LG Optimus 3D review

We have an unfashionably late review of the LG Optimus 3D for you today, courtesy of a phone provided by UK mobile network Three. The Optimus 3D features LG’s glasses-free 3D display plus dual 5megapixel cameras for generating your own 3D photos and 720p 3D videos, while the Texas Instruments OMAP4 dual-core processor means you’re able to record 2D video at full 1080p resolution. If your friends have nice enough skin.

It’s powered by Android 2.2.2, has a 1500mAh battery, HDMI output and a little physical button to switch the camera between 2D and 3D capture modes – plus yet another front-facing camera for video chats. Three cameras inside one phone. It must be good, right?

optimus 3d phone 1

The Optimus 3D is a very big, bulky, heavy phone, significantly chunkier than even the enormous HTC Sensation. The front face features a super-generic black slab layout, comprising of its 4.3″ touchscreen, with four capacitive touch buttons beneath.

optimus 3d phone 2

The buttons are backlit, but the backlight only lights up for a few seconds when you press Power or actually touch a button – meaning the backlight often turns itself off if you’re say, reading a web page. So then you can’t see the buttons in the dark, which makes no sense. Maybe we use phones wrong?

Also, having the Back button sandwiched between Home and Search second from right makes it hard to find and easy to press the wrong thing without actually hunting for it. Physically speaking, we find the Optimus 3D rather hard to like…

optimus 3d phone 10

…although the rubbery back with its metallic strip, twin-cams and LED flash makes it look pretty nice from behind. The Optimus 3D is a face-downer on the desk…

optimus 3d phone 12

…but the screen is bright, feels solid and is responsive to even the lightest of touches. So if you can live with its weight and occasional slow response, it’s pretty decent to use most of the time.

optimus 3d review 1 optimus 3d review 2

The OS is Android 2.2.2 with a surprisingly nice and clean skin layered over the top by LG. Its flip clock widget still looks a bit basic, but at least there’s a decent, coherent style to the rest of LG’s custom widgets.

optimus 3d review 3 optimus 3d review 4

LG’s Social+ aggregator – which pulls in your Twitter, Facebook and, er, MySpace feeds – is very nice indeed. There’s a toggle to switch streams or you can have everything mixed together. Clicking on a status message pops up the app’s own replying tool, too. We’d actually use this.

optimus 3d review 5 optimus 3d review 6

You also get a range of stylish LG Home screen widgets, with most featuring several size options and nice semi-transparent backgrounds (left), plus even the Google Calendar full-page widget looks pretty cool – and can be resized while in place.

optimus 3d review 7 optimus 3d review 8

The POP3/Exchange email client has also been skinned, again in a very inoffensive and simple style. In fact, it’s one of the most bland of all LG’s customisations, but at least it works and automatically checks for new mail when you open the app. Which is helpful.

optimus 3d review 9

So yes, the 3D stuff then. There’s actually not that much. The 3D element is farmed out to a separate 3D app, which includes a spinning 3D carousel of all your games, 3D photos, videos and guides.

optimus 3d phone 6

The 3D effect is impressive. It really does work, although viewing angles and the strict distance requirement of your eyes from the screen means you’re constantly adjusting position, squinting, and rotating the phone to get the best out of it.

optimus 3d phone 7

Content generated by the phone’s camera is also pretty impressive. Your 3D stills do indeed have a good feeling of depth when viewed on the phone’s screen, with videos also convincingly 3D – plus there’s a “depth” slider to help adjust the severity of the effect to best suit how your eyes & brain work.


The 3D photos are saved in JPS format, which is basically a fancy JPEG. It includes two versions of the same file, for left and right eyes, which a 3D display can recreate in 3D. Same with videos, although 3D clips are saved as regular MP4 files – which treat you to this…

optimus 3d video 3d still

…when viewed on a non-3D display. 3D videos are recorded at a maximum resolution of 720p, with a smooth frame rate. But the 3D effect itself can be a little flickery and tends to strobe when the camera moves. And as impressive as it is, we can’t imagine wanting to document our lives in a file format that’s only going to cause difficulty viewing and sharing in the future.

optimus 3d video still

This is a still from a non-3D 1080p video. The frame rate is rock solid. The only moans we can find here is a rather slow auto-focus and quite rough transitions when you move from light to dark areas, plus the colours aren’t what you’d call “vibrant”. But there’s still plenty of detail and there’s no jerking around.

We’ve put a 2D 1080p video sample recorded with the Optimus 3D online here [34MB].

IMG025 IMG017

In non-3D mode, photos are also quite nice. The 5megapixel sensor is pretty much middle-of-the-road these days, producing decent shots in good light – although colours are also rather wishy-washy.



Macro mode’s great, though. Why can’t everything in life always look as good as it does in macro mode?

