LG Optimus 3D MAX Review

15
Introduction and Design
Introduction:

The LG Optimus 3D MAX is the second edition of the world's first 3D phone announced – the Optimus 3D – and it is more of a refresh than anything else. The processor is clocked higher and we have 1GB of RAM now, but most else stays the same, save for one important detail.

This season's 3D phone from LG is much more compact and light than its 2011 predecessor, which was a heavy hitter. LG has also thrown in a bunch of new 3D-related content in it as well, like a 3D Converter and video editor, as well as cubicle icons, but are these enough to lure you into the third dimension? Read on to find out...

In the box:

  • Travel charger
  • microUSB cable
  • In-ear stereo headphones
  • Sleep Mode, Car Mode and Office Mode NFC tags
  • Warranty and information leaflets

Design:

With full 2mm thinner and 20 grams lighter than its predecessor, the Optimus 3D MAX hasn't maxed out on size, bringing its chassis in line with the average non-3D Android crowd out there, but not in line with the ultrathin high-ends of today.



You can compare the LG Optimus 3D MAX with many other phones using our Size Visualization Tool.




It feels pretty solid in the hand, as it's not very thin nor light, and the palm grip is improved by the patterned back, which has a slight hump at the bottom where the speaker grill is. Two 5MP cameras with LED flash in the middle are the crown jewel of the Optimus 3D MAX, as they serve the third dimension to your pictures and video.


The front is in glossy piano black, but what adds more style to the phone are the side buttons and ports – made of metal, like on the LG Prada 3, they exude more premium feeling, and the sliding lid over the microUSB port on the left is a nice and comfortable to use idea. All keys are easy to feel and press, with good tactile feedback. There is a dedicated button on the right to launch directly the 3D content carousel, and switch the screen into 3D mode.




Display:

Speaking of screens, the 4.3-inch LCD on the Optimus 3D MAX stays with the same 480x800 resolution as last year, but it is covered with this year's Corning Gorilla Glass 2 edition. Its colors seem a bit dull, and it sports about average brightness, meaning that outside on a bright day visibility will be an issue. Viewing angles are good, and pixel density is tolerable at 217ppi.

The screen's biggest virtue is the parallax barrier overlay on top of it, of course, which makes you enjoy the 3D content without glasses by sending different sets of pixels to your right or left eye, fooling the brain that it is seeing things in perspective. We wish the screen resolution was higher, though, since together with brightness and contrast it is diminished when the parallax barrier overlay is switched on, making the view appear grainy as in a stereoscopic postcard bought from a flea market.

LG Optimus 3D MAX 360-degrees View:





Interface and Functionality:

We have LG's Optimus UI on top of Android 2.3 Gingerbread on the 3D MAX, which we've examined many times before. You can switch it to another version, with the obligatory cubic elements everywhere to show you this is not just your regular phone. Everything – from icons in the main menu, to the markers that show which homescreen you are on, is drawn as a cube, which is, frankly, a bit over the top, because it makes the alternative interface look like a LEGO app.


Other than that, it is the usual LG Optimus UI, in its 2.0 reincarnation for Gingerbread, which is about to be replaced with Optimus UI 3.0 in LG's Ice Cream Sandwich phones, that is much more streamlined and functional.

The on-screen keyboard is comfortable enough, as there is a decent amount of space between the keys, and the screen is large enough for hitting the right key, yet not overly so, so you'd have to dislocate your thumb to reach the “a”, for instance.



3D:

Besides the cheesy cubic interface, the phone flaunts its 3D capabilities in your face the second you enter the main menu, with the first six apps there starting with “3D” in their name. There is nothing much different from the Optimus 3D, though. We get the same 3D Space carousel, which can be called by a physical button on the right, and offers quick access to 3D gaming, the 3D camera mode, 3D Gallery, YouTube 3D, as well as a tips and tricks section.


We enjoyed 3D gaming the most, as it adds an interesting twist to the visuals, but can give you a headache if you are more susceptible to this change in perspective, and drew the battery down pretty fast. On top of that, the 3D “sweet spot” seems pretty narrow, losing the effect outside of a pretty restricted range of view.



There is also a 3D converter for apps, with the default one in it being Maps, so you can observe 3D renderings of those buildings in select cities as the 3D gods intended. You can also add other apps, but the converter didn't seem to do anything with those 3rd party ones we added.


Converting also works in the gallery as well, where both pictures and video playback can be scaled from 2D to 3D and back, which is fun for a while, but gets old pretty soon. Thankfully, YouTube 3D has a dedicated app on the phone, so you can finally watch “Gorgeous Women in 3D” in full glory without the dorky glasses.



Processor and Memory:

LG has clocked the dual-core TI OMAP 4430 20% higher in the Optimus 3D MAX, compared to the Optimus 3D, which we guess is where the “MAX” comes from, and has doubled the RAM for a total of 1GB. We have 8GB of internal memory on the phone, and a microSD card slot for further expansion. The phone does a fine job moving around in the interface and starting default apps, with no apparent lag or hiccups.

