LG Optimus L7
For less than $500, any flaws the L7 has can be easily overlooked.
Zara Baxter | Thursday, September 20 2012
Product type: Smartphone
RRP incl GST: $499
- 4.3-inch 800 x 480-pixel IPS screen with Gorilla Glass
- Runs Android 4.0, with only a few LG-developed apps
- Processor could be better, but it runs well
The processor may be lower spec than the rest of the phone, but for $500 it’s solid.
The trickiest part of testing out the LG Optimus L7 was figuring out how to get the back off - there’s no easy fingernail gap aside from the microUSB port, so that’s what I used. It uses a full-sized sim - unusual for a phone this large.
The screen is a substantial 4.3-inches, with 800 x 480 resolution, but even so, the L7 weighs just 120g, which is middle-of-the-range. It looks quite, well, straightforward; neither gaudy nor tacky. In the past, I’ve accused some LG phones of looking nondescript, but this one just looks nice.
The screen resolution may sound a little low for a large smartphone, and it is, but the font smoothing means that mostly it’s okay. I think it helps that the screen is IPS - colours look good, and you get great viewing even when you tilt the phone. However, you are likely to notice that it’s a little blockier looking than your friend’s iPhone, side by side.
There’s also no auto-brightness setting, so you may find that you have to adjust things using the standard settings. I usually flip between minimum and maximum brightness depending on my setting, but I didn’t find it too onerous. It's not especially bright, even at full brightness, but to be honest, the screen handles sunshine a little better than my Samsung Galaxy S 3.
When you get to the specifications, you realise that this isn’t your usual big-screen phone. No quad-core? Nope. This runs the 1GHz ARM Cortex-A5, the same processor that you’ll find in the Lumia 610, with 512MB RAM.
I’ve found in the past that LG often makes great phones that have one flaw. For the L3, for example, it was the screen; for the Optimus 3D, the battery. I feared the processor would be the L7’s achilles heel. But I found it runs acceptably. There's a four second lag to open an app, but once you're in the app things feel fast enough. Altering settings means a slight pause between screens, but not painfully so.
My go-to challenging app du jour, Monsters Ate My Condo, ran a little on the slow side, but it was playable. The touch-to-focus shots were a little grainy at full zoom, but perfectly acceptable for a smartphone camera.
There are other upsides. The Optimus L7 has NFC using its tag+ system and LG's SmartShare DLNA is also onboard. Fast internet? Yep. The camera is 5MP - not huge, but enough to snap decent party pics or that amusing poster you saw on the way to work.
The battery is 1700mAh, and it clocks up a decent amount of time before it runs out. I managed well over a day running my usual set of messengers, widgets, Kindle reading and internet surfing. All my apps all fitted handily on the 3GB onboard storage, I should add, though there’s a microSD slot if you need more capacity.
I appreciated the downloads tab that LG has added to the Android 4.0 interface, alongside the Apps and Widgets - it allowed me to locate all my ‘personal’ apps quickly, and adjust their positioning on home screens. LG has sensibly held off on other UI bells and whistles, particularly given the lower spec processor. However, there's no autocorrect for the keyboard, which takes alittle getting used to.
The only thing that really shocked me about the LG Optimus L7 was its price. We’re so used to seeing this type of large phone cost around $800 that when I discovered this was $499 to purchase outright? I think I gripped it a little tighter.
In our recent budget phone roundup, we saw how Sony has been smashing expectations of what a $400 phone looks like. LG comes close to doing the same at $500. Vive the affordable revolution!
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