The LG Optimus G turns heads when it’s off – it’s a black slab of seemingly solid glass. It turns heads when it’s on – a true HD IPS display renders images crisp and colors natural; nothing is over-saturated.
Meet the first Android smartphone to go Quad Core: the LG Optimus G.
Oh, and just so we’re clear, I’m the guy who writes reviews with more pictures than words.
(*Rubs hands together.*) Let’s do this.
Solid, satisfying physical build. In your hand, the Optimus G doesn’t feel like a screwed-together case with tiny electronics inside. Instead, it feels like a good-heft-solid piece of glass with nothing inside but more of that glass. That it cannot be opened – the battery is not replaceable – helps secure the feeling that this is one solid and sturdy phone. Despite the glass front and back, which should be bad when your hand is wet or sweaty, I’ve never dropped the phone; it’s never slipped from my hand. The heft forces your hand to secure it, grasp it well, despite my early complaints about its heft. The physical width, by the way, feels just right. The edges don’t dig into my hand. I can’t say the same for the Sony Xperia Z.
Ultra snappy responsiveness. Videos pick up where you left off, and quickly loading at that. Not a single lag or stutter even when I’m quickly swiping and swiping for no reason at all. But it’s really the app loading and switching that gets the benefit of that quad core engine. By the way, this snappy-ness applies even when the apps you’re loading and switching between are graphically demanding ones. The LG Optimus G is a phone that almost begs to be abused.
The display is bright, images are crisp, colors appear natural (not oversaturated), and viewing angles are great. The Optimus G is just begging to be used for movie marathons, picture viewing, gaming, and reading – not a single lag or stutter. Downsides to long hours of use – the back can warm up a bit, but not debilitatingly so, and the battery drains faster, but which quad core phone doesn’t?
Graphically demanding games really shine. This deserves an entry on its own as it demonstrates that the Optimus G is not just a pretty face. Here are some of my favorites.
As long as the battery holds, even if you have no Internet connection, you’re bound to find a favorite game you’ll play to death. More on that battery stamina later.
The 13MP rear camera is good enough to be a back up to your main camera or, even, within limits, a replacement.
I dare say the rear camera of the LG Optimus G is better than that of the HTC Butterfly. But there are other camera features I love.
Time Catch is a kind of burst shot that’s easier to access. You can choose which of the pre shutter-clicked shots is the one you want, and the rest are erased. Great for shooting kids and pets and over-excited people at weddings even when they are not even related to the bride or groom.
Cheese Shutter, a voice activated shutter feature, is now staple in the LG Optimus L Series II.
Customizability – from the home screen theme and wallpapers down to the fonts and icons.You can even change the background of message threads.
Screen Zooming. This is great for scrolling through albums, since you’ll be using the rear camera more often than you think, and that means tons of pics and vids. Pinch in to increase the number of thumbnails to display, pinch out to reduce.
Screen zooming also works great for text messages, for those mornings when you can’t find your glasses or when you don’t want to be squinting because you’re hardly awake. Simply pinch out to zoom in, no need to dig into menus and settings. Great for not-morning people like me.
Power management options extend battery life. Having a Quad Core engine and a powerful GPU for graphics has a certain pay off: battery life. Despite this, the Optimus G’s 21oo mah battery lasts throughout the day, but only when you use both Power Saver and Eco Mode. If you’re really keen on not seeing a single slow down when playing graphically demanding games and launching full HD videos and switching between them, by all means disable both options. Bottom line, there’s a way to prolong battery stamina, and that can’t be a bad thing. Also, you can kill apps running in the background to save up on battery life, via Task Manager.
Flip phone gestures. Remember when landline phone calls could be ended by slamming the phone into the cradle? Want to turn off an alarm or a reminder for an annoying meeting because both things annoy you? Flip phone, which is the closest thing, to the rescue. Thank heavens the Optimus G is one sturdy unit. Oh and this is also great when you don’t want the public (remember the great viewing angles on this phone?) to see what you’re watching.
What follows are not exactly life-changing features, but you can see or imagine scenarios when these would be useful.
Because of the crisp display, the LG Optimus G makes for a passable emergency computer. Just pair any good Bluetooth keyboard and you’re good to go. I have already uploaded two drafts of Technoodling stories on this phone, as the Chrome browser seems to render WordPress perfectly.
Dual Screen Dual Play.
