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LG Optimus 3D Max Review
How can you differentiate your product from an entire range of top-end Android handsets without having to compromise on the features? You simply add that missing dimension to it, and you can concoct a device with a completely different USP, adding on to the features that current ones have. That’s exactly what LG first did with their Optimus 3D, which unfortunately, wasn’t exactly a groundbreaking phone. Now, they have come up with the second version of the phone, dubbed the LG Optimus 3D Max. But, will a couple of changes here and there make the 3D Max a more worthy product? Let’s find out.
Not AMOLED, but good enough
Design and Build Quality
LG and Samsung seem to have been left behind, as far as the design and build of their phones is concerned, as all their phones still have that plastic-y, uninspiring feel to them. The 3D Max is no different. It borrows heavily from the design of the Galaxy S II and where it mainly differs from its predecessor is that it is lighter and more compact. The bulge around the cameras at the back has disappeared and the device has a small bump towards the bottom that gives it a reassuring feeling when held. The device comes with a textured back and glossy sides and we sincerely hope this is the last device in LG’s repertoire that comes with a sub-par design.
Not a major change over the predecessor
The Optimus 3D Max comes with a 4.3-inch display with a resolution of 480 x 800 pixels with four capacitive backlit buttons towards the bottom and the usual list of sensors and a VGA front camera on top. The top consists of a 3.5mm headphone slot and a power ON button, while the left consists of hard-to-find volume buttons and a micro USB charging slot. The 3D button is located to the right and it lets you easily access 3D content along with doubling up as a shutter button. At the back, there are two 5 megapixel cameras, an LED flash and a speaker grill. The SIM card slot as well as the microSD card slot is located underneath the back flap and not under the battery, so it is hot swappable. The important thing to note here is that there is no micro HDMI slot that was present in the earlier offering.
In terms of build, this device feels far more light and easier to hold, due to its slim 9.6mm form factor. It doesn’t win any accoladesthough, as we’ve seen a lot of phones in a cheaper price range (HTC One V, Nokia Lumia 800) that look and feel a lot more premium than the Optimus 3D Max does.
Features and Performance
The Optimus 3D Max is powered by a 1.2 GHz dual core Cortex A9 processor with a TI OMAP 4430 chipset and PowerVR SGX540 graphics. Sadly, it comes with Android Gingerbread onboard, and with everybody now wanting Jelly Bean, we’re hoping this one makes the switch soon. That said, Gingerbread isn’t slow and laggy, the phone works quick and is smooth and lag free. There’s 1GB of RAM and 8GB of internal memory, which is ample for multitasking without hanging. The ocassional hiccup, though is still present and we’re hoping that it goes away with Jelly Bean. The UI may be slick, but LG’s custom skin still falls short of the competition in terms of looks.
We put the Optimus 3D Max through a couple of benchmarks and here’s how it fared. Browser mark gave it a score of 43128 placing it a little above the HTC Evo 3D that got a score of 35057. Linpack gave the phone a score of 50.2 points, keeping it close to the HTC One X (52 points) and above the Sensation XL (45 points). AnTuTu gave the 3D Max a score of 5540 points as opposed to the 4934 that the HTC EVO 3D got.
The 3D Experience
It is impressive that LG has managed to get 3D onto a mobile device, but that’s where the good points end. 3D is still in its nascent stage and unless you hold the device at a certain angle and distance, you won’t be able to view content without getting a headache. For some images, 3D works brilliantly well or gets downright painful, with the needle often inclining more towards the painful side. LG have put in a bunch of pre-installed games, like Asphalt 6, N.O.V.A, Gulliver’s Travels and Let’s Gold 2, something we had seen in the earlier device as well. Not much content has been added and that is another drawback of the device. Not many games and apps are available for 3D, so you’re mostly stuck to the content on the phone. The YouTube 3D app lets you view 3D videos on your device, but that’s about it. We even tried the inbuilt 3D converter with games like Angry Birds Space and Temple Run, but we couldn’t observe any 3D effect.
