Just when we suspicion LG was finished with a Optimus L-series for a year, a Korean association astounded us with a LG Optimus L9, that replaces a Optimus L7 during a low-end range. The L-series inclination are positioned as LG’s stylish nonetheless affordable line of entry- to mid-level phones, so they unequivocally don’t examination to a company’s quad-core offerings like a 4X HD or a Optimus G. Instead, a L9 runs Android 4.0 and boasts a 4.5-inch qHD arrangement along with a dual-core 1 GHz TI OMAP 4430 processor and 5-megapixel camera. At $79.99 with a two-year agreement on T-Mobile, it’s designed to interest to shoppers on a budget. But is it a good buy? Let’s find out.
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When we initial laid eyes on a Optimus L9, we gifted a bit of déjà vu. It’s roughly matching to a L7, with a chrome trim and piano-black, Gorilla Glass-coated face. It even has a same symbol layout, with a earthy home symbol flanked by capacitive behind and menu keys. The behind cover is a opposite story, however. The L9 has a textured matte aspect comprised of mixed tiny lifted dots, a depart from a L7’s striped backing. As such, it has a nice, grippy feel that reminds us of leather (or vinyl, maybe). Its sloped edges and slim 9.1mm form creates for a surprisingly gentle feel in a palm notwithstanding a far-reaching 127.6mm x 66.9mm footprint. All told, a boxy figure struck us as tedious during first, nonetheless we were eventually won over by a phone’s clean-cut design.
Adding to a L9’s good looks is that 4.5-inch qHD (960 x 540) TFT LCD, a transparent alleviation over a L7’s 4.3-inch, 800 x 480 panel. Though not utterly as frail as a TrueHD arrangement we saw on a Optimus G, we found a L9’s colourful arrangement ideally adequate. The observation angles are decent, content is pointy and colors are rich. However, we can’t assistance nonetheless feel a tiny cheated — a ubiquitous chronicle of a L9 boasts a better-specced 4.7-inch IPS display, and it appears we’re doubtful to see that stateside. We’ve seen these sorts of conduit shenanigans before — a ATT chronicle of a Optimus G totes an 8-megapixel camera instead of a 13-megapixel shooter found on other Optimus G handsets, for instance — nonetheless it doesn’t meant we approve.
Under splendid object a Optimus L9 is utterly usable, nonetheless usually if we ramp adult a liughtness to 100 percent. Otherwise, it looks like a chunk of black glass. Sadly, we had to adjust a liughtness manually each time lighting conditions shifted due to a miss of an auto-brightness setting. Indeed, a phone lacks an ambient light sensor, an repudiation we find terribly annoying. The rest of a common sensors are on board, including ones for proximity, orientation, revolution vector, captivating margin and three-axis acceleration.
Aside from a aforementioned buttons, a front of a L9 is home to a front-facing VGA camera on a tip right, directly above a T-Mobile branding. The volume and energy buttons lay on a left and right edges, respectively, while a 3.5mm headphone jack resides on top. Nestled inside a textured behind cover are a block 5-megapixel camera lens and an LED flash. There’s also an outmost orator opening on a reduce left. If we wish to arrangement a phone’s innards, you’ll have to fist a fingernail into a tiny cutout during a bottom, nearby a micro-USB port. You can afterwards examine a cover open to exhibit a 2,150mAh lithium-ion battery, a SIM label and a microSD label slot. Those who crave for a presentation LED will be unhappy however, as there isn’t one.
LG Optimus L9 Pricing $79.99 with a two-year T-Mobile agreement Dimensions 5.03 x 2.63 x 0.36 inches (127.6 x 66.9 x 9.1mm) Weight 4.2 ounces (119g) Screen size 4.5 inches (114mm) Screen resolution 960 x 540 pixels (245ppi) Screen type TFT-LCD arrangement Battery 2150mAh Internal storage 4GB (2.7GB available) External storage microSD, nothing enclosed Rear camera 5-megapixel, AF, LED peep Front-facing cam VGA Video capture 1080p HD NFC No Radios Quadband GSM / GPRS/ EDGE; quadband 4G UMTS/HSPA+ (2100 / 1900 /1700 (AWS) / 850) Network speeds HSPA+ 21Mbps Bluetooth v3.0 CPU 1GHz dual-core TI OMAP 4430 GPU PowerVR SGX 540 RAM 1GB MHL No WiFi 802.11 b/g/n/a Operating system Android 4.0.4 Supported multimedia formats MP3, AMR, AAC, AAC+, WAV, AC3, MPEG-4, H.263, H.264, DivX, Xvid
While a L9’s opening can’t compare a quad-core Optimus G, a dual-core 1GHz ARMv7 CPU isn’t too shabby. Indeed, we found it some-more than acceptable, as we’ll explain in a opening territory below. The L9 adds a PowerVR SGX 540 GPU to a mix, along with a 5-megapixel camera and support for T-Mobile’s “faux-G” HSPA+ network that tops out during 21 Mbps. Those specs aren’t too bad for an $80 mid-range handset. As we competence expect, a Optimus L9 supports quad-band GSM / EDGE, along with quad-band 4G UMTS/HSPA+. You won’t find an NFC radio here, nonetheless there is, of course, WiFi and Bluetooth. The L9 even boasts WiFi job interjection to a partnership with T-Mobile. The GPS works remarkably good — it noted many of a locations precisely as we ventured around San Francisco.
