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The first glasses-free 3D handset is finally upon us and after months of waiting to see what the fuss about it was, we have our very own Optimus 3D to review for you. LG has been bringing some great, quality handsets to market and the Optimus 3D steps it up a notch with a new dual-core processor, stereoscopic cameras and just about every bell and whistle you could think of for a handset of its caliber.
3D may be nothing more than a gimmick right now, but it’s still one of the most interesting technologies to see implemented into a handset these days. The super high-resolution displays found on devices today are nice, but the novelty wears off after a while. You can grow accustom to the 3D technology implemented into the Optimus 3D, but some may take it over a Retina or qHD display any day. Some won’t.
Will glasses free technology take off in the mobile space? Is it worth the hype? Read on to find out!
The LG Optimus 3D is one powerful handsets we've seen, and we can't wait to see it land on AT&T shelves as the Thrill 4G. We'd like this phone even if it wasn't one of the first glasses-free 3D handsets, but the addition certainly helps. The O3D is packed to the gills with high-end features with a design that's easy on the eyes, if not a bit understated.
While the 4.3 inch display dominates the face of the handset, LG still managed to throw some nice touches in. The display looks just fine looking directly at it, but it's dimmer than most handsets we've seen when in 3D mode. The display will also begin to look yellow from certain angles. Aside from the massive display, the outer bezel houses the front-facing camera and LG's logo on top, along with the ambient light and proximity sensors. Below the screen you'll find the standard Android buttons, menu, home, back, and search.
At the top and bottom of the face lies two strips of material that have a brushed metal look to them, and you'll find the earpiece embedded into the top strip. It's very subtle and you won't really notice the brushed metal look all that much when looking at the handset head-on.
On top of the handset you'll find the standard 3.5mm headphone jack, as well as the power/lock switch. On the left spine you'll find the charging port and micro-HDMI port, with the volume rocker and dedicated 3D button that we wish would double up as a camera button, but it doesn't, unfortunately. In fact, the only thing the button does do when you're in the camera application is switch from 2D to 3D pictures.
The backside of the Optimus 3D is where you'll find the 3D stereoscopic cameras fit into the long, metal strip we've become accustom to seeing in LG's recent Android handsets, and the single LED flash sitting in between the two lenses. Right below the metal strip you'll find the speaker grill, and LG's logo off to the side. The battery cover comes off easily with a small indentation at the bottom of the handset, and this is a sturdy piece of plastic, similar to what we've seen on the T-Mobile G2X
In case you didn't know what the reasoning behind two cameras on a phone is, LG was nice enough to etch, "3D Stereoscopic" into the metal strip for you.
The Optimus 3D feels solid in the hand and we'd expect to take a beating. There are small design touches throughout the handset that make this black slab more appealing than some, but it's still nonetheless a black slab. From the brushed metal accents on the face of the device, to the metal strip on the back, the Optimus 3D is a quality handset that you wouldn't mistake for any of LG's budget Optimus phones.
The Optimus 3D isn't all that thick of a phone, but looks are deceiving and you'll likely be surprised when you pick it up to find that it's quite heavy. The weight of the O3D isn't a major turn off, and even adds to the solid feel of the device, but it's something you'll feel in your pocket walking down on the street.
The Optimus 3D ships with the same UI you'll find on the LG Revolution and the LG Optimus 2X. As a whole, the UI brings some nice features to the table, some just seem unnecessary. Either way, the custom skin isn't unbearable to use, and we'd pick it over some unmentionable custom skins we've seen before on Android phones.
You have seven different homescreen panels to customize with applications and widgets, many of which are provided by LG itself. These widgets range from a redone music player to stock widgets and photo albums. At the bottom of the display is a customizable dock that you can replace up to three apps with the fourth is designated for the application launcher.
The app launcher itself is broken into categories that you'll either love or hate immediately. With the app draw open, you can pinch the screen and all of the categories will collapse and allow you to choose what set of applications are displayed. You can customize these categories and even remove them if you wish. Another nifty feature that LG has offered since the Ally is that you can uninstall apps right from the app launcher. It looks painfully similar to iOS, but it sure beats having to go into the Android Market or settings to uninstall an app.
LG also provides some interest gesture features that aren't necessarily new to see, but still welcomed. There are only a few, but you can turn the handset over to snooze your alarm or silence your phone, with another that will allow the cursor to move into a text field just by tapping the side of the screen.
LG provides a dedicated 3D button on the handset that will launch the 3D UI from the homescreen, or turn the 3D function on within a compatible application, like the camera.
After pressing the 3D button from the Android homescreen, you'll be presented with a carousal that touts the third dimension. There are five options to choose from: YouTube, Gallery, Games & Apps, Camera, and Guide. The options are pretty straight forward, bringing you the respective application.
