Hands-on – LG Optimus 3D

We’ve fingered and fondled the world’s first 3D smartphone. But does the new hardware live in the future, or is it a dimension too far?

The LG Optimus 3D isn’t very special until you turn it on. Even then, it’s not very special. The screen is a sweeping 4.3in of WVGA-ness that bucks the current trend for hi-res, ultra-high contrast displays in smartphone country. And it’s 2D in normal use, so there’s no “wow” on power-up. It’s just a big Android smartie. Nice enough, but not earth-shattering.

But what’s this? There’s a 3D icon in the dock at the bottom of the screen. And this is where we’ll spend the rest of this hands-on. Because that’s what this phone is about. In regular use, LG has realised that we’re not going to want our text messages to come flying out of the screen at us. It’s the right decision.

Let’s go through the 3D window. We don’t even need glasses – the Optimus 3D has an autostereoscopic screen. And here there’s a smart carousel with an image gallery, YouTube video area, game centre, camera and 3D guide.

We didn’t have long with the phone – and it was a pre-production model, so there were parts that weren’t working – so we concentrated on gaming. LG’s Optimus 3D has 4GB of RAM. That’s like bolting an Airbus A380’s wings on to a Cessna. And it shows. 3D gaming on the handset is as fluid as it is on Nintendo’s 3DS, but written on that massive 4.3in glass it really rams home the 3D experience. And it has to – unlike the 3DS, there’s no switch to tone down the 3D effect.

We played a trio of games – Asphalt 6 3D, Let’s Golf 2 and Nova – covering off driving, golf and first-person shooter. And if 3D gaming’s your thing, you won’t be disappointed with any of these. Our minor gripe is the viewing angle, which relies on you keeping the device pretty much straight on to avoid third-dimensional jitters. And that – for the moment – will put any but the lightest touch of motion control out of the game.

As yet, we don’t have a price for LG’s forthcoming 3D handset, but it won’t be cheap. If you’re looking to invest in small-scale 3D and want to beat the curve, the Optimus 3D is looking a good bet.