updated 04:55 pm EST, Tue February 28, 2012
Our look at LG's L-Style 2012 smartphone lineup
LG's new L-Style phones are an attempt to bring good-looking design to the mid-range and budget smartphones that normally don't get that treatment. Electronista got the chance to try every model, ranging from the tiny L3 to the more aggressive L5 and L7. Read on to find out how well they fared and a surprise pick for our favorite.
The L5 and L7 are some of the lowest-cost Android 4.0 phones you'll find in the initial wave, and both are good-looking with a reasonable balance between LG's customization and Google's own work improving the interface. There's a carousel effect when you switch home screens, and icons stretch like rubber if you reach the end, although why it couldn't just loop back, we're not sure.
However, we weren't especially happy with either in terms of performance. Both stuttered significantly even navigating around the interface, and they lagged in photo and video capture responsiveness. The 800MHz and 1GHz processors here clearly felt inadequate, and if the performance carries through to final versions, the L5 and L7 could be somewhat frustrating to use in practice.
Which is why our reaction to the L3 was a surprise. Although the 3.2-inch, 320x480 screen forced LG to use Android 2.3 -- 4.0 requires more -- the combination of the lower resolution and earlier OS made for a much more responsive device, even if the display was somewhat pixelated. We liked the effect LG's patterned, textured design felt in the hand, and we were even able to type reasonably quickly on the touchscreen, which is tough on most any other phone in this size. The only real disappointments were the expected screen crispness and the three-megapixel, fixed-focus camera, which is a slight step back from the autofocusing we've seen in some similarly-priced phones.
From early looks, then, the L3 was the winner simply by matching the OS to the right hardware, even if it meant locking the device out of some Google-made new features like Chrome for Android. Given that it should sell for 150 euros ($202) off-contract, it's a better buy than the L5 or L7, which are really better replaced by the eventual Samsung Galaxy S Advance. Having the latest OS is important, but not at all costs.