LG Optimus L3 2

4th Jun 2013 | 14:52

LG Optimus L3 2

This entry level handset is small in size, but can it achieve big things?

TechRadar rating:

2.5 stars

The LG Optimus L3 2 is likely to really struggle to compete in the budget phone market. If you just want a feature phone you can get one for less, while if you want a smartphone you can get a substantially better one for not much more.

Like:

Customisation options; Good contacts manager; Decent battery life; Micro SD card slot;

Dislike:

Low res screen; Small built in storage; Poor camera; Sometimes lags;

Introduction

LG might mostly be known for the popular Nexus 4 and other premium smartphones but that only accounts for one end of its range. The LG Optimus L3 2 takes a position right at the other end as a truly entry level handset.

With a price tag of roughly £90 SIM free, or available free on contract from around £7.50 a month the LG Optimus L3 II is going up against the likes of the ZTE Blade 3, HTC Desire C and the Huawei Ascend G330.

With a dinky 3.2-inch low resolution screen, a 1GHz single-core processor and just 512MB of RAM the LG Optimus L3 2 might not be up to much, but in this sort of price range that doesn't necessarily matter.

LG Optimus L3 2 review

First impressions of the handset are in line with what you'd expect from a cheap phone. The 102.6 x 61.1 x 11.9mm body is shorter and less wide than most phones, though it looks and feels quite chunky. At 107g it's light too, but that's no surprise given the plastic body.

It feels disconcertingly light actually but aside from that it's comfortable to hold, with curved edges making it fit nicely in your palm.

LG Optimus L3 2 review

The front of the LG Optimus L3 II is a fairly plain affair, with the dinky 3.2 inch 240 x 320 IPS LCD screen in the centre, large black borders above and below it and narrower ones to the side.

The screen itself is far from impressive when you consider that the similarly priced Ascend G330 has a 4-inch 480 x 800 display and even the HTC Desire C has a slightly better 3.5 inch 320 x 480 screen.

LG Optimus L3 2 review

The border above the screen houses an LG logo, the earpiece and a proximity sensor, while the one below the screen has the home button, along with soft touch buttons for 'back' and 'menu'.

The home button is fairly unique in that the edges contain LED's which light up to alert you to calls, emails and texts. It glows a different colour for each to help you differentiate them and it looks good doing it too.

LG Optimus L3 2 review

The back of the handset is even plainer, with just a 3.15MP camera lens near the top and another LG logo just below it. There aren't any other features on the back of the LG Optimus L3 2, just the back cover which has a textured, almost brushed metal look to it, but it's very obviously just plastic.

You can peel the back straight off by getting your fingernail under one of the grooves on the side. It comes off easily and can be clipped back into place just as easily, though this does raise concerns that it might come off on its own and it's a rather flimsy piece of plastic.

LG Optimus L3 2 review

Underneath the cover you'll find a micro SD card slot at the top left. This is almost essential as the phone comes with just 4GB of internal memory and it's great that you can get to it without taking the battery out, though you do still need to take the back cover off.

The 1540mAh battery takes up most of the visible internal space and under that there's a SIM card slot.

The top edge of the phone has a power button at one corner and a 3.5mm headphone port at the other.

LG Optimus L3 2 review

The bottom of the phone houses a micro USB port used for charging the phone or connecting it to a computer. There's also a tiny hole which houses the microphone.

The left edge of the LG Optimus L3 2 just has a volume rocker on it and the right edge has no features at all.

LG Optimus L3 2 review

All in all the handset looks cheap and plain, but thanks to the dark colours and textured look of the back it comes off as reasonably classy.

It's small yet chunky and won't be winning any beauty awards, but for a sub-£100 handset it's about what we'd expect looks wise. The specs are more worrying though, particularly the screen which is distinctly small and low resolution.

Interface

The first thing that will likely strike you when you turn the LG Optimus L3 2 on is just how low resolution it is. The 3.2-inch 240 x 320 screen has just 125 pixels per inch.

LG Optimus L3 2 review

To put that into perspective the comparably priced Huawei Ascend G330 manages 233 pixels per inch.

