Key Features: 1Ghz single-core processor; 4.0-inch screen; 5.0MP camera; Android (4.1) Jelly Bean OS Manufacturer: LG
LG Optimus L5 II E610 review
What is the LG Optimus L5 II E610?While its Korean rival Samsung has picked up all the plaudits for its Galaxy range of mobiles, LG has struggled to garner much interest in its Optimus Android handsets. However, the company is hoping that its updated range will change all that and return it to the glory days of popular handsets like the Viewty models. Last year's L5 suffered from a low resolution screen, but the company has addressed this on the LG Optimus L5 II E610, while also adding a faster processor, bigger battery and better camera. Is it enough to break it out of mediocrity, though?
LG Optimus L5 II E610 - DesignEven if it didn’t have the LG logo at the top of the display you could tell instantly that this is an LG phone, as its design is very reminiscent of the company's older handsets such as the LG Viewty Snap. For example, it's got a familiar black bezel that's framed by a chrome trim that runs around the outer edge of the handset.
Thankfully, LG has made a few changes to stop the LG Optimus L5 II E610 design from looking overly dated. There's now a ring of light surrounding the home button that glows with different colours to alert you to various events. For example, it flashes green when you've got a new email and cycles through green and teal when you've got an incoming call. The battery cover is also now finished with a brushed metal effect -- although it's actually just made out of plastic -- rather than the roughened textured used on the older L5 model.
The design is a little bit boring to our eyes and the smooth plastic of the rear cover make sit feels a bit too slippery. However, because the phone is quite short and narrow, it fits snugly in your hand and all the buttons are within easy reach.
LG has also added a useful quick button on the top left hand edge of the phone that can be assigned to launch an app when it's pressed. By default it's set to launch LG's Quick Memo app, but you can easily change it to something else, such as the music player or web browser via the settings menu.
LG Optimus L5 II E610 - ScreenFor the L5 II LG has decided to go with a 4-inch screen, which isn’t surprising given the phone's quite modest price tag. The display has a resolution of 800 x 480 pixels, which is pretty normal for a mobile with a display of this size. It doesn't sound all that sharp next to the 1080p screens you now get on high-end mobiles like the Sony Xperia Z. However, due to the smaller screen size, text, pictures and icons still look very sharp and you can read headlines and even some body text on websites without having to zoom right in.
The screen is very bright and as it uses IPS technology, viewing angles are very wide, so it doesn't wash out or go overly dark if you tilt the phone around in your hand. It's a pleasure to use outdoors in bright conditions as its high levels of brightness stop it from looking washed out. Colours are bold and strong too, so pictures and movies look top-notch.
All in all, it's a vey high quality display for a mobile in this price bracket. However, one problem is that the phone doesn't have an automatic brightness sensor, so you have to manually adjust the screen brightness using a slider in the notification tab if you find you've set it too dim to be readable out doors. This is an odd decision on LG's part as we can’t remember the last time we saw an Android phone that didn’t have this feature built-in.
LG Optimus L5 II E610 - Interface, Calling and Browser
LG Optimus L5 II E610 - Interface and UsabilityThe LG Optimus L5 II is built around a MediaTex MT6575 processor. This welds an 1GHz ARM Cortec A9 CPU to a PowerVR SGX GPU. It's no firecracker in terms of performance, but its better than some other single core phones we've reviewed recently. For example it hit 39.377Mflops in Linpack, outperforming the Acer Liquid Z2, which scored 32.94MFlops, while in Geekbench 2 both were fairly evenly matched, with the LG Optimus L5 II E610 scoring 573 versus the Z2's 579.
It's not super powerful for 3D gaming as it managed to reach 3.7fps in GFXBench (formerly known as GLBenchmark) Egyptian HD test, but it is fine for less demanding games like Angry Birds Star Wars.
The phone runs the Jelly Bean version of Android, which is much smoother and more responsive than previous versions of Android due to the Project Butter improvements Google made. As a result, the LG Optimus L5 II E610 feels a lot more responsive than older budget Android phones, despite the fact that it doesn’t have masses of horsepower under the bonnet.
You will notice the lack of grunt when you're switching between apps, waiting for graphics heavy web pages to render or playing intensive 3D games. For most day-to-day tasks, like emailing, watching YouTube videos or catching up on Facebook, its performance is perfectly acceptable.
The phone is quite heavily skinned with LG's user interface. For example, to unlock the phone you tap and drag a circle to gradually reveal the home screen or currently running app beneath. You can also tap and drag on the shortcuts at the bottom of the lockscreen to launch directly into the camera app, dialler, messaging centre or Google Search.
The pull down notifications tab includes a screen brightness control as well as quick buttons for turning off and on stuff like Wi-Fi, NFC, GPS and Airplane mode, while if you tap and hold on a home screen it switches to a special editing mode. This shows a thumbnail view of your home screen at the top and a scrollable list of your apps, widgets and wallpapers beneath.
You can add items to your home screen by just dragging them from the bottom window to the top one, which is a speedy way to get your home screen looking just how you like it. LG has also rejigged the app drawer so there are tabs for Apps, Downloads and Widgets. Apps are shown as a 4x5 grid of icons which are scrolled horizontally in pages.
