LG Optimus L3

9/8/2012 9:31:03 AM

LG’s new Android handset is attractively priced and small in size, but do good things come in small packages?

LG recently announced a new series of Android-based smartphones, the L series. There will be several models sharing the same design aesthetic but hitting different price points, and the first to hit the ground is the budget priced L3. With a price well under $157.5 it will have immediate appeal to the budget conscious, while its physical design will endear it to others. But we aren’t sure it has enough going for it to justify purchasing.

Description: LG Optimus L3
LG Optimus L3

There’s a clear attempt to be different in the design of the LG Optimus L3. Its back plate has a bumpy texture that helps with grip but isn’t, in our minds, as easy on the eye as a rubbery finish. The phone is a little fat and a little short. For a handset with a relatively small screen - just 3.2 inches - we were surprised to find it tricky to reach all the way across one handed. We put that down to the handset being a little thicker than the norm at nearly 12mm.

The front has a minimalist design with just a single button visible when the screen is off. Pressing this turns the screen on and illuminates two further touch buttons, for Android's Menu and Back features. When you are using the handset the physical button becomes the Home button. It makes for clean lines and a distinctive look which we rather like.

The black front and back are separated by a silver surround around all the edges that is fatter along the top and bottom than the long edges. The top and bottom edges house the headphones and micro USB slots respectively, and the main power switch is on the top, with the only other button being a volume rocker on the left edge.

Description: The LG Optimus L3 runs on Android 2.3. This isn’t the most advanced version of the OS, but what you’d probably expect to see in a handset at this price.

The LG Optimus L3 runs on Android 2.3. This isn’t the most advanced version of the OS, but what you’d probably expect to see in a handset at this price.

You notice that this is a budget handset as soon as you switch it on. The screen offers just 240x320 pixels and the low resolution really, really shows. In recent months we’ve seen the Orange San Francisco II and Huawei G300 offer considerably higher resolution displays at a comparable price point. Unfortunately, the screen isn’t the best quality either. The TFT panel looks decidedly last generation. As you use the LG Optimus L3 regularly you are likely to encounter various hampering factors with regard to keyboard size. It is too small for efficient web browsing or video watching, for example, and it is pretty small for typing on. To be fair, typing probably won’t be a problem if you have childlike hands, but full-sized grown-up people might feel the squeeze.

The LG Optimus L3 runs on Android 2.3. This isn’t the most advanced version of the OS, but what you’d probably expect to see in a handset at this price. It has an 800MHz processor - again in keeping with the overall price, and there is 1GB of built-in storage. Checking our review sample out of the box, all the storage seemed to be free, and you can add more storage via micro SD cards. The slot is housed under the back plate.

LG has skinned Android with a fairly light touch. Five home screens, a shortcuts bar along the bottom of each, and a very small array of widgets are unlikely to confuse users. LG hasn’t provided much by way of third-party software. There’s Polaris Viewer for looking at, but not editing Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents, but not a lot else of serious note. We do like the inclusion of an FM radio, however.

The three-megapixel camera has no flash and video shooting is limited to VGA. HSDPA is also limited - to 3.6Mbps. This probably won’t feel terribly slow, but it is short of what many smartphones offer.

The 1540mAh battery is something of a surprise as it is higher capacity than we might have anticipated, and as a result it kept the Optimus L3 going a little longer than anticipated too. Battery life is so often one of the main failings of a budget handset, but with the L3 you might well get a couple of days between charges.

The battery is really a highlight of the LG Optimus L3 which in other respects is every inch the budget mobile its price suggests. Shop around within the $175.5 price bracket and you’ll find there are several devices that offer quite a bit more for your money.


Surprisingly nippy but the poor screen limits how you will use it


Short and quite squat, but there is room for a decent battery


Unfortunately very basic, even at this low price point

Battery life

The 1540mAh battery produced a good, long life, with as much as two days use between full charges

Value money

There’s plenty of competition at this level and you’ll find something better


A very basic handset that comes up short of the best budget Android phones currently on the market


Description: LG Optimus L3
LG Optimus L3


This is a relatively small smartphone, ideal for childlike hands


The three-megapixel camera lacks a flash and produces very mediocre output. There’s no front-facing camera either




More information

Technical specs

Operating system

Android 2.3.6




384MB RAM 1GB Storage


102.6 x 61.6 x 11.85mm



Display size

3.2 inch

Display resolution

240x320 pixels

Expansion slot

micro SD


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