Of course that's all just numbers but the screen on the LG Optimus L3 II is undeniably very fuzzy, so much so that we almost start to go cross eyed if we look at it for long enough.

It seriously affects everything, from icons and images to text and it's far from a pleasant viewing experience.

If you can get past the terrible screen resolution things start to look up, as actually using the touch screen isn't bad at all.

LG Optimus L3 II review

It scrolls fairly smoothly and almost always registers your taps, though there is sometimes a half second delay between tapping on an app and it opening and it will occasionally lag in other areas such as home screen transitions too.

When you turn the LG Optimus L3 2 on it will drop you on the lock screen, which displays the time and date on it but other than some background wallpaper there's not much else to it.

Swiping in any direction will bring up the home screen, which isn't too far removed from the stock version of Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean.

That's not the latest version of Android but we're only on 4.2.2 now so it's not as outdated as it could have been.

LG Optimus L3 2 review

You swipe left or right to move between home screens, of which there are only three, which is a pretty prohibitive amount and limits the amount of widgets you'll be able to use.

There's a static dock at the bottom of the home screens with room for three app shortcuts. These default to the dial pad, contacts and text messages but they can be changed if you want.

There's also a shortcut to your apps drawer on the dock and this can't be removed.

At the top of the screen there's a notifications bar which you can swipe down to view or clear any notifications.

The notifications screen also lets you put your phone on silent or vibrate, turn 3G, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth on or off, adjust the brightness, toggle airplane mode and more.

LG Optimus L3 2 review

It also has a shortcut to the main settings screen for any options that aren't covered.

More interestingly you'll also find 'Quick Memo' here, which when tapped lets you use your finger to hand write a quick note.

You can then save it to the phone with a single tap or send it as an email or text message with a couple more taps.

The idea seems to be that it's quicker than opening the main memo app and typing a note out on the keyboard, which it is slightly, though mostly only because there's a shortcut to it on the settings screen so it's not the most useful of features in that sense.

However you can keep notes on the screen while doing other things - for example making a call, or web browsing - which does give it a slight advantage over the memo app.

LG Optimus L3 2 review

Back on the home screen you can long press to change the wallpaper, or long press on an app to move it or put it in a folder.

Tapping the home button from any screen other than a home screen will bring you back to your home screens, while long pressing it will bring up a list of recently used apps, which you can switch between with a tap.

Long pressing the menu button launches Google's visual virtual assistant 'Google Now', which works as well here as it does on any other handset.

Tapping the menu button will bring up a list of sub menus, including the option to go to the main settings screen or to change various aspects of the home screen and lock screen.

LG Optimus L3 2 review

You can change the theme, change the screen transition effect and setup security for the lock screen.

Including themes and transition options at all is more than most Android phones do out of the box and customisation fans are sure to appreciate it.

The app drawer looks much like it normally does on Android. All of your apps live here and you can scroll through them by swiping horizontally.

Apps are listed alphabetically and you can tap one to launch it or long press to add it to the home screen or delete it. You can also create and place widgets from here.

LG Optimus L3 2 review

The settings screen is almost identical to the stock Android one.

Aside from the aforementioned customisation options and the ability to turn the Home button LED alerts on or off it just has standard things like Wi-Fi settings, accessibility options and toggles for Bluetooth and 3G.

If you've used any Android phone before just about everything about the LG Optimus L3 2 will be instantly familiar and easy to use.

Even if you haven't it's still quite intuitive, though does little to stand out. Its real downfall is the terrible screen resolution.

Contacts and calling

Contacts

The LG Optimus L3 2 handles contacts pretty well. Your phone book is where you'll find them and it pulls contacts - complete with pictures, direct from Google+ and Facebook, so you should find your phone book is pretty well populated from the off.

LG Optimus L3 2 review

Although adding new contacts is very easy too, you just tap the '+' button at the top right of the phone book screen and fill out all the relevant fields.

The phone book is laid out as an alphabetical list, though you can also use the search box at the top of the screen to hunt out a specific contact.

If you have a phone number for a contact there'll be a picture of a phone next to them, which you can tap on to call them - making it very quick and easy to actually make calls.

