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LG Optimus L3 II expert review

The L3 II is a new budget handset from LG and comes as a 'sequel' to the original L3 released in early 2012. It is a powerful and compact handset, but can it do enough to challenge the Galaxy Ace’s dominance over lower-end Android handsets? Agent Naish has been getting up close and personal with the new phone, and gives us his impressions.

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The L3 II: the new low-budget phone that sets out to challenge the lower-end Android market.

Pros

•Very low price

•Comes with JellyBean (4.1.2) installed

•Small & lightweight

Cons

•Small screen means small keyboard

•Low screen resolution

Design

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The L3 II has a light, compact design with a metallic-looking finish, giving it a stylish overall look for a budget phone.

Being so small, there isn’t much room to fit anything other than the screen on the front of the device. However, there are two touch-sensitive buttons, and one physical button on the front for navigation, which don’t feel too squashed in.

The back and sides are made from a metallic-looking plastic, and for its budget status, don’t feel too cheap or flimsy. The screen itself is a light plastic and not glass, which cuts the cost, but makes the phone feel a little fragile. After accidently keeping it in my back pocket while sitting down for 5 minutes, this pressed the screen in and took a few seconds to correct itself, which made me panic for a short while!

Size & Weight

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The L3 II is one of the smallest handsets on the market, and weighing just 107g, you'll barely feel it in your pocket.

The most striking and obvious selling point of the L3 II is that it is one of the smallest handsets out there, measuring just 102.6 x 61.1 x 11.9 mm. It’s also extremely light – weighing in at just 107g. This means the handset is even lighter than the original L3, and the competition from Samsung.

So, if you’re looking for a compact Android handset that you can carry around with you easily on-the-go, then this surely takes the cake.

Hardware

Processor

While the L3 II may only have a single core processor, it happens to be a 1GHz Snapdragon, which means it’s anything but slow. For its size, the device rarely slowed down, even while flicking between open applications, and it powers up in a modest 35 seconds.

The software is relatively stripped back, and you won’t find many pre-installed apps slowing you down, which certainly helps. However, the phone did start to slow down after constant usage during our tests, but considering its price, this is a minor drawback.

Storage

The L3 II comes with a 4GB internal memory, though the pre-installed Jelly Bean software means that there is 1.6GB of internal memory to use, and this can be expanded with a microSD slot. Not bad, and better than some of the budget handsets available.

Battery Life

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You certainly can't go far wrong when it comes to battery life - a few hours' charging will last a day or two.

The almost-miniature screen means the battery life is preserved rather well, and I found the phone would easily last over 2 days in ‘standby’ if not used too much.

When you start to get ‘app happy’ though, the battery life dramatically decreased and can go down to as little as 10 hours of constant use.

On the plus side, however, charging doesn’t take too long, so a few hours’ charging is enough to last for a day or two.

Camera

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For the price, the phone comes with a handy 3MP camera, which is perfect for taking everyday photos.

One of the cuts that has been made on this phone to keep the price so low is the 3.15MP camera. This means there is no improvement on the Original LG L3 – and in fact, the quality is lower than the Samsung Ace’s 5MP camera.

Despite this, in many ways it’s a small price to pay, as a 3MP camera certainly isn’t bad, and is ideal for anyone wanting to take quick, basic photos. In fact, the camera quality outshines the screen, and I found it can be hard to tell how good a photo will be as the display quality can’t keep up.

The L3 II can also record pretty decent videos, and for the price it certainly does a good job. Although it’s nothing spectacular, like the rest of the phone, it’s very functional.

Screen

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As you'd expect of its narrow price range, the L3 comes with a small screen and keyboard with a low screen resolution.

•3.2-inch display

•240 x 320 resolution

•125 pixels per inch.

My only real concern with this phone is the screen, which as a result of its narrow price range, sports a 3.2-inch display. This tiny screen has a 240x320 resolution and it’s painfully obvious from the get-go. This, coupled with the low PPI rating, meant that the display often looked blocky and low quality unfortunately. The screen itself has no glass and instead feels pretty plastic, and can be unresponsive if you don’t press hard enough. Combined with the smaller size, this means using the keyboard can be tricky for newcomers to touch screen phones. Throughout, using the handset the screen was my main concern, and had a tendency to spoil an otherwise great experience.

Software

Operating System

Another big selling point of the L3 is that it comes with Android Jellybean 4.1.2 pre-installed. Nothing extra needs to be done to get this working and for a budget handset this is certainly a luxury. Only a few changes have been made on the OS software - most of these to help accommodate the small screen size. Expect a very standard and unexceptional no-frills Android experience, which is nice if you don’t like lots of features getting in your way.

Being on 4.1.2 also opens the floodgates for thousands of apps from the Google Play store, which can easily be downloaded on the phone using a Google account.

Who is this phone for?

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If you're a first-time smart phone user looking for a cheap, simple handset, the L3 will cover all your needs.

This is clearly a phone for first-time smart phone users, or anyone looking for a very simple handset. The size of the keyboard means this may not be great if you have large fingers, but if this becomes an irritation, you could always buy a stylus to help. If you want a simple, cheap handset that can make calls, send SMS messages and access your e-mails, then you have a great contender here.

agent Verdict

The handset has a selection of features - many of which are great to have ‘just in case’ - but they aren’t selling points for the phone. This is however a quick and responsive entry level handset, and once you’ve got to grips with the small touchscreen it can certainly be a pleasure to use. However, the extremely low screen resolution meant most apps and websites were a challenge to use and really hampered my overall experience with the phone.

All in all, the LG II may only do a couple of things well, but these are the important things such as calls and texts, so if you’re just looking for a smart phone that's ‘simple but effective’, this could be the handset for you.

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