Optimus G Review: Can LG Deliver?
0Overall Score

LG has spent years putting together the Optimus G flagship in a bid to lead the smartphone market, but is the Optimus G competitive enough to fend off rivals from Samsung, HTC, Sony and Apple?Design

Ashamedly there’s nothing inspiring about the Optimus G’s design. It is 4.7 inches of black monolith, a single piece that, if it wasn’t for its subtly curved corners, would simply be a rectangular prism. LG could argue the design is minimalist, but we’d counter “it’s downright basic.”

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The black body is made from a plastic alloy that enthusiastically welcomes fingerprints and is only interrupted by chrome accents and a patterned back.

This is not to say the Optimus G looks bad, because standing alone it doesn’t. The problem is this flagship competes against HTC’s One, Apple’s iPhone 5, Samsung’s Galaxy S3 and shortly, its Galaxy S4. It’s in their presence the Optimus G looks underdressed.

Commanding the front is a high definition screen. With the smartphone screen inactive, it camouflages with the black bezel and gives the impression the entire face is one calming piece.

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Screen

Things begin to look better for the Optimus G when the screen vibrantly lights up. Asides from its 768-by-1280 resolution-which gives it a distinguishing 15:9 aspect ratio and a 318 pixel-per-inch-density-the screen benefits from better legibility when out in the sun and feels that much more receptive. This is owed to LG integrating the touch receptors directly into the IPS panel.

Processor

The Optimus G is a heavyweight packing one unforgiving punch. It features Qualcomm’s Snapdragon S4 processor, which is a quad-core clocked at 1.5GHz. Not only is it powerful but it practises economy by throttling the power each core needs, rather than feeding all four of them the maximum required.

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In a Quadrant benchmarking test, the Optimus G blitzed the competition

Completing the package is an Adreno 320 GPU, 2GB of RAM and 32GB of internal memory. It should be noted there is no expandable memory slot.
 
The sheer performance of this chipset shines through in things as simple as swiping through the home screens to the demanding multitasking of videos. It’s virile, always delivers with immediacy and makes for one captivating user experience.

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Software

In the past I’ve loathed LG software. It looked tacky, was sluggish and did very little to prioritise the user experience. But LG has spent years honing their software before they applied it to flagship hardware. Has the sacrifice paid off? 

In a word: Absolutely.

LG has added some features of value to its Android 4.1.2 operating system. Additionally their custom skin introduces some thorough settings in attractive styling.

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LG’s software is as functional as Samsung’s, but significantly more attractive

Deserving a mention is LG’s Q-Slide; an option that makes select widgets and video-playback transparent so users can perform other functions simultaneously.

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The toggle slide up top increases/decreases the transparency of a video, allowing you to watch Iron Man 3’s trailer and a secondary function simultaneously

The inclusion of Miracast is another big bonus because it makes it easy for Optimus G owners to display content on their television-wirelessly. In a professional environment, the Optimus G can beam your PowerPoint presentation to the boardroom television while it is used as a clicker. Better yet, its multitasking prowess enables it to display your cue cards and the presentation on the same screen, while also displaying any markings or doodles on the smartphone and the television.

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Camera

In a climate where flagship smartphones have 8MP cameras, the Optimus G comes equipped with 13MP.

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The volume rocker can be used as a shutter key, Image Source: GSMArena

The interface is a lovely compromise between simplicity and detail. On the surface it’s as simple as possible, but the knowledgeable photographer can easily delve into more detailed settings. These include the brightness, focus (auto, face tracking), resolution, scene, ISO, white balance and the basic suite of colour effects.

Looking to prevent moments from fleeting, LG has included a feature known as time catch, which automatically snaps five photos before you press the shutter. Rather than deleting unwanted photos, you simply nominate the ones worth keeping.

Impressively photos have little noise and more often than not, colours are accurate too. However, a few test photos were overwhelmed by the sunlight when reflected off white surfaces. It’s a common gripe, but the Optimus G didn’t handle it as well as most of its rivals.

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For night photos, a single LED flash lends its assistance diligently in mid-to-close range shots. Anything beyond that and the Optimus G will strive to compensate for the lack of light, which will show as noise in full resolution photos.

The Optimus G will record videos in [email protected] frames per second. Again, video quality is perfectly acceptable, but it’s not better than the aging Samsung Galaxy S3.

On the front is a 1.3MP camera for self-portraits.

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Music

Music is organised and played in a stunning interface, stylised to echo the finish of aluminium and laid out in an easy-to-digest fashion.

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Image Source, GSMArena

Alongside the typical album, track and playlist heading is a connected Top 10 section which suckles the leading tracks from the internet. Playing music on the Optimus G is just a very nice experience.

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Conclusion

LG has produced a smartphone that straddles the cutting edge in software and hardware. With its supreme functionality and its innovative feature-set, the Optimus G will help establish LG as a brand not to be reckoned with in the mobile space.

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But the Optimus G has been released locally at a dangerous time. Samsung is due to unveil its Galaxy S IV in 24 hours, Sony’s Xperia Z is expected to be released within the month and HTC’s One is not far away either, all of which will have (or at least we anticipate will have) a Full HD screen. It is only by its intense competition that the Optimus G lends itself as an alternative and not our go-to choice.

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