You could say the Chocolate was LG's peak. Ever since the introduction of the sweet and tasty phone in 2007, the company has been on a steady decline. It missed the boat on smartphones, instead falling victim to slapping on better cameras and better audio, when rivals like Samsung dumped old designs to jump on Android.
It's been a bumpy five years, and though LG is still in business, it doesn't have the reach and brand that it once did. Its line of Optimus devices is supposed to bring it back to its former glory, but thus far, lackluster releases have been largely forgettable, as the Galaxy dominates the Android landscape.
But the Optimus G represents a new product, an all-around device that tries to mimic the S3. Unlike Samsung, which releases the same product across all carriers, AT&T and Sprint each released a version of the G, and both editions boast truly impressive hardware. It's a decent option, but unfortunately, it still falls short of the cream of the crop in the iPhone and S3.
What's the Phone?
The G won't win awards for design -- it looks like your standard, boring black slab. That said, it's one good-looking slab. Made of premium materials, all lines and angles are sleek and thin. The back is made of a material LG calls "crystal reflection," which fluctuates between plain black and a pattern, depending on the angle. It's a nice touch, but I prefer low-key than flash. Regardless, it's a nifty trick, but it'll attract fingerprints like mad.
AT&T's version is a smidge wider and thicker than Sprint's model -- to accommodate for a microSD and micro-SIM slots. AT&T's model has a chrome rail for softer angles, while Sprint took off any brand-specific logos for a classier look. Overall, there are few cosmetic differences, but both models are completely sealed, so you can't remove the battery.
The 4.7-inch display is top-notch. The 1,280-by-768 pixel resolution delivers exceptionally sharp definition -- fonts are crisp, colors are true to life and I was very impressed by the deepness of the blacks. The best part is the impressive clarity at a range of viewing angles. LG achieves that by using technology it calls "Zerogap Touch," which "pushes" the screen to the edge. What does that mean? Well, the display looks like it's fading seamlessly into the frame. It's one of the best displays I've seen and I can't think of a better screen -- perhaps besides the One X.
But there's one flaw: the aspect ratio is slightly off-kilter. It's not very noticeable, and overall, it's a worthy rival to the iPhone, and better than the S3.
Whether you buy from AT&T or Sprint, the G has a strong camera -- but they're not equal. I expected Sprint's 13-megapixel lens to be better, but that wasn't the case. AT&T's 8-megapixels did just as well. Both sets of photos looked around the same in terms of quality, so I'm not sure where Sprint's extra pixels went. Regardless, both sets of pictures are sharp and colors are accurate. There's not much to complain about in bright environments, but I'm a bit disappointed by how they handle dim-lighting -- the quality begins to suffer as above noise creeps in. AT&T's version has a recessed LED flash, so it's less effective in brightening dark rooms. Meanwhile, Sprint's sensor is mounted for a stronger sensitivity.
Both share the same camera software. You'll get standards like HDR and panorama, and a few fun functions like "Cheese Shutter," which snaps a photo when it hears those fateful words. It also works when you say "kimchi," a nod to its Korean origins. You can play around with "Time Catch" mode, which actually takes rapid-fire shots before you press the shutter. It collects them in succession so you can pick the best one.
The G runs on ICS and not Jelly Bean, but LG promises to push out an update soon. For the most part, the software clean, without much of an overlay, but icons look a bit childish compared to the stock Android.
LG did add one nice feature: Live Zoom. Ever wish you could see what that item was in the corner of a video? Now you can. Live Zoom enlarges parts of videos as you watch them. There's also a "QuickNote" app that lets you scrawl a note and you can't find a pen.
Meanwhile, a LG-only innovation, called "QSlide," lets you use apps while watching a video in the background. Think of it as picture-in-picture. Just tap the icon on the top right to pull up a transparent layer. I can't say it's the most useful feature, but it comes in handy if you don't want to stop the video to send a text. Personally, though, I find it easier to just switch tasks, finish what I have to, and go back.
The software immediately gives away the AT&T and Sprint versions. How? Both carriers meddled added their tweaks to the point where you'd think they were entirely different devices. For instance, AT&T's settings are arranged as tabs, while Sprint's are listed. In short, AT&T's interface is much more annoying: 11 un-installable apps aggressively promote its useless services. Sprint's software, frankly, looks much nicer with less bloatware.
Both versions run on a blazing 1.5-gigahertz quad-core chip. I was blown away by the unparalleled speed. Even though it runs on ICS, I wouldn't blame you if you thought it was Jelly Bean, because the processor makes everything look cutting-edge. That'll only get faster when Jelly Beat arrives.
The 2,100 mAh battery kept me powered through the day -- but barely. You can blame the quad-core chip and display for sucking up the juice. Still, that's what you'd get with the high-end S3. The battery is sealed in, so if you need more power, consider buying an extra charger for the car or office. Both versions come with a decent 32-gigabytes of memory. If you need more storage, get the Sprint mode -- it comes with a microSD slot, as mentioned earlier.
You'll Want It If...
You want an all-around multimedia device. The Optimus G is one of LG's best smartphones. The speedy chip the top-tier display make it idea for watching movies, and if you're going to buy one, I'd recommend the Sprint version over AT&T's due to the software. But either one is a solid choice.
It's Not My Thing -- What Else Ya Got?
Take a look at the X and S3 for Android, and of course, the iPhone. All three are the cream of their respective crops. The S3 has more marketing push behind it, but the X, in my opinion, is a better device. The G is a step down from both, in polish and refinement, but it's still a high-end multimedia powerhouse. ♦
LG's Optimus G is a great phone! It lives up to everything it claims to be -- and more. First, the build materials are better than most phones out there. The touch display is large -- I was a bit worried about the size before but you get used to it -- and the buttons are easy to reach. The sides flat, rather than rounded, for an edgier feel. Some people may find it a turn off, but I like it. You have to curl your fingers around to hold it, but it tends to have a slightly smaller size because of it. Still, if you have smaller hands, you might want to check it out in person -- it can be rather large.
The back looks like plastic, which might be a drawback, but it keeps it lightweight. It's not as light as the Galaxy S3, but it feel like it's better made as well. You don't notice it when you look at it, but touching it makes a difference.
The screen is made from Gorilla Glass, so it can take the everyday wear and tear. There's also a nice chrome trim around the display. The color and sharpness is great. I actually prefer the brightness turned down a third of the way. You won't have any issues viewing it outdoors -- even in direct sunlight, it works well.
The quad-core chip is absolutely blazing. Wow. I watch streaming video from Netflix and there's no lag or delay in sight. When you load apps, they literally instantaneous. There are no problems here.
I'm very satisfied with the Optimus. After considering the Galaxy S3 and the Optimus G, I'm glad I chose the latter.
The battery life is mediocre. I'll get around a day's use out of a charge, which is about normal for a smartphone these days. I'm an average user -- I make a few calls, check e-mail, browse the Web, etc. Your power drain may vary.
The vibrate is a little weak. Sometimes if I'm walking with the phone in my pants pocket, I won't feel it. I'll notice it when I'm sitting down, but it's something to note. The lack of an expansion slot is a bit of a minus too. You get 32-gigabytes, which is enough for most, so it's not that bad.Was this review helpful to you?
Write a review and share you thoughts.