Need to know

  • Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean
  • 4.7-inch IPS Display
  • 1GB of RAM

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The smartphone market today is crowded with low priced models from every single manufacturer who wants a piece of the emerging market pie. The LG Optimus L9 is positioned in this hyper competitive segment and finds itself up against the like of Samsung’s Galaxy S III Mini and Nokia’s Lumia 620 both very capable competitors at this price level.

Build

The first thing you’ll notice about the L9 is that it isn’t made of premium materials. The back cover of the phone manages to feel even more plasticky and cheap than the Galaxy range of smartphones which have long been criticised for the lack of premium materials. The back cover hides a rarity in smartphones these days with a full sized SIM card clot forcing me to haul out my SIM adapter which had been gathering dust since the latter part of 2011.

Display

The qHD IPS display has the same resolution as the iPhone 4/4S but a much larger 4.7-inches meaning that the so called Retina quality of the screen is just not there. While viewing angles are impressive the glare you get from moving the screen even slightly off centre generally negates any benefit the IPS technology may bestow on the L9. One of the most annoying omissions from the spec sheet is a light sensor which means that the screen will not automatically adjust brightness in varying light forcing you to decide upfront whether your phone will be visible in direct sunlight and drain its battery faster during the day or whether you’ll have to play with the setting manually every time you leave your house.

Performance

The dual core 1GHz processor and 1GB of RAM matches the S III Mini for speed, but the lighter customisation of LG’s Android skin means that it feels snappier to use. That being said the screen would often lag during even the simplest of games.

OS

Speaking of Android, LG has done well to be on one of the more recent releases of the OS. While not the latest 4.2.2 having Jelly Bean at all means that the animations are smoother than with handsets boasting the venerable like of Gingerbread because of Google’s Project Butter. LG has chosen to customise Android with many of the strange design elements that iOS users have complained about for years. Surfaces are made to look like their natural counterparts with wooden panels and droplet effects on the unlock screen cheapening the experience slightly. LG has also decided that their QSlide quick launcher will take up valuable space in the notification bar and while you can customise the amount of apps and their position, you can never fully remove it.

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Summary

Would I buy the LG L9, probably not, the reason being that the Samsung Galaxy brand offers many benefits including an array of aftermarket accessories and deals with the likes of Simfy and AlwaysOn WiFi.

Pros:

  • Cheap price
  • IPS display
  • Reasonably recent version of Android

Cons:

  • Cheap feel
  • Glare kills the display’s usefulness
  • LG’s customisations are irritating not helpful

Noteworthy Specs:

  • Operating System: Android 4.1.2
  • Processor: Dual-core 1 GHz Cortex-A9
  • Display: 4.7-inch IPS LCD 540 x 960 pixels (234 ppi pixel density)
  • Storage:  4GB internal, microSD slot up to 32GB
  • Connectivity: 3G, 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 3.0
  • Cameras: 5MP front-facing with 1080p video recording,
  • Battery: 2 150mAh
  • SIM Type: Regular
  • GPS: Yes
David is a technology enthusiast with an insatiable thirst for information. He tends to get excited over new hardware and will often be the one in the room going "Its got 17 cores, 64GB of RAM and a 5" 4K flexible OLED display, oh it makes phone calls too?" Currently uses: Too many phones. Wants: World peace... and more phones.