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Wednesday January 23, 2013 1:10 pm

LG Optimus G review


LG Optimus G review

The LG Optimus G was released a couple of months ago, and was a statement from LG that it would no longer be seen as a mid-range smartphone manufacturer. The company took its time with this one, focusing on a few key areas that it felt would set this phone apart from the wildly crowded Android smartphone pack, where Samsung has been recognized as the leader. The phone is available on both Sprint and AT&T for $199 with a two-year contract. The question is, did LG deliver? On the surface, it seems to have checked all the right boxes, what with 4G LTE, quad-core processor, Corning Gorilla Glass 2, and a 4.7-inch True HD IPS Plus display. Is it enough? Follow along with us in our full LG Optimus G review for the answer.


LG OPTIMUS G UNBOXING VIDEO

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

LG Optimus G Crystal reflection

When you first see the LG Optimus G, it doesn't look like anything special. It's not bad by any means, but it's just a minimalist approach to hardware design. It's simple and thin, with a shiny rear panel called Crystal Reflection (we're reviewing the Sprint model.) You have a micro USB port, power and volume buttons, and that's pretty much it. Clean and simple.

DISPLAY

LG Optimus G display review

Once you power it up and see the display, then it all starts to make sense. The hardware is all about letting the OS and its features shin on this gorgeous LG display panel. The 4-inch 1280 x 768 LCD display is nice and sharp, offering 7% more screen resolution that the 1280 x 720 displays found on other smartphones. It's also a proper LCD with RGB pixels, which is highly appreciated. Colors aren't horribly over-saturated as can be seen on some AMOLED displays, and text looks fantastic.

CAMERA

LG Optimus G camera review

The Sprint version of the Optimus G has the same 13-megapixel camera sensor that's found on the global version of the device, whereas the AT&T version sports an 8-megapixel shooter. What we found is that, while our Sprint model takes fine pictures, they aren't as sharp as what you'd get on the 8-megapixel cameras found on the AT&T version, or on the iPhone 5, or HTC One X. The images seemed to be more soft and lacking full range of color.

ANDROID
Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich is the flavor of Google's OS that you can expect to find on the Optimus G, although we're told a Jelly Bean update is coming at some point in the future. LG has tried its best to set itself apart with some customization to Android, but of course, it's ultimately up to the carriers as far as what they'll allow. You can still move things around, and customize your home screens and the app launcher, and on the Optimus G you can also change the icon for an app to whatever you'd like. Maybe a picture of your spouse to represent your messaging app.

Tap on the "+" at the top right of the display, and you can add icons and widgets on your home screens. Some of this can start to get confusing, and you really do have to poke around and just figure some stuff out.

One interesting LG feature is "Quick Memo," which allows you to scribble on screenshots from anywhere in the OS. If you've used S-Memo on a Samsung device, it's like that, but here you just use your finger when jotting down notes. You enter this mode by pressing both volume buttons at the same time.

LG also gives you a quick settings feature, which you access through the notification shade, right at the top. This is highly appreciated, as it lets you manage things like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, brightness, and many more, from anywhere. One negative here is that this, too, is all up to the carrier. For example, on our Sprint model, you can easily toggle the Personal Hotspot feature right from the quick settings bar if you'd like, but on the AT&T model, you can't.

QSlide is another nice feature, allowing you to multitask by, say, watching a transparent video while you do other things like text, check email, etc.

PERFORMANCE
With the LG Optimus G, you get the first smartphone to rock the 1.5 GHz quad-core "Krait" Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor. It also packs in 2 GB of RAM alongside an Adreno 320 graphics processor. If that's all gibberish to you, then let's just say that this phone is fast. You'll have a hard time finding performance flaws on the Optimus G, even when playing the most demanding of graphically-intense games.

The LG Optimus G has a great 2,100mAh battery powering it, and that means it should last you all day. We haven't had it die on us with regular usage, including web browsing, email, SMS, and light gaming. The battery seems to last about 11-12 hours, and you can enable Eco Mode, which clocks down the processor when there's no heavy lifting to be done, which would give you even longer battery life.

FINAL VERDICT

LG Optimus G box

In our opinion, LG has succeeded in creating a lust-worthy Android smartphone for the first time. The Optimus G is deserving of the title "flagship" due to its fast processor, 4G LTE radio (although you'll have a hard time finding an LTE signal on Sprint, but that's not LG's fault,) fantastic display, and build quality.

The display is one of the best we've seen on a smartphone, and the device itself is worthy of being mentioned in the same breath as other popular Android devices, like the Samsung Galaxy S III. In many ways, it's simply a better device. It's a shocker, we know, but it appears that manufacturers other than Apple and Samsung can make an amazing smartphone, and in our personal opinion, the Optimus G is the best Android device for your money as of this writing.

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