The L9’s 1GHz dual-core TI OMAP4430 chip is sincerely out-of-date; it’s a same processor used on final year’s Droid RAZR and Droid Bionic, and it’s unequivocally not as zippy as a dual-core Snapdragon S4 processor found on newer handsets. That said, shade transitions are poignant enough, and a phone doesn’t take prolonged to switch between open apps. Zooming in and out of web pages feels mostly smooth, nonetheless we did notice a bit of loiter with picture rendering. The camera app, though, is somewhat indolent in launching. Cold-booting takes a tiny some-more than 22 seconds, that is copiousness discerning for us.
Benchmark scores are about what we approaching — a L9 compares good opposite TI OMAP handsets, nonetheless pales in comparison to likewise specced phones that use Qualcomm’s latest. Its Quadrant scores are aloft than a Galaxy Nexus’, nonetheless a L9 doesn’t perform as good in a other benchmarks. In general, a opening is fitting a L9’s bill status.
The 2,150mAh battery inside a L9 offers sincerely brief battery life. In a customary outline test, a L9 lasted a tiny longer than 5 hours, that is a bad arrangement compared to many phones we’ve tested recently (eight hours would be some-more acceptable). Still, with reduction fatiguing use (i.e., holding photos, regulating Maps and browsing a web, with pull notifications set up) a L9 still had around 50 percent ability left after 8 hours.
At slightest in San Francisco, where we conducted a testing, we enjoyed a flattering plain signal. Call peculiarity was good — callers listened us shrill and clear, and clamp versa. However, we did confront a occasional immobile buzz, and voice peculiarity was some-more digitized than we would like. It’s engaging to note that a L9 supports T-Mobile’s WiFi job capability. When we incited this on, call peculiarity softened somewhat — there was, perhaps, a tiny reduction immobile — nonetheless not adequate that a callers noticed. Still, it’s a good choice to have if we wish to save those monthly minutes. The built-in orator sounds rather tinny, nonetheless we could holder adult a volume high enough. T-Mobile’s HSPA+ network in San Francisco fluctuates extravagantly from area to neighborhood. In a southern and western tools of a city, we got around 1.5 Mbps down and 1.1 Mbps up. In downtown and some-more executive tools of city however, we enjoyed download speeds that averaged around 14 Mbps while upload speeds hovered around 4 Mbps.
Though we would’ve elite Jelly Bean, we don’t unequivocally mind Ice Cream Sandwich on a bill handset like this. As with many other LG phones, a L9 has a skin conceal famous as UI 3.0, that is utterly light as distant as Android skins go. The close screen, for example, lets we appropriate in any instruction to clear a phone. It also incorporates discerning entrance to 4 customizable apps — we generally like a camera by-pass — and opposite time designs. We’ll acknowledge we cruise UI 3.0 is rather undisturbed and boring, nonetheless it’s not terribly descent either.
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T-Mobile’s change on a L9 is immediately apparent as shortly as we start adult a phone — you’ll find a magenta-tinged wallpaper and widgets as we flip by a 7 home screens. You do get ICS mainstays like that barbarous Google hunt widget along with a ability to emanate folders. The wharf binds 5 icons by default and is simply customizable. You can serve tweak things by adjusting a shade appropriate effect, a scrolling wallpaper, a animations and a theme.
One acquire further is a Quick Settings menu in a presentation drawer. With a elementary appropriate of a finger, we can adjust a sound, WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS and get accessible entrance to LG’s QuickMemo app. You can also supplement a liughtness toggle that lets we switch between low, middle and full, that is intensely useful deliberation a miss of auto-brightness mentioned earlier.