Miracast. If you thought Dual Screen Dual Play was slightly cool, wait till you realize that everything on the LG Optimus G can be shown in real time on a big screen. On an LG 55″ LED TV (review forthcoming), that’s Facebook overwhelming! If you’re an Android developer showing off an early build of your app, this might be useful. Otherwise, you can brag about the games you’re playing, in real time, on a bigger screen.
Smart Screen (below). I am not even sure if have tested this right, only that I have left it activated since day one, and that I don’t remember a moment when the display died on me while I was reading or watching. (Hmmm….you think it works?)
The Current Price. That would be P20,000.00. Not bad. The LG Optimus G had an SRP of 26,990.00 upon local launch last March. Four months can make a difference. Call quality, incidentally (I’ve been so wrapped up over every other feature except that one), is flawless. Noise cancellation works so I am heard perfectly on the other end, and I hear the caller just as crisply.
Sadly, not everything can be great. For the first Quad Core ever, something has to give. Now we move on to the…
No microSD slot. So you’re stuck with the given internal storage. But this is a problem only if you stuff your phone with videos for movie and series watching marathons. Besides, if the LG Optimus G’s thinness is the result of ditching the microSD card, by all means let’s keep it that way.
I don’t really see this storage cap as a gripe. For one thing, this forces me to really choose the media files I want to bring with me, and it also forces me to regularly sift through pics I’ve taken, erasing the bad as I go along.
Display visibility is poor even under indirect sunlight, even with the brightness dragged to max. The glare may be a trade off of the Zero Gap technology applied to reducing the thickness of the display. The upside of that Gap tech is that, when not under direct sunlight, the display’s images look “closer”, as if you’re really touching the images. Viewing angles are also made superb, but still, reflective surface, and no backlighting to fight off the harsh sun. When you have to check your phone under the painful glare of the noon sun, for example, find a shade.
Display brightness can’t be maxed out when unit heats up. This happens when too many apps are open, too many browser tabs, too many games and videos loaded one after the other, which is really the point of having a quad core device: to push the unit to its limits. The default (approximately) 75% brightness ceiling is okay if you’re indoors. On the street, under sunlight, you need that extra brightness. Or a shade.
The rear camera protrudes slightly, so the back never completely rests flat on a table. I only noticed this when I started, absentmindedly, tapping on the phone’s upper left side while it had its back “flat” on a table. It’s not annoying, just a design compromise. Because you somehow expect that clear flat slab of black glass on the front to be the same on the back.
Quad Beat Earphones are only okay. The earphones that come with, at least as far as wearing them goes, need some getting used to, to get the most out of them. The rubberized tips need to be tilted up into your ear so that the bottom part is lodged right. Only then will the sound be better and the earpieces won’t fall off. I discovered this the hard way. The sound is okay, not Beats Audio material, but okay.
It’s a good buy.
You’ve seen the pics, the LG Optimus G is gorgeous, if only because the display highlights how sparse everything else is, leading some to speak of how simple its design is. That’s exactly the point: everything defers to the beautiful screen because every other physical trait gets out of the way. Unlike the uncomfortably long body of the HTC Butterfly and its annoyingly top-placed power button, the interaction with the Optimus G seems designed so you can focus only on that screen. That’s not a bad thing.
It’s not water or dust proof like the Sony Xperia Z nor does it have the display-oversaturated approach of the Samsung Galaxy S4 (and its tons of features and apps), but for that price, it’s a good buy. I consider it a good thing that LG’s skin and UI are not that far from stock Android, so that means there’s not a lot to get used to if you’re jumping ship from another Android phone maker; despite that, it’s unmistakeably LG: the clean, light, no angst, and “happy” approach to UI and icons.
Though it was considered thin at its launch last year, the Optimus G can now seems chunky by current Android quad core flagships standards. But some people like it that there’s a certain solid heft to their phones, that way they know their phones won’t get crushed in their bags, and that their phones are still in their pants pockets. Like me.
My only real gripes are the battery stamina, though I have learned to manage it through Power Saver and Eco Mode options, and how harsh direct sunlight defeats the beautiful Optimus G display, which I’ve learned to angle properly outdoors and, when needed, to find a shade. For P20k, for a sturdy just-right-sized phone with a great camera and movie-marathon-plus-gaming potential, the LG Optimus G is a good buy.
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