When it comes to Android smartphones, you have a lot of options. One of the offerings that attempts to stand out from the pack is the LG Optimus 3D, which is also sold as the LG P925 or the LG Thrill 4G in various markets around the world. Easily the most prominent differentiating factor for this particular device is its ability to take 3D photos and videos, displaying them on its 4.3-inch stereoscopic 3D display.

So, how does it stand up against the rest of the pack? And is this whole 3D business really all it’s cracked up to be? Let’s find out.

Features at a Glance

In terms of absolute raw power, the LG Optimus 3D is decidedly below something like the Samsung Galaxy Note that I reviewed a short while ago. Even so, it is certainly no slouch with its dual core 1GHz processor. There is only 512MB of RAM, though, which may not be up to snuff in an age where 1GB has become the standard.

The previously mentioned 4.3-inch display has a resolution of 480×800 pixels and it makes use of Corning Gorilla Glass technology. It also happens to do the glasses-free 3D thing, not unlike the Nintendo 3DS. Rounding out the spec sheet are the usual assortment of wireless radios, like GPS and WiFi, as well as a gyro sensor, SNS integration, HDMI-out, 1080p video recording (2D), and a 1500mAh battery.

Android 2.3 Gingerbread is at the core of this smartphone and it has the expected four capactive buttons below the screen. The UI is much the same as other LG Android smartphones, so you’ll get the same multi-homescreen layout and widget support. The app drawer allows for categories where you can “pinch” to open and close them.

Stereoscopic Glasses-Free 3D

Seeing how 3D is the name of the game here, it should really come as little surprise that it features front and center in the aforementioned app drawer. There is a predefined category called 3D Applications. It is here that you cna find the 3D camera, 3D gallery, 3D guide, and a series of 3D games. There is even a pre-installed 3D game converter, which can convert many 2D games to 3D. The effect isn’t perfect, but it’s good to know you’re not restricted to games that were coded for 3D in the first place.

I’ll get to the 3D camera in just a moment, but to test out the 3D capabilities of the LG Optimus 3D, I played a few of the pre-installed games. These include Nova, which is an action FPS, and Asphalt 6, which is an arcade racer. With the latter, there was a 3D slider on the screen that allowed you to tweak the amount of 3D-ness. That’s very similar to the Nintendo 3DS.

In practice, you’ll find that you have to find a perfect sweet spot to get the glasses-free 3D to work. If you tilt the phone or move your head, you end getting a blurry combination of the two images. This is particularly frustrating in Asphalt 6 where you may be inclined to tilt when you steer (it uses a tap-to-steer control scheme). The 3D isn’t quite as robust as the Nintendo gaming handheld, but it is certainly noticeable. For my part, my eyes got pretty tired pretty quickly, but your mileage will vary.

The 3D Camera

Just like the LG Optimus Pad, the LG Optimus 3D is equipped with dual 5MP cameras on the back. With this, you are able to capture 3D photos, as well as 3D video at 720p/30fps. The “3D Camera” app is really just the regular camera app, but there is a slider that lets you switch between 2D and 3D imagery.

When you snap a photo in 3D mode, you are effectively taking a picture with each of the 5MP cameras. The resulting file can then be viewed directly on the glasses-free 3D display of the phone. When you connect the phone to your computer to retrieve this file, you’ll find that it is in JPS format. This is a stereoscopic 3D image file type, but if you simply rename the extension to JPG, you’ll get a dual image similar to what you see above.

The actual image quality could be better. Details are a little on the muddy site and the saturation could probably be dialed up a couple of notches. Have a look at the regular 2D outdoor picture and indoor photo for a further idea of what to expect. It’s perfectly adequate, but it’s far from being one of the better cameraphones.

Performance Benchmarks

Although you will see a “4G” icon in the status bar at the top of the screen, this is not a 4G LTE device. Instead, I believe the 4G here refers to HSPA+. With the Rogers Wireless SIM that I was provided, I ran a series of speed tests in the Vancouver area. Download speeds ranged from 3.91Mbps to 7.81 Mbps with most falling in the 4Mbps range. Uploads were all in the 1.05Mbps range. Again, this is adequate, but it’s not exactly blazing.

To test the overall performance of the LG Optimus 3D, I ran it through the full benchmark in Quadrant Standard. After several iterations, I found the total score to fall in the 2100 range. This puts in the same kind of arena as the Galaxy Nexus, but it’s a far cry from the 2800 scores that the Samsung Galaxy Note was able to achieve.

MEGATechie Eye-Popping or MEGATechie Eyesore?

At the end of the day, the LG Optimus 3D is a solid Android smartphone that happens to come with a special bonus feature. The 3D gaming can be fun for a little while and you’ll certainly enjoy snapping more than a few 3D pictures to show to your friends on the glasses-free 3D display. And then the novelty will start to wear off.

The camera quality isn’t the best, the performance is middle of the road at best, and the 168-gram makes it noticeably heavier than something like the Galaxy Nexus (135 grams). The LCD display is adequate, but it really doesn’t hold a candle to a Super AMOLED screen. I also would have liked to see a full gig of RAM to help along with the overall performance.

It certainly wouldn’t be a bad decision to pick up the LG Optimus 3D and it’ll suit most users just fine, but it’s not really a phone that jumps out as an instant recommendation for me either.

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