Review LG L90 Smartphone

Daniel Schuster (translated by Andreas Osthoff), 04/27/2014

"Design-Smartphone" – that's what the South Korean manufacturer LG calls it. But the question is why, since the smartphone looks like any other smartphone at first. The rival Moto G is also powered by the Snapdragon 400 and has a 4.7-inch screen. So what is the L90 capable of?

For the original German review, see here.

LG is another manufacturer that follows the trend towards product diversification and offers smartphones in all shapes and sizes. The L90 is one of the newer models and has a 4.7-inch display. The heart of the smartphone is a Snapdragon 400 SoC (MSM8226) with a clock of 1.2 GHz, four cores and one GB memory. The IPS display has a WVGA resolution of 960x540 pixels.

The smartphone is an entry-level mainstream device with an RRP of 249 Euros (~$345). LG launched numerous devices over the last couple of months and also produces the Google Nexus 4 and Nexus 5. If LG managed to implement the features of the mentioned smartphones into the L90, we can certainly expect an interesting piece of hardware.

Case

Mostly made of plastic
Mostly made of plastic

We cannot really support the "Design" claim of the manufacturer when we look at the case. In terms of visual design, the L90 is similar to many barrel smartphones. The case is primarily made of plastic and the structured back cover does not leave a very high-quality impression. The L90 measures 131.55 x 66.02 x 9.65 millimeters (~5.18 x 2.6 x 0.38 inches) and is wider and longer than the Moto G – but the situation changes in regard to the thickness (Moto G: 11.6 mm; 0.45 in). It is also superior in terms of weight; the L90 is around 19 grams (~0.7 oz) lighter.

We could not determine any build quality issues or uneven gaps at the LG device. That the torsion resistance cannot quite keep up with the Moto G is caused by the reduced thickness. You can currently buy the smartphone in black or white.

Connectivity

Contrary to the concept of the LG G2, the manufacturer equipped our review unit with the typical port and button layout. One positive aspect is the storage expansion via micro SD card. This may be mandatory since you can only use around 3.4 GB of the 8 GB integrated flash storage.

Software

Google’s current operating system is called KitKat (4.4.2) and is already preloaded on the L90. As usual with LG devices (for example LG G2), there are several preloaded apps and some software customizations. For instance, you can use a "KnockCode" to activate the device: A modification of the familiar pattern, where you have to touch areas of the display in a prearranged order.

GPS signal indoors
GPS signal indoors

Communication & GPS 

Access to the Internet can be established via an existing data plan or WLAN module. On the road you can use UMTS (900/2,100 MHz), HSDPA 21 Mbps, HUSPA 5.76 Mbps or GSM (850/900/1,800/1,900 MHz). The WLAN module supports the 802.11 standards b/g/n; furthermore, you can use Bluetooth 4.0 for short-range wireless transfers.

The integrated aGPS module establishes a connection to the satellites relatively quickly. Our practical test with a bicycle and the reference device from Garmin (Edge 500) does however show that the accuracy is not perfect. Overall, the L90 is accurate to a distance of around 400 meters (~0.25 miles). That is just 3.4% of the complete track, but it is still annoying when you get an inaccurate result for your sports activities.

GPS module LG L90
GPS module LG L90
GPS module LG L90
GPS module LG L90
GPS module LG L90
GPS module LG L90
Reference Garmin Edge 500
Reference Garmin Edge 500
Reference Garmin Edge 500
Reference Garmin Edge 500
Reference Garmin Edge 500
Reference Garmin Edge 500

Telephone Functions and Voice quality

We could not determine any issues with the voice quality. There were no background noises or connection losses and we could clearly understand the person on the other end of the line. A small drawback is the hands-free feature because it is not loud enough. Here you should use a headset or an external device via Bluetooth.

Cameras & Multimedia

The main camera on the back has a resolution of 8 MP, whereas the front camera only uses a 1.3 MP sensor. An LED flash supports the main camera in darker environments – but you should not expect any miracles.

Compared to our reference camera, the pictures of the L90 are slightly too bright and colors sometimes appear too pale as a result. You can also see imprecise details and that the picture is not very sharp when you zoom into the picture on the computer (100%).

