not have the fuss. Each one shows off a 3D animation when you scroll onto it too, which is a nice, although slightly superfluous touch.
The 3D effects themselves were a lot better than we’d thought – in fact, they were excellent. You really get a sense of depth when playing 3D games or watching 3D films and the fact that you don’t need to wear glasses to enjoy the third-dimensional features is a real bonus. Like with other 3D devices which use stereoscopic technology, you have to hold the handset straight in front of you to get the full effect, something that could pose a slight problem if you want to play a game or watch a film on the handset with a friend. This type of 3D experience is also known for causing headaches or nausea and LG covers its back by regularly issuing pop up warnings asking you to take a break if you start to develop symptoms. It’s worth bearing in mind that 3D affects people in different ways and if the 3D effects do start to make you feel woozy, just press the dedicated 3D key at the side of the handset and the picture will be instantly changed into 2D.
Power and Operating System
The LG Optimus 3D comes with Android 2.2, which will be upgradeable to Gingerbread, although we’d have liked to have seen the latest version of Android from the off. LG has put its own custom user interface on top of Android which doesn’t overpower the OS and offers some subtle and useful touches like dedicated Twitter and Facebook status update widgets, plus local news and weather forecasts. Of course, all the usual Google clients come on board too including YouTube (you can also access YouTube 3D through the 3D carousel), Gmail and the Android Market.
If you’re not blown away by LG’s choice of operating system, then the Optimus 3D’s power is bound to win you back as it’s kitted out with a 1GHz dual-core processor. As you’d expect from a dual-core smartphone, transitions are lightning quick but the CPU really comes into its own when handling 3D gaming – we experienced not even the slightest of hiccups or glitches during gameplay.
Internet: The LG Optimus 3D is not just a gimmicky handset and still does the business when it comes to the more basic smartphone functions. That 4.3-inch display is great for browsing and the dual-core processor renders pages in next to no time. Full Flash 10.1 support comes as part of the package too.
The Optimus 3D has both 3G and Wi-Fi connectivity on board and you can also use the phone as a Wi-Fi hotspot.
Camera: There’s more to this handset’s third-dimensional qualities than just 3D games and movies as you can also capture your own 3D pictures and video thanks to the 5 megapixel dual-lens camera with autofocus and LED flash. The rear-facing lenses are placed 24mm apart and capture images at a slightly different angle in order to create the 3D effect. We must say we found the results to be a little strange at first – the pictures and videos look like holograms and so in that sense, the quality isn’t as good as what the Optimus 3D offers in other 3D departments. However, you do get used to them after a while.
More impressively, the Optimus 3D can capture video at 1080p in 2D and 720p in 3D and providing you have a 3D TV, you can hook the handset up to the big screen to view your media via the HDMI port. Likewise, you can also playback films uploaded onto your handset at 1080p in 2D and 720p in 3D.
Other tech specs:
- Music player – Supports MP3, WAV, WMA, eAAC+ files
- Video player – Supports MP4, DivX, XviD, H.263, H.264, WMV files
- Front-facing camera
- 8GB internal storage
- 512MB RAM
- MicroSD card slot that supports cards up to 32GB
- 3.5mm headphone jack
Despite being sceptical of how well the LG Optimus 3D would perform, we actually have very few gripes with it. Yes, it would’ve been nice to see a slightly funkier design considering that the Optimus 3D is far from your average smartphone, but aside from that, our only concern was over the battery life. We had a prototype to play with so we can’t really judge accurately whether the final version will fare any better for longevity , but with the added extra of 3D features to contend with, you may have to tread carefully if you don’t want to be reaching for the charger at regular intervals.
At first, you may think the LG Optimus 3D is aimed at those after a gimmicky gadget rather than a serious smartphone but we found that it was quite the opposite. It manages its 3D features very well and they’re impressively executed with the glasses-free display really pushing mobile screen technology to another level. The device still perfectly functional even with the 3D features turned off and the fact that it packs some of the best smartphone technology around means that it’s far from a one trick pony. If you’re willing to shell out for similarly positioned phones such as the HTC Sensation and the Optimus 2X, the LG Optimus 3D offers the same functionality as well as the spectacle of 3D.