LG Optimus L5 II review: LG Optimus L5 II

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CNET Editors' Rating

3.5 stars Very good

Average User Rating

3 stars 3 user reviews
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Affordable price; Bright screen; Decent battery life.

The Bad Unimpressive performance; Paltry 2GB of usable storage; Plasticky design.

The Bottom Line The LG Optimus L5 II is cheap, has a decent screen and pleasing battery life, making it a fair choice for recent smart phone converts. Unfortunately, it's let down by unimpressive performance, and its tiny storage will likely cause a few problems.

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Not all phones feel the need to pack in the most powerful processor or boast about their gigantic, pixel-packed screens. Some are perfectly happy to chug along steadily with modest specs, and sport an equally modest price.

The LG Optimus L5 II is just such a phone. It has a 4-inch display that packs a 480x800-pixel resolution, a single-core 1GHz processor and runs Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean. It's available now for £150 on pay as you go.

Should I buy the LG Optimus L5 II?

If you're browsing our reviews, looking for the best smart phone money can buy, move along to the Galaxy S4 or HTC One . This isn't the phone for you. If you're after a more modestly priced mobile that let's you tackle the essential social networking then keep reading.

The L5 II's 4-inch display is much crisper than its awful little brother's, which makes any task that bit nicer. It has the same processor though, which while competent, won't wow you with speed. It has a good battery too, meaning it won't conk out after sending a few tweets.

It's not the most luscious of mobiles admittedly, and its mere 2GB of usable storage will force you to only download the most basic apps. Games like N.O.V.A 3 are too big to fit and you can't install apps to an external card -- that's just for your media.

If you're taking your first tentative steps into the smart phone world, the L5 II is a fair choice to consider. Alternatively, take a look at the Nokia Lumia 520 . It has a great screen and its Windows Phone 8 software is slick, user-friendly and there's a whole heap of Nokia extras thrown in.

Design and build quality

LG has done away with the plastic, dimpled back panel of last year's L5, replacing it instead with a fake brushed-metal casing. It's the same effect LG is using on the smaller L3 II. Squint really hard from a distance and it might pass for real metal, but really it's not fooling anyone.

The larger screen, smaller bezel and slightly shinier edging makes the L5 look like a marginally more expensive phone than the cheap-as-chips L3. It's not going to turn any heads if you pull it out in a posh rooftop cocktail bar, but it probably won't get you forcibly ejected from the premises either.

Like the L3, the physical home button on the front has a glowing edge that pulsates and changes colour to indicate various notifications. A calendar alert will make it glow blue, while an alarm notification will cause it pulse different colours. It's brighter than the L3's LED, making it easier to see in normal light. The L3's subdued light made it practically redundant as an alert system.

The L5 is 117mm long, 62mm wide and 9mm thick. It offers more screen real estate than the tiddly L3, but doesn't stretch your palms out like the humongous Samsung Galaxy Note 2 . It's a good compromise of screen to body size, making it well suited to those of you looking to take your first steps in the smart phone world.

You'll find a power button, volume rocker, Micro-USB port and 3.5mm headphone jack around the sides. There's also an extra button on the left. By default, it launches a note taking app, but you can customise it to launch any app or service you want.

LG Optimus L5 II
You can customise the button on the left of the phone to launch any app you want.

While it doesn't feel anything like as sturdy as the metal HTC One, it doesn't feel like it's about to fall apart either. The chassis doesn't offer any unpleasant creaking and the buttons around the edge all give a satisfying click. The screen held up fine in my time with the phone, but it's not made from toughened Gorilla Glass like more premium phones, so I worry that it will be susceptible to scratches from keys and coins over time.

The L5 II comes with a tiny 4GB of built in storage, of which only 2GB is available for your apps and games. There is an SD card slot, but Jelly Bean doesn't allow you to install apps on an external card. You'll want to make sure you have all your photos, videos and music saved to an SD card to save as much room as possible for apps.

Display

The 4-inch screen has an 800x480-pixel resolution which is a satisfying increase over the 320x480-pixels you'd find on the older L5. It's also a meaty boost over the awful 320x240-pixels of the L3 II's screen.

LG Optimus L5 II
It's a relief to see that LG has equipped the L5 II with a better screen than the paltry display it whacked on the L3 II.

That resolution boost really is noticeable. Icons are considerably sharper on the L5's screen and small text on Web pages is perfectly readable. It loses its shine when you put it side by side with the Full HD majesty of the HTC One, but that phone is of course hundreds of pounds more expensive. For the cash, the L5 II's screen is fine.

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