Apple iPhone 5
Apple iPhone 5
Apple iPhone 5
Apple iPhone 5
Apple iPhone 5
Apple iPhone 5
LG L90
LG L90
LG L90
LG L90
LG L90
LG L90
Nokia Lumia 1020
Nokia Lumia 1020
Nokia Lumia 1020
Nokia Lumia 1020
Nokia Lumia 1020
Nokia Lumia 1020
Samsung Galaxy S4
Samsung Galaxy S4
Samsung Galaxy S4
Samsung Galaxy S4
Samsung Galaxy S4
Samsung Galaxy S4
Reference Sony Alpha A57
Reference Sony Alpha A57
Reference Sony Alpha A57
Reference Sony Alpha A57
Reference Sony Alpha A57
Reference Sony Alpha A57

Accessories & Warranty

The warranty period for the L90 is 24 months, but the battery is only covered for 6 months. In the box of the smartphone is also an On-Ear headset.

Input Devices and Handling

Multi-touch inputs are absolutely no problem for the review unit: You can use up to eight fingers simultaneously on the screen and inputs are executed very quickly. There is hardly any delay between the input on the touchscreen and the execution. LG introduced the “KnockOn” feature with the G2 – but this is not the formerly mentioned “KnockCode” of the L90. You can activate the device with “KnockOn”, but the L90 unfortunately does not support this feature. We like the return of the dedicated navigation bar including the physical home button.

Virtual keyboard in portrait...
Virtual keyboard in portrait...
...and landscape mode.
...and landscape mode.

Display

The 4.7-inch display has a resolution of 960x540 pixels (WVGA) and can represent 16.7 million colors. The LCD IPS screen has a very even brightness distribution of 92% and can compete with the excellent result of the Wiko Stairway rival. We can determine an average brightness of 377.1 cd/m². The Moto G manages 416.8 cd/m², but the black value of the Motorola device is much higher compared to our review unit (0.54 cd/m² vs. 0.31 cd/m²). This results in a contrast of more than 1000:1 with 1,261:1 for the L90. The measured results of the X-Rite i1Pro 2 show surprisingly good performance.

359
cd/m²
373
cd/m²
376
cd/m²
369
cd/m²
391
cd/m²
385
cd/m²
370
cd/m²
391
cd/m²
380
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
Information
X-Rite i1Pro 2
Maximum: 391 cd/m²
Average: 377.1 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 92 %
Center on Battery: 391 cd/m²
Black: 0.31 cd/m²
Contrast: 1261:1

The CalMAN screenshots show that red colors are too pale on the smartphone screen. The grayscale on the other hand is very close to the ideal value and the display has an average color temperature of 7,355 K. We can see a deviation from the ideal value with a brighter grayscale.

CalMAN Color Management
CalMAN Color Management
CalMAN ColorChecker
CalMAN ColorChecker
CalMAN Grayscale
CalMAN Grayscale
CalMAN Saturation Sweeps
CalMAN Saturation Sweeps

Thanks to the high contrast in combination with the decent average luminance, the display content is easy to read outdoors. Unfortunately, there is no brightness sensor, so you will have to adjust the brightness manually.

You might think that an IPS display usually offers very good viewing angle stability, however, not in this case. We can see that the contrast and colors fluctuate as soon as you look at the picture from the right top. Viewing from the left top results in a hardly visible picture because of the low brightness. Straight and slightly horizontal as well as vertical viewing angles, on the other hand, are no problem.

Viewing angles LG L90
Viewing angles LG L90
Outdoor use
Outdoor use

Performance

The Snapdragon 400 is already familiar, we reviewed the SoC multiple times in the past and it is used in many devices. The quad-core runs with 1.2 GHz, executes tasks very quickly and benefits from the Adreno 305 GPU. All that is supported by 1 GB memory. This combination is also used for the LG G2 MiniMotorola Moto G or the Nokia Lumia 630.

Both the results of the Moto G and the L90 are very similar in several benchmarks and the MediaTek MT6589 from the Wiko Stairway is in the same ballpark as well. Samsung's Galaxy Core is somewhat of an outsider with its Renesas MP5232 – the dual-core can only keep up with the performance of the quad-cores in the Single-Core mode of Geekbench 3.

