• Well dressed for less: Our review of the LG Optimus L7


    If youíre looking for an mid-range, entry level Android phone there is no shortage of choices. HTC has the aluminum bodied One V, Sony has the dual core Xperia U, Motorola has MOTOLUX and now we have the LG Optimus L7. What sets the L7 apart is its large 4.3Ē display and itís larger-than-average 1700mAh battery.

    When I first saw the L7 I was surprised because it doesnít look like an entry level phone. Last yearís Optimus LTE was a very high-spec phone that didnít look very special. The L7 has a very detailed power button plus thereís a nice metallic finish around the camera. The back has an interesting dimpled pattern while the sides has a stylish chromed look.


    With measurements of 125.5 x 67 x 8.8 mm the L7 is very sleek, especially for an entry level phone.

    The back cover connects at numerous points much like the Samsung Galaxy S II so itís a pretty solid phone.

    Under the hood is a 1Ghz ARM-5 processor, 512MB RAM and 4GB of storage (2.7 available). On the wireless-side you get HSPA 7.2mbps support along with WiFi (with WiFi direct) and Bluetooth.

    Last year, there were many Android phones with a 1Ghz processor so the L7 should offer similar performance right? Not so fast. Itís a Snapdragon MSM7227A which has an Adreno 200 GPU and a ARM-5 core. Itís a less efficient core than what youíd get in last yearís Sony Xperia Arc/Ray/Pro while the GPU dates back to the Google Nexus One. If youíve ever used a Nexus One youíll be familiar with how it can be like watching a slide show at times. Anyways, weíll explore what effect the processor has on performance later.

    The screen is bright and is incredible outdoors in direct sunlight. Viewing angles are very good but it doesnít have very deep black levels and is a little more reflective than Iím used to. Overall itís a very nice display and not at all what I was expecting from a budget phone. It can definitely give some fancier phones screen envy.



    Headphone jack, power button.



    Volume buttons.

    The MicroUSB port is located on the bottom (not pictured).



    5 megapixel camera, flash, speaker.



    Camera:



    The camera struggles a lot with white balance plus it doesnít have the greatest dynamic range. Shot-to-shot speeds are very slow as is the shutter lag.

    While Iím not surprised, Iím still a little disappointed that the top video capture resolution is 640x480.

    Software:

    Underneath LGís customizations is Android 4.0.3 aka Ice Cream Sandwich. Compared to a Galaxy Nexus (which has an uncustomized version of ICS) LGís customizations are pretty light and typical of what youíll find on other manufacturerís Android Phones.

    Instead of the Ďregularí ICS button configuration (back, home, task switch) the L7 has menu, back and home buttons like older Android phones. To switch tasks you press and hold the home button. I prefer this arrangement.



    The keyboard has been customized. While it works well for the most part I donít like how LG put a collapse button where the enter/return button normally is. I admit there are times where the keyboard gets in the way in Android and it would be great to have a collapse button. But normally, I donít have this problem and frankly, the position of the enter button is not something you want to mess around with.

    If youíre a really fast typer youíll find that the L7 sometimes struggles to keep up.



    I love how you can toggle functions like WiFi, Airplane mode from the pull down. I really love how you can also lock the orientation here. Iíve been complaining for a few years that manufacturers should copy how Samsung does this. I really, really love how you can edit what options show up here.



    The unlock gesture has a really cool effect where you can see what is underneath the lock screen as you slide your finger.

    LGís customizations are pretty light. Most of the apps are skinned versions of the stock ICS ones. There are also a couple of extra apps that you donít get with stock ICS like video player which looks just like the one you get on Samsung phone. Iíve always wondered if Samsung and LG get their video players the same developers.

    RemoteCall service allows LG to connect to your phone in case you need support. I didnít try it but it sounds like a cool idea.

    Polaris Office, lets you view as well as create and edit Word, Excel and PowerPoint files. Itís nice that LG includes a version that allows you to edit and create since many phones only ship with viewers which want you to pay extra to unlock the edit and create features. My only complaint is that the only Cloud service Polaris Office supports is Box. Thereís no support for Google Docs/Drive, Dropbox, etc.

    SmartShare is a DLNA program which lets you browse and share media compatible devices on the same network. Compatible devices included most Ďsmartí TVís, XBox 360, PS3, WDTVís etc. So you can take pictures from the L7 and make them appear on your TV. You can take videos from other devices - in this case a Windows PC running TVersity and view them on the L7.

    The built-in video player has decent codec support but it doesnít support 720p videos like the LG Optimus LTE for example. This is probably due to the slow processor.

    LG SmartWorld allows you download content. When I tried to use it, it asked me to update it. When I choose to update it would take 10 minutes and would never seem to finish.

