LG is back again with the latest version of it's Optimus 3D phone. The Optimus 3D Max offers the same glasses-free 3D experience as its predecessor, while cutting some of the bulk and weight away.
There's no word on pricing yet, but LG says it will be coming to Europe soon after its March launch in Korea.
Stay tuned for a full review soon.
The first Optimus 3D was, to put it bluntly, a bit of a chubber. While phones like the Samsung Galaxy S2 were happily showing off their skinny frames, the Optimus packed a 168g weight and chunky 12mm thickness.
The latest iteration, however, shaves off some girth. It's now a more pocket-friendly 9.6mm wide and weighs 148g. It's still bigger and heavier than phones like the Motorola Razr or the Huawei Ascend P1S, but it's slimmed down enough to let you keep it in your pocket without your jeans falling down as you're walking through the city centre.
Looks wise, the Optimus 3D Max isn't likely to turn many heads. LG has gone with the industry standard monolithic black rectangle. There's not a lot in the way of design flair going on here, so if you've got a keen eye for fashion, you might be better off looking at LG's latest mash-up with Prada.
The front of the phone is dominated by the 4.3-inch screen, which I'll come back to later. Beneath it are four touch-sensitive buttons for navigating around the Android interface. Around the back, you'll find the dual-lens camera for capturing images and movies in 3D that you can view on its screen, or by hooking up to a 3D TV via the micro-HDMI socket on the side.
The phone will come with 8GB of internal storage, which is a pretty meagre offering, so I'm hoping that a microSD card slot will also be available to expand that up to 32GB.
Glasses-free 3D screen
The Optimus 3D Max uses glasses-free 3D technology that allows you to see that magical third dimension without having to don those ridiculous glasses. It's the same technology that's offered on the previous Optimus, as well as on devices like the Nintendo 3DS.
The 3D effect is achieved by the screen beaming slightly different images to each eye. While this does mean that you don't have to lose all self-respect by wearing those specs, it does require you to keep pretty much face-on with the phone to avoid distortion. So if you're hoping to have your friends gather around at all angles to view some 3D deliciousness, you might be disappointed.
LG promises various interface tweaks such as customisable cube icons that will take advantage of the 3D effect, as well as conversion technology that apparently makes things like Google Maps pop out of the screen. How well this works in practise remains to be seen, but I don't have high hopes for conversion software turning Street View into a fully immersive world.
Hopefully LG hasn't gone overboard on the 3D. The effect won't be to everyone's tastes -- I for one can't use the 3DS's screen for more than 10 minutes without feeling sick. So if the phone makes you view all menus and home screens in 3D, it could quickly become an annoyance, rather than an interesting quirk.
The dual-lens camera around the back will take images and video in 3D, which we found to be a little hit and miss in the original Optimus. I hope LG will have ironed out the bumps in this update.
Android 2.3 Gingerbread
While 2.3 Gingerbread is still the most popular Android operating system available, it's somewhat outdated now. Those of you who crave the latest software won't be satisfied until LG pushes out an update to ICS, which it reckons will be about a month after the phone's launch.
As standard, 2.3 Gingerbread offers the usual multiple home screens to fill up with live widgets and shortcuts. It will no doubt have full access to Android Market so you can enjoy the hundreds of thousands of apps on offer. Most companies heavily customise the stock Android interface though, so I'm expecting some big differences that take advantage of the 3D screen. I'll go through the interface properly in the full review.
Under the hood is a dual-core 1.2GHz processor that should make swiping around a swift enough experience. It's likely that the 3D screen will be fairly demanding of the chip, so I imagine you'll find some slowdown once you've loaded it up with loads of live widgets, which hog your phone's power in the background.
LG has made potentially good improvements to its original Optimus 3G, making the 3D Max a slimmer and more pocket-friendly device. The glasses-free 3D technology may well appeal to the future-loving gadget geeks among you, but I'm hoping that LG hasn't gone overboard with the effect.
Stay tuned for a full review soon.