Tapping on someone's picture brings a popup screen with options to text, call or email the person, while tapping on their name gives you their contact card, complete with email addresses, phone numbers and any other data you have on them.

Pressing an email address will launch your email app, tapping on a phone number will dial it and tapping on a website will open it in your browser.

You can also change individual ringtones and go to the text message screen from a contact card. It's all very fast and intuitive.

LG Optimus L3 2 review

If you press the menu button from the main phone book screen you'll find options to share contact details and to set up your speed dial for anyone you call a lot.

Across the top of the screen there are several other tabs, which from left to right go 'Dial', 'Call Logs', 'Favourites' and 'Groups'.

'Dial' is the dial pad, which supports smart dialling - so once you start typing a number it will bring up matches and you can also type out someone's name on it instead of a number.

'Call Logs' is, well, a log of recent calls. It shows the person who called and the date and time of the call.

You can also call the person back from here- all of which is pretty much the same as call logs on any other phone.

LG Optimus L3 2 review

'Favourites' gives you large thumbnails of anyone that you've added as a favourite and from there you just tap on their picture to go to their contact card or tap on the phone symbol to call them.

Finally 'Groups' lets you add people to a specific group - be it 'friends', 'family' or anything else you need a group for.

Inside each group it looks much like your favourites screen, just with thumbnails of the group members instead.

All in all it's a fairly comprehensive and easy to use setup, making it fast and simple to get contacts into your phone book or call contacts that are already there.

Calling

LG Optimus L3 2 review

When someone calls you, their name and picture will appear on the screen (if they're in your phone book) and you can simply swipe across either the 'Answer' or 'Decline' icon depending on whether or not you want to take the call.

Once on a call you have a few more options, including speaker phone, mute, hold, Bluetooth and dial pad.

You can also leave the call screen and navigate the rest of your phone without the call ending.

We'd say that call quality was reasonable rather than great. We didn't have any dropped calls but voices sometimes sounded a bit muffled or crackly and the speakerphone seemed quite quiet.

The LG Optimus L3 2 could certainly do with better call quality but it's not terrible and the impressive and intuitive way that contacts are handled goes some way to making up for it.

Messaging

Text messages on the LG Optimus L3 2 are handled by the 'Messaging' app, which follows the same basic format as most smartphone messaging apps.

LG Optimus L3 2 review

You start on the main inbox screen, which lists the names of any people that you've sent messages to, along with a preview of the most recent message.

Tapping on someone's picture gives you the option to call them, long pressing them enables you to delete the conversation and tapping on their name opens their message thread, where any messages sent and received between the two of you will appear in speech bubbles which you can scroll back through.

There's also a box at the bottom of the screen for sending a new message. Just tap it to bring up the keyboard, type out a message and hit send.

LG Optimus L3 2 review

If you want to add an attachment there's a button for that just above the send button.

Back on the main inbox screen if you want to message someone new there's a little icon at the top right which you can tap on to do that.

Then you just type out their name or select them from your address book and write the message.

If you hit the menu button from the inbox there are a few options, such as searching for a specific message or turning delivery reports on.

You can also change the theme of the text message app. There are only a few to choose from but it's a nice touch, which along with the theme and transition options for your home screen adds a welcome extra layer of customisation to the handset.

LG Optimus L3 2 review

Sure you can get replacement apps from Google Play which have even more options, but most Android handsets don't let you do much to mess with the look of things at all without a trip to Google Play.

Another nice touch is the fact that when you receive a text it will pop up on your screen over whatever else you might be doing.

This allows you to read it and reply to it without having to click through to the messaging app, which is great if you're in the middle of something.

That might raise privacy concerns for some people, but if you'd rather your messages didn't pop up for the world to see it can be disabled.

LG Optimus L3 2 review

Social networking and IM services aren't integrated into the main text message app, but you can access people's Facebook profiles and other connected accounts from their contact cards.

The other form of messaging on offer is email. As tends to be the case on Android handsets two separate apps handle this, a Gmail app and another just called 'Email'.

The Gmail app brings your inbox up by default and from there you can tap an email to open it, long press it to delete it or tap the envelope button at the bottom of the screen to send an email.

Once in an email there are options along the bottom to reply to it, delete it, re-label it or go back to your inbox.

