LG's L II series aims for the practical (hands-on)

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February 24, 2013 11:00 PM PST / Updated: February 25, 2013 10:50 AM PST

BARCELONA, Spain--LG did its best to spread its new devices around at Mobile World Congress. It hit the top of the market with the Optimus Pro G , it went midrange with the Optimus F5 and F7 , and it aimed a bit lower with the Optimus L7 II, L5 II, and L3 II.

Like the L-series handsets that LG introduced last year , their designs won't stand out and they deliver no surprise features. Also, all of the phones are 3G-only, which sets them apart in an increasingly LTE world.

Inside, they're all running Android Jelly Bean, which I appreciate considering some manufacturers are still pushing out Ice Cream Sandwich devices. Yet, I don't love that they also run LG's Optimus 3.0 UI. It's not as simple or as sleek as vanilla Android, though you can customize icons and access the Quick Memo note taking app.

LG Optimus L II series
From left to right: the Optimus L7 II, L5 II, and the L3 II. Lynn La/CNET

Though part of the same family, the handsets vary by design and features. Here's how they stack up.

The L7 II has a 4.2-inch screen with a 800x480-pixel resolution. Features include an 8-megapixel camera, a 1.3-megapixel front shooter, 1GB of RAM, a 1GHz dual-core processor, and a 2,460mAh battery. From the outside, it looks a lot like the current L7 , but the spec upgrades like a faster CPU, a bigger battery, and a better camera make it more than just a simple sequel. In other words, its gets improvements where they matter most. I won't be surprised if it lands at a U.S. carrier soon.

The L5 II scales things down a little with a 4-inch screen with the same 800x480-pixel resolution, a 5-megapixel camera, a 1GHz single-core processor, and 1,700mAh battery. This model gets a CPU upgrade from its predecessor, but the camera is the same. Both the L5 II and L3 II have brushed metallic back covers, which gives them a high-end and sleek feel that's even somewhat luxurious.

The most budget-minded of the the bunch, the L3 II has a 3.2-inch screen with 240x320 pixels, a 5-megapixel camera, a 1GHz processor, and a 1,550mAh battery. It's really tiny and compact, but it has a thick build and the display quality is poor. Though I think that a phone this entry-level with a 5-megapixel camera is pretty cool, I'll save my final judgement until I see the image quality and whether the processor is fast enough to deliver a good user experience. Indeed, the original L3 faltered because of its low-resolution display and pokey processor.

LG says the L-series is a best seller and there is enough here to satisfy a lot of users.

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LG Optimus L7 II

Part Number: OPTIMUSL7II

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About The Author

Lynn La is CNET's associate editor for cell phone and smartphone news and reviews. Prior to coming to CNET, she wrote for the Sacramento Bee and was a staff editor at Macworld. In addition to covering technology, she has reported on health, science, and politics.