LG’s Optimus F6 ($49.99 up front and $10/month for 24 months or $289.99) has some of the looks of a higher-end phone—the disco-ball reflective pattern on the back evokes LG’s Nexus 4, and the brushed-metal highlights on the side are a classy touch. But this Android phone has the performance, storage and capabilities of an older, less-expensive device. You can do better for less on T-Mobile.
Size, Screen, And Storage
At 5.03 by 2.59 by .4 inches (HWD), the 4.44-ounce Optimus F6 is not as wide as many new smartphones—a good thing if you value single-handed use—and barely chunkier. A large physical Home/Power button helps avoid the embarrassment of extracting the phone from your pocket upside-down.
The F6′s 4.5-inch, 960-by-540-pixel display can feel more crowded than that size would suggest, however. Credit a joint effort by LG and T-Mobile to clutter the notification menu: The usual strip of wireless-control widgets, LG’s “QSlide apps” list, a brightness control, and a T-Mobile widget counting how many voice minutes and text messages you’ve used all combine to eat up more than half the screen. The last is particularly dumb, since T-Mobile’s plans all come with unmetered voice and text usage. Disable it in the T-Mobile My Account App by pressing the menu button and selecting Options.
Yes, Menu button—LG replaced the standard Recent-Apps button with one for the menu function Google has been trying to kick to the curb since Android 3.0. This means you can’t invoke Google Now with a simple upward swipe; instead, you must press and hold the Home button to bring up the recent-apps list, then tap the “G” button.
You can pry off the back to expose a removable 2,460mAh battery, micro SIM slot, and microSD card slot. Filling the latter should be your first priority, as the F6 ships with an advertised 4GB of storage but offers only 1.1GB for use out of the box. That’s borderline cruel, and also a silly way to save a few bucks—phone vendors routinely hand out press kits on giveaway 4GB flash drives.
Calls, Battery Life, and Bandwidth
Voice quality is a mixed bag. Incoming calls sounded fine, but my own voice sounded just a bit muddy—more so via the microphone than in speakerphone mode—in voicemails left from the F6. Whispers didn’t come through at all; other phones I’ve tried haven’t had that issue. Noise cancellation suppressed all but the higher notes of a whirring engine, although the resulting background whine wasn’t too fun to listen to.
Like some other Android phones I’ve tested, the F6 had a hang-up with Bluetooth voice dialing: When I spoke a contact’s name through a Plantronics hands-free kit, the phone heard me clearly. But it repeatedly heard phone numbers as unrelated people’s names.
I cannot, however, complain much about battery life here. It lasted for 15 hours and 3 minutes of talk time. That’s not as good as T-Mobile’s estimate of 19.5 hours but still far better than average. After being left idle for 24 hours, the F6 showed 91 percent charge left; that’s also great.
The F6 connected to T-Mobile’s LTE network with excellent results—the Speedtest.net app clocked a stellar download speed of 47.01 Mbps in Santa Clara, Calif., with an upload speed of 9.5 Mbps. As a backup to that, you’ve got T-Mobile’s also speedy HSPA+ and the option to connect to WiFi’s a, b, g, and n flavors, 5GHz networks included.
Camera, Connectivity, and Apps
The most obviously cut corner here after the inadequate storage would be the mediocre 5-megapixel back camera. Its still images exhibited problems with focusing and cast a gauzy glow around bright or backlit objects that made me think “2009 camera phone.”
The front camera, with only 1.3 MP of resolution, has the same problems. And videos from either side looked even worse, maxing out at about 20 frames per second in indoor shots. The back camera’s touted 1080p resolution seemed too much for its older, slower processor to properly encode, judging by the blurring that wasn’t such a problem in the front camera’s 720p video.
The long and often redundant list of add-on apps—once again, an Android vendor has seen fit to install both Google’s Chrome and a lesser browser, then throw in task-manager and file-manager utilities that most Android users don’t need—hides a few interesting surprises. A QuickRemote app can turn the phone into a remote for a TV or a cable box, although it failed to recognize a 2009-vintage Sony HDTV, and an LG Backup app can save your apps and settings to a microSD card.
The LG Gallery app played a QuickTime movie, something stock Android can’t do. And under the Display category of LG’s version of the Settings app, you can also enable “Smart Screen,” which keeps the screen lit if the phone sees your eyes focused on it. You may also want to jump into the “Language & Input” category to disable the distracting “blam-blam” noises made by the LG keyboard’s haptic feedback.
This thing is also on the sluggish side—it benchmarked not much faster than the 2011-vintage Galaxy S II—and needless visual effects like the way app icons and widgets bounce into view as you shuffle from home screen to another add to the lag factor.
An unsubsidized price of less than $300 is hard to ignore, but T-Mobile has better cheap choices. For instance, if you can do without a front camera, LG’s own Optimus F3 is $50 cheaper and a good deal more compact, while the $120 Nokia Lumia 521 offers a cleaner Windows Phone interface free of aftermarket trimmings, albeit with a considerably smaller selection of apps.
|Screen Resolution||960 x 540 pixels|
|Dimensions||5.03 x 2.59 x 0.4 inches|
|Video Camera Resolution||1080p Rear|
|Battery Life (As Tested)||15 hours, 13 minutes minutes|
|Available Integrated Storage||1.1 GB|
|Processor Speed||1.2 GHz|
|Total Integrated Storage||1.27 GB|
|Screen Type||IPS LCD|
|Operating System as Tested||Android 4.1.2|
|Camera Resolution||5-Megapixel Rear|
|Screen Pixels Per Inch||245 ppi|
|Form Factor||Candy Bar|
|Screen Size||4.5 inches|
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc