Hands on: LG Optimus 3D

Jonathan Morris
February 14, 2011

LG may have held back in the race to release a tablet, but when it came to being first to release a 3D phone, LG has left everyone else on the starting blocks.

Although we can expect other 3D mobile phones to be announced in the future, the Optimus 3D is here right now and What Mobile was given exclusive access to preview the future in action ahead of its launch in Barcelona.

It will be seen by some as a gimmick, but the same was said about colour screens and cameras on phones.

We think you’ll be quite excited: we know we are.

The problem is, we can’t actually demonstrate the 3D screen, so this is something you’ll definitely want to see before you buy. Fortunately, LG will be making sure that demonstration models are available in stores.

Key specifications

  • 800×480 pixel glasses-free, stereoscopic 3D display with dedicated ‘3D space’ mode for 3D apps, games and media
  • TI OMAP4430 1GHz
  • Dual-Core processor with PowerVR GPU
  • Dual-lens 5-megapixel camera with LED flash and 1080p HD video recording at 30fps, with 3D recording at 720p/30fps
  • Tie-up with Gameloft and YouTube, with more content deals to come in 2011
  • Available in Q2 on Vodafone and other major networks
  • Free on £35+ monthly contracts

The screen

When you first switch on, the 4.3-inch capacitive touchscreen looks much like any other. Until you press the 3D button enter the ‘3D space’, the Optimus 3D looks and acts like an ordinary phone and displays a standard 480×800 pixel resolution like most Android devices.

It’s when you hold the button on the side that everything changes, and suddenly everything gains a third dimension without the need for glasses. With an optimum viewing distance of around 30cm, you will need to keep your head quite still to enjoy the enhanced depth of field but it doesn’t take long for your eyes to adjust.

It’s only in this mode that the phone shows off a 3D menu, and LG has resisted the temptation to use 3D all over the ordinary user interface. Although we expected to see windows opening and closing by jumping in and out of the screen, the reality is that such effects would quickly become tiresome and show the 3D screen as little more than a cheap gimmick.

The other reason is that the polarised display, that allows the phone to show a different image for your left and right eye, only works in landscape mode.

The camera

The two 5-megapixel cameras offer a full 3D experience for still images and video, and the chipset is powerful enough to capture video at full-HD (1080p). When recording in 3D, the Optimus 3D is reduced  to 720p, but in both modes you can capture at a full 30 frames per second. There’s also an LED lamp for aiding photo and video in low light situations.

The Chipset

The Optimus 3D is powered by a multi-channel, dual-core TI OMAP4430 chipset that technically has a slight performance edge over the NVIDIA Tegra 2 dual-core setup in the LG Optimus 2X.

The Texas Instruments chip contains a 1GHz Dual-Core ARM Cortex A9 processor coupled to a PowerVR SGX540 graphics co-processor, and with the benchmarks showing the Optimus 2X to be lethally quick, we can’t wait to see how this is going to perform.

The Games

The success of 3D won’t purely come form 3D movies, so LG has teamed up with Gameloft to make sure there are great 3D games from the off. The phone comes with three pre-loaded: Lets Golf 2, Asphalt Origins and N.O.V.A. – Near Orbit Vanguard Alliance.

Ten more will be available as a ‘Try & Buy’ offerings, including Assassins Creed, Shrek Kart and Spiderman.

LG also offers development tools to anyone else wishing to produce 3D games or apps.

The Content

LG has a number of announcements with big content providers, with the first tie-in being with YouTube.

The YouTube 3D app will let you watch a growing number of 3D videos being uploaded to the online video hosting site, while users can also add to this collection with homegrown content recorded on the phone camera.

In addition to this, LG is also speaking to other content providers, such as Sky, on how to bring more 3D TV and video media to users.

How much and when?

The Optimus 3D is due for release in Q2 and LG claims it will not be much more expensive than the non-3D Optimus 2X.

While that still means it won’t be very cheap, you should expect to be able to pick it up free of charge on a £35 or £40 per month contract.

So far Vodafone has confirmed it will stock the phone, but we can’t imagine that every network isn’t keen to get in on the 3D craze from the start.

In any case, Carphone Warehouse will be the place to go when the phone does hit the streets.

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