Review: LG Optimus F5

A 4G Android phone for under €400

Published: June 27, 2013 9:03 AM
Updated: February 3, 2014 4:53 PM
By Florence Legrand
Translated by: Michelle Zanni
With Morgane Alzieu
Guillaume Letoupin
A 4G smartphone for less than €400 (approximately £350)? LG is proposing exactly that with the Optimus F5, a phone compatible with high-speed 4G data networks. While 4G capability has normally been reserved for high-end smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy S4, the HTC One and the LG Optimus G, the South Korean manufacturer has decided to change the game by introducing a mid-range handset with 4G support. Currently, France is the first lucky country to welcome LG's new mid-range handset in Europe and there's no word yet on whether the Optimus F5 will make its way across the Channel, but we're keeping our fingers crossed.

The Optimus F5 runs Android Jelly Bean 4.1 and has a 4.3'' IPS display with 960 x 540 pixel resolution (for a pixel density of 256 dpi). Under the hood it boasts a 1.2 GHz Qualcomm MSM8960L dual-core processor with 1 GB RAM and an 8 GB internal memory (5 GB of usable storage) that's expandable by up to 32 GB with a microSD card. On the back there's a 5-Megapixel camera and the phone runs on a pretty powerful 2,150 mAh battery.

Smartphone Review: LG Optimus F5 - side view

Is this an all-around useful 4G/NFC smartphone? Does it give good bang for your buck? Let's find out.

Design & Handling3/5


At first glance, the Optimus F5 couldn't be a more classic smartphone. It has a plain, sober style, a design that's not out of the ordinary and a glossy case. It's not particularly thin or lightweight at 32 grammes, but it's nice enough to handle. It's just a shame that the phone tends to slide around in your hand after prolonged use.

Smartphone Review: LG Optimus F5 - back view

The Optimus' finish is fairly good overall, even though the back cover's plastic is a little too flexible, moving around very slightly and making little cracking noises every once in a while.

Display4/5


Display quality is good on the phone's IPS touchscreen. The screen brightness is excellent at 329 cd/m², so it can be easily seen in direct sunlight, the contrast is a respectable 1050:1 and, on the whole, the Delta E (colour fidelity) isn't bad at 5.2, despite a bit of a blue tinge. On the whole, the Optimus F5's screen is pleasant to use given its good display quality and wide viewing angles.

Smartphone Review: LG Optimus F5 - homescreen

With a good level of touchscreen sensitivity (measured at 78 ms), the Optimus F5 is almost on the same playing field as the iPhone, which still holds the best touchscreen response time we've seen yet. This test measures the latency between moving your finger on a device's touchscreen surface and that movement being translated into a response. Latency is measured in milliseconds and should ideally be as low as possible.

Interface & Navigation4/5


The Optimus F5 runs Android with LG's Optimus UI 3.0 software overlay. It carries QuickMemo 2.0 for taking notes directly on the screen and Qslide 2.0, which lets you use different apps simultaneously by controlling the transparency and size of the application windows. For more information as well as pictures of this interface, check out our full review of the Optimus G.

This handset is fairly smooth and responsive when moving between the different menu pages and homescreens. But while the Optimus F5 scores four out of five in the benchmark tests we use to measure processing power, it only scores three stars for graphics processing, as it could handle 3D graphics more effectively. Generally speaking, the Optimus F5 does a decent job, but it's probably a good idea to avoid playing heavily demanding video games.

Multimedia4/5


Web browsing is relatively speedy with the Optimus F5, but navigating around longer web pages can lack a touch of fluidity.

Smartphone Review: LG Optimus F5 - web browsing

The headphone jack does a relatively good job, with a clean overall output. Plus, it's powerful enough to use with headphones. The built-in speaker does OK for a smartphone and the sound remains quite clean even when the volume is turned up. This is a definite plus for making calls over speakerphone.

Camera2/5


How do we put this gently ... the thing is, the Optimus F5 has a pretty bad 5-Megapixel camera that takes mediocre shots. The white balance is awful, sharpness is gone out the window and the image is prone to blur. The Optimus F5 pales in comparison to other recent entry-to-mid-level Android mobiles with 5-Megapixel cameras, like the Alcatel One Touch Star or the Huawei G510.

Smartphone Review: LG Optimus F5 - camera test
Smartphone Review: LG Optimus F5 -  camera test 2


In low-light conditions the situation is just as bad. And you can't even count on the flash to give your photos a boost because there isn't one. It's been a while since we've seen a camera take such bad photos.

Battery Life2/5


The Optimus F5 gets thee out of five stars for lasting 8 hours and 50 minutes on a full charge. This is close to the Optimus G and is about standard for this type of phone. In comparison, the Galaxy S3 Mini's battery performs better in both our practical and benchmark tests, notching up almost 12 hours of battery time. (Note that alongside our real-life battery tests, we also run phones through Battery Benchmark, which uses Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Internet, multimedia, varying levels of screen brightness and more to create a balanced stress test that generally matches the results we get in practice).
2/5 LG Optimus F5 DigitalVersus 2013-06-27 10:03:00

Pros

  • Quality display
  • Good audio (headphones out and speaker)
  • 4G / NFC
  • Responsiveness
  • Intuitive LG interface with some nice features

Cons

  • Battery life could be better
  • Poor-quality camera
  • Slightly choppy when using the Internet

Conclusion

With its affordable price tag and 4G capabilities, the LG Optimus F5 is a good-value handset given the performances on offer. The F5 is responsive, has a nice display and is equipped with a user-friendly interface, but we were disappointed by its sub-standard camera. If you're into taking photos on your smartphone, then this may not be the mobile for you. But, if you're looking for a 4G handset that generally performs well, then the Optimus F5 is worth a closer look.

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