LG Optimus L3 2 review

Emails aren't resized to fit the screen, so there can be a lot of scrolling involved in reading them, particularly given how small the screen on the LG Optimus L3 2 is.

The text is also far from sharp, thanks to the low resolution, otherwise though it's a perfectly functional experience.

The 'Email' app is what you'll be using for any email accounts that aren't Gmail.

The layout is pretty similar, with the main difference being that the options to send and delete messages are at the top of the screen rather than the bottom. Both apps allow you to setup push notifications so your phone will alert you when you get new mail.

Whether for emails or text messages the on screen keyboard is surprisingly accurate given how small the screen is.

LG Optimus L3 2 review

We were expecting to regularly hit the wrong button as it's so cramped, but in reality mistakes were rarely made, though the cramped space still makes tapping out messages a little uncomfortable, particularly if you've got big hands.

Turning the keyboard to landscape gives you slightly more breathing room but not much.

It can correct typo's and predict the next word you're typing - both of which it does a reasonable job of - however you'll have to manually switch these options on in the settings menu as it defaults to them being off.

Another option that is available but needs enabling is voice input, which adds a little microphone button to your keyboard, allowing you to speak a message instead if you'd prefer.

This works pretty well and managed to keep up with us even when we spoke quickly, though it always seemed to make a mistake eventually.

Internet

Like so many other Android handsets the LG Optimus L3 2 comes with two browsers pre-installed, specifically the standard Android one and Chrome.

LG Optimus L3 2 review

The Android one seems to be the focus though as it is given home screen real estate from the off, while Chrome is tucked away in the app drawer.

In truth there's not a vast amount of difference between the two, both have an address bar (which doubles as a search box) at the top of the screen and a button to the right of that for switching tabs.

The Android browser has a small menu at the bottom with options to go forward or backward a page, go to your home page, open a new tab or go to your bookmarks.

The Chrome browser doesn't have that bottom bar but both browsers keep most of their options in a popup menu which lets you save a page as a favourite, request a desktop site or toggle and tweak all sorts of settings from whether or not to save passwords to enabling JavaScript.

LG Optimus L3 2 review

In both cases the bookmarking system is fairly similar and straightforward, as having tapped on the bookmarks option you simply get thumbnails of all your bookmarks and can tap one to open it.

Both browsers are well laid out and simple to use, though there are also other options available to download from Google Play if you don't get on with them.

Whichever browser you use the web experience on the LG Optimus L3 2 isn't particularly good.

It's not that it's especially slow, it takes about four or five seconds to load mobile pages over Wi-Fi and around ten seconds to load desktop sites or about five seconds more in each case over 3G - which is no worse than we'd expect from an entry level handset.

LG Optimus L3 II review

The real problem is the screen, as not only is it tiny enough to ensure that copious amounts of scrolling will be guaranteed but it's also got such a low resolution that you have to zoom right in to comfortably read most text and even then it's blurry.

Reading sites zoomed out is unpleasant and surely bad for your eyes while reading them zoomed in means that you'll have to scroll around even more.

It loads sites fine so if you just want to occasionally check your email or Facebook the LG Optimus L3 II will do the job, but if you plan to regularly use the internet on your phone for more than a few minutes you should really look elsewhere.

Camera and video

Camera

The LG Optimus L3 2 has a paltry 3.15MP camera on the back and no front facing camera. There's no flash either and you can't tap to focus, so its photo taking capabilities are somewhat limited. It's also worse than the 5MP snappers on the HTC Desire C and the Huawei Ascend G330.

Within the camera app there are a few different settings that are alterable. You can drop the quality down to 1MP - though doing so leads to pretty much unusable photos.

LG Optimus L3 2 review

You can also change the white balance, ISO or scene mode (with choices such as night mode, sports mode and landscape), add a colour effect or a timer or change the shutter sound. It's a decent set of options really for such a basic camera.

The one other feature worth a mention is 'cheese shutter', which if enabled will cause the camera to take a picture whenever someone says 'cheese' (or 'smile', 'whiskey', 'kimchi' or 'LG'). It's a bit gimmicky and in most cases isn't very useful.

