Every week it seems a new entry level smartphone is thrown into the market, with features resembling the big-boys of the smartphone world but scaled back enough to appeal to those who want their handset to behave like a phone, rather than some kind of life-engulfing personal communication centre.
The LG Optimus L3 is the cheapest in LG’s range of smartphones.
The phone runs Android Gingerbread (release date: December 2010), but unlike many budget phones LG has no plans to upgrade it to Ice Cream Sandwich.
The L3 also has a three megapixel camera, which performs as well as you’d expect, a 3.2” touch screen and, according to LG, a “timeless, modern look".
Unfortunately, affordability is just about the only thing the Optimus L3 has going for it.
At under £80 (sim free) and with tariffs starting as low as £7.50 a month it is possible that some people who had very limited budgets and extraordinarily low expectations of what they expected from a phone might be tempted to buy it. However, in this reviewer's opinion those people would be pretty foolish to do so.
The Optimus L3’s features are so dated that buying a higher end smartphone from two years ago would almost certainly be a more worthwhile investment of your money.
The phone handles appallingly. The touchscreen is miserable to look at and isn’t at all responsive. The keyboard is unspeakably unpleasant to use and navigating between apps is slow and frustrating.
All of the buttons feel like they are in entirely the wrong position, requiring awkward arching and bending of fingers to unlock the screen or return to the home menu, or even more ridiculously for a phone of this size - the use of two hands.
But the worst thing about the phone is supposedly its strongest asset; the looks and style.
The only word for the L3 is "disconcerting", which is quite a feat for a mobile phone. All of the features look out of proportion and the hard corners and angular design looks cheap.
Despite being comparatively low-tech, low-end phones are often at least representative of their generation.
This cannot be said of the LG Optimus L3. The phone feels old, straight out of the box, and anyone considering getting it as a pay as you go handset or on a monthly contract should at least look at the Nokia Lumia 710, BlackBerry Curve 8520 or Sony Xperia Mini before committing to anything.
Failing that, walk into any high street phone shop and laugh yourself silly at how many better options there are than this cheap phone which somehow still feels like an enormous waste of money.