Texas Instruments has always paid special attention to the capabilities of the DSP module in their mobile chips, hence its usage in the 3D-capable MAX. Here are some cold hard benchmark numbers of the supplied processor for you:


Quadrant StandardAnTuTuNenaMark 2
LG Optimus 3D 2057537025,3
Samsung Galaxy S III 53351201658,6
Sony Xperia S3206659537,5
HTC One S4867701260,7

Internet and Connectivity:


The default Android 2.3 Gingerbread browser performs well on the LG Optimus 3D MAX. It renders the page in real time while zooming in or out, which slows it down somewhat, but overall the speed of rendering, scrolling or panning around is decent. Text reflow also works fine when you double-tap in an article – the screen stutters for a split second, and the text appears wrapped in the width of the screen for easier reading.


The phone sports a 21Mbps HSDPA radio, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, A-GPS, FM Radio and DLNA managed by the SmartShare app, plus it has an MHL port for TV-out.

NFC is leveraged by the LG Tag+ app, and the company supplies Sleep Mode, Car Mode and Office Mode tags in the box, each with different settings for the ringer, connectivity radios, screen brightness and so on. Interesting to try, but not much quicker than just changing those settings with a profile widget.



Camera:

There are two 5MP camera modules on the Optimus 3D MAX, which together make the 3D picture and video capture possible. The interface is the good ol' Optimus UI, which is not the richest out there in functionality, only the usual scene modes and color effects are present. The important thing here is the 3D mode, of course, which can be switched on while taking a picture or filming at the touch of a button.


The pictures are with a bit gloomy colors and narrow dynamic range, but detail is fine for a 5MP shooter. Indoors the flash washed out or overexposed some elements quite a bit, and the pictures turn out soft.



The 3D pics indeed add depth of perspective to the shot, which might be useful in some situations, but overall you can make do with two dimensional shots, so it's mostly for bragging rights. There is a slider that adjusts the 3D depth before you start taking pics or shooting video

The phone captures fluid 1080p video with 30fps both outdoors and inside, but as the light diminishes, the footage becomes quite noisy. 3D video can be captured with 720p definition only, and it adds some interesting perspective to your clips, but we wish to see a bit livelier colors and sharper details.

LG Optimus 3D MAX Sample Video 1:



LG Optimus 3D MAX Sample Video 2:



LG Optimus 3D MAX Indoor Sample Video:



LG Optimus 3D MAX Sample Video 1 in 3D:



LG Optimus 3D MAX Sample Video 2 in 3D:

Video Thumbnail


LG Optimus 3D MAX Indoor Sample Video in 3D:

Video Thumbnail


LG Optimus 3D Indoor Sample Video in 3D:

Video Thumbnail


Multimedia:

The music player is pretty bland, like on all Optimus UI phones, but it does the job with tune categorization by artists, albums and playlists. It doesn't have any alternative sound modes, but does sport a couple of equalizer presets, which, however, only work in headset mode.


The video player worked with everything we threw at it, and that means DivX/Xvid files too, up to 1080p definition without a hassle. The nice part of having a 3D-capable phone is that the 2D videos can be converted into 3D with the touch of a button in the video player interface. The depth of perspective during playback can also be controlled with a slider from within the interface. 3D videos can only be played up to 720p definition, the way they are captured.


There is a Video Editor app, which works with both the 2D and 3D clips, allowing you to trim and edit, as well as add pics and background audio to the resulting project.





Performance:

Call quality from the phone is pretty good – we were able to hear loud and clean sound in the earpiece, and the other side said they could hear us well, with no audible distortions.

The 1520mAh battery on the Optimus 3D MAX is rated for merely 4 hours of talk time in 3G mode, so the phone performs way below average in that department.

Conclusion:

LG makes one of the very few phones for 3D shenanigans with the Optimus 3D and now the Optimus 3D MAX.

 If we leave the 3D aspect aside, the 3D MAX it is a bit heavy mid-range device with run-of-the mill dual-core processor and WVGA screen resolution. On top of that it takes mediocre pictures, regardless if 2D or 3D, and has a substandard battery life when it comes to talk time.

However, we do have the 3D aspect, plus the phone has received a spec bump compared to its predecessor, sports a good call quality, and has a thing going for it designwise with the metal buttons and port lids. Thus if you are into the whole 3D thing, the LG Optimus 3D MAX is a decent choice.

Most people wouldn't bother with 3D on their phone, though, and then there are some way nicer upstream alternatives , like the HTC One X or the Sony Xperia S, and more capable phones for less, like the Galaxy S II, so it might be a hard sell.

The HTC EVO 3D also offers 3D capabilities, but has a nicer screen and better design, and even if you get last year's LG Optimus 3D, you'll get the third dimension at a discount compared to the 3D MAX,  barely sacrificing anything on specs.

Software version: GRK39F

LG Optimus 3D MAX Review:





Pros

  • Glasses-free 3D screen and 3D pics/video capture
  • 2D to 3D converter for apps, pictures and video
  • 3D gaming
  • Metal buttons and port lids class it up

Cons

  • Modest spec bump comes at too high of a price
  • Mediocre pics and video quality in both 2D and 3D
  • Substandard battery life

PhoneArena Rating:

7.0

Recommended Stories

Loading Comments...
FCC OKs Cingular\'s purchase of AT&T Wireless