LG Optimus 3D review: Is 3D worth all the fuss?

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 Good
    The Bad


      • 4.3 - inch glasses-free 3D display (480 x 800)
      • Stereoscopic camera's (each 5 megapixels)
      • TI 1GHz dual-core processor
      • Front-facing camera for video chat
      • Dedicated button to access 3D content
      • Mini HDMI port
      • WiFi (b/g/n)
      • Bluetooth 3.0
      • Android 2.2 Froyo with LG custom user interface

      The Good

      • Pictures and video in 3D: Taking and viewing pictures and video is really fun, even if gimmicky.
      • Large, glasses-free 3D WVGA display: 4.3 inch display ensures you have enough real estate no matter what way it's being held.
      • Showstopper at parties: The phone will make the geeks swoon and the rookies ooh and ahh.
      • Overall great phone: Even if this wasn't the first 3D handset, LG has made a solid phone with great features you won't want to put down.

      The Bad

      • 3D degrades image quality: 3D viewing adds depth but sucks out a lot of color saturation and crispness of the display.
      • Battery could be better: Heavy use of the 3D display will dramatically kill the battery.
      • 3D can be hard on the eyes: Although a warning is displayed, viewing 3D images and video can make you dizzy or give you a headache.
      • 3D camera only takes 3 megapixel photos: adding a third dimension means sacrificing pixels.


      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.

      Sporting TI's OMAP 4 dual-core processor, the Optimus 3D is a very speedy device that isn't in short supply of raw horsepower, and is a direct challenger to NVIDIA's Tegra 2.

      Build Quality / Fit & Finish

      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 3d Ui

      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.

      Quadrant (System Benchmark) 2496






      Linpack (Processor Benchmark) 36.381 MFLOPS






      Neocore (Graphics Benchmark) 57.8 FPS





      Web Browser, Multimedia And Camera

      Web Browser

      LG has customized the web browser on the Optimus 3D quite a bit, but not to the point that you have to relearn how to use it. Most option will not be on-screen instead of tucked away in a menu. The browser's skin reminds us a bit of the iPhone, but unlike the iOS device, the Optimus 3D has some screen real estate to spare. A dock lines the bottom of the browser with easy access to your open windows and settings. Despite the skinned look, it's still Android blazing fast web browser with its JavaScript V8 Engine, Flash support, and more.


      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.

      IMG042 e1307986218704 LG Optimus 3D review: Is 3D worth all the fuss?

      outdoors, in shade, default settings

      IMG048 e1307986241255 LG Optimus 3D review: Is 3D worth all the fuss?

      outdoors, sunset, default settings

      IMG052 e1307986260992 LG Optimus 3D review: Is 3D worth all the fuss?

      outdoors, sunset, default settings

      IMG053 e1307986279229 LG Optimus 3D review: Is 3D worth all the fuss?

      outdoors, sunset, default settings

      Call Quality And Battery Life

      Call Quality

      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

      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 Final Take

      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.

      Back to top ▴

      • Nice review Blake

        • thanx man – you are the best 

          • SAWatMWC

            I don’t think it’s exactly the same Gorilla Glass brand but it’s definitely scratch-resistant.

      • RockinRhino

        I can’t wait to see what kind of advertising we will see from brand advertisers on these 3D displays. 3D beer commercials with hot girls? Yeah!

      • Anonymous

        Nice review. Looks like 3D technology has a long way to go in smartphones.

      • MM

        Please shoot some 3D video with it and upload it to YouTube 3D…

        • Seconded 🙂

        • Anonymous

          That will be coming shortly.

      • Anonymous

        I will go ahead an give this technology a try but not with LG only HTC and the Evo3d. Being an HTC EVO 4G OWNER we already know that HTC has spent a great deal of time with the Evo 3d and this product will represent the Evo brand on sprint proudly. I give LG credit for there attempt but beating HTC is hard in many respects. 9 days to Evo 3d…..I WOULD LIKE TO SEE YOUR REVIEW ON THE EVO 3D…BET IT’S MUCH BETTER THAN THIS

        • Anonymous

          there’s actually very little different between this phone and the EVO 3D. To assume that a phone that’s not out yet is much better than this one just isn’t right. The EVO 3D bests the Optimus 3D in some areas but at the end of the day the technology still isn’t there.