Geekbench 3
32 Bit Single-Core Score
LG L90
342 Points ∼10%
Motorola Moto G
341 Points ∼10% 0%
Wiko Stairway
327 Points ∼9% -4%
Google Nexus 5
521 Points ∼15% +52%
Samsung Galaxy Core LTE SM-G386F
373 Points ∼11% +9%
32 Bit Multi-Core Score
LG L90
1129 Points ∼9%
Motorola Moto G
1169 Points ∼9% +4%
Wiko Stairway
1096 Points ∼9% -3%
Google Nexus 5
1613 Points ∼13% +43%
Samsung Galaxy Core LTE SM-G386F
654 Points ∼5% -42%
Epic Citadel - Ultra High Quality
LG L90
39.5 fps ∼66%
Motorola Moto G
34.4 fps ∼58% -13%
Google Nexus 5
49 fps ∼82% +24%
Samsung Galaxy Core LTE SM-G386F
27.7 fps ∼46% -30%
AndEBench
Native
LG L90
6462 Iter./s ∼30%
Motorola Moto G
6412 Iter./s ∼30% -1%
Wiko Stairway
6509 Iter./s ∼31% +1%
Google Nexus 5
11344 Iter./s ∼53% +76%
Samsung Galaxy Core LTE SM-G386F
4260 Iter./s ∼20% -34%
Java
LG L90
330 Iter./s ∼32%
Motorola Moto G
338 Iter./s ∼33% +2%
Wiko Stairway
336 Iter./s ∼33% +2%
Google Nexus 5
407 Iter./s ∼40% +23%
Samsung Galaxy Core LTE SM-G386F
209 Iter./s ∼20% -37%
Legend
      LG L90 Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 MSM8226, Qualcomm Adreno 305, 8 GB SSD
      Motorola Moto G Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 MSM8226, Qualcomm Adreno 305, 8 GB SSD
      Wiko Stairway Mediatek MT6589, PowerVR SGX544, 16 GB eMMC Flash
      Google Nexus 5 Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 MSM8974, Qualcomm Adreno 330, 16 GB iNAND Flash
      Samsung Galaxy Core LTE SM-G386F Renesas MP5232, PowerVR SGX544, 8 GB SSD

The results of the browser-based tests are mixed, but we can still say that our review unit is one of the faster devices. It primarily falls behind the Nexus 5 and the Apple iPhone 5C.

Browsermark
LG L90
2570 points ∼36%
Motorola Moto G
2432 points ∼34% -5%
Wiko Stairway
1745 points ∼24% -32%
Google Nexus 5
2803 points ∼39% +9%
Samsung Galaxy Core LTE SM-G386F
2008 points ∼28% -22%
Apple iPhone 5c
2759 points ∼38% +7%
Nokia Lumia 1320
1000 points ∼14% -61%
Octane V1 - Total Score
LG L90
1859 Points ∼9%
Motorola Moto G
1721 Points ∼8% -7%
Wiko Stairway
1323 Points ∼6% -29%
Google Nexus 5
4039 Points ∼19% +117%
Samsung Galaxy Core LTE SM-G386F
1610 Points ∼8% -13%
Apple iPhone 5c
2817 Points ∼13% +52%
Nokia Lumia 1320
779 Points ∼4% -58%
Mozilla Kraken 1.0 - Total Score
LG L90
30723.9 ms * ∼18%
Motorola Moto G
31625.5 ms * ∼18% -3%
Wiko Stairway
28089.9 ms * ∼16% +9%
Google Nexus 5
14298.2 ms * ∼8% +53%
Nokia Lumia 1320
36564.6 ms * ∼21% -19%
Peacekeeper
LG L90
689 Points ∼11%
Motorola Moto G
488 Points ∼8% -29%
Wiko Stairway
567 Points ∼9% -18%
Google Nexus 5
835 Points ∼13% +21%
Samsung Galaxy Core LTE SM-G386F
587 Points ∼9% -15%
Apple iPhone 5c
902 Points ∼15% +31%
Nokia Lumia 1320
391 Points ∼6% -43%

* ... smaller is better

The comparison of the writing performance shows that the storage module is not one of the fastest on the market. All rivals manage higher results, sometimes with an advantage of up to 425%. The situation does change with read operations; the L90 can beat all competitors, except for the Moto G in one benchmark.

AndroBench 3
Sequential Read 256KB
LG L90
90.3 MB/s ∼54%
Motorola Moto G
103.28 MB/s ∼62% +14%
Wiko Stairway
46.78 MB/s ∼28% -48%
Google Nexus 5
74.9 MB/s ∼45% -17%
Samsung Galaxy Core LTE SM-G386F
26.94 MB/s ∼16% -70%
Sequential Write 256KB
LG L90
7.72 MB/s ∼13%
Motorola Moto G
12.54 MB/s ∼22% +62%
Wiko Stairway
10.91 MB/s ∼19% +41%
Google Nexus 5
15.52 MB/s ∼27% +101%
Samsung Galaxy Core LTE SM-G386F
13.76 MB/s ∼24% +78%
Random Read 4KB
LG L90
14.6 MB/s ∼70%
Motorola Moto G
13.61 MB/s ∼65% -7%
Wiko Stairway
12.18 MB/s ∼58% -17%
Google Nexus 5
9.88 MB/s ∼47% -32%
Samsung Galaxy Core LTE SM-G386F
6.4 MB/s ∼31% -56%
Random Write 4KB
LG L90
0.48 MB/s ∼16%
Motorola Moto G
2.52 MB/s ∼86% +425%
Wiko Stairway
0.66 MB/s ∼23% +38%
Google Nexus 5
0.84 MB/s ∼29% +75%
Samsung Galaxy Core LTE SM-G386F
0.98 MB/s ∼34% +104%

