LG Optimus G Android Smartphone Review - HotHardware

LG Optimus G Android Smartphone Review

31 thumbs up
While the hardware used on the Optimus G is clearly high-end, if somewhat polarizing in design, the software experience is decidedly underwhelming for a flagship phone. LG's shipping this unit with Android 4.0.4 (Ice Cream Sandwich), which is now two full point releases behind the most recent build of Android Jelly Bean. We understand that it's difficult to completely sync up with Google's release schedule. And LG has made clear that it's intending to update this handset to at least Android 4.1 in time, but LG's track record in this department is less than stellar, and given the carrier attachment, that's an additional layer of QA testing that'll likely hold things up.


What does this mean for end users? It means they're paying a premium price for a premium phone, but they won't have access to all of the goodness Jelly Bean has to offer. Mostly, that's the lack of Google Now, which is a killer feature that'll be missed by those that may have experienced it on a pal's phone or a Nexus tablet. With no time table in place for Android 4.1+ to arrive on the Optimus G though, we're forced to take the software as it is.


As with most other Android device builders, LG has placed a light skin atop Ice Cream Sandwich. It's a mixed bag, with several useful additions and a few that left us wanting. On the plus side, LG has a great scrolling settings bar in the drop-down menu, which make it quick and easy to access virtually any setting on the device. There's also a QuickMemo option, which allows you to scribble and save notes with your finger or a stylus. There's also a "Quiet Time" setting which works almost exactly like Apple's "Do Not Disturb" feature, enabling notifications and buzzes to be silenced during designated time periods.


The "Wise Screen" feature prevents the phone's display from falling asleep when your face is looking at it, and it supports wireless video streaming to an LG Miracast dongle should you own one. There's also an NFC chip here, but sadly, Google Wallet isn't supported. The usual litany of AT&T bloatware is included, but thankfully, they don't seem to have too huge an impact on performance. Speaking of performance, there's a switch in the settings menu that'll flip the CPU down a notch in order to conserve power, which is nice for those times when access to a charger isn't available.


One of the major downsides is the overall look of the UI. LG's design language is somewhat bland in our opinion. The icons look almost cartoonish, and really don't serve to add any real style. The built-in widgets are also unimpressive. Compared to something like HTC's Sense, there's just a lot less substance found in LG's Android skin. None of this serves to have a negative impact on use, and you can still pick up something like HD Widgets to spice things up a bit, but it all leads us to one point that we just can't ignore: LG also makes the Nexus 4.


Unfortunately for the Optimus 4G, the Nexus 4 is available (for less money) with pure Android 4.2. The software found on the Nexus 4 is much better than what's included on the Optimus G, and since it's a Nexus device, it will always be first in line to receive updates from Google as well. In terms of software, the Nexus 4 is clearly the better option.
 

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This is one BORNING looking phone, completely square, flat, with a Kevlar backing ripped off of Motorola

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@sevaggs - are you shopping for a phone, or a chrome-covered jacked-up 4x4 pickup? Does the phone have to actually work, or are you just going to use it to impress idiots with its looks?

 

And to the author: "if you tilt the screen at a more extreme angle, you'll notice a subtle discoloration. Whites turn a slight off-white, almost yellow, and based on the information we have available, this issue seems to be uniform across these devices. It's not a huge issue until you tilt the screen at fairly extreme angles, but most other devices don't have the same issue. For a flagship phone, it's fairly disheartening to see such an obvious weak spot in the panel."

Who's going to do that in normal use? This is not an "antennagate" issue, it's something that no one would ever have a problem with if they were using their device like everyone else uses theirs. Do you frequently lay your LCD TV down on its back, and then watch it at an extreme angle? That's the same kind of thing - and will get you similar results.


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its not kevlar, its glass.

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I was wary of getting this phone for a few reasons.

-My previous experience with LG cell phones was limited to a flip phone several years ago, which became next to useless after ~9 months.

-I hadn't heard people talk about LG cell phones since the Chocolate.