The one potential exception to that is if the person operating the camera wants to be in the photo too, in which case you could roughly set up your shot then get into position and say the magic word. But given how poor the lens itself is we can't see many people bothering.

LG Optimus L3 2 review

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LG Optimus L3 2 review

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LG Optimus L3 2 review

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LG Optimus L3 2 review

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LG Optimus L3 2 review

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Video

The LG Optimus L3 II can only shoot VGA or lower video, but it at least manages to shoot it at 30fps.

It doesn't have the same wide ranging set of options as the stills camera, instead limiting you to lowering the video quality to MMS size, adding a colour effect, turning the microphone off or changing the white balance, but that's still more options than it might have offered.

Media

Obviously for under £100 the LG Optimus L3 2 was never likely to challenge big hitters such as the HTC One as a media player, but nor is it a total disaster.

If you plan to use the phone for media then investing in a microSD card is essential, since the 4GB of built-in storage won't go far at all, but if you do then it might just be able to replace your MP3 player.

Music

Music is one of the things that the LG Optimus L3 2 does best. The built-in music player is pretty standard, it supports MP3, WAV, WMA and eAAC+ files and has options to sort your library by artist, album, song or genre.

LG Optimus L3 2 review

You can also create playlists and even delve into your phone's folders to hunt for any missing music files.

The music player adds music controls to your notifications bar, enabling you to easily pause or skip tracks evens if you leave the player.

When in the phone's music player you can choose to set a song as your ringtone or search for it on YouTube.

And if you're playing music through headphones there are a handful of extra audio options available to you, such as bass booster, vocal booster and headset enhancer. You won't be able to create a stellar audio experience, but it provides a solid enough one.

Played through the phone's speakers things aren't quite so impressive.

LG Optimus L3 2 review

There are no audio options to play with, and while the music can reach a moderate volume it sometimes starts to distort, and it almost always sounds a bit tinny and distinctly flat.

Alongside the main music player the LG Optimus L3 2 also has a built-in FM radio, which is something that many phones seem to neglect these days.

You have to plug earphones in to use it but once you do you can auto-tune stations, favourite them and play them through the phone's speakers if you'd prefer. It can't record what you listen to, but it's still a nice addition to the phone.

All in all there are a decent set of musical options, and if you stick to playing things through earphones or headphones then the audio quality isn't too bad either.

Video

LG Optimus L3 2 review

If you've read the rest of this LG Optimus L3 2 review you might have guessed that video wouldn't be up to much on the phone, and you'd be right.

The main problem is the screen, which is so small and so low resolution that videos look really bad. We also found that it struggled with some HD files, refusing to play them smoothly.

Nevertheless, a basic video player has been included, with support for MP4, H.264, H.263 and WMV files.

Videos are shown as thumbnails, which you can sort into a list, grid or folder view and also choose whether to order them by title, date, size or type.

LG Optimus L3 2 review

Once playing a video, all you can do is pause it, jump forwards or backwards, change the volume and fit it to the screen.

There's not much to it and the phone is light and comfortable to hold for movie-length periods, but honestly we can't imagine most people choosing to use it as a video player.

The phone also comes with a YouTube app, which works well, enabling you to easily find and watch videos, and it also puts any channels that you're subscribed to front and centre.

However, as with the main player it's just not a pleasant experience to watch anything on.

Photos

Photos are another thing that aren't handled brilliantly by the LG Optimus L3 2, and once again that's mostly down to the phone's screen.

LG Optimus L3 2 review

The simple fact is that they're just not nice to look at on the 3.2-inch 240 x 320 display. They're too small, they look ugly and all the detail is lost.

If you really want to persevere, the handset does come with a basic gallery app, which sorts your photos into albums and enables you to view thumbnails that you can then tap to bring up a full-screen picture, but none of them look good on the screen.

There are also a few editing options that enable you to crop or rotate images, add effects or remove red eye. These work well enough, but it's so hard to make out the details of pictures that it's not the ideal place to do any editing.

Perhaps more usefully you can also choose to share photos via Bluetooth, email, text message or social network, which at least enables you to get them on to a better screen.

