Big screen star
As we said, this is the biggest handset in the L series, with a TFT screen measuring 4.3 inches. It’s not that bright, so it can be hard to see if the sun is shining, but the viewing angles are very impressive, which is handy is you’re watching a film with a mate, or trying to surf the net together. Photos and video looked good too.
It has WVGA resolution – so it’s like that on the HTC One – so expect HD video to look sharp, but don’t expect the crisp quality of the screens on the Sony Xperia S and HTC One X. Nonetheless it’s perfectly usable if you want to watch a full-length film.
In the hand it feels reasonably weighty and solid – this is reinforced by the presence of metallic edges – and it feels like it can stand up to a bit of rough treatment (although we wouldn’t fancy dropping it screen-first onto the pavement). The front is glass covered, and the rear is made of textured plastic. We reviewed a white version and it managed to resist scuffs and scratches well.
It looks good too – the sharper corners on the handset look neat against the rounded contours. There aren’t many hard keys – under the display sits a rectangular Home key, and there are touch-sensitive areas on each side that are for Menu and Back – prod them and they light up. The volume controls sit along the side, while the top edge is home to the 3.5mm audio jack and power button.
In the picture
The snapper is a five-megapixel model, which produces decent, colourful and sharp snaps in bright light. The auto focus is a tad temperamental and we sometimes found our subjects a tad soft or faded. Some snaps emerged with an odd green haze around the subject matter.
In low light the snapper performed well for a smartphone snapper. There is an LED flash that manages to avoid overexposing your subject – without it we saw a lot of grain on our low-light images.
There are plenty of tablets and phones running on Google’s fabulous Ice Cream Sandwich operating system, and the Optimus L7 is just the latest of them. There are five desktops, which you can choose to customise as you wish – it’s simple to add apps, bookmarks, widgets and so on – just hold your finger down on an empty space and a menu will pop up that holds all your choices. There’s plenty of widgets to choose from including ones that let you check social media feeds and email inboxes without opening your apps first.
The lock screen doesn’t boast the same level of customisation as that of the HTC One X, so don’t expect to see your latest Twitter updates or headlines unless you unlock the handset. It does, however, allow you instant access to a quartet of your choice of apps – and you can set up a PIN lock or pattern to ensure your handset is secure. There are shortcut buttons that can be placed at the base of each desktop.
Check out the notification bar, where you’ll find you can get updates for calls, emails, texts and tweets, plus quick access to Bluetooth, GPS, Wi-Fi and vibrating mode. It is possible to customise the shortcuts bar to add options such as Airplane mode and NFC, which is a nifty addition from LG. The notifications bar is big enough to hold everything comfortable too.
Battery life is disappointing compared with that on similar Android phones. Even with light use (a bit of emailing, texting and a short bit of net surfing) we only just managed to get 24 hours out of a fully charged battery. If you’re planning to stream YouTube clips, make calls, use NFC and Bluetooth and mess around with apps, make sure you’re close to a charger.
The main culprit for this drain on the battery’s power seems to be the screen – we found that with the display turned on at a reasonable brightness level, within half an hour the screen had sucked up 10% of the battery’s juice, There is a Power saving mode, which turns on automatically once battery life reaches 50% and less. This switches off Blutetooth and Wi-Fi and changes the screen’s settings.
Under the hood sits a single-core 1GHz chip, which mostly copes well with Android Ice Cream Sandwich, although it did hesitate when we were loading an app, inputting a text or running through settings. Most games and apps ran okay but it’s unlikely to handle many of the games that will come out later this year for the phones running dual and quad-core processors.
If you’re a big fan of playing games on our mobile, it’s probably worth hanging on for the release of the LG Optimus 4X, or buying an HTC One S, which boasts a dual-core chip and has the same price on most contracts.
Most smartphones have NFC built in nowadays and the Optimus L7 is no exception. LG has enabled users to make instant use of the technology (which will eventually be used to make contactless payments) by including its Tag+ sticker, which is the same as Sony’s Xperia SmartTags. Each sticker has a profile assigned to it – Wi-Fi on or off and so on – tap the back of the phone against the sticker and the settings fire up. It is also possible to choose a single application to fire up automatically – this facility isn’t quite as flexible as Sony’s offering though.
If you’re a busy net surfer, who always runs five or sex web pages at the same time, the Optimus L7 will please you. On the address bar of the browser there is a neat icon that shows you how many windows are open. Tap on it and a scrollable screen appears, which will show all your open windows. At the bottom of the display is a tab – flick this and you can bookmark your window or open a new one. The screen is sharp so that you can read text clearly if you zoom right in.
The LG Optimus L7 is nicely designed but doesn’t quite have the allure of its major competitors. The display is colourful but doesn’t have the detail shown by the One X and Xperia S screens, while the five-megapixel snapper offers decent performance but doesn’t have the wonderful features of those on the HTC. The single-core4 chip manages Ice Cream sandwich okay – there is the odd stutter – but it doesn’t offer any futureproofing. Last but not least, battery life is disappointing. While we like the Optimus L7 you can find better smartphones at the same price.
Raj Rajput [ MBA ]
Mobile Reviews Expert
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