LG's new line of L series phones hope to offer stylish design without a Savile Row price tag. To achieve such a miraculous feat, LG has had to make some cuts in terms of power.
The L5 is a good looking machine, packing a 4-inch screen and the latest version of Android. But with only an 800MHz processor, will it offer enough tokeep your apps running smoothly?
It's due to land sometime in May. LG couldn't tell me an exact price, but it sits in the middle of its budget range of phones so I'm expecting it to be free on a contract of around £20 per month.
Stay tuned for a full review soon.
Whether a phone really is stylish or not is down to your opinion -- I personally find my pink flares to be the coolest thing this side of LA -- but few could deny that the L5 looks rather tasty.
The front of the device is taken up mostly by its 4-inch screen, which is surrounded by brilliant white plastic. The white iPhone 4 and Samsung Galaxy S2 both showed that white phones can be the ticket to smart phone infamy, so LG is clearly hoping to turn some heads with this guy.
Surrounding the front is some chrome effect edging that is a little reminiscent of phones from Samsung's Galaxy range, but it's a nice touch and helps make the L5 appear more upmarket than its price tag is likely to reflect.
The back of the phone is made of plastic that has been given a dimpled texture pattern that you'll probably either love or hate. I was quite keen on it and thought it went well with the overall look of this phone. The plastic doesn't feel cheap and didn't offer any flex when I squeezed it in my supremely manly hand, so it's probably capable of taking at least a few knocks before falling apart, but I'll see exactly how sturdy it is in the full review.
On the front of the phone you'll find a single physical button which takes you back to the Android home screen and flanking it are a couple of touch-sensitive buttons that light up nicely when pressed and dim out of sight when not in use.
The 4-inch screen offers a resolution of 320x480 pixels, which pales into insignificance next to the 720p display offered on LG's Optimus 4X HD, but it's an adequate amount for a more modestly priced mobile.
In my brief hands-on I thought it was reasonably sharp, and bright and vivid enough for most tasks. If you particularly want to watch video on the go, you might want to splash a bit more cash and find a better screen -- the Sony Xperia S's screen is stunning, for example. But if you only plan on sending some emails, playing a few apps and doing a bit of web browsing then it will probably do the job fine.
Android Ice Cream Sandwich
The Optimus L5 will be shipping with the latest version of Google's Android operating system, known as Ice Cream Sandwich. For a relatively modest phone, that's pretty impressive, as there are still various top-end smart phones shipping right now with the older 2.3 Gingerbread (and vaguely promising updates in the future).
The ICS interface seemed simple and easy to use. It offers features like resizing home screen widgets, which was brought over from the tablet specific Android 3.2 Honeycomb. I only had a brief hands on with the phone, but I left feeling generally positive about it.
Of course there's full access to the Android Market so as well as lording your latest software over your behind-the-times mates, you can also join in the conversations about which is better -- Angry Birds or Cut The Rope?
Under the hood is an 800MHz processor. That's the minimum I'd expect to see on budget phones, so I'm pretty disappointed to not see a little more squeezed out of the chip for this model. Swiping through the menus and home screens was mostly nippy, but I did notice it became a little jerky at times -- it certainly wasn't as smooth as the monstrously powered quad-core Optimus 4X HD.
Once you start to fill it up with apps and live widgets, you'll notice even more of a slowdown, so I recommend you keep track of just what apps are hogging your processor in the background. ICS, being the latest software, is likely to be a bit more demanding of processors, so I wouldn't have argued if LG had used the earlier Gingerbread on here as it did with the L3 handset.
I'll see just what it's capable of in the full review.
The L5 lives up to its plan of looking stylish enough for the bar scene, and the addition of Ice Cream Sandwich is a great touch that's sure to catch a few eyes. I worry that its low-powered processor won't offer the most pleasant of performances, however.
Stay tuned for the full review soon.