Videos & Games

The Snapdragon 400 is powerful enough for Full HD movie playback or complex 3D games. QFHD videos are not supported by the SoC – accordingly, the smartphone has big problems with the playback of these contents. You should select a Snapdragon 800 if you want to watch these very high-resolution videos. The mentioned SoC can be found in many high-end devices, for example the LG G2, the Google Nexus 5 or the Xperia Z1.

Emissions

Temperature

The temperature development is very similar to the Moto G, but it is not quite on the same level. We can measure between 32.1 and 31.3 °C (89.8 and 88.3 °F) under load at the front and the back of the L90. These values drop by around 3 °C (~5 °F) during idle. We can see that the device only gets warmer in the top third in general with a maximum value of 36.5 °C (97.7 °F). However, this is still tolerable because you usually hold the smartphone at the bottom end. The temperature of the power adaptor is also okay with up to 40 °C (104 °F).

Max. Load
 36.4 °C31.1 °C29.3 °C 
 36.5 °C31.5 °C29.4 °C 
 34.6 °C30.5 °C29.2 °C 
Maximum: 36.5 °C
Average: 32.1 °C
30.1 °C30.6 °C34.0 °C
29.3 °C30.6 °C34.1 °C
28.7 °C30.7 °C33.8 °C
Maximum: 34.1 °C
Average: 31.3 °C
Power Supply (max.)  40.0 °C | Room Temperature 21.5 °C | Voltcraft IR-350

Energy Management

Power Consumption

The power consumption mainly reflects the efficiency of the hardware combination. Do they work well together and how good are they adjusted to each other? The consumption is between 0.5 and 1.2 Watts during idle; maximum load for the quad-core results in 1.6 up to 3.2 Watts. These are good results, especially when you consider the bright display. However, the competition from Motorola shows that there is still room for improvement. The Moto G is more frugal, despite the even higher luminance. The only way to beat the battery runtimes of the Moto G is a higher battery capacity.

Power Consumption

Off / Standby / 0.2 Watt
Idle 0.5 / 1.0 / 1.2 Watt
Load 1.6 / 3.2 Watt
 
Key: min: , med: , max:         Voltcraft VC 940

Battery Runtime

We already mentioned that LG has to compensate for the high consumption with a larger battery capacity. 2,540 mAh is actually rather generous – almost 500 mAh more than the Moto G. Another advantage is that you can easily replace the battery. 

We used several tests to see if the larger battery capacity results in the desired success. Two of three scenarios show that LG’s decision was correct: We can measure a runtime of 4 hours and 11 minutes for the L90 under load. This is a small lead over the Moto G, although only by a couple of minutes. We can determine a bigger advantage in the WLAN test, where our review unit beats the Motorola by 3 hours. The idle test, on the other hand, favors the competitor, although only by around 35 minutes.

Battery Runtime
Idle (without WLAN, min brightness)
23h 40min
WiFi Surfing
18h 38min
Load (maximum brightness)
4h 11min

Verdict

The L90 will become more appealing when the price is reduced in the future.
The L90 will become more appealing when the price is reduced in the future.

LG’s L90 is supposed to rough up the mainstream segment. The specifications are similar to the Motorola Moto G, however, the South Korean manufacturer cannot compete in terms of price – but more on that later. The Snapdragon 400 provides sufficient performance, and the 4.7-inch display manages an average brightness of 377 cd/m². The case materials leave a somewhat cheap impression, but the handling is still good thanks to the structured back cover. We also want to mention the battery runtimes: Almost 24 hours with an activated display is very enduring.

Deciding between the Moto G and the LG L90 is certainly not easy. One of the biggest drawbacks of the competition is easily solved by the L90 – you can just extend the small internal storage (8 GB) with a micro SD card. You can currently get the L90 (black) for 235 Euros (~$326). If 8 GB flash memory is sufficient for you, and you want a display with better viewing angles as well as an HD resolution, then we can recommend the Moto G (8GB) – the price is around 75 Euros (~$104) lower.