Battery life and connectivity

Battery life

The LG Optimus L3 2 packs a removable 1540mAh battery, which is a pretty good size for such a cheap phone.

By way of comparison the HTC Desire C, for example, has just a 1230mAh battery. Combined with the low power and small screen of the handset you'd hope that such a decent battery size would translate to good battery life, and for the most part it does.

LG Optimus L3 2 review

The official specs listed by LG are that the phone will last for up to 630 hours on standby with 3G on and manage up to 11 hours and 30 minutes of talk time with a 3G connection.

Those are some very impressive specs, and to be honest we're not sure we quite believe them.

In our own experience the battery dropped 12% after roughly an hour on the phone, which isn't bad, but it falls some way short of the listed specs.

With a moderate amount of mixed use - a bit of web browsing, some calls and texts, half an hour of listening to music and the same of watching video plus quite a lot of standby time (albeit with emails and social network notifications getting pushed to the phone) we got more than a day out of it, with it getting down to around 35% by the time we went to bed and still seeing us through until about noon the following day.

LG Optimus L3 2 review

If you need to stretch the battery life longer than that there is also an included battery saver tool, which will turn off things such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth when not in use, as well as dropping the screen brightness and reducing the screen timeout period.

Using our famous battery test of running a 90 minute video with Wi-Fi on, push notifications activated and the screen set to full brightness, the LG Optimus L3 2 had dropped from 100% to 77% battery by the end of the video.

That's a little worse than we'd hoped, but still comfortably above average, so while the battery won't be winning any awards nor should it be a cause for concern.

Connectivity

LG Optimus L3 2 review

The LG Optimus L3 II has the connectivity options you might expect but no real surprises. There's Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n with Wi-Fi hotspot support, HSDPA at 7.2Mbps, HSUPA at 5.76Mbps, Bluetooth 3.0 and GPS.

There's also an accelerometer and a compass built into the handset, but no premium features such as NFC or DLNA support.

Most of these settings can be switched on or off from the notifications screen, which is great because it makes it very quick to use them.

For things that require a more in-depth setup (for example the first time you connect to a password-protected Wi-Fi network) a quick trip to the main settings screen will have all you need clearly laid out.

Getting content on and off the LG Optimus L3 2 can be done in one of three ways. The first is to remove the microSD card and connect that to a PC separately, thereby enabling you to just drag and drop files to it and then put it back in the phone.

The second and third way both require plugging the phone into a computer using a micro USB cable. Once connected you can download the LG PC Suite, which works a lot like iTunes, enabling you to easily move media content to and from the handset as well as being able to back up and restore content.

LG Optimus L3 2 review

It works quite well, however if you'd rather not have to use another piece of software you can also just open the folders on the phone and drag and drop things to it manually, like you would with a USB flash drive.

However you choose to move content to and from the LG Optimus L3 2 you'll definitely want to invest in a microSD card, because the handset only comes with 4GB of built-in storage.

Maps and apps

Maps

As with every Android phone, the LG Optimus L3 2 ships with Google Maps onboard.

LG Optimus L3 2 review

It's a superb app, with accurate maps, comprehensive business listings and options to view terrain, traffic details, public transport lines and more.

You can quickly and easily get directions from your location - or anywhere else - to an end point of your choosing, and it also locked on to our position very quickly on every occasion that we used it.

Unfortunately it's not all good news, because the screen on the LG Optimus L3 2 poses a problem yet again.

The size and resolution (or lack thereof) means that the maps are fuzzy and you have to zoom in a long way to view road names. This all means that actually using it to navigate is a bit of a pain. It's not the map's fault, but it's just not great.

LG Optimus L3 II review

As expected the handset also includes a sat nav built into the mapping software. Like Google Maps itself, this is a very good piece of software, and all the more so for being free.

It doesn't have all the bells and whistles of a premium stand-alone sat nav, but if you just want directions somewhere it will do an admirable job.

However, it took quite a while to find a GPS signal when used on the LG Optimus L3 II, which is surprising given how quickly the maps could lock onto our location.

The small screen size also poses the same problems here as it does for the main map, perhaps even more so, since you can't afford more than a quick glance at the screen when driving, and that's rarely long enough to make much out.

