LG Electronics launched its 3D phone Monday in Barcelona, claiming a three-month lead over rivals in the race to offer smartphone screens that give an illusion of depth without users having to wear special glasses.

Glasses-free 3D televisions released in recent months have had a bad press because viewers need to be at exactly the right spot to see the effect. But a handheld device has an advantage because it can be easily tilted to its sweet spot for three-dimensional imaging.

The South Korean group’s Optimus 3D, which is the industry’s first bid to play to that advantage, has a dual-core processor and runs the Android operating system.

At the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the industry’s main annual new-product event, an executive, Michael Wilmes, said: “It’s the first in the world that both plays and records 3D content. The technology is two to three months ahead of the competition.” LG said it would be creating a special 3D channel on the YouTube website, where users can share videos recorded on the 4.3-inch display phone.

The company also unveiled its Optimus Pad, a tablet computer which is halfway between the Apple iPad and the Samsung Galaxy Tab in size.

Sales of tablet computers have been booming. But many consumers are torn between the iPad, which is considered bulky with a screen of 9.7 inches on the diagonal, and the Galaxy, whose 7-inch screen some say is too small.

LG is asserting it has found the ideal size, 8.9 inches, to please consumers who have so far held back from buying.

Wilmes said Europeans could buy the tablet, at a price of about 1,000 euros (1,350 dollars), from May. The Optimus Pad will also be able to record 3D images, though not play them back in 3D fashion.

Android phones and tablet computers are one of the flavours of the week at the Barcelona fair continuing to Thursday, with many makers launching devices tuned for Android 3.0, the newest version of Google’s operating system, which also has the code-name Honeycomb.

Phone companies say Honeycomb devices are likely to be widely available in their shops from May.