A standard Android design places four buttons at the screen bottom, and you'll find HDMI and MicroUSB connections, plus a volume rocker and power button on the side. Nothing new here, one might think. But turn over the LG Optimus 3D P920: if the twin 5Mp lenses don't give away this Android phone's forward-thinking technology, the '3D stereoscopic' slogan will.
Far from a 'standard' Android phone, the LG Optimus 3D P920 benefits from the enhanced speed and battery life of LG's Tri Dual (dual-core, dual-channel, dual-memory) architecture. More interestingly, it's able to record, view and share 3D content without glasses.
LG Optimus 3D P920: World's first 3D smartphone
LG claims the LG Optimus 3D P920 is the "world's first full 3D smartphone". That description is a little misleading. Don't be fooled into thinking everything you do and see on this handset will display in three dimensions - and, indeed, LG advises that you take regular breaks from viewing such content each time you access a 3D function in any case.
3D applications are found only in the 3D Space menu, accessible via one of seven home screens, the applications menu, or invoked by a dedicated hotkey on the device's right side (you'll need to hold this down momentarily to get a response). 3D Space offers links to games, a guide to using the handset, a camera, a gallery and a dedicated app for YouTube's 3D channel. The latter accepts direct uploads of content captured by the smartphone, or you can view it on a 3D TV via HDMI.
Viewed on a standard monitor, such media must be converted to a 2D format by the handset prior to transfer. It looks rather grainy. A portrait we captured in 3D looked great on the smartphone's bright and clear 480x800-pixel screen, despite its lower resolution in this mode; on our laptop's 2D display, however, the subject appeared to have been cut out and then pasted on top of the background. Photos captured in 2D mode look better, available at 5Mp rather than the 3Mp of 3D mode. Video, meanwhile, is available at 1080p in 2D and 720p in 3D.
Nova, Asphalt 6, Let's Golf 2 and Gulliver's Travels are preinstalled. The 3D experience is well integrated, offering fully immersive gameplay. Quality varies between titles, but an in-game slider lets you adjust the effect, scaling back to 2D if you prefer. We also found a selection of 3D video clips on the device's 8GB internal memory (expandable with a MicroSD card up to 32GB in capacity), and were fascinated by the way marine life and sci-fi characters are able to appear larger than life on a smartphone screen.
Of course, with playback options limited to YouTube and a pricey 3D display device that you may not already own, 3D on a smartphone becomes something of a gimmick. But it's one that got almost everyone we bumped into talking.
The first reaction by many people when presented with a 3D video clip was to look away; we initially found the effect confusing to the eyes, and some users complained it was similar to what they experienced during a migraine. Persevere a second or two, however, and the experience becomes intensely enjoyable - although you'll need to be viewing the screen straight on to get the desired effect. Fingerprints are also a major problem during playback, and you'll be constantly wiping the screen to keep it spotless.
LG Optimus 3D: Other features
In other respects, the Optimus 3D is like any other Android handset - albeit an oversized one with which smaller hands might struggle. Its build is sturdy, if a little plasticky, and navigation is snappy. We like the way LG has separated the applications menu into 3D, preinstalled and downloaded apps. Standard personalisation options let you change the wallpaper and add various apps and widgets.
One notable omission is an FM radio. Included on every smartphone we've reviewed for as long as we can remember, we can't understand why LG chose not to include one. SmartShare lets you play content from wirelessly connected devices and a music player appears in the drop-down navigation bar. Also here are toggle switches for sound, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS and mobile data.
The LG supports a couple of useful gestures. You can flip over the phone to mute the sound when an unwanted call comes through; this action also acts as a snooze button for the alarm.
Sadly, battery life is a weak point. It's poor in any case, but the frequency with which we wanted to show off the 3D mode to any potential spectator meant the LG wouldn't last even a full day away from the mains.