Limited 3D content
The inbuilt 3D games allow you to change the depth in the game itself, which is a neat feature. The games were running just fine, but the 3D effect wasn’t anything worth writing home about. The phone is capable of handling all forms of Stereoscopic 3D, which includes side by side, up down etc. There are no improvements from the previous model, though. In a nutshell, the 3D experience may have you engrossed at the start, but the effect will soon wear off as it tends to get irritating after a while. The poor viewing angles, the glare problems, zero noticeable improvements from the previous phone and the headaches make 3D on this phone a no – go.
The music player user interface is unchanged from previous phones in the Optimus series. The landcape mode provides you with a cover flow to view all your albums. The audio quality via the bundled in-ear headphones is brilliant and the phone dishes out some good beats to keep the music buffs entertained. Dolby enhancements and a bunch of preset equalizers are present as well, so you can tweak your music according to your needs. FM Radio that wasn’t present in the earlier device makes a comeback with this one.
The media interface
The Optimus 3D Max supports Xvid and DivX HD out of the box, along with the usual MP4 support. Playback for 2D videos is supported upto 1080p, while playback for 3D videos is upto 720p. 2D videos can be converted into 3D as well, but it’s best to not use this feature, unless you want a headache. Some of the pre-installed 3D content makes for a good watch, but over a period of time we preferred the 2D content to 3D for the same reasons we mentioned earlier. While 3D may not have hit that required level of comfort, the 3D Max still functions as a brilliant portable media device.
Good viewing angles
This section includes 3G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS and the usual connectivity options sans HDMI that was present in the earlier phone. NFC and USB OTG isn’t included either. The call reception and the signal strength was pretty strong in areas where we would usually experience low reception. The earpiece and the loudspeaker are pretty loud enough as well. As far as browsing is concerned, we did face occasional problems where zooming and panning was concerned, but that was limited more or less to image heavy websites.
LG has bundled in Facebook and Twitter to take care of your social media needs; and they work just well. The widgets let you quickly share content, along with letting you view what your friends are up to.
There’s standard fare out here – the usual Google Apps, along with Smart Share, SmartWorld, Remote Call and Polaris Office. A video editor app has been included as well. The Remote Call app lets you diagnose your phone remotely. A Backup app has been included as well that lets you, well no guesses out here, back up all your data onto your memory card or inbuilt memory. Downloaded apps, bookmarks, contacts, the homescreen settings and system settings – all can be backed up. The list of games that we mentioned earlier complete the list of misc. apps that come with the phone.
The Optimus 3D Max comes with a 5 megapixel sensor for your 2D shots and it is limited to 3 megapixel for 3D shots. The 3D shots come with brilliant depth of field and if the subject is still you will be able to get a good amount of detail to show off the 3D effect. 3D however, doesn’t have touch to focus. The 2D to 3D conversion button is present on screen and switching between the two is pretty quick. Outdoor 2D shots have a good amount of detail, but they’re best limited to casual photography. Indoor shots capture little detail and the LED flash helps out during those times. 3D video recording is limited to 720p and is pretty interesting, but you can’t get too close to the subject. 2D video recording is possible at 1080p, but we observed some amount of colour banding. Though 2D shooting is ho-hum, the camera in 3D mode will keep you entertained for quite a while.
Not too good with macro shots
The Optimus 3D Max comes with a 1520 mAh battery and it will last you close to three quarters of a day on normal usage. That may not be impressive, but we haven’t seen many Androids that have breached that barrier. In our video test, we managed to get 5 hours of battery life which, taking into account the large screen and the full brightness, isn’t bad.
Worth a buy?
The LG Optimus 3D Max is priced at Rs. 30,500. It’s not exactly fair to compare it with the likes of the HTC One S (which we're in the process of reviewing), the Galaxy Note, the Xperia S and the others as this phone has its own little niche. However, it’s important to note that this is version two of the phone, there is still not enough 3D content and LG hasn’t done much to improve it, either. Even with the available stuff, 3D is still not a worthy reason for you to buy this phone.