Will 3D phones ever catch on? First impressions of the LG Optimus 3D Max

LG optimus 3d no watermark

Make sure to check out our full LG Optimus 3D Max review.

TV manufacturers may have finally put down the pompoms on their 3D cheerleading at CES 2012, but on the phone front, LG isn’t quite ready to walk off the field. At Mobile World Congress 2012 in Barcelona, the company unveiled the LG Optimus 3D Max, a reworked successor to the Optimus 3D.

As you might expect for a successor to a phone that debuted a year ago, the 3D Max will be thinner and lighter. But that’s obviously not the main attraction here, it’s the 4.3-inch glasses-free 3D screen, which is now significantly brighter at 520 nits.

LG has loaded the phone up with 3D games to show it off, including Asphalt 6, Gulliver’s Travels, and Let’s Golf 2. Not many games natively support 3D, but LG has a fix for that too. The 3D Max comes with a 3D app converter that can make otherwise incompatible OpenGL apps and games work on the phone’s glasses-free 3D screen. (The same app is available for the old Optimus 3D with a firmware update).

Lg optimus 3d 02

Perhaps the coolest demo of this functionality is Google Earth, which is stunning enough on its own, but takes on a literal new dimension in true 3D. Plains stretch out to infinity, mountains seem to jut out of the screen, and the Earth from a far looks like the marble it should look like, not a blue-and-green pizza. Unfortunately, drifting even a little out of “sweet spot” for 3D viewing causes it to all go fuzzy and the fun is over.

Even with new ways to turn on the 3D functionality, that really seems to be the biggest limitation that will plague this phone – the same one that plagued the one before it. You just can’t watch 3D for long without moving the phone enough just enough to topple the 3D effect. Stretch your arms or tilt your head and it pancakes in a hurry.

Lg optimus 3d Max cameraAs for the rest of the device, it’s, well, a pretty solid Android phone with a 4.3-inch screen (that looks superb even in 2D), 1.2GHz dual-core processor, 8GB of internal memory, and a 1,520mAh battery. Like the Optimus 3D before it, you also get a 5-megapixel 3D camera, which worked surprisingly well for us. Unlike the old model, users won’t have to pay as much of a bulk penalty for 3D, if they opt for it. The 3D Max is just 148 grams and 9.6 mm thick. That’s very much in line with non-3D phones of the same class. At least with these specs, customers who have even a passing interest in 3D can consider the Max without making that many sacrifices for the novelty.

The Optimus 3D Max will ship in Korea come March, then begin a slow rollout through other markets starting with Europe. It will ship with Android 2.3, but Google claims an update to Android 4.0 will be available soon after.

Emerging Tech

This 3D-printed house made of earth and rice husks costs less than an iPhone

Italian 3D-printing company WASP has just demonstrated the 3D printing of a hut structure using a combination of 3D-printed concrete and a mud-based material. All for around $1,000.
Mobile

Which new iPhone is the best? iPhone XS vs. iPhone XS Max vs. iPhone XR

Apple has three new iPhone models to choose from this year, making the choice a little harder than usual. What's the difference between the iPhone XS, the iPhone XS Max, and the iPhone XR, and which is best?
Outdoors

Keep your noggin protected in style with this 3D-printed bike helmet

Kupol is the bike helmet that uses 3D printing to improve the design, making it safer, more comfortable, and better ventilated than traditional cycling helmets while remaining lightweight and attractive at the same time.
Mobile

Verizon's newest deals can net you $500 off the LG V40 ThinQ

Looking for a new LG flagship? The LG V40 ThinQ is here, and it's bringing a familiar style, two more camera lenses, and upgraded specs. Here's absolutely everything you need to know about the LG V40 ThinQ.
Mobile

Huawei is working on a 5G foldable phone, the Mate 20 X may be its template

Huawei is working on a folding 5G smartphone, according to the company's CEO, Richard Yu. He also provoked speculation the phone may have something in common with the massive Mate 20 X and its 7.2-inch screen.
Mobile

Master your new Google phone with these handy Pixel 3 and 3 XL tips

If you’re hunting for some Pixel 3 tips to help you get more from your Google phone, then you’ll find them right here. We’ve got tips for shortcuts, camera controls, and more. All these tips will also work for the Pixel 3 XL.
Product Review

Huawei’s monster Mate 20 X makes the Galaxy Note 9 look small

The Huawei Mate 20 X has a 7.2-inch screen, but is surprisingly manageable to hold, yet still a little too big to carry around. Huawei’s pushing the phone’s ability as a mobile gaming handheld, challenging the Nintendo Switch.
Mobile

The Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL are now available for purchase

Google's latest flagships, the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL, are now official and we have all the details from the October 9 event in New York City and Paris. Here's everything we know about the Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL.
Mobile

The five-camera LG V40 ThinQ is now available from the major carriers

LG has finally taken the wraps off the new LG V40 ThinQ, the company's latest and greatest flagship phone that packs a whopping five cameras. Here's how to buy the new LG V40 ThinQ.
Mobile

Need a quick battery boost? Try one of our favorite portable chargers

Battery life still tops the polls when it comes to smartphone concerns. If it’s bugging you, then maybe it’s time to snag yourself a portable charger. Here are our picks of the best portable chargers.
Mobile

Google may charge up to $40 per Android device for app suite following EU ruling

Google announced that it will be charging Android device manufacturers in Europe a licensing fee to use its apps and services. The announcement is part of an effort to comply with new European Commission regulations.
Mobile

How to sell your old Google Pixel or Pixel 2 for the most money

So, it's time for a expensive new smartphone, and you'd like to partially fund the purchase by selling your old Google Pixel. Find all the information you need to get as much money as possible for your Pixel or Pixel 2 here in our guide.
Mobile

The OnePlus 6T is coming a day earlier, event moved to October 29

According to a recent report, the launch of the OnePlus 6T could be different from any other OnePlus launch in history. How? It could have the backing of a major U.S. carrier. Here's everything we know about the OnePlus 6T.
Photography

Camera shootout! Testing the latest Pixel, iPhone, and Galaxy Note in real life

Which takes the best photos, the Pixel 3 XL, iPhone XS Max, Galaxy Note 9, or Pixel 2 XL? We put the cameras on all these top-notch phones through their paces to see which performs best in the real world, from low light to portrait mode…