LG Optimus F6 review: Reliable Android handset for the price-conscious

LG OPtimus F6 (SSI)
In our standard studio setup, objects look a bit blurry and the flash casts a patch of blue against the white background. Josh Miller/CNET

Video quality was similarly satisfactory. When I recording in 1080p HD, both still and moving objects remained sharp and clear. The camera would refocus for lighting quickly, and colors looked true-to-life. Though nearby audio picked up well, I could hear some rustling background noise when it came to shooting outside. It wasn't overly distracting, but it was noticeable.

Video-recording options consist of the same digital zoom, flash, brightness meter, geotagging, color effects, and white balances. You can also choose from five video sizes (ranging from MMS to 1080p full HD), take still photos while recording, and pause video without stopping recording altogether. There's also the live effect mode, which will distort your face (for example, bulge out your eyes, squeeze your mouth inward) while the video records.

Recording features for the front-facing camera are nearly identical to those of the rear camera, including the quirky effects, except there is no digital zoom or flash, and there are four video sizes, ranging from MMS to 720p HD.

Performance
I tested the Optimus F6 (GSM 850/900/1800/1900) in our San Francisco offices on both carriers, and call quality was reliable -- none of my calls dropped, audio didn't clip in and out, and during times of absolute silence I didn't hear any extraneous noises or buzzing. Volume range was also adequate, though on speaker, I felt that maximum volume could have been a bit louder. In addition, voices did come off a tad tinny on speaker, though it wasn't overly distracting or bothersome.

LG Optimus F6 (T-Mobile) call quality sample

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LG Optimus F6 (MetroPCS) call quality sample

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T-Mobile's 4G LTE data connection was good, but not the fastest we've seen on other networks like Verizon. Most notably, there were times when the phone would clock in glacially slow data times only to speed up after a restart and then show fast speeds the next. On average, however, it loaded CNET's, The New York Times', and ESPN's mobile sites all around 6 seconds. Desktop sites loaded in 13, 16, and 9 seconds, respectively. To download the (then 35.01MB) game Temple Run 2, the device sometimes took as long as 10 minutes and could take as short as 2 minutes the next time. After several trials, however, I calculated that it took about 6 minutes and 27 seconds on average. The Ookla speed-test app showed me an average of 12.42Mbps down and 9.22Mbps up.

In general, MetroPCS clocked in LTE data speeds that were on par with T-Mobile's. Sites and apps also loaded steadily and consistently. Unlike T-Mobile, there weren't huge deltas between the slowest and fastest times measured. Once again, all three mobile sites loaded in about 6 seconds. Desktop sites for CNET, The New York Times, and ESPN loaded in 13, 15, and 8 seconds, respectively. Downloading Temple Run 2 (which has now increased up to 37.61MB in size) took much shorter, at only 42 seconds. Finally, Ookla showed an average of 13.6Mbps down and 5.74MBps up.

T-Mobile MetroPCS
Average 4G LTE download speed (Mpbs) 12.42 13.6
Average 4G LTE upload speed (Mpbs) 9.22 5.74
Downloading Temple Run 2 6 minutes, 27 seconds (35.01MB) 42 seconds (37.61MB)
CNET mobile site load (seconds) 6 7
CNET desktop site load (seconds) 13 13
Restart time (seconds) 35 36
Camera boot time (seconds) 2.19 2.32

The device runs on a zippy 1.2GHz dual-core processor from Qualcomm. In general, simple but necessary tasks were executed with no problems. For example, opening up the app drawer, quitting back to the home page, and switching from landscape to portrait mode (and vice versa), were all done smoothly within a sufficient amount of time. Furthermore, while playing the graphics-intensive game Riptide GP, I experienced no stalling or unexpected force quitting with the app. True, frame rates weren't as high as you see on higher-end handsets, but all in all, gameplay was smooth. Though what carrier you have plays no role on the processing speeds of a phone, on average, it took the T-Mobile model 35 seconds to power off and restart the phone, and 2.19 seconds to launch the camera. The MetroPCS version took 36 and 2.32 seconds for both these tasks.

During our battery drain test, the 2,460mAh battery lasted 11.07 hours for continuous video playback. It has a reported talk time of 8 hours and a standby time of 20 days. Anecdotally, I noticed that with minimal to medium usage, it could last a workday without a charge. Understandably, however, turning the screen brightness on max does significantly drain the battery, and by the end of the evening, I received a usage warning that my battery was down to 15 percent. According to FCC radiation standards, the handset has a digital SAR rating of 0.98W/kg for both carrier models.

Conclusion
With its $288 full retail price on T-Mobile, it's hard to beat the LG Optimus F6 in terms of value. True, the carrier does have better phones (like the $442 Galaxy S III, Samsung's flagship handset from a year ago), but you have to be willing to give up more dough.

And while the F6 doesn't run the most recent OS on the Android market, it's a reliable candidate to consider for phones under $300. The T-Mobile myTouch Q, for example, is $48 cheaper, but it lacks LTE, has a laggy processor, and a poor camera. Likewise, though the Nokia Lumia 521 is a fantastic $126 value, you do "get what you pay for" in terms of its low-resolution screen and lack of a camera flash.

Likewise on MetroPCS, the F6 is one of the best devices you can get on the carrier for $200. It has a bigger screen than the $149 F3 and $129 Samsung Galaxy Exhibit. Furthermore, though the L9 is $50 cheaper, you'll get a shorter battery capacity as well (nearly three fewer hours of video playback according to our tests!). Indeed, when it comes to the F6, users can get themselves a great Android smartphone without breaking the bank.

What you'll pay

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    LG Optimus F6

    Part Number: D500 Released: 5 Sep 2013
    Pricing is currently unavailable.

    Quick Specifications See All

    • Regional specs shown for US. AU specs are unavailable.

    • Release date 5 Sep 2013
    • Technology WCDMA (UMTS) / GSM
    • Service Provider T-Mobile
    • Weight 4.37 oz
    • Diagonal Size 4.5 in
    • Sensor Resolution 5 pixels
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