REVIEW / Optimus L9: LG's High-End L-Style Mobile

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Florence Legrand Published on December 13, 2012
Updated on February 3, 2014
Translated by Catherine Barraclough
This is an archive page, the content is no longer up to date.


  • Operating system (OS) Android
  • OS version tested 4.0.4
  • Screen size 4.7 inches
  • Screen resolution NC
  • Weight 125 g
  • Dimensions 131.9 x 68.2 x 9.1 mm


The Optimus L9 is the flagship model in LG's L-Style range of smartphones. That said, it has a pretty standard set of tech specs which are more worthy of a mid-range model. This handset has a 4.7" screen (540 x 960 pixels), a 5-Megapixel camera and runs on a 1 GHz TI OMAP processor with 1 GB of RAM. There's only a puny 4 GB of internal memory but you do get a Micro SD card slot for boosting storage. Otherwise, the 2150 mAh battery looks like it should ensure a decent amount of talk-time.

Selling for just under £300 SIM-free, the Optimus L9 looks a bit feeble next to the Google Nexus 4—also made by LG—which sells SIM-free at £239 for the 8 GB version and £279 for the 16 GB model. So how does the Optimus L9 compare? Answers below.


The Optimus L9 is light but isn't especially slim. Plus, it's design doesn't exactly scream originality. It melts easily into LG's L series with its chiselled edges.

Optimus L9 review - casing and rear face

While the L9 is nice enough to hold and handle, we're not huge fans of the rear casing. It's made from a kind of flimsy-feeling grainy plastic, which doesn't seem massively sturdy. In fact, this phone doesn't feel much like a top-of-the-range handset—the metal-effect plastic trimmings are proof enough of that. We're used to seeing better from LG, notably with more sophisticated designs. 

Optimus L9 review - from the side

Otherwise, the finish is decent enough and it's a nice phone to handle. Note, however, that the memory card is hidden away behind the battery, which has to be removed each time you need access to the card. That's not exactly practical.


The screen has a rather limited definition of 540 x 960 pixels. Given this phone's high-end aspirations and the timing of its arrival on the market, this low-def screen isn't exactly a standout feature for the Optimus L9. But the big 4.7" display has good contrast and a decent enough brightness level (360 cd/m²), making it easy to read outdoors and in sunny conditions. For colour fidelity, the L9 isn't on par with the best, with an average Delta E of 6. Colours look a little over-exaggerated and whites have a slight blue tinge. Note that the closer the Delta E is to zero the more accurately onscreen colours are reproduced. There are currently a handful of smartphones on the market with a Delta E lower than or equal to 4.

Optimus L9 review - homescreen

Finally, screen viewing angles are quite tight, so contrast drops when you view the display from certain angles. When viewed from the side, the screen soon starts to look dark blue.


The Optimus 9 runs on Android Ice Cream Sandwich. The basic Google OS has been mildly modified with an LG interface over the top.

Optimus L9 review - homescreen

This offers a few widgets and some handy apps (note-taking, Twitter and Facebook aggregator hub, fast access to favourite contacts, etc.). However, it's nowhere near as advanced or as deeply integrated as Samsung's TouchWiz interface or HTC's Sense, which actively improve the Android experience by making it feel more user-friendly for many.

While this handset is generally responsive, there are still a few hangs and slow-downs when scrolling down a long web page, when zooming (you get glitches), or when you've got too many apps open and multitasking. We've seen faster, smoother phones—especially among recent releases. Apps can be bit slower than usual to download too.

Optimus L9 review - apps and widgets

In our benchmark tests, the 1 GHz TI processor scores a modest two stars. This merely serves to confirm our practical experience of the phone (see above)—this isn't the smoothest, speediest handset out there. Whether for 3D graphics (GPU) or processing power (CPU), the Optimus L9 is no monster. In fact, it's been a while since we've seen benchmark scores as low as these.


This phone's camera isn't amazing. We wouldn't go as far as to say it's actually bad—it just isn't great. Since noise soon makes an appearance in pictures, everything just ends up being smoothed out. This rather heavy-handed approach to image processing ultimately just wipes out detail in the shots. Picture quality here is no match for the top cameraphones of the moment (Apple iPhone 5, Nokia Lumia 920 in certain conditions, Samsung Galaxy S3, HTC 8X, etc.). It's OK as a fallback solution but it's no top-class snapper. Otherwise, the photo mode is easy enough to use and the camera focuses and takes shots quickly.

Optimus L9 review - camera test
Optimus L9 review - camera test
One good thing about the Optimus L9 that's worth pointing out is that it's compatible with loads of video formats, which is always nice to see.

The headphones out will be good enough to suit most users, as audio is reproduced accurately. The volume level and dynamic range are decent and distortion is kept in check. The built-in speaker has a high volume level but it saturates like crazy.


Here's one front on which this otherwise relatively bog-standard smartphone could potentially have stood out thanks to its 2150 mAh battery. In reality, and from our standard lab tests (Battery BenchMark: an all-round stress-test with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, web, multimedia, variable screen brightness and more, the results of which are very often in line with our real-life experience), we found that this phone can last for about one day per charge—that's 7 hours of fairly intensive use. In the end, that's about average for a smartphone these days. In comparison, the Google Nexus 4 can power on for about ten hours.
The Optimus L9 as a phone
The LG Optimus L9 doesn't have 4G support but you do get NFC for things like contactless payment.

Otherwise, we had no problems when using the L9 as a phone. That said, the speaker does soon saturate when used at high volumes.


  • Pleasant to handle and use
  • Good audio output
  • NFC


  • Low-def screen
  • Camera could be better
  • Some hangs, glitches and slow-downs


There are no surprises in store with the Optimus L9. It has a good-quality audio output, but it's otherwise pretty average (camera, responsiveness, screen, etc.). For a supposedly top-of-the-range mobile, it's no match for the star smartphones currently on the market.
2 LG Optimus L9 DigitalVersus 2012-12-13 10:05:00
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