The phone market is heating up, and while the mid-range doesn’t always get a taste of the high-end, handset maker LG is looking to compete with players like Motorola and Huawei, with a new entry in its L range that makes dual-core budget friendly.

Launching in time for Christmas, the fifth entry in LG’s wallet-friendly L series Optimus handsets is here, bringing with it a 9.1mm thin body, a dual-core processor, 4.7 inch IPS screen, Android 4.0 “Ice Cream Sandwich,” and an 8 megapixel rear camera for $399.

“The Optimus L9 is a great smartphone and will appeal to discerning and extremely style driven consumers that are after a well featured premium handset with Android software,” said LG’s Lambro Skropidis.

“LG will continue to offer differentiated value throughout our handset range and the Optimus L9 is a fantastic example of the great feature set and technology we can deliver in a compelling price package.”

A massive 2150mAh battery should keep this phone running over a day, and LG is throwing in some extra functionality to compete with other devices, including a camera application called “QTranslator” that allows you to take pictures of words and letters in different languages, with the translation occurring through a combination of Optical Character Recognition (OCR) and either an electronic dictionary or online translation engine.

The keypad is also customisable, and can be configured for either left- or right-handed texting, while the QuickMemo application lets you you scribble in messages and drawings using your fingers so you can share them with friends.

Connectivity wise, you’re looking at a 3G phone – sorry, no 4G here – with WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 3.0 with A2DP, and DLNA all included, as well as 4GB of internal storage plus a microSD slot for expanding that considerably.

The LG Optimus L9 will be hitting stores across the country this week for $399, where it will sell unlocked and without a plan.