We have to acknowledge we’re not vast fans of a L9’s default, LG-designed keyboard. It appears to be a mutated chronicle of Swype, where we form difference by shifting your finger opposite a keys. It works good adequate when you’re regulating it that way, nonetheless when you’re only entering content a out-of-date way, it can be fussy and imprecise. There’s no choice to switch to a batch ICS keyboard, that is a vast beating in a eyes.
The app launcher is comparatively identical to batch ICS, that we can navigate by side-swiping a screen. You get 3 opposite tabs during a top: Apps, Downloads and Widgets. The sections exist independently, so we won’t be kicked over to a subsequent add-on once we strech a end; we would only corkscrew behind to a commencement again. We should note that a Downloads area represents commissioned apps, not downloaded files — those can be accessed around a Downloads app instead. You can name to fit a 5 x 6 grid of icons and we can arrange them however we wish. (To do this, simply strike menu while in a launcher and name “Show tiny icons.”) Those who wish to arrange by apps alphabetically are out of luck, however — you’ll have to do that manually.
Perhaps a biggest censure about a L9 is a volume of bloatware T-Mobile motionless to toss in. You get 411 More, Caller Tunes, Game Base, More for Me (a discounts/deals application), T-Mobile My Account, T-Mobile Name ID, T-Mobile TV and Visual Voicemail. Like many pre-installed apps, they can’t be uninstalled and they take adult changed storage space. Other pre-installed apps embody a Amazon app store, Application Manager, FileShare, WildTangent Games, Polaris Office (which can be uninstalled), SmartShare for WiFi Direct connectors and Slacker Radio. LG enclosed a possess QuickMemo on here as well, that lets we pull and explain what’s on a screen. The default browser includes an engaging toolbar during a bottom with a common navigation keys like Back and Forward along with a Zoom key. If we want, we can reason your finger down on a Zoom pivotal and lean a phone brazen to wizz in on a page. We cruise this is so we can handily navigate a vast Web page single-handedly, nonetheless it’s utterly a singular use case.
The camera UI here should be informed to anyone who’s formerly owned an LG smartphone. The controls line a left side of a viewfinder, and we can adjust a picture size, stage modes, ISO settings, white change presets, timer, geotagging settings, shiver sound and tone effects. You can opt between autofocus and face-tracking, where a camera will try to concentration in on what it thinks is a face. We generally suffer scenery mode, and continual shot is also good if you’re attempting to fire a relocating subject. The back camera can record adult to 1080p HD, nonetheless a front-facing webcam maxes out during VGA. We found a 1080p video utterly pointy and acceptable with a autofocus, nonetheless it doesn’t hoop low light and shadows too well.
We’ll be frank: if we wish a phone with a top-notch camera, a L9 isn’t for you. The 5-megapixel sensor works excellent for elementary snapshots, nonetheless users who wish something that can reinstate their point-and-shoots would substantially sneer during a bungled picture peculiarity on arrangement here. Most of a representation shots showed dull, washed-out colors and there’s an hapless volume of sound even in cinema taken underneath adequate light. Low-light opening was alright — sunsets looked decent, for instance — nonetheless pellet and fuzz continue to be an emanate there as well. Touch-to-focus works fine, nonetheless don’t pattern a shoal abyss of margin in your macro shots. As we competence expect, a camera works best underneath splendid sunlight, nonetheless even then, colors are rather lackluster.
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The Optimus L9 isn’t totally though merit. We conclude a boxy nonetheless clean-cut pattern and a sharp, colorful display. And while a opening didn’t blow us away, it’s some-more than good adequate for bland tasks like browsing a web, checking email and personification a occasional game. We also enjoyed a further of T-Mobile’s WiFi job feature. Yet, a common camera reminds us of a mid-level status, a carrier’s bloatware is a beating and LG’s UI 3.0, nonetheless inoffensive, belongs in a past. Its brief battery life is also a unsentimental emanate that buyers should be wakeful of before signing any contracts.
Perhaps a biggest saving beauty is this: it costs only $80 with a two-year T-Mobile agreement. Those new to Android competence find that $80 buys a workable phone, nonetheless savvier users will expected be disappointed. If you’re adhering to a parsimonious budget, we’d advise a HTC One S instead, that is accessible for giveaway with a T-Mobile contract. An additional $20 could obstacle we a higher HTC One X if you’re peaceful to go with ATT. Or, we competence wish to cruise saving adult for a Nexus 4, generally if two-year contracts are not your crater of tea.
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