The handset comes with a couple of 3D games pre-installed, like Let's Golf 2, Nova, Asphalt 6, and Gulliver's Travels. While most are aesthetically pleasing, I became addicted to Let's Golf 2 immediately. Other games like Nova are more atmospheric, but small touches in Let's Golf 2 make it an enjoyable experience, like the sun reflecting off of the camera lens as you watch the ball soar through the air. In its most subtle moments, 3D is phenomenal.
Some of the other games were a pleasure to play, too. While it was more of a 3D pop-up book rather than a game, Gulliver's Travels was very enjoyable.
Since the viewing angles of the display are limited, games that usually rely on the accelerometer are out of luck. Asphalt 6 is one such game and instead of literally moving the device around to steer the car a dedicated steering wheel is on the bottom left of the screen and you have to steer that way. Sounds horrible, right? It's actually not so bad, and coming from someone who usually sucks are racing games of all sorts, it's really ok.
In some games and in the gallery application you can adjust the depth of 3D viewing. This helps if you're beginning to get a headache or become dizzy, but if that's the case you should probably put the phone down. It will happen to you, but you eventually get used to it and can go a long time without having to rest your eyes.
Overall the 3D aspect is good for gaming and photos but I mainly just used it for gaming. Unless someone else has a 3D-enabled phone, you can't share 3D pictures and videos, so be prepared to pass your phone around constantly. Even the suckers out there that'll fall for anything may ask themselves whether or not they need something like this on a phone, as fun as it may be to have.
The Optimus 3D is one of the first devices to ship with the TI OMAP 4 dual-core processor and we put it through some benchmark tests to see just how powerful this CPU is. We ran all tests three times each and the averages are below.
You won't find a 3D-enabled music player on the Optimus 3D, but then again wouldn't 3D music technically be synesthesia? You'll have to make do with the pretty much standard music player, but we would have loved to see some sort of 3D music visualizations provided by LG.
The O3D also supports DLNA, allowing you to stream media content from your phone to your TV or a PS3 or other DLNA-compatible device to view. While we couldn't test this out, we have our doubts about being able to wirelessly share 3D content using the SmartShare app. To do so, you'll need a 3D enabled HDTV as well as the micro-HDMI cord for the device.
The Optimus 3D comes with two 5 mega pixel camera on its backside and allows you to take photos and video in 3D. However, the Optimus 3D will only allow you to take 3 megapixel 3D photos and record in 720p. In 2D, you can take advantage of the 5 megapixel camera with photos and record in 1080p HD.
3D pictures are in JPS format, which pretty much renders them useless unless they are on the phone or connected to a 3D TV. There are some JPS file viewers you can download, but they won't work as you'd want them to.
Call quality for the Optimus 3D was more than acceptable, but we'd imagine that it would be better when it's on its respective carrier. Still, calls were pretty clear with little distortion on both ends.
Battery life on the Optimus 3D can be acceptable but it can also be downright atrocious. You can thank that to the 3D aspect of the device, of course. I successfully drained the battery completely playing a 3D game in about two hours, if not less. Because of its novelty, you may find yourself losing track of the amount of time you've spent on 3D mode and what's the point in using 3D to kill some time when it will almost be dead when you're done with that 3rd dimension? The technology suffers just as Verizon's LTE handsets. It's pretty awesome but it's not where we'd like to see it, and the battery suffers for it.
The Optimus 3D has a lot going for it. It sports a blazing fast dual-core processor, and it's the first glasses-free 3D phone we've been able to truly test out. Unfortunately, between the mix of poor battery life and pure gimmick, the Optimus 3D isn't going to be for everyone. Actually, I have a hard time finding out what kind of person would actually need 3D on their phone.
The technology is terribly bleeding edge and it may be smart to wait this one out and allow glass-free technology mature. When I say, "wait this one out," I don't mean wait for the EVO 3D to come out, as it will likely suffer from some of the same issues. That remains to be seen, though.
Overall, the Optimus 3D is a great first attempt at a phone that no one really needs. Don't get me wrong, it's very fun to use and I do see a future in 3D, but as it stands today it's just not where it should be. That said, the 3D novelty doesn't wear off like some high-resolution displays we're beginning to see on smartphones today. If you're one to have the latest tech and don't care what you'll sacrifice the process, by all means get the Optimus 3D.
Despite its downfalls, the Optimus 3D is still a great phone even without it being a 3D handset. If you're not a power user and would only use 3D lightly, you may manage to have better success with the battery on the handset, and we can imagine that LG is working on optimizations.
I could go on and on about the Optimus 3D, but to spare you from another nine paragraphs, I'll just tell you this: In its current form, I have no intention whatsoever to purchase a 3D-enabled handset, no matter who makes the thing. I just don't need it. However, it in now way should stop you from grabbing this hot handset, because LG got a lot right with its first 3D phone.