First of all, it has to be made clear that the Optimus doesn’t work in 3D mode all the time. Instead, it usually looks like any other high-end 2D Android handset with similar apps, menus and icons. LG has grouped all the 3D features and content together in its 3D Space menu. You can launch this either from an icon on the home screen or by holding down the 3D button on the side of the phone. It brings up a rotating 3D menu that contains links to fire up the 3D camera, open the 3D apps, view 3D flicks on Youtube, or take a gander at the stills and videos you’ve saved to the 3D Gallery.
When the handset goes into 3D mode the resolution of the screen drops by half, something which is very noticeable. This happens because there’s a parallax barrier in front of the display that’s activated when 3D mode is turned on. Essentially, this is a series of slits that divide the screen into two halves for the left and right eyes. To get the 3D effect you have to be looking directly at the display’s 3D sweet spot, otherwise you only see slightly blurry 2D images. Unfortunately the 3D sweetspot on the Optimus is quite tight – noticeably tighter than Nintendo’s 3DS, for example, and to be honest it wasn’t that comfortable to view. We’ve never had a problem with nausea on other 3D displays, but it was an issue on this one and occurred again and again on everything from movies to games after extended viewing.
Nevertheless, the 3D effect is very noticeable and very impressive, especially when you’re creating your own 3D content using the cameras. 3D snaps look very cool, especially if you make good use of the depth of field by placing objects at different distances from the lens. It’s a little bit trickier to get really good 3D effects from videos, but with a bit of planning you can achieve some impressive results. In 3D mode you can capture still images of up to 3.0 megapixels in size, compared to 5.0 megapixels in 2D and for video it captures 720p video in 3D mode, but can handle 1080P video in 2D mode. It’s also worth bearing in mind that the 720p resolution refers to the overall resolution the camera captures – you have to half that again as images are captured side by side, so really you’re capturing something that looks closer to standard definition, rather than 720p HD.
LG also includes a few games that have been tweaked for 3D, some with better results than others. For example, in the Asphalt 6 driving game the 3D effects appear stronger in the menus than they do in the actual game, but the effects are much more integrated into the in-game graphics of the 3D version of Nova, a first person shooter.
All in all, the Optimus 3D is a fun handset to use, but it’s far from perfect. The 3D effect from the camera looks great not just for videos, but for stills too, and is a real boon if you’ve got a 3D TV to show off the shots on. However, although the phone’s screen looks great in 2D, the drop in resolution and blurring problems means its 3D performance leaves a lot to be desired. And while the performance of the phone is top notch, the sheer size of thing will count against it for many, as will the short battery life. So although there’s a lot to like, there are also a few too many negatives to make it the must buy handset that many were expecting.