None of this is particularly radical, but it feels very straight forward to use and not as bloated as some rival brands. Our only complaint is that the icons and graphics are a little bit flat in their presentation.
LG Optimus L5 II E610 - Contacts, Browser and Calling
The L5 II's contacts book doesn't differ all that much from what you get on other Android Phones running the Jelly Bean version of the OS. It automatically imports your contacts from online services like Google and Yahoo and contacts cards include pictures as well as the usual name, number and email address information. When you bring up a contact card there are also buttons for sending texts or emails, as well as the usual button for placing a call.
As with most Android phones you can group together your contacts into different categories, such as Friends, Family and Co-workers, which is handy if you've got a large contacts book. We also like the way that the phone automatically creates a Favourite group from the people who you contact most often.
Call quality is good. We suferred no dropped calls, and callers always sounded intelligible unless we were in very poor signal areas. However, even in relatively bad signal areas the phone does a decent job of holding on to a call.
The LG Optimus L5 II E610 comes with Google's latest Chrome browser installed, which is very fast and easy to use. It supports an unlimited number of tabs, so you can have many, many pages open at the same time. You can also automatically sync open tabs and favourites with the desktop Chrome browser.
The modest processor does mean that there can be a noticeable pause while it renders more complicated sites with lots of pictures, but on the whole it provides a pretty good browsing experience. In the Browsermark benchmark it scored 1,201 while it complete Sunspider in 1666.0msms, both of which are faster than the ZTE Bladee II, although it is a cheaper handset.
LG Optimus L5 II E610 - Camera, Battery Life & Verdict
LG Optimus L5 II E610 – CameraUnfortunately, the LG Optimus L5 II E610 only has a single rear facing camera, so you can’t use it for video calls. However, the rear camera does have a decent resolution of 5.0MP and it also has an LED flash and autofocus.
The camera is quite quick to launch - it only takes around 3 seconds from tapping the camera icon to the snapper being ready to take shots. There's only a very small amount of shutter lag too, so you can fire off shots in quick succession if you need.
The camera interface is clear and easy to understand and it gives you a decent amount of control over the pictures you're taking thanks to white balance and ISO settings. There are also some simple colour filters too for Mono, Sepia and Negative effects. We also like the panorama mode where you just sweep the camera around from one side to the other slowly and the camera app will stitch together a panorama shot from the resells.
Our favourite feature, though, is the voice activation mode. When you tap on the voice icons the camera will wait for a trigger word before automatically activating the shutter. There are five trigger words that you can use including Cheese, Smile and Whisky and the camera app responds to all pretty quickly and reliably.
It's just a shame the quality of the snaps are mediocre. There are two main issus. First the detail levels aren’t very good, which is probably due as much to deficiencies in the camera's lens as it is to do with the sensor, but it's very noticeable when you transfer photos from the phone to your PC for more detailed inspection. Secondly, images tend to look a little bit washed out, lacking the intensity of colours to really make them look rich and vibrant.
LG Optimus L5 II E610 – Apps and MultimediaAlongside the usual apps you get with Android, LG has chucked in a few of its own. Perhaps the most tightly integrated is the Quick Memo feature. This app sits in the notification tray ready to be called into action. It lets you write notes in freehand on the screen and save them as image files so you can recall them later. The app can also be undocked from the notifications menu so its icon floats on top of other applications.
It sounds quite simple, but it can be quite useful especially if you just quickly want to jot down a phone number or a shopping list. However, the small screen does limit the amount you can actually write on the display when you're just drawing with your finger.
LG also includes the Polaris Viewer 4 app, which lets you view but not edit, Microsoft Office files, along with something called Safety Care. The latter is primarily designed for use by older folk or those who live on their own. It lets you set up the phone so it sends an emergency message to a contact if you haven't used your phone for a set number of hours or days, and also lets you set up the handset so its automatically texts your location to emergency services when you place an emergency call.
The LG Optimus L5 II E610 also comes with LG's Music and Video players. The former is a pretty straight forward music playing app that supports stuff like album art and shuffle play modes, but not a lot else, while the latter is more interesting because it offers support for a pretty wide range of video formats including MP4, Xvid and HD MKV files. However, it doesn’t seem to be able to downmix multichannel soundtracks, which is a bit of a shame, so you'll probably still need to get a third-party video playing app from the Google Play store.
LG Optimus L5 II E610 - Battery Life & ConnectivityThe LG Optimus L5 II E610's battery has a capacity of 1,700mAh, which is reasonably large given its relatively modest processor and mid-sized screen. Battery life is slightly above average as with the screen set to 50 per cent and using it for everyday duties like phone calls, Youtube videos and emailing, it lasted just over a day.
When it comes to connectivity the only thing this phone is missing is support for 4G – something that you wouldn’t expect on a handset in this price bracket anyway, but naturally it does support 3G for mobile data. It's also good to see is that it includes NFC alongside Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and GPS, although LG doesn’t include any NFC tags in the box. Instead, you'll have to purchase them separately.