IMG009 IMG010

Indoor shots are acceptable, managing to be bright without any comical over-emphasising of colour or brightness. In 2D mode, the Optimus 3D is basically on a par with the average mobile phone stills and video camera in 2011.

optimus 3d review 10 optimus 3d review 9

The web browser is a good place to spend time. LG’s again made some nice customisations, with a useful toolbar permanently sitting along the bottom of the screen. The tabs/window system is accessed through this bar, making it easy to manage multi-windowed web sessions. It’s also a fast, solid browser, with a nice scrolling action and good page drawing speed.

optimus 3d review 12 optimus 3d review 13

The LG keyboard is a very boring old default option, with no long-pressing fun or alternate characters on the main screen – you have to flip to a new page to access numbers and commas and all the fancy grammar stuff. LG has also put on a “Phone keypad” option on the Optimus 3D, if you’d rather multi-tap your way around like it’s 1999 and Nokia still makes exciting phones.

optimus 3d review 20 optimus 3d review 15

The music app is… a music app. Playlists, lists by artist/album/song name, a “party shuffle” lucky dip mode if you’re very confident about the strength and depth of your musical collection, plus a sleep timer and a graphic equaliser if you’re listening through headphones.

optimus 3d review 14 optimus 3d review 16

You also get full controls in the pull-down Notifications tab, which is helpful, and a lock-screen play/pause and skip feature. Which is also helpful. It makes a good music player, and…

optimus 3d review 19

…DivX certification means there’s wide video codec support onboard, so it’s a very workable choice if you need a beefy mobile AV player with support for common AVI files and more.

optimus 3d review 17 optimus 3d review 21

There’s a Yahoo! news widget, which looks a bit rubbish compared with the nice LG widgets, DLNA support is provided by LG’s own app which it calls SmartShare and worked for us via home wi-fi without a hitch…

optimus 3d review 22 optimus 3d review 23

…the gallery is the very standard – but very nice – Android gallery, with all the usual sharing options plus some very simple crop/rotate tools but no other editing options onboard…

optimus 3d review 24

…oh yes, and Google Maps is here, complete with all the modern scaling/zooming/rotation/tilt effects it includes these days, with a relatively quick GPS connection when playing about with the integrated Navigate satnav tool…

optimus 3d review 25 optimus 3d review 26

…I am losing the will to live. Someone please stage an intervention and take this phone off me so I can go to bed…

optimus 3d review 28 optimus 3d review 27

…plus you get LG’s own LG World app discovery app, which serves literally no purpose apart from poorly and slowly duplicating Android Market app listings in a cumbersome fashion and providing the odd exclusive app, with Polaris Office on here for reading and creating Microsoft format office files.

optimus 3d review 29 optimus 3d review 30

Battery life is a mixed bag. As with most modern phones it’s efficient when left alone, but start recording 3D video and browsing the web and you’ll really chomp through the battery. It’s hard to make a meaningful comparison given the wildly differing use patterns we all have, but we found it to provide significantly less “uptime” than the HTC Sensation.

Onboard app storage space is immense, though – we’re showing a whopping great 866MB of free space.

optimus 3d review 18

And that’s a benchmark for you benchmark people. It’s a fast phone, once it gets up to speed.

optimus 3d phone 4

In fact, it all works quite well. The main negative points are a power button that’s slow to respond, which soon becomes a right pain, the odd glitch navigating the Home screens and a camera that is also pretty slow to respond. Nothing about the Optimus 3D is broken beyond use, though – you just have to learn to live with its eccentricities.

optimus 3d phone 11

However, the only serious reason to consider the Optimus 3D above the likes of the Galaxy S II or HTC Sensation is if you’re convinced glasses-free 3D is the future and you NEED 3D recording powers in your pocket TODAY and NOW. In which case, it’s a worthwhile buy as the 3D images it creates are indeed rather good.

But there are plenty more stylish, lightweight and responsive options out there if you just want a big-screened Android phone and aren’t bothered by the 3D novelty.

Thanks to Three for the loan of the phone. If we haven’t put you off, Three will sell you one here. And it looks like prices have been trimmed recently, as the Optimus 3D can be had on contract deals starting from £30 per month.

4 ResponsesLeave one →

  1. Thanks for the review Gary – I’ve been waiting for this one!

    This phone was near the top of my want list, but your review has made me think twice…
    Do you have an opportunity to review/compare the LG Optimus 2X??


  2. MetalMickey

     /  September 20, 2011

    I had a play with this one in the shop and to be honest I wasn’t that impressed, sure the 3D thing is good once you’ve figured out the best angle & distance to view to small amount of content there is, by which time I got quite bored.
    The 3D thing really is a gimmick, take that away & you have a really plain & bulky phone. I also think the build was very plasticky & the back was rather ugly.
    (Compared to say the Samsung Galaxy SII which I just couldn’t put down & I think has amazing quality.)
    If you get the chance, compare the Optimus 3D side by side with other recent handsets like the SGSII or a HTC & you’ll instantly see the difference.