    You can give voice commands via Voice Control from Nuance. If you remember years ago some phones provided voice commands via the ďvoice signalĒ program. Voice Control appears to be the same program.

    For some reason LG has replaced or dumbed down the stock Gallery app removing the ability to view Picasa galleries.

    I noticed a bug. There is around 3GB of built-in storage. I copied a large 2.7GB file to the built-in storage. When I deleted it the space it used wasnít reclaimed. Because of this I wasnít able to install some programs because there wasnít enough space. I tried to format the storage but the option was grayed out.

    One wildcard is the fact that the L7 ships with Ice Cream Sandwich which while isnít the newest version of Android is still relatively up-to-date. The thing with Android is that thereís a new version every couple of months. While companies like HTC, Samsung and to a lesser extent Sony are pretty good about updates, LG is probably the worst of the big name Android OEMs. That said, I donít think the L7 will be receiving any updates.

    Performance:

    SunSpider (lower is better):

    SunSpider is a benchmark that tests a browserís javascript performance:

    LG Optimus L7 3673.3
    HTC One V 3245.1
    Sony Xperia U 2637.4

    The L7ís score is actually a bit higher than I was expecting. My Ďseat of the pantsí feeling is that it actually feels slower than itís score indicates.

    Vellamo (higher is better):

    LG Optimus L7 869.27
    Sony Xperia U 878.72
    HTC One V 1167.65

    I found the same thing with Vellamo. The L7 is some how able to match the Xperiaís score. Maybe itís a Gingerbread vs Ice Cream Sandwich thing or maybe I should just stop benchmarking.

    GL Benchmark (higher is better):

    GL Benchmark is a gaming benchmark for Android. Egypt Standard is run at the L7ís native resolution so itís good for exploring what the actual gaming experience will be like. The Offscreen is run at 720x1280 so itís more for comparing how the L7ís GPU stacks up with other devices.

    Egypt Standard:

    LG Optimus L7
    2291
    HTC One V 3649
    Sony Xperia U 3910

    Here you can see just how slow the L7ís GPU is. More telling is the frames per second. The LG Optimus manages 20fps, while both the U and V break the magic 30fps barrier with scores of 35 and 32fps.

    Egypt Offscreen

    LG Optimus L7 1229
    Sony Xperia U 2194
    HTC One V 2237

    While you wouldnít want any of these GPUís to push a HD display you can again see the superiority of the Uís GPU which scores almost 75% higher than the L7. Interestingly the One V manages to outscore the Xperia. My guess is the One Vís GPU has more memory bandwidth.

    Basemark:

    Basemark is another gaming benchmark.

    LG Optimus L7
    6.61
    Sony Xperia U 14.64
    HTC One V 16.81

    Here the difference both the U and V outscore the L7 by more than 100%. If like to play a lot of 3D games you should probably skip the L7.

    Benchmarks are great but how is the L7 in real life? In real life Iíd say the L7 feels slower than the benchmarks say. Everytime you touch the screen thereís a slight delay before it responds. You do get used to it but you donít stop noticing it.

    Battery life:


    AnTuTu tester score (in minutes, higher is better):


    LG Optimus L7 592
    Sony Xperia U 550
    HTC One V <in testing>

    As a Phone:


    RF performance seems about average.

    Sound quality is good. The earpiece is pretty loud.

    The built-in speaker has sufficient volume. It doesnít sound terribly expensive but itís adequate.

    Conclusion:


    The L7 has a great screen, stylish look and expandable storage. The fly in the ointment is the performance. Whenever I use it, it feels like thereís a wet towel over it. Everything has a slight pause. When you rotate the screen it can take a few seconds for the orientation to change. I often found myself tapping the screen a second time because I wasnít sure if the first tap registered.

    When I play Angry Birds itís actually not always choppy but it does slow down intermittently.



    Compared to the Xperia U you have to decide whether you want the L7ís larger display and expandable storage over a much more efficient dual core processor and only 4GB of storage. The Uís display isnít bad but it does feel cramped at times plus the L7ís is just a much better display.



    As for the One V the choice is between having an aluminum unibody and more efficient single core processor vs the larger display.



    Really, the choice is between how much of a power user you are. If you donít use your phone very quickly then you might not notice how the L7 lags at times. If you get used to the slow speed you'll notice that the large screen is excellent. It has very good viewing angles and is very bright.

    It's an expensive looking phone with an affordable price.


    Pros:

    • display
    • sleek
    • expandable storage


    Cons:

    • flimsy
    • slow
    • camera
    • no HD capture
    • storage problems
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Well dressed for less: Our review of the LG Optimus L7 started by howard View original post
    Comments 1 Comment
    1. HC - NO "i"'s Avatar
      HC - NO "i" -
      Fellow HC,

      Thanks for the review. In the end, good looking may not reveal the whole picture. Guess I am too greedy