LG Optimus L9

LG Optimus L9 -- Decent Mid-Tier Value

Great design, but mediocre components.

GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 / WCDMA 900 / 2100
Form Factor:
Block / Google Android OS v4.0
132 x 68 x 9 mm
Touch Screen
Battery Type:
2150 mAh Li-Ion
Talk Time:
Standby Time:
4.0 GB
Radiation (SAR):
Low Radiation (0.40 W/kg)

Main Screen:
16,700,000 colors (540 x 960 px)
Secondary Screen:
5.0 MP / LED Flash / Zoom / Auto-Focus / 1080p Video Recorder / 0.3 MP / Video Calling

MP3 Player:
MP3 / AAC / WMA / M4A / WAV
FM Radio:

540 x 960 px
Screen Savers:
540 x 960 px
Android Market
Streaming Multimedia:
MPEG-4 / H.263 / WMV3 / YouTube

POP3 / IMAP4 / SMTP / Gmail
AOL / Google / Windows Live / Yahoo
Predictive Text:
Handwriting Recognition

Google Calendar
To-Do List:
2.0 (Webkit / Google Search)
Voice Commands:

Infrared Port:
High-Speed Data:
802.11 b/g/n / DLNA
Compass (VZ Navigator / Google Maps)
PC Sync:
USB 2.0


Compare With Similar Phones:

Google Nexus 5 Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Apple IPhone 5C Apple IPhone 5S Motorola Moto X
Google Nexus 5 Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Apple IPhone 5C Apple IPhone 5S Motorola Moto X

When you don't want to pay flagship prices for flagship devices, mid-tier is your tier. A step down, you won't find the best displays or cameras, but they'll be surprisingly good at best and a slight disappointment at worst. The name of the game here is value.

LG's Optimus L9 is the most stylish phone in LG's "L" line-up, but its features don't pack enough of a punch to stand out from the crowd in a packed market. With a mediocre camera and a bland display, it's very average in a competitive group of overachievers.

Still, if you're on a budget, it's worth a look, especially if you're on T-Mobile. Don't expect the top-tier features, but you also won't get a top-tier price tag.

What's the Phone?

The L9 is elegant -- a piano-black finish and chrome trim wrapped in boxy yet gently-sloping design and a slim 0.4-inch profile. It's as light as it is thin, weighing a little more than four ounces, so it's a pleasure to hold.

It's a bit tall at five inches, though, and peeks out from a back pocket, but it fits right at home in a purse. Meanwhile, a textured matte-plastic back -- tiny raised bumps, like faux leather -- gives you a rubbery grip and fends off fingerprints. And you can pry it off to quickly swap batteries. I thought it looked a bit boring at first, but it grows on you.

The 4.5-inch display is not quite as good as top-tier screens on the Galaxy S3 or iPhone 5, but the 960-by-540 pixel resolution is crisp. At 367-lux, its colors outshine the S3, but pales in comparison to the iPhone at 525. Still, viewing angles are wide, but I had a hard time seeing it in direct sunlight. For the price, it's a decent display -- it's far from perfect, but images are sufficiently detailed and vivid.

Photo 1

The 5-megapixel camera is surprisingly good. Photos I took were sharp, and colors were accurate, though a bit dull. If you zoom in, noise begins to creep in, and in dim environments, the LED flash can bleach out color in the face. The best part is the fast shutter. It reloads in a fraction of a second, so you won't miss action shots and spontaneous moments.

You get features for panorama, continuous shot and voice shutter, which takes a photo when you say "cheese." It's useful when you want to be in the group shot. There are also adjustments for brightness, white balance, ISO and effects. You can also record high-definition 1080p videos and chat on a front-facing VGA lens. The camera isn't top-notch, but again, it's decent for a mid-tier.

The L9 runs on ICS, instead of Jelly Bean, which is fine for a mid-tier device. But LG's Optimus interface is a disaster, adding ugly widgets and "fun" tweaks like the ability to choose different swipe effects. They're all subpar and annoying at best.

One of the unique features is the "Quick Memo" app, which lets you jot down notes with your fingers on top of anything on the screen. It's helpful if you need to add notes on a map, for example, but it's difficult to scribble notes accurately with your digits. I find it's easier to take normal notes if you're not in a huge rush. Navigating through homescreens is still easy, but frankly, stock Android is much faster, more elegant and useful.