  3. Looks nice but wont fit in my pocket. Also the shape is more like tablet. The choice of color for the body is awesome !


Leave a Reply

  • Reviews

    • Sony Xperia Z2 review

      This is Sony’s latest go at producing a high-spec Android flagship model, with the Xperia Z2 ticking every one of 2014’s must-have tech bullet points. It has a large 5.2-inch 1080p display. It has the hot new Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 chipset inside. It has a massive 3GB of RAM and 16GB of onboard storage. It’s […]

    • LG/Google Nexus 5 review

      Nexus 5It’s smooth to use, the 1080p display is sharp, clear and bright, the device is extremely light and thin and therefore very pocketable and portable — much more so than other 5-inch phones we’ve used. And yet… we’re a bit unimpressed by the overall package…

    • Vodafone Huawei Ascend G510 review

      Huawei Ascend G510A relatively high-spec smartphone, with a 4.5″ display running at 480 x 854 resolution and powered by a 1.2GHz dual-core processor, plus the Ascend G510 arrives running Android 4.1.1 — albeit potentially hindered by Huawei only sticking 512MB of RAM inside it..

    • Kogan Agora 5.0" Dual-core Smartphone review

      We bought one of these using our actual money. We couldn’t quite believe that budget hardware maker Kogan was able to sell a 5″ Android phone for £119 plus delivery from Hong Kong so had to get one to have a look at the thing under our usual LABORATORY CONDITIONS. First impressions of the Kogan Agora […]

    • Panasonic Eluga review

      Panasonic ElugaThe Panasonic Eluga marks the company’s return to the European mobile phone scene years after several years of absence, and it’s come back to us with a moderately high-spec Android model that features a rather stylish, slim case.

    • HTC One V review

      The HTC One V is HTC’s third entry in its high-profile new HTC One range, offering a smaller 3.7″ display running on a single-core 1GHz processor. It is is very much the “affordable” option in HTC’s newest Android series, but it still arrives running the same HTC Sense 4 interface we saw in the excellent […]

    • HTC One S review

      The HTC One S is the piggy in the middle of HTC’s 2012 line-up, offering a 4.3″ AMOLED display inside a very slim and stylish aluminium chassis. You get the same ImageSense camera technology as employed to such great effect in the HTC One X, along with Android 4.0.3 and the very latest HTC Sense […]

    • HTC One X review

      Here it is then, HTC’s new quad-core monster, the 4.7″ flagship for 2012 that introduces the Tegra 3 processor to mobile phones, updates HTC’s range to Android 4.0 and brings us the supposedly streamlined version 4.0 of HTC’s Sense user interface. You also get a fantastic 8megapixel camera that we’ve previously examined in great detail, […]

    • HTC One X review: Camera, photo and video samples

      HTC’s new quad-core flagship phone doesn’t just feature Android 4.0, a 4.7″ display and Nvidia’s newest Tegra 3 chipset – there’s also an entirely new 8megapixel camera in the phone, powered by a system HTC is calling ImageSense. And this camera is one of the many highlights of the new Android phone, offering the perfect […]

    • Sony Xperia S review

      Xperia S Sony returns with an all-new mobile design for 2012, pairing a dual-core processor with a 720p display. It’s a lovely phone, but is it enough to end our Samsung and HTC obsession?

    • Sony Xperia S review: Camera, photo and video samples

      We’ve spent most of the last week captivated by the staggeringly sharp screen of the new Sony Xperia S, while putting together what will hopefully be something resembling a review for you all to read very shortly. In the meantime, to be getting on with, here are a few sample photos and videos, taken using […]

    • LG Prada 3.0 review

      LG Prada 3.0 review LG’s updated Prada phone comes with an absolutely crazy black & white theme, but is it just for fashionable suit wearers who want to make themselves look a bit more interesting?

    • ACCESSORY REVIEW: Case-Mate Tough Case for Galaxy Nexus

      £30? For a phone case? It had better be good.

    • ACCESSORY REVIEW: Samsung Official Mesh Vent Case for Galaxy Nexus

      Samsung’s official Galaxy Nexus case. Costs a lot. Has a glittery little logo.

    • ACCESSORY REVIEW: Case-Mate Barely There for Samsung Galaxy Nexus

      Fresh from reviewing the cheap and cheerful FlexiShield case for the Galaxy Nexus, we’re back with another protective offering from industry veteran Case-Mate. Although this particular product retails for around the same price as FlexiShield’s TPU option, it’s quite a different proposition. Review submitted by extremely patient retro gaming advisor Damo. As the name suggests, […]

    • ACCESSORY REVIEW: FlexiShield Case for Galaxy Nexus

      Seeing as we’ve just reviewed the brand spanking new Galaxy Nexus, we’re in the mood for some accessorising – and we don’t mean earnings and handbags. To that end, we’ll be covering a few Galaxy Nexus-themed items over the next few weeks, starting with the FlexiShield Case. Review submitted by reader, writer, gamer and occasional […]