This Android smartphone's big feature is its glasses-free 3D display.
By TAN KIT HOONG
I guess it was inevitable that 3D displays would eventually trickle down from the HDTV to the phone since most TV makers also produce Android phones.
Witness exhibit A - the LG Optimus 3D, which is currently one of the two 3D capable smartphones to hit the local market, the other being the HTC Evo 3D.
Like the Nintendo 3DS before it you can see the display in 3D without wearing glasses but only if you turn the phone sideways in landscape mode and look at it straight on.
So how does it perform as a phone and is 3D all its cracked up to be?
In the box
Open the red box of the Optimus 3D and you get the standard accessories together with the phone - a charger, sync cable, handsfree stereo headset, and unusually, micro HDMI cable.
The phone itself, while not thick, is pretty generously sized, thanks to the 4.3in screen that dominates the front of the device.
In terms of buttons, the phone is pretty minimalist - on the right side there's a volume rocker switch and a tiny button which launches the 3D applications; the left side houses the ports for HDMI and micro USB; and on the top you get the standard 3.5mm stereo port and the power button.
On the back, you get a speaker grille, and the twin lenses with a single LED flash to snap photos and videos in 3D.
Pry open the back and you'll see the 1500mAh lithium-ion battery, the SIM card slot (regular size, not microSIM) and a microSD slot for memory expansion.
As I mentioned earlier, the screen itself is pretty large but the resolution is only 480 x 800-pixels compared with the HTC Evo 3D's 540 x 960-pixels.
Before you go thinking the entire interface is in 3D, it's not - when in portrait mode and in the standard Android interface, it's a standard 2D display.
The 3D functionality is launched by pressing the shortcut key on the side or via a shortcut in the menus and only works in landscape orientation - launching 3D and viewing it in any other orientation just gives you a blurry 2D view.
Talking about the Android interface, the Optimus 3D is currently only running on Android 2.2.2 (Froyo), which is just behind the current Android 2.3 that's already been out for awhile.
LG says that the Optimus 3D will be upgradeable to Android 2.3 sometime in October when LG has finished customising it for the phone.
LG says the Optimus 3D has "tri-dual" technology, which essentially means that the device is running on a dual-channel, dual-core processor and dual memory.
What all the jargon means is that the Optimus 3D is supposed to be fast - and in use, performance was indeed pretty snappy, and there was very little slowdown even when running multiple applications.
As far as the Android part of the phone goes, it's almost plain vanilla Android 2.2 but with a few customisations from LG such as a slightly different custom keyboard as well as an unlock screen similar to Windows Phone 7 devices where you swipe upwards from bottom to top to unlock the device.
The screen is bright and the colours are very punchy although it would have been nice to have a much higher resolution screen to take advantage of such a large screen.
Battery life is not particularly outstanding. Even with moderate use, you're going to have to plug it in to power before the day is over, and more likely even before that, if you are a heavy user.
Using the 3D mode to watch videos and play games will, of course, suck up power even faster. LG says video playback in 3D mode will deplete the battery in about three hours.
So, this is probably the main reason you're reading this review - just how good is the 3D on this phone?
Well, I have to say it's pretty impressive. For instance, 3D videos still have that "wow" factor especially when shown to those who are seeing it for the first time on a mobile device.
The parallax barrier technology used to allow you to see glasses-free 3D, however, is limited in the sense that it has a very narrow viewing angle. You have to hold it in a particular orientation and at a particular angle to see the 3D properly.
Tilt it a few degrees to the left or right and you'll start seeing double images.
It also means that the 3D is very much a single-user experience - anyone standing on the right or left side of you will only see double images.
The Optimus 3D allows you to shoot photos in 3D, capturing the images using the twin lens array on the back of the device.
Videos are also possible, and when shooting in 3D, the smartphone shoots at 720p, and when shooting in 2D mode, it's capable of recording in full HD (1080p) . Pretty impressive.
LG also has a number of 3D games available for download for free and includes the excellent NOVA first person shooter from Gameloft, as well as a few interactive 3D books like Gulliver's Travels.
The interactive 3D books are quite impressive and fun, as is NOVA.
However, when playing a game like a first-person-shooter, it's a bit more difficult to maintain the 3D effect when you are moving your head and hands around in the heat of battle.
In case you're wondering where to get prepackaged 3D video content, you need look no further than YouTube. Just open the YouTube link on the Optimus 3D and do a search for "3D" and you'll turn up loads of real 3D videos that can be displayed in 3D on the device.
So, the question is whether 3D adds anything to the smartphone experience.
While it's great to see stuff in 3D and to wow your friends with it for a while, it doesn't really add anything to the smartphone, especially since the core Android features aren't in 3D.
However, the device does offer something if you are interested in shooting videos in 3D and have the means to display it on, say, a 3D-capable HDTV.
A point to note - if you want to shoot videos in 3D, I found that it's best to try to use fixed camera positions.
If you like to pan the camera a lot, I found I occasionally got some double images even when I was in the correct viewing position during playback.
Lastly, the Optimus 3D can also convert 2D photos into 3D as well (much like modern 3D HDTVs) . I tried this for a number of photos and the results were actually not bad at all.
The LG optimus 3D is a very competent Android phone. Thanks to the hardware design, the device is very snappy in performance for all the Android core functions.
It remains to be see whether an upgrade to Android 2.3 will bring more to the table.
Battery life is at best only so-so - it isn't the worst I have encountered but it certainly isn't impressive either.
Whether or not the 3D part itself is a system seller, well that's really up to you.
Pros: Screen is large and bright; 3D is fun; responsive display.
Cons: Short battery life.
NETWORK: GSM 850/900/1800/1900, HSDPA 900/1900/2100
OPERATING SYSTEM: Android 2.2.2
DISPLAY: 4.3in capacitive touchscreen (480 x 800-pixels)
CAMERA: Dual 5-megapixel with autofocus, LED flash; HD video recording (1080p in 2D, 720p in 3D)
CONNECTIVITY: Bluetooth 2.1, WiFi b/g/n, microUSB 2.0
MEMORY: 512MB RAM; 8GB storage memory
EXPANSION SLOT: MicroSD
OTHER FEATURES: 3D display, 3D photo and video recording
DIMENSIONS (W x D x H): 128.8 x 68 x 11.9mm
Review unit courtesy of LG Electronics Malaysia, 1-800-82-2822