It’s always fun to have the latest and greatest device, but there’s something to be said for phones that pack a punch without bruising your wallet. There are those among us who would rather not pay the lofty prices of high-end smartphones. These consumers instead opt for a phone that’s capable of adeptly handing day-to-day functions, like checking Facebook and email and, let’s not forget, making actual phone calls. It’s for these people that phones like the LG Optimus F3 are created.
The LG Optimus F3 is a new entry-level phone from Sprint that brings decent specs in compact package. While it won’t compete with the Galaxy S 4 or some of last year’s flagships, it does have enough “oomph!” for people who want to use their phone to check social media, browse the web and text their friends. It’s not going to wow you with its specs by any means, but it can get the job done in most cases.
For the past couple of weeks, I’ve had the opportunity to use the Optimus F3 and have been pleasantly surprised by it. The F3 isn’t perfect by any means, but it was able to do most of the tasks that I needed it to and surprisingly enough, ran without many issues.
Snappy performance for an entry-level phone: The LG Optimus F3 positively shocked me with its performance. Having experienced budget smartphones in the past, I thought that I knew what to expect. But to the contrary, sluggish performance and crashes were not to be found here. Instead, the phone zipped through day-to-day tasks and even held up remarkably well in moderate gaming for only having a Snapdragon 400 processor.
Build quality: Again, with a preconceived notion of budget smartphones, I was happy to see that the Optimus F3 was fitted with solid build quality. Although it’s fashioned from plastic, it’s a non-removable back that helps to keep the F3 free of the creaky plastic backs that can be found on other phones. The phone also exudes a nice weight in the hand without being too chunky.
Battery life With a 2,460mAh battery in such a small package, I hoped that it would have good battery life. I wasn’t disappointed. The device managed to consistently end the day at around 60% battery life. This should be good for those who regularly forget to charge their phones.
Price: At either $29.99 or free, depending on how you’re getting the phone, the Optimus F3 is certainly easy on the wallet. And for what it offers, the price is very good and could attract people who want a smartphone at a very low price.
Lackluster screen: Some of the F3′s features are quite strong for an entry-level phone, so I knew it had to have a flaw somewhere. The display is certainly that flaw. It’s a nice size at 4-inches, but with a resolution of only 800 x 480, it’s fairly pixelated. Like most low-end LCDs, it also has a tendency to be overblown and show slightly inaccurate colors. The only good thing to be said about it is that the viewing angles are decent for a budget phone.
Clunky software: LG’s software overlay simply isn’t very good. It constantly feels clunky and outdated compared to many of the other skins on the market. I can’t help but feel that this phone would have been better off simply running stock Android. That said, LG does include a couple of nice additions, such as Q Slide and Quick Note, that are helpful. Unfortunately, they don’t outweigh the cons of the software. Another thing to remember is that the F3 only runs Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and most likely won’t receive any software updates to a newer version of Android.
Poor camera: Another glaring flaw of the device is the camera. As is typical of low-end smartphone cameras, it’s pretty underwhelming. Pictures are almost always overblown and the colors weren’t very true to life. And at only 5-megapixels, the pictures weren’t super sharp, either. While it might work for occasionally snapping a quick picture of something, you’re probably better off using a dedicated point-and-shoot.
Uses Sprint’s patchy network: This is a mixed bag for me. While the phone does pack support for Sprint’s 4G LTE network, it’s simply not available in many places. At least not officially. I could sometimes randomly get a connection to the LTE network for a few minutes before it would shut off in my area that doesn’t have official LTE coverage yet. Sprint’s 3G network has improved substantially as more people transfer to the LTE network thanks to network enhancements. That said, it’s still a serious downgrade coming from other carriers like Verizon and AT&T where you’re either on LTE or HSPA+ most of the time. Coverage is also a bit patchy. The best coverage follows the highways; even if you’re in the city, it can be very hit or miss.
The Final Word
While the LG Optimus F3 won’t satiate the appetites of serious smartphone junkies, it could fill the needs of those who don’t require all the bells and whistles. Maybe a phone for your mother or grandmother or someone who simply wants a smartphone but isn’t willing to break the bank for it. As a device for people who like to check Facebook and maybe watch a few YouTube videos or browse the web, it should work just fine. If you’re looking for something to do more than that though, you might be better suited to one of Sprint’s higher-end devices such as the HTC EVO 4G LTE, Galaxy S III, or even LG’s more premium device in the Optimus G.