T-Mobile LG Optimus L9 is a compelling mid-level Android smartphone (review)

T-Mobile will soon be launching the $80 LG Optimus L9 and after checking it out over the last week I have to say it is pretty compelling.
Written by Matthew Miller, Contributing Writer
T-Mobile LG Optimus L9 is a pretty compelling mid-level Android smartphone (review)

I generally check out the higher end smartphones, but am willing to test out others that interest me and since I can't remember the last LG device I checked out I decided to look at the upcoming T-Mobile LG Optimus L9. Don't confuse this with the high end Optimus G coming to most carriers, this is a mid-level Android smartphone. It is a pretty compelling device when you consider it is priced at $79.99 after a $50 mail-in rebate and two-year agreement.

You can check out a few photos of the T-Mobile LG Optimus L9 and screenshots in my image gallery.

In the box and specs

The LG Optimus L9 comes in a small box with LG branding and a back cover listing some of the features and functions of the device. Inside the package you will find the LG Optimus L9, battery, A/C charger, and Start Guide.

Specifications of the LG Optimus L9 include:

  • Android 4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich
  • Dual-core 1 GHz processor
  • 21 Mbps HSPA+ support
  • 4.5 inch qHD (540 x 960 pixels) display
  • 4GB internal, microSD card slot
  • 1GB RAM
  • 5 megapixel camera
  • Front facing VGA camera
  • GPS, WiFi, Bluetooth
  • 2150 mAh battery
  • Dimensions of 5.03 x 2.63 x 0.36 inches and 4.2 ounces

The LG Optimus L9 supports T-Mobile's WiFi Calling technology so you can make and receive calls via WiFi when your cellular signal is low.

Walk around the hardware

While the LG Optimus L9 has a very square form factor, it feels great in the hand with a nice thickness and textured soft touch back. The edges are rounded and the corners are softened as well. It doesn't feel like a 4.5 inch screen device and I have to say it has given me a reason to look at other LG Android devices, including the rumored upcoming Nexus device.

The front is dominated by the 4.5 inch LCD display that looks great. Similar to the Samsung Galaxy S III, there is a hardware button centered below the display. There are capacitive areas on either side of the hardware button, the left is for back and the right for the menu. This is a different arrangement than what I have seen on other Android devices and kept throwing me off when I was using the L9. The front facing camera and headset speaker are found above the display.

The 3.5mm headset jack is found on the top with the power button on the right side. The volume button is on the left side and the microUSB port on the bottom. The speaker is on the bottom left of the back while the camera and flash are centered up towards the top of the back. The flash is located below the camera lens with the LG logo centered below this. The camera actually looks to take pretty decent photos and will certainly please new Android owners. There is a microSD card slot and SIM card above the battery under the back cover.

Walk through the software

The LG Optimus L9 runs Android Ice Cream Sandwich with a LG customized UI. One of the first things I noticed, shown in my image gallery, is the unique notification area. In this area you will find wireless toggle icons adjacent to LG's QuickMemo utility. The QuickMemo utility captures the display shown when you tap on it and then gives you the option to ink notes right on the display. You can toggle the capture screen or a blank note within the utility, save the utility, and share the note. LG also gives you the easy ability to edit the quick settings found in the notification area. In addition to wireless toggles, you can add or remove controls for airplane mode, auto rotation, brightness, data, and GPS.

There are plenty of apps loaded out of the box, including T-Mobile apps (411 & More, CallerTunes, T-Mobile Name ID, T-Mobile TV, Visual Voicemail, Slacker Radio, and TeleNav GPS) and LG apps (FileShare, SmartShare, Music Player, and Video Player). You will also find several available widgets that you can place on the five available home screens. I found the device to be very snappy and responsive and it certainly will appeal to those moving to an Android device.

Availability and summary

The LG Optimus L9 is scheduled to be available on 31 October for $79.99 after a $50 mail-in rebate and two-year contract with a Classic plan. If you want to pay less per month on the Value plan, then you can put a down payment of $49.99 on the device with 20 equal $15 payments after that (total cost of $349.99).

I was impressed by the LG Optimus L9 hardware and software performance and for those looking for a lower cost Android device I have no problem recommending the L9. It is very pocketable, has a long lasting battery, takes decent photos, and works well as a phone.

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