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Two cores and two days of battery life: LG’s $399 Optimus L9 reviewed

By Leigh D. Stark | 3:31 pm 14/12/2012

LG hasn’t been terribly active in the high-end smartphone market this year, but it has been cooking up a storm with its budget brigade of Optimus handsets, badged under the “L” series. Now it’s the end of the year, and LG has one last L-series it would like to show you, the dual-core $399 L9.

Features

Likely the last phone we’ll see from LG until 2013, the Optimus L9 looks to help start that new year with a bang, or in the case of this handset, a bang for your buck.

Starting with the screen, you’ll find a 4.7 inch screen supporting 960×540, and featuring a pixel density of 234ppi, not quite the Retina-comparable 318ppi found on LG’s other end-of-year handset, the Google-branded Nexus 4.

As is the norm for most smartphones we see, the screen is covered in Corning’s scratch-resistant glass, although the second generation of the technology makes an appearance here, with Gorilla Glass 2 included on the Optimus L9.

Inside the phone, you’ll find a dual-core 1GHz processor, 1GB RAM, Google’s Android 4.0 “Ice Cream Sandwich,” and 4GB of internal storage, though there is a microSD slot in case you feel like adding more for music, photos, videos, apps, and games.

Connections include WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n, DLNA, GPS, Bluetooth 3.0, and microUSB, but there’s no Near-Field Communication technology included here.

The rear camera is an 8 megapixel shooter with auto-focus and LED flash, capable of grabbing 1080p Full HD video, while the front camera is a small VGA model.

Powering this handset is a 2150mAh battery, 50mAh higher than what Samsung uses in its Galaxy S3 handset.

There aren’t many buttons here to speak of either, something that is becoming all too common on Android smartphones. You’ll find a main home button sitting dead centre at the bottom of the handset, flanked on each side by soft buttons working for back (left) and menu (right). The power button sits on the right edge, while the volume rocker is on the left edge.

Ports are also equally limited, with the microUSB port on the very bottom and a 3.5mm headset jack up top.

Performance

Like taking a page from yesterday but sprucing it up to be better today, the Optimus L9 gives us LG’s spin on what can be a premium phone in the middle range.

Design wise, LG has taken the semi-professional squared off look it has been using across the L series all year and elongated it a little, keeping the plastic bodies and using a 4.7 inch LCD screen instead of the smaller ones used in the range.

In the hands, the L9 is comfortable to hold, even with the slightly softened hard angles, but they are very plasticky, although we’re appreciative of the textured back on offer for the L9, bringing to mind the feel Samsung produced with its textured back on the original Galaxy Note.

This back helps to make the entire phone instantly more gripable, something that touchscreen phones have been known to have problems with, thanks to the slick glass or plastic surface areas dominating the front and back.

For the most part, the screen is bright and colourful, and though we have some reservations about how reflective the entire thing is – we’ll get to that in a minute – it’s a nice screen for a mid-range phone, especially since it’s almost as big as the one found in premium phones, including the Samsung Galaxy S3 and HTC One X.

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Price (RRP)

$399

Pros & Cons

Product Pros

Great battery life; Some of LG's additions and modifications to Android are useful; Excellent price;

Product Cons

Plastic body; Download speeds aren't the greatest; Screen is insanely reflective and useless in sunlight;

Ratings

Overall

Features

Value for money

Performance

Ease of Use

Design

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