The LG Optimus F6 ($199 list) is a midrange Web and Internet Android smartphone, with speedy 4G LTE data and all the usual Google apps. But at this price point with no contract, there are often trade-offs, and in this case you’ll have to do without a great camera or fancy games. Of course, a no-compromise experience like the Editors’ Choice Samsung Galaxy S4 costs much more. If you just need a smartphone for casual Web browsing and social media connectivity, the Optimus F6 could be an option, but there are better buys available for similar money.
The LG Optimus F6 doesn’t stand out much, at least styling-wise. The phone measures 5.03 by 2.59 by 0.4 inches (HWD) and weighs 4.4 ounces, a tenth of an ounce heavier than LG’s Optimus L9. Except for the glass display, the entire device is plastic, including the faux brushed-metal trim that includes the Power button on the right and the volume rocker and a customizable app-opening button on the left. On top of the phone, to the left, is the headphone jack. Right next to that is the IR blaster.
Unlike the Optimus F3′s textured back, the F6 has a glossy, patterned back cover with cutouts for the rear camera and flash. It’s slippery and fingerprint-prone; removing it reveals a removable 2,460mAh battery, micro SIM slot, and microSD card slot.
The 4.5-inch IPS LCD has 960-by-540 resolution, making it 245 pixels per inch. It isn’t bad, considering the price. Images aren’t blurry, but they’re not as sharp as I’d prefer. Colors are more saturated here than on the F3, and viewing angles are better, but still not great. Typing is fine on the on-screen keyboard. Below the screen is a physical Home button; holding it down brings up your recent apps, plus a link to accessing Google Now.
Connectivity and Call Quality
The Optimus F6 offers LTE for high-speed data and Bluetooth 4.0, just like the Huawei Vitria and the Optimus F3. The Optimus F6 uses NFC to share files and link with other NFC-equipped Android phones. It also supports 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi on both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands. Speed tests in New York City showed the F6 reaching an excellent 19 Mbps down and 10 up.
Note: The slideshow below is of the T-Mobile Optimus F6, which is physically identical to the MetroPCS F6.
Call quality is pretty poor here. The person on the other end sounded more digitized than usual, and my own voice through the microphone ranged from muffled to unintelligible. There was audible light static throughout the call, and noise cancellation wasn’t effective at blocking out cars in New York as some other phones I’ve tested recently. The speakerphone was too quiet to be heard on a crowded street and made my voice sound even more robotic than before. On a Bluetooth headset like the Jabra Style, call quality improved, but not by much. Battery life is stellar; during our talk time test the Optimus F6 lasted over 13 hours on a single charge.
MetroPCS has one of the least expensive no-contract services available. It’s running on T-Mobile’s network, so you’re covered everywhere T-Mobile is available. For $40 per month you get unlimited voice, texting, and 500MB worth of LTE speeds. For $50 you’ll get 2.5GB of high-speed data, and $60 gets you unlimited high-speed data.
Android and Apps
Since the Optimus F6 is priced at $200, some corners had to be cut. The F6 is powered by a dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 MSMS8930 processor clocked at 1.2GHz and 1GB RAM. It’s running Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean, an outdated version of the operating system. LG has no plans to update the F6 to Android 4.4 KitKat. Performance isn’t bad when browsing sites on Chrome or flicking through Facebook posts.
With only 1.08GB of free internal storage, it’s impossible to install high-end games like Asphalt 8. The GFXBench graphics test yielded 24 frames per second, making it a poor device for high-end gaming anyway. Of course, games like Temple Run 2 and Candy Crush Saga ran just fine, but once you install more than a few apps you’ll have little room to expand without getting rid of some. The microSD card slot supports 64GB cards, but you can’t store apps on it.
The home screen greets you with apps from MetroPCS and Rhapsody, while the app drawer is loaded down with more carrier and OEM bloatware, including the QSlide app selector in the already-cluttered notification bar. There are apps like FileShare (for sharing between LG devices), Dictionary, and QuickTranslator, although the majority of them can be removed with the Application Manager app.
Useful apps include Quick Remote, for use with the IR blaster that makes the F6 a universal remote. On the F6, it only allows you to control a TV or a cable box, unlike the range of appliances possible with other LG devices. With Quick Memo you can draw on any screen and save a screenshot to share with others. It’s simple and straightforward, but no stylus is included.
Camera and Multimedia
Unfortunately, you can exclude the F6 from any “top smartphone camera” lists. The 5-megapixel shooter was a poor performer in low light, and made any illuminated object cast an unwanted glow. Outside there was less noise but also less color saturation. The front-facing 1.3-megapixel camera is decent enough, but its fuzzy, low-contrast shots don’t even compare with some older phones like the iPhone 4s and its 0.3-megapixel front-facing shooter. As is often the case, more megapixels doesn’t always equal a better photo.
Video recording was seemingly too much for the F6, with frame rates dipping as low as 12 frames per second when recording at either 720 or 1080p.
As far as media consumption goes, the F6 handled everything I threw at it, including FLAC and OGG audio files. It also had no problem playing DivX and Xvid videos, or 1080p video files. The rear-facing speaker is especially quiet, however, even at maximum volume, and there is no video out.
The LG Optimus F6 is a decent phone if you don’t care about using a lot of apps and are looking for a modestly priced handset. But at $199 you’re paying more money than it’s worth. With low internal storage, unimpressive video recording, and poor call quality, the Optimus F6 doesn’t live up to what’s expected of current smartphones. If you can live without LTE, the Windows Phone 8-powered Nokia Lumia 521 has more internal storage, impressive call quality, and a better camera. The LTE-enabled Huawei Vitria is also available for $129, and when paired with a microSD card, can install much larger apps.
|Phone Capability / Network||GSM, LTE|
|Screen Resolution||960 x 540 pixels|
|Dimensions||5.04 x 2.59 x 0.4 (HWD) inches|
|Video Camera Resolution||1080p Rear|
|Processor Speed||1.2 GHz|
|CPU||Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 MSM8930 Dual-Core|
|Screen Type||IPS LCD|
|Operating System as Tested||Android 4.1.2|
|Camera Resolution||5-Megapixel Rear|
|Screen Pixels Per Inch||245 ppi|
|Bands||850, 900, 1800, 1900, 2100, 1700, 700|
|Form Factor||Candy Bar|
|Screen Size||4.5 inches|
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc