LG Optimus F5
6th Jun 2013 | 03:45
Cheap, cheerful and 4G. What more could you want?
LG is doing its best to cater to this market, launching its Optimus F5 handset to provide the prepaid market an affordable 4G-enabled device. At AUD$299 outright (roughly $US285, £185), the handset certainly ticks the affordable check box.
A quick perusal of the spec sheet also promises plenty of features you'd expect from a higher-class of phone. A 4.3-inch IPS display, 1.2GHz dual-core Snapdragon processor and 8GB of internal storage expandable via MicroSD would all be appropriate for devices costing significantly more.
While it only comes with the 4.1 version of Jelly Bean running the show, the benefit of affordability over most up to date software should be enough to keep the budget-conscious happy.
Can you say iClone? Of course you can. But that's almost exactly what the handset looks like front on. The screen proportions, the bezel, and even the front camera and earpiece look like they were magically transported directly from Jonny Ive's brain.
Of course, there are differences too. There's no hard home button, for a start. Instead, the standard Android trio of touch sensitive soft buttons line up below the F5's screen.
The IPS display is vibrant and colourful, with great viewing angles and a decent resolution at 960 x 550 pixels at 256ppi.
The bottom of the device houses a MicroUSB port, while the left of the phone is home to the volume rocker and the power button lives on the right hand side.
The removable plastic back is a glossy white with a fancy diamond pattern, which surrounds the phone's 5-megapixel camera. Take it off, and you can see the removable 2150mAh battery, SIM card slot and MicroSD port.
The plastic backing the phone is a little bit slippery. That diamond pattern isn't actually textured onto the case, unfortunately, and the slippery plastic feel does make its way onto the sides of the phones as well.
The overall feeling is that the phone could slip from your grip at any second. Mind you, phones like the Galaxy S4 and iPhone 5 have the same sort of feel, so it's hardly a deal-breaker.
The F5 is also much chunkier than you'd expect. At 9.3mm thick, it's hardly what we'd call fat, but it does feel significantly wider than the premium phones of today.
It's also feels heavier than it looks, coming in at 134 grams.
Power and the passion
While power users will hate the lack of the most recent version of Jelly Bean, there's no denying that the 4.1 version, coupled with the dual-core Snapdragon processor, actually makes the F5 sing.
Animations are smooth, transitions are fast and the integrated features are nice too.
LG has stuffed its QSlide functionality, previously seen on the Optimus G, into the F5. It lets you multitask, adding different apps on top of your current screen and adjusting the transparency so you can keep doing what your doing.
There are QSlide apps for video, memos, internet, calendar and calculator, and two can be used at a time.
The QSlide apps work pretty well. We saw a video of the Family Guy playing back in a transparent window while the main phone switched between apps and took notes.
LG has also bundled in its Quick Memo function, which lets you take a note on F5's and can stay on the screen until you're ready to clear it away. Useful for taking down a phone number then calling that number.
One other nifty feature is the ability to customise pretty much any botton on the home page, making icons bigger or smaller for convenience, as well as changing the icon image.
This includes the ability to take photos and use the subsequent image as an app icon. Which is kind of neat, really, when you think about it.
This handset isn't meant to compete with the likes of the Galaxy S4 or Xperia Z. It's a mid-range handset aimed at converting prepaid customers to 4G.
But given its snappy performance and bargain price point, there's a lot to like about the F5, in a way that sees it competing with phones double its price.
The handset itself seems well-made, and while it's not going to win any beauty pageants, it certainly doesn't look ugly.
There are question marks over the 5MP camera, and we haven't tested to see how well the processor performs under duress, but overall, this looks like a really promising handset for affordable 4G access.