My biggest gripe is the copious amounts of bloatware. T-Mobile crammed in paid services like stores for games, ringtones and wallpapers, and subscriptions for video and music. You can't remove any, and they eat into the precious memory, so you're left with a measly 1.7-gigabytes. If you want to play music or movies, buy a microSD card.

Photo 2

The 1-gigahertz dual-core processor is noticeably slower than high-end quad-core chips, but it's powerful enough to keep everything smoothly. I didn't notice any lag or delay while navigating menus, loading apps and playing games.

You can connect to T-Mobile's 3.5G HSPA-plus network, which is far slower than Verizon and AT&T's 4G service at around 13-megabits per second. But you can save a few bucks with Wi-Fi calling. Call quality is loud and clear.

Meanwhile, the 2,150 mAh battery lasted around six hours of continuous use, below the eight-hour average, and a little less than a full day with mediocre use -- a few e-mails, some Web browsing and a couple of videos.

You'll Want It If...

You're locked into T-Mobile and want a decent device without paying an arm and a leg. The L9's display, camera or software won't blow you away, but they're all above average and a good value if you don't want to pay top-tier prices.

It's Not My Thing -- What Else Ya Got?

For a better all-around device, check out Google's Nexus 4. It's sold independent of T-Mobile, so you'll pay more up-front. But it's quite affordable for the high-end features you'll get. Optimus G on AT&T and Sprint -- it's LG's higher-end flagship. But if you want to stick to a budget, HTC's One S is a better mid-tier device with more high-quality features. If you're willing to give Windows a shot, Nokia's Lumia 810 is a great package, too.

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User Reviews

Rating: 5 of 5 Nice

RobertG on February 10, 2013

This is a great phone for the price. Not the most powerful, but just about right for the average user. It has a dual core processor, a large bright display, a 3.5mm earphone jack, and comes with Android ICS. I was just notified that Jelly Bean upgrade will be available in a few weeks. I've had the phone for two months and have not had a single problem.

The only thing I dislike is it only comes with 4gb of internal memory. With the operating system taking up 2gb, you only have 2gb for apps. It wasn't a deal breaker for me, but more memory would be nice. And adding an SD card will only expand memory for pics, music, etc. If you like downloading tons of apps, you might run out of room.

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Rating: 4 of 5 Not Bad At All, LG

Jason K. on November 10, 2012

LG has outdone itself. The Optimus L9's display is top-notch. It's large and vibrant and ideal for reading websites or watching videos. The navigation is easy to use and the keyboard is a breeze to type on -- much better than even most physical keyboards on the market. When you press a key, there's an audible "click" to let you know it's pressed. There's no tactile feedback, but it's better than using regular keys. But best of all, the price is right.

There's quite a bit of bloatware added in. I would have preferred a little less, but it's there. The battery life is a little less than I'd like as well. I spend half the day playing games, checking e-mails and browsing the Web. I guess I'm what you'd consider a heavy user, and for most the power should be enough.

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Rating: 4 of 5 Good IPhone Alternative

T. Love on December 09, 2012

If you're looking to switch from an iPhone, this phone is a good choice. It's not as sexy as the Galaxy S3, but it packs a lot of solid features. The dual-core chip is beefy, and the reason this phone is so fast. You can run several apps at once without the least bit of lag or stalling.

The touch screen is just gorgeous. And the Gorilla Glass makes sure it's still durable enough to last the bumps and bruises of everyday use. Voices sound great on calls and text is easy to read on the browser. I listen to music all the time, and I was surprised by the volume of the speakerphone. I don't even use headphones now.

Personally, I think the L9 looks better than the iPhone. It fits comfortably in my hand and doesn't feel heavy or bulky.

I have a problem with the battery life though. And the camera is a bit disappointing. But those are minor gripes. And they're probably better than average. Still, if you're looking for a good iPhone alternative, give the Optimus a try. Most people flock to the Galaxy, and LG makes quality phones on par with its South Korean brethren.

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Rating: 5 of 5 Love My FIrst Android

John Bowen on December 05, 2012

I've been using this phone for the last few weeks and I'm very happy with it. The best part is the long battery life. I can get over a day with a charge, which is rare in today's smartphones. The design is clean and slick, and the interface is very friendly for a first time Android user like me. The touch screen is very responsive -- I never have to tap twice -- and the apps are easy to find and install.

