Preview: LG Optimus L3

The LG Optimus L3 aims to provide a stylish design at a low cost

From left to right: LG's Optimus L3, L5 and L7 Android phones

From left to right: LG's Optimus L3, L5 and L7 Android phones

The LG Optimus L3 is one of three new LG smartphones to be part of the "L-Style" range, aiming to offer a stylish design at a low cost.

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Set to be officially unveiled at the 2012 Mobile World Congress (MWC) trade show in Barcelona, the LG Optimus L3 is one of three new Android smartphones (the others are the mid-range L5 and the high-end L7) the company is categorising under the term "L-Style". It's basically a fancy marketing name for some strict design rules that these new phones will adhere to.

LG's marketing team says that the L-Style design philosophy is based around five aesthetic elements — a modern square-style that aims to provide comfortable grip, a "floating mass" screen for a slimmer look, a more intuitive arrangement of menu keys, metallic accents and a slim shape. In layman's terms, LG's L-Style smartphones will attempt to appear attractive by using a square, slim case. The Optimus L3 will also have a textured, leather-style panel on the back. This should make it stand out from the wealth of other budget Android smartphones on the market which are usually constructed from cheap feeling plastic.

The "floating mass display" is of most interest. Unlike LG may have wanted you to believe, this isn't a new display technology. It merely means the display is positioned closer to the surface of the screen, which aims to give the experience that the screen is floating. We've already seen this type of display on the LG Optimus Black, and to be fair to LG, it does look pretty impressive. Unfortunately, the Optimus L3 only has a 3.2in screen with a low resolution of 240x320. This is likely to hinder usability, especially when it comes to mobile Web browsing.

Disappointingly, the LG Optimus L3 will ship with the 2.3 "Gingerbread" version of Google's Android operating system and not the latest 4.0 "Ice Cream Sandwich" version. LG hasn't yet announced if the L3 will be upgraded to ICS, but we should hear more when the phone is officially unveiled at MWC.

Interestingly, it appears the Optimus L3 only utilises the 900MHz and 2100MHz 3G network bands, so it won't work on Telstra's 850MHz Next G network. LG could produce a model to work on Telstra's network but for now, the Optimus L3 will be of particular interest to Optus and Vodafone if it becomes available.

The Optimus L3 will first launch in Europe in March, but Australian availability and pricing has yet to be announced.

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