Comment this article:

In Review: LG L90. Smartphone courtesy of: www.cyberport.de
In Review: LG L90. Smartphone courtesy of: www.cyberport.de

Specifications

LG L90

:: Processor
:: Memory
1024 MB
:: Graphics adapter
Qualcomm Adreno 305, Core: 450 MHz
:: Display
4.7 inch 16:9, 960x540 pixel, capacitive, LCD, IPS, WVGA, 16.7 mio. colors, glossy: yes
:: Harddisk
8 GB SSD, 8 GB , 3.4 GB free
:: Connections
1 USB 2.0, Audio Connections: 3.5 mm stereo jack, Card Reader: Micro SD reader, Sensors: NFC, aGPS, Position sensor, Gyroscope, Proximity sensor,
:: Networking
802.11 b/g/n (b g n ), 4.0 Bluetooth, UMTS (900/2,100 MHz), HSDPA 21 Mbit/s, HSUPA 5.76 Mbit/s, GSM (850/900/1,800/1,900 MHz)
:: Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 9.7 x 131.5 x 66
:: Weight
0.124 kg Power Supply: 0.043 kg
:: Battery
Lithium-Ion, 2,540 mAh
Talk time 2G (according to manufacturer): 1470 h, Talk time 3G (according to manufacturer): 1290 h, Standby 2G (according to manufacturer): 977 h, Standby 3G (according to manufacturer): 1012 h
:: Operating System
Android 4.4 KitKat
:: Additional features
Webcam: Rear: 8 MP, Front: 1.3 MP, Speakers: Mono speaker, Keyboard: virtual, Device, Battery, Power adaptor, USB data cable, Headset, Quick start guide, 24 Months Warranty

 

LG's entry-level device is a serious alternative...
LG's entry-level device is a serious alternative...
...to other smartphones in this price segment.
...to other smartphones in this price segment.
The plastic case could have a higher quality, but...
The plastic case could have a higher quality, but...
...it is okay when you consider the price. The software and...
...it is okay when you consider the price. The software and...
...other customizations from LG are already familiar from other devices.
...other customizations from LG are already familiar from other devices.
LG uses the current Android 4.4.2 operating system.
LG uses the current Android 4.4.2 operating system.
Unfortunately, the display resolution is a bit meager, we would have expected an HD resolution.
Unfortunately, the display resolution is a bit meager, we would have expected an HD resolution.
The touchscreen works very well and...
The touchscreen works very well and...
...supports the good overall impression. It is recommendable, but still a bit too expensive.
...supports the good overall impression. It is recommendable, but still a bit too expensive.

Similar Devices

Similar devices from a different Manufacturer

Devices from a different Manufacturer and/or with a different CPU

» LG G2 Mini Smartphone Review
Snapdragon 400 MSM8926
» Review LG D605 Optimus L9 II Smartphone
Snapdragon S4 Plus MSM8230
» Review Nokia Lumia 625 Smartphone
Snapdragon S4 Plus MSM8930

Devices with the same GPU

» Sony Xperia M2 Smartphone Review
Snapdragon 400 MSM8926, 4.8", 0.149 kg
» Huawei Ascend G6 Smartphone Review
Snapdragon 400 MSM8226, 4.5", 0.115 kg
» HTC Desire 816 Smartphone Review
Snapdragon 400 MSM8928, 5.5", 0.165 kg

Links

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Pro

+Multimedia performance
+Battery runtime
+Expandable storage
+Battery can be replaced
 

Cons

-Low display resolution (WVGA)
-No brightness sensor
-Viewing angle stability

Shortcut

What we like

Drawbacks of the rivals, for instance non-removable batteries or small storage, are no problem for the LG L90.

What we miss

The WVGA resolution would have earned an upgrade, even the 75 Euros less expensive Moto G already features the HD resolution.

What surprises us

The performance is sufficient for multimedia scenarios, and the big battery provides long runtimes.

The competition

The closest rival is the cheaper Motorola Moto G. You should have a look at the Wiko Stairway if you want a bigger phone. The alternative from Apple is the iPhone 5C – but it is also significantly more expensive.

Rating

LG L90
04/30/2014 v4
Daniel Schuster

Chassis
67%
Keyboard
60 / 75 → 80%
Pointing Device
83%
Connectivity
44 / 60 → 73%
Weight
95%
Battery
96%
Display
83%
Games Performance
52 / 75 → 69%
Application Performance
26 / 65 → 40%
Temperature
89%
Noise
100%
Audio
59 / 91 → 65%
Camera
60%
Average
70%
81%
Smartphone *
Weighted Average

> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Review LG L90 Smartphone
Author: Daniel Schuster, 2014-04-27 (Update: 2014-04-29)