I love the Quick Memo feature is fantastic. I use it to jot down phone numbers while I'm on a call. And it's easy for me to use this for business and personal use. Did I mention the call quality is ridiculously good?

The speakerphone isn't the best. And the ringer volume could be louder. But otherwise it's a great phone. I'm an LG fan now.

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Rating: 5 of 5 Great for Daughters and Wives

C. Wheatley on December 28, 2012

I picked up two of these the other week -- one for my daughter and one for wife. After a few days with it, they were both hooked on it. We've owned our share of phones in this family, and the Optimus L9 is one of the best.

As a dad, one of the most important things to me is reception and battery life. And both are very good on this phone. Since my daughter never puts it down, I need a phone that can last the day. Also, price is a factor in my choice, and you can't beat T-Mobile's deal on this phone. They sell lesser phones at twice the price.

As for the hardware, the processor is fast. The music and volume are great -- so my daughter says -- and the camera takes great photos. My wife uses it to browse the Web and she enjoys the experience, as well as the apps.

Overall, I'm very satisfied with the L9. And if you have to buy a bunch of phones, it's a good choice if you don't feel like spending your life savings on phones.

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Rating: 3 of 5 Not Bad, Not Good

JDS on January 08, 2013

I got the Optimus a week ago and here are my first impressions of the device:

- The phone is a pretty good value for what you get. The design is not the sexiest, but it feels like a premium device. The display is decent too -- especially at half-brightness. Outdoors, the screen is easy to read in direct sunlight.
- The battery is on par with most smartphones. If you turn the display brightness down, you can usually get a few more hours -- lasting the whole day.
- The call quality is good, but not as great as some of those old dumb phones.

- The camera is not bad outdoors, but pretty bad in dim lighting. So if you plan to take photos in a club or bar, this isn't the phone to do it.
- I love to play games on this phone. The 4.7-inch screen makes it very enjoyable. And the dual-core chip makes sure everything runs pretty smoothly -- even the high-end games, but it tends to overheat. I've heard this issue happens a lot to other Android devices. I've never had any issues watching videos at 1080p.
- I'd say the speakerphone is pretty average too. It's not the best quality, but that's what headphones are for. The supplied earbuds are so-so -- I wish they'd have been better. Buy better ones if you can.

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Rating: 5 of 5 Silent Winner

vipin on February 24, 2013

- Looks fantastic and premium
- Excellent touch responsiveness
- Great GPS capabilities, detects location even when you're indoors -- all previous Android mobiles I've used do miserably in this respect
- RAM is better than phones in the same price range, plays most games efficiently
- Battery life better than most phones
- Low SAR values if you are concerned about radiation
- Decent white leather case comes free
- 5 MP camera may be not as great as other phones but takes perfectly fine pictures
- Would have loved Gorilla Glass on this phone
- 4 GB internal memory may be a tad less for heavy duty app downloaders

Also, do yourself a favor and buy the white variant of the phone. Personally I felt it looks infinitely better than the black version that has some cheap steel rims at the edges.

- Pathetic earphones -- black ones supplied dont go with the white phone, sound quality is poor, please buy a white Skullcandy at the earliest
- Front VGA camera could have been better and better specced (not a major issue)
- Speaker phone clarity could be a tad better

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Rating: 5 of 5 Awesome mobile

Akshay kumar on January 21, 2013

This is a mid range mobile with an affordable price. Camera quality is really good and the battery life is much better then other phone which have high range in price.

nothing... ... ... ...

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Rating: 1 of 5 Good phone ruined by unnecessary restrictions

pdm on February 04, 2013

Nice screen, lightweight and fast. It would be a good phone if the cons (see below) would not totally make it worthless to buy it.

This phone does not allow data transfer to/from the SD card over the USB cable, so you either have to remove the SD card and insert it in a PC or use bluetooth.
In addition, this phone is now almost impossible to root. My guess is that the two problems are related, LG does not allow USB connection to make rooting extremely difficult.

I bought this phone as an upgrade from LG Optimus T, and now I regret doing that.
After this awful experience, I doubt I will ever buy another LG device again.

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