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LG Optimus L7 review:

LG Optimus L7

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The Good Latest Android Ice Cream Sandwich OS; Decent mid-range camera plus front-facing camera.

The Bad Under-powered processor means it's laggy; Screen feels unresponsive; Software is buggy.

The Bottom Line The LG Optimus L7 has the latest Ice Cream Sandwich operating system and a big, shiny 4.3-inch face, but the single-core engine is sluggish. At this price, there are faster mid-range Androids to choose from. If you want a large display, then you're better off saving up for a more powerful phone that can handle all those pixels.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

5.5 Overall

LG hasn't won over us Brits like South Korean rival Samsung's Galaxy range of phones has. But the relentlessly upbeat kit maker with the smiley-faced logo and 'Life's good' slogan isn't giving up. Au contraire.

Enter its new L-series line-up, unveiled at this year's Mobile World Congress -- the Optimus L3, the Optimus L5 and the Optimus L7.

The L-series is not intended to compete with the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S3 at the very high end of the smart phone spectrum (for that, LG will be pitting the Optimus 4X HD). This is a mid-range Android family, which means it's less powerful but more affordable.

The L7 is the biggest and beefiest of the L-series trio, with a large 4.3-inch screen, a 1GHz engine and the latest Android Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) operating system.

It can be picked up free on a £26 per month contract, SIM-free for £250 on pre-order from Expansys, or it's available now SIM-free at Phones 4u for £330.

Should I buy the LG Optimus L7?

If you're on a budget or have modest mobile power needs, the Optimus L7 could tickle your fancy. Its biggest asset is the latest version of Android -- Ice Cream Sandwich. It also has a large, 4.3-inch screen so if you want a lot of glass to poke it could be worth a gander.

LG Optimus L7 screen and scale
The 4.3-inch display is ample, but the touchscreen is annoyingly unresponsive because either the chip or software struggles to keep up.

So far, so good. Not so impressive is the L7's sluggishness. Sometimes it's painfully unresponsive. I experienced a few crashes and glitches so stability isn't rock solid either. LG's Android skin is also nothing special -- certainly compared to the polish of HTC's Sense interface -- so be sure to check out the alternative phones out there. Aroung this mid-range price, Android fans aren't short of options.

Alternative (Gingerbread-flavoured) Androids to consider include the Samsung Galaxy Ace Plus, the Samsung Galaxy Ace 2, the Huawei G300, the Motorola Motoluxe, the T-Mobile Vivacity and the Orange San Francisco 2.

The L7 is not the only ICS-packing smart phone at this price -- HTC's smaller but super-stylish One V also has it. And HTC is lining up an even cheaper ICS option -- the Desire C.

Screen, design and build quality

Arguably the L7's biggest boon after ICS is its roomy 4.3-inch screen. There's certainly no shortage of glass to eyeball, poke and prod. Many mid-range Androids have smaller screens so if you really want a biggie in your pocket, the L7 has the inches to impress.

LG Optimus L7 side back
I suspect LG has taken inspiration from its range of fridges in the uninspiring design of this handset.

Resolution is not so impressive at 480x800 pixels. That equates to a middling 217 pixels per inch. While the display is clear enough, details aren't pin sharp. There's also no risk of being stabbed in the retina by eye-poppingly bright colours -- if anything, the LCD display makes the world look slightly washed out as colours are slightly desaturated.

The touchscreen itself isn't hyper-responsive either. I found light-fingered tapping often goes unregistered and requires a second, more fulsome press or swipe to lock on. There is also a distinctly laggy feel to the screen generally. This may well be a software or processor issue.

My review sample was the white model so I couldn't help feeling there was something intrinsically fridge-like about the L7 due to LG's home electronics pedigree. If you're worried about white goods connotations, there's also a black L7.

In general, the L7's design is smart if uninspiring, with lashings of metallic trim around the top and front of the phone and a textured plastic back that you'll either love or hate. In my view it's a somewhat cheap effect. Overall, though, the handset feels good in the hand -- despite its large screen it didn't give me hand ache, thanks to a thin frame (it's just 8.7mm thick).

LG Optimus L7 side back
I'm not convinced by the cheapy plastic back, but the handset is smart and reasonably well built.

Build quality seems reasonably solid although there's certainly some flex in the frame and the plastic back can also be made to creak and open up a hairline crack under pressure.

Up top you'll find a metal power key and a 3.5mm headphone jack. On the side is a volume rocker and the bottom edge houses a micro-USB port for charging and whipping your photos off onto your computer. On the front of the device is a physical home key plus two touch keys -- back and menu -- which are completely invisible until you press them, at which point they light up (a distinctly unhelpful design).

Software and performance

The L7 runs Android 4.0 aka Ice Cream Sandwich. Full marks to LG for shipping the latest version of Google's operating system, unlike the majority of mid-range Androids that (still) arrive with Gingerbread.

LG Optimus L7 web home page
Most mid-range phones still arrive with outdated Android Gingerbread, but LG has treated us to the latest ICS OS.

Not all of ICS's bells and whistles are here though. Notably, there's no Face Unlock option in the lock screen settings, even though the L7 does have a front-facing camera (an LG spokeswoman told me Face Unlock should return via an upgrade).

Home screen widgets can't be resized either. But you can add effects to videos and flick notifications out of the tray. You also get the ICS recent apps thumbnail menu -- so you can scroll back through all the stuff you've being doing with your phone lately and tap to return to an app or function (or flick it off screen to close it).

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