I have peeved a few Fandriods by stating that the Android smart market is a cesspool. Factually correct – there are a few great players (like LG, Samsung, HTC, Huawei, Sony, Google Nexus and ZTE that all make excellent handsets) and way too many bit players (churning out cheap, crappy “white box” smartphones that do the Android cause no good).
LG competes well in the premium Android space but its real target is Korean rival Samsung (See iTWire on why LG hates Samsung)
Any publicity is good publicity so the remainder of this article concentrates on LG’s flagship Optimus G smartphone.
I have now lived with it for a week and I am pleasantly surprised. It is a fine looking (yes yet another slab of black glass), fully featured, well made, well priced smart phone that LG can be proud of. Hardware specification wise it is not quite a Samsung S4 but it is not far off (especially as Australia does not get the 8 core processor) and operating system wise it, like the S4 is as good as Android gets.
Screen: 4.7”, 1280x720, IPS, 318 ppi, Corning Gorilla Glass 2. Good natural colours and reasonable in direct sunlight.
Processor: Snapdragon S4 Pro, 1.5GHz, quad core and Adreno 320 GPU. LG implemented load sharing between pairs of cores and has “Eco” mode that shuts down cores when not needed.
Memory: 2GB RAM and 32GB SSD (no microSD slot but not an issue as it has USB connectivity to Mac/PC)
Camera: Front 1.3MP and rear 13 MP 1080p video, (same as S4). Produces the best photos I have seen yet (using a standard reference shot). Software is flexible, there is a Time Catch shot mode (five shots), geo-tagging and it allows changes to ISO, colour effects, white balance and more But it is still a smartphone camera and not for professional use as evidenced by the “Cheese” Mode that takes a photo when you speak one of five words (great party trick with inebriated friends).
Battery: 2,100 mAh means 24 hours between charges with reasonable use of Wi-Fi for browsing and several photographs. Claimed life is 335 hours standby and 15 hours talk time.
4G LTE: It is hard to measure data speeds reliably but using the Speedtest.net app I regularly received more than 45-50kbps download and 15-20kbps upload – impressive. A Telstra app does a good job of warning about data usage. Ping times were around 70ms.
Chipset features: Miracast, Wi-Fi (n), Wi-Di, GPS/Glonass, NFC, Bluetooth 4, accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass, DNLA, Airplay, USB charge and data in/out, FM radio – yes even the kitchen sink.
Weight/Size: 145g. Despite its large screen the 132x69x8.5mm comes from a really slim bezel and it feels more slender and tactile than the S4.
Dual Play allows you to show content on large screen TV’s etc. You need a Miracast compatible TV or use a MHL to HDMI cable (the TV/ monitor needs to support this). Battery drain is noticeable and the unit does get warm but it provides a good image on a 55” TV.
LG Eye tracking feature means it won’t got to sleep if you look at it – see who blinks first.
QuickMemo allows you to scrawl messages over images etc - an LG app that verges on the Samsung Note feature.
Internet browsing supports Flash as well as HTML5. Two browsers, Chrome and a generic – great.
Android Jelly Bean 4.1.1: The only real customisation is in the LG skins and a custom swipe down notification bar at the top of most screens. Should be upgradeable to Key Lime Pie (no promises). I am also told that it can be rooted (Android version of Apple jailbreak).
Exchange email: Easy set-up, conversation (thread mode). Calendar is nicely laid out. Messaging is fine. Not as functional as the BlackBerry Hub but neither supports cut and paste barcodes, graphics in notes, calendar etc (like Windows Phone doesL)
GPS – reasonable turn by turn with customisable features. Uses Google Maps.
It is a good effort from the company that publically admitted that it had ‘dropped the ball’ on smartphones (March 2012). They have hired international software developers, designers and marketers to get back on top and the Optimus G is a really good effort. But they have a long way to get over the perceptions about quality, lack of software updates and even their name that plague them in the forums.
But in the end it is a top draw, well priced, fully featured, Android smartphone (as of this week) that I would be happy to own. Regrettably it offers few compelling features over the others in an overcrowded premium end of the market. 8.5 out of 10 stars (no one has earned 10 stars yet).
A Pro version is due out soon – main changes will be a 5.5” screen.