      • Anonymous

        hehe. i already have this phone… i agree… “3D is phenomenal” i have been with a lot of powerful phones but at the end of the day, its just another smartphone with nothing unique and nothing to brag about. (galaxy S, xperia arc and iphone 4).
        been using optimus 3D for a month now and i never got tired of the 3D aspect. sure i can’t really share the 3D contents of my O3D on other device but it is still fun to play with together with your friends and schoolmates… at first try the 3D gave me a serious headache but i eventually got used to it and now i can stare at my O3D longer…
        yes, 3D  may not be needed at all but for people like me who seeks something new and is bored with the usual phone, Optimus 3D is the way to go!
        i just wish battery would be a bit better 🙂

        • This is why i want one. the 3d is different. it sets it away from other phones 🙂

        • Sadisfuction

          I have iphone 4, samsung sII, and now lg optimus 3d. Guess what? I like taking and watching pictures and videos more in 3d. It makes eveything (just like) come to life. Anyone who says that now is not the time for this technology is obviously sour-graping. Sure, before 8mp cam was invented, there was vga cam. 3d is now the “in” thing and that is the fact. Having to play good games in 3d is more than a bonus. I just hope mugen power is not joking when it announced its new battery for o3d, which will increase the original battery life by more than hundred percent. That is something I look forward to and something that will surely make o3d rise to the top. If you want to experience something new and great, take it from me, lg optimus 3d offers more than its predecessors and competitors at the moment.

      • Maff Mace

        It’s not the 1st handset as you state. LG have decided to delay it for the 5th time, now mid-July, this makes the Evo 3D the 1st 3D handset.

        As for the sample comments, search youtube for the following to find plenty of examples
        optimus 3d yt3d

        • Anonymous

          Do you see a EVO 3D review anywhere? Didn’t think so.

        • Mart.

          Well, all I can see is that I´ve had a cuddle with this device in store downtown yesterday whilst the Evo is still not available anywhere. So the author of this review is right. It IS the first one.

        • Mart.

          Well, all I can see is that I´ve had a cuddle with this device in store downtown yesterday whilst the Evo is still not available anywhere. So the author of this review is right. It IS the first one.

        • Mart.

          Well, all I can see is that I´ve had a cuddle with this device in store downtown yesterday whilst the Evo is still not available anywhere. So the author of this review is right. It IS the first one.

        • Mart.

          Well, all I can see is that I´ve had a cuddle with this device in store downtown yesterday whilst the Evo is still not available anywhere. So the author of this review is right. It IS the first one.

      • After playing with this “3D” phone I realized that 3D phone technology is not only a fad, but has a really long way to go to become something to market and to market well. Its like 4G is today, its there, and its cool, but it sucks big time. Released way too soon.

        I wont be buying this or the EVO 3D anytime soon.

      • Dark_shishir

        how time i wait for it???????????????????????????????

      • Dkarinajf

        I HAVE PROBLEM WITH THE POWER ON.. Why this happen?

      • Animelover639

        Honestly, I believe that this phone has many great features, however Im judging that it falls flat based on the lack of sufficient battery life when using the 3-D feature. I don’t think it’s time for the 3-D feature…technology still has advances to make. When a phone is admirable, it pleases more that just one or two aspects. I’m thinking, what is truly the diffirence between this phone and any other smart phone of it’s sort. Without the 3-D feature,(which really has’nt upheld it’s 3-D expectations)  it’s just another decent smart phone.

      • Mart.

        I wonder, since I do find quite an important use of lenticular stereoscopy pictures (even videos, wow!) in my pocket for a field one-to-one presentation of my work, would a “constant” loading of several other batteries from my other pockets be less of a punk action then having another dedicated device on top of my phone? Well, apart from the Nintendo 3DS I cant think of any, anyway. So it´s a clear winner for me. The only pity is the medieval LCD instead of an OLED so I have to live by night away from a sunshine. Btw, this could save a LOT of juice in the Optimus 3D, am I right? 

      • Anonymous

        I have had this for a couple of weeks now as an upgrade from my HTC
        desire and I am really impressed the 3d, every time I look at it and show
        it off it still gives me a buzz.

        I compared the screens in the phone shop to the Samsung Galaxy S II and
        even without the 3d on it is the same sized screen and looked just as clear. While
        this was no expert opinion and for the few minutes I had them both in
        my hand I could see that this stands up just as well with out the 3d and
        that’s what really sold me to this phone, with out all the 3d fuss its
        still a really great phone.

        Sure battery life is still low but i charged my old desire phone up
        every night anyway and any phone with a large screen is going to have a
        short battery life. If you are worried about going away for a few days
        with out a charge point, just by some extra battery’s of eBay they are
        cheap enough.

        No regrets getting this awesome bit of kit.

      • jesus2.lopez

        I am happy to see that finally
        someone can get it right and release a smart phone with an up to date version
        of Android. The HTC EVO 3D is great, especially since it comes with Android
        version 2.3 and a dual core processor. I am excited to get this phone,
        especially since I recently got my employee Sling adapter from DISH Network.
        With the Sling adapter, I can stream live and recorded TV to my Android phone
        everywhere I have 3G coverage or WiFi, so its like having my TV in my pocket.

      • RalliSport Challenge 2 is just the opposite. Thrilling and unexpected, it will have you cutting corners at 120 miles per hour only a few inches away from a thousand foot cliff. Style doesn’t matter here; all you have to do is drive really fast and actually make it to the end of the game.

      • LG Optimus is the prime touch screen phone. I love the style and I so much lovin it.

      Back to top ▴