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

Using Android is a little different under LG, too with the company making some very nifty customisations of Android for the L9, including the way it looks, how modifiable it is, and the inclusion of QuickMemo.

Running on Android 4.0 or “Ice Cream Sandwich” as most of us call it, LG has included more ways to decorate and customise how it looks, including themes that change the look of your homescreen, menus, and even icons. In fact, every icon in LG’s Android overlay can be changed, replaced with a piece of graphic art – another icon – or even a photo, simply by holding down on the icon and selecting the paintbrush that will appear in the top corner of the icon after a second.

The dock can take a maximum of six shortcuts, a nice enough feature, but even the applications menu shortcut can be moved, something we’re constantly wishing for on Samsung’s smartphones.

LG has even provided more choices for clocks and calendars on the lockscreen, with six different options, catering for digital and analogue clocks, as well as some more modern interpretations.

Oh, and there is a neat ability to edit the quick settings power control available in the top drop-down for Android, which we haven’t seen in a phone prior. You can select what you want to be shown, move it around, and generally make your menu controllers show up to eleven different items, or just the few you want to quickly switching things on and off.

There’s also a “QuickMemo” function, which allows you to jump into an overlay of the screen you’re sitting on, and scribble notes on top of it. For instance, if you’re in the middle of a phone call, you can start QuickMemo, jot down a phone number, save it, and refer to it later on.

The rest of the Android functionality is pretty standard, with a reasonably large dial-pad for making phone calls, messaging, several homescreens, multiple widgets, and simple left to right swiping menu, although the colour scheme takes the opposite of Android’s typical black interface and makes it use a lighter white look, which makes a nice change.

Performance isn’t amazing for the phone, though with a $399 price for the handset, we’re hardly surprised.

Our synthetic benchmarks show the dual-core processor on offer here is a touch faster than last year’s Galaxy Nexus, but most people probably won’t notice or care that it’s not a huge leap, and for the most part, we didn’t experience any noticeable slowdowns.

Battery life on the the L9 is reasonably impressive, though, managing two days for us while we did our regular thing, including social networking, Bluetooth audio, phone calls, email, text messaging, web surfing, and so on.

You could possibly manage a little more, but two full days on a dual-core handset with regular activity is very good, and something we can’t even get from a lot of the dual-core phones we’ve played with this year.

There are a few issues with the phone, and we found the download speeds, front facing camera, and screen build to be among the weaker points of this handset.

Over on the connection side of things, we didn’t have the most fantastic download speeds. At most, we managed 10Mbps down, but generally our connection hovered around 3 to 6Mbps. Not the best connection by a long shot, and certainly not suitable if you demand the speediest web connection.

While the screen has solid colours and viewing angles, it is insanely reflective, resulting in near impossible viewing in direct sunlight, and distractions when you’re near outside light at all.

We’re also not big fans of the front-camera, managing a meagre VGA resolution of 640×480, which takes blotchy low resolution self-portraits and would only barely be usable for video conferencing or Skyping, if anyone plans to use it for that.

LG's Optimus L9 (left) sits at half the price of Samsung's Galaxy S3 (right).


At a hundred under $500, LG has made the L9 into a capable mid-range device, improving slightly upon a framework from the 2011 style of flagship handsets and making it priced better for today.

We’re fans of a battery that goes beyond a day, and the L9 certainly pulls that off, so if you’re looking for decent battery life, an easy to use and customisable Android experience, but don’t care too much about fast download speeds and paying for a high-end phone, we’d look here.

Value for money
Ease of Use
Reader Rating0 Votes
Great battery life; Some of LG's additions and modifications to Android are useful; Excellent price;
Plastic body; Download speeds aren't the greatest; Screen is insanely reflective and useless in sunlight;