-LG makes smartphones?

I was upgrading from a Samsung Infuse 4G (think Galaxy S with a larger screen, HSPA+, and less support and accessories). I liked the big screen (still bigger than the iPhone) and the microSD slot of the Infuse; I did not like the slow pace of OS updates from Samsung, and the cheap-feeling back cover.

I had been looking at the Samsung Galaxy S III and the HTC One X+ before reading about the Optimus G (and it's brother, the Nexus 4). While the speed and feel of the One X+ was very nice, and I've never heard a bad thing from friends with other HTC models, I didn't like that I couldn't expand the storage (although 64 GB built in is impressive). While the GS3 has sold like an iPhone (therefore would have support from Samsung and/or the rooting and modding community, not to mention cases and accessories), and it has a large screen and expandable storage, it felt cheap to me with it's flimsy plastic back (much like the Infuse), and the AT&T version only packs a dual-core CPU. While an easily replaceable battery is nice, I haven't had a problem with dead batteries in electronics since my 3rd gen iPod.

Now to sell the Optimus G. I've had it for about a week now, and I love it. It originally caught my eye due to it's technical specs: 4.7" 720p (approx) display, quad-core CPU, 2 GB RAM, etc. I'm a little annoyed that the AT&T version has an 8MP back camera (vs. 13MP of most other Optimus G models), but I do like the flat, flush back panel that the 8MP camera allows, and the AT&T model is the only Optimus G model with a microSD slot. What I didn't realize until I've had it for awhile, and now one of my favorite things about it, is it's fit and finish. While I don't doubt that Samsung makes quality phones, the GS3 doesn't feel as nice as this. The Optimus G looks and feels like an expensive, high-quality device. While I will be putting it in a case, I REALLY don't want to - it looks that good. It does feel a bit slippery without a case, though, and I do want to protect it.

Downsides? It still has Ice Cream Sandwich - LG needs to get that Jelly Bean update out ASAP. Also, since it probably won't sell as well as the iPhone and GS3, case selection will be limited, and support from the mod/root community won't be as extensive (if that's your thing).

In short, this phone is awesome - it's fast, it's easy to use, and DAMN it looks good. Get it.

PS: for best deal of the Optimus G, I suggest check at: Androidphonegreatdeals.blogspot.com/p/lg-optimus-g.html

Enjoy!

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I like the design, and the power, but I feel like it's falling short in some area's that I personally would enjoy. It could have a little higher screen resolution like some of the newer phones coming out, the battery life is just down right horrible, I couldn't expect this thing to last through a typical workday without plugging it in.

The camera seems to be about average, maybe a little above average with the available software to help the image look a little better. The screen size is a little big for me, I like the smaller screens, I think the iphone 5 at 4" is plenty for me, however I've never actually owned a phone bigger than that, so my opinion isn't from experience.

Not a bad phone overall though, I'll have to have my wife check it out, she might like it. She's still telling me everyday she wants a Note II, but doesn't want a huge screen.

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Why is this phone SO much more powerful than the Google Nexus 4 when they are essentially the same phone with a few minor differences????

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acarzt:

Why is this phone SO much more powerful than the Google Nexus 4 when they are essentially the same phone with a few minor differences????

Not sure about the power but I've heard the Nexus 4 has heat issues.

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digitaldd:

acarzt:

Why is this phone SO much more powerful than the Google Nexus 4 when they are essentially the same phone with a few minor differences????

Not sure about the power but I've heard the Nexus 4 has heat issues.

Mine does get quite hot... but it doesn't appear to have caused any problems for me... yet

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Hey Acarzt; it is a quad core processor phone, has more memory, and I am pretty sure a higher memory bandwidth internally as well. Oh and an enhanced GPU as well!

 

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rapid1:

Hey Acarzt; it is a quad core processor phone, has more memory, and I am pretty sure a higher memory bandwidth internally as well.

Yep, and the benchmark scores on this phone are crazy.

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