Apps

Being a low-end handset, you might expect LG to have skimped on the included apps, but actually there are a fair few.

LG Optimus L3 2 review

There's expected stuff such as an alarm clock, which enables you to set up multiple alarms, repeat alarms, use a timer or a stop watch and view the time in other countries.

There's also a calendar that syncs with your Google account, a calculator, a to-do list and a memo pad.

That's all pretty standard, but the LG Optimus L3 2 also includes Polaris Viewer, which enables you to view documents - though as with everything that's heavily reliant on the screen, it's not a great experience.

Then there's also a file manager, a voice recorder and LG Smart World (which is LG's own app store). More interestingly there's Quick Memo and Safety Care.

LG Optimus L3 2 review

We talked about the Quick Memo app in the Interface section of our review, but in case you skipped that it's essentially a speedy note-taking system that you can activate from the notifications screen and then use with your finger to hand-write a short message or draw an image.

In practice we're not sure it's that useful, since the message really does have to be short when it's hand-written on such a small screen.

The only real advantage of it is that it can be launched from the notifications screen, but it's something that most handsets don't feature so it's worth a mention.

The other feature - Safety Care - could genuinely come in handy. You can set it up to send a text message with your location and the fact that it's an emergency to specific contacts whenever you call an emergency number.

LG Optimus L3 2 review

You can also set it up to send a similar text when the phone hasn't been used for an extended period, which the app suggests might be useful for the elderly.

Finally you can ask it to send location information whenever a call is made or received from a specific contact, which could help a parent or guardian locate their child.

Along with the low price tag, it's a feature that perhaps makes the LG Optimus L3 2 a decent phone to give to a child.

Beyond the included apps you can also get more from Google Play. If you're not already familiar with the service, rest assured that it's easy to use and home to millions of different applications, many of which are free.

And of course as with other Android phones many apps can also be used as widgets on your home screens.

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LG Optimus L3 2 review

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LG Optimus L3 2 review

LG Optimus L3 2 review

LG Optimus L3 2 review

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LG Optimus L3 2 review

LG Optimus L3 2 review

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LG Optimus L3 2 review

LG Optimus L3 2 review

LG Optimus L3 2 review

Verdict

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The low-end Android phone market is getting increasingly crowded, which makes it ever harder to stand out, and unfortunately we're not sure that the LG Optimus L3 2 does quite enough to.

It does some things well, such as providing good battery life, but it also does some things very poorly, for example the screen resolution, and as a complete package it's a hard sell.

We liked

Good battery life is a major boon for any smartphone, so it's great to see that the LG Optimus L3 II manages it. Contact management is done well too, pulling information in from social networks and making it as quick as possible to actually call someone.

It's also got a decent music player and some useful extra features, such as the ability to have text messages pop up on the screen, and a bunch of customisation options for your home screen.

Safety Care is a potentially very handy feature too, and along with the low price tag it makes the phone a good bet to get for a child or elderly family member.

We disliked

We really weren't fans of the screen on the LG Optimus L3 2. Sure, it's responsive, which is the first screen test that a low-end handset has to pass, but it failed at the second hurdle by being incredibly low resolution.

If you mostly just want to use it as a phone and plan to spend minimal time actually looking at the screen then it's fine, but presumably many users will want to make use of its smartphone features such as web browsing and apps, none of which is much fun when everything is so pixelated and difficult to see.

The build quality doesn't seem great either, since it has a rather flimsy back cover. Plus there's also not much built-in storage, the camera won't impress anyone and the phone can sometimes lag - even when just moving around home screens.

Verdict

The LG Optimus L3 2 is likely to really struggle to compete in the budget phone market. If you just want a feature phone you can get one for less, while if you want a smartphone you can get a substantially better one for not much more.

For the same sort of money you can get the much better Huawei Ascend G330, or the slightly better HTC Desire C. If you take out a contract you can even find the Nokia Lumia 520 for around the same monthly price - granted that's Windows Phone rather than Android, but it's in a whole other league.

The LG Optimus L3 2 isn't an out and out bad phone, but neither is it really good enough to make a convincing argument for you to part with your hard-earned cash.

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