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LG Optimus G Pro from AT&T Review
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Date: Jun 18, 2013
Section:Mobile
Author: Jennifer Johnson
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Introduction And Specifications

Upon first glance of the LG Optimus G Pro, it's easy to draw comparisons to Samsung's Galaxy Note II. The two phones are strikingly similar. Both feature massive 5.5-inch displays along with rounded edges and a physical Home button below the screen. When placed side-by-side, the two phones appear to be nearly identical in size. However, upon closer examination you'll notice the Galaxy Note II is slightly taller and wider than the Optimus G Pro. Technical specifications reveal the Galaxy Note II weighs slightly more than the Optimus G Pro as well, but the difference is so small you'll hardly notice.

In terms of actual hardware specifications, the differences between the Samsung Galaxy Note II and the Optimus G Pro are more obvious. Samsung's phablet runs on a 1.6GHz quad-core Exynos 4412 processor while the Optimus G Pro features a 1.7GHz quad-core Snapdragon 600 processor. You'll also notice a difference in resolution between the 5.5-inch displays: The Galaxy Note II features a Super AMOLED display with a resolution of 1280 x 720 while the Optimus G Pro features an IPS display with a significantly higher resolution of 1920 x 1080. Unlike some phablets on the market today, the Optimus G Pro doesn't have a built-in stylus.

The resolution of the cameras found in these phones is also notable. You'll find an 8 megapixel rear-facing camera and a 1.9 megapixel front-facing camera on the Samsung Galaxy Note II. Here again, LG ups the ante by packing a 13 megapixel rear-facing camera and a 2.1 megapixel front-facing camera in the Optimus G Pro. Of course, a higher resolution camera doesn't automatically mean it can capture better pictures, so we'll definitely take a closer look at what the Optimus G Pro's camera can do as well.

But first, let's give you some quick hands-on time here in video review and demo of the device...

LG Optimus G Pro
Specifications & Features

Processor and memory
1.7GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 Processor
2 GB RAM
32 GB internal memory

Operating System
Android 4.1.2
Connectivity
GSM Quad Band/UTMS Tri Band/LTE Dual Band
LTE CAT 3 Band 4, and 17, HSPA+ 21 Mbps, UMTS 850/1900/2100 MHz, GSM 850/900/1800/1900 MHz
EDGE, GPRS Class 10, UMTS (W-CDMA), HSDPA, LTE Bands 4/17
802.11a/b/g/n
Mobile Hotspot

Bluetooth 4.0 LE
S-GPS
NFC
Ports and expansion
MicroSD
3.5 mm audio jack
microSIM
microUSB 2.0

Display
5.5-inch Full HD (1920 x 1080) IPS Display
Size and weight
5.91 x 3.00 x 0.37 inches (HxWxD)
6.14 ounces

Cameras and multimedia
2.1 MP Full HD Front-Facing Camera
13 MP Full HD Rear-Facing Autofocus Camera, Full HD Video Recording
Other features: Dual Screen Dual Play, QuickRemote, SmartShare, Dual Recording, VuTalk, QuickMemo, LG Tag+, and more

Battery
3,140 mAh
Up to 15 hours and 30 minutes
Up to 24 days
Availability
AT&T, $199.99 with contract and discounts
 

When hardware specifications and aesthetics are comparable, software is one way manufacturers often attempt to differentiate themselves in the smartphone market. The LG Optimus G Pro includes a number of unique features that make it easy and fun to share and collaborate with others including the ability to view multiple application windows at the same time, shoot video using both the front and the back camera, and more. Of course, we'll take a closer look at these unique features in the coming pages of our review.
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Design and Build Quality

As is the case with other phablets, the thing that attracts some users to the Optimus G Pro (it's large screen) may be a turn off to others. There's no doubt the Optimus G Pro has a larger footprint than the majority of today's high-end smartphones with smaller displays. When placed on a desk next to the HTC One for example, the Optimus G Pro simply looks big. When we put the Optimus G Pro up to our ear and looked in the mirror the story was much the same: the phone looks huge by comparison.

However, when handling the Optimus G Pro and putting it in our pocket or bag, we didn't feel like it was an overgrown monster device. While the Optimus G Pro may have a larger footprint than many of today's smartphones, it is still just as thin as other devices. This makes the phone comfortable to hold and easy to slip in a bag or purse.

The Optimus G Pro features a black finish that surrounds the device. The top and bottom edges of the phone feature a nice brushed silver finish that extends to the sides of the device in a thin line. The back cover of the Optimus G Pro has a smooth, glossy finish with a textured pattern. The back cover of the Optimus G Pro does attract some fingerprints but they easily wipe away.

Below the Optimus G Pro's large 5.5-inch display you'll notice a physical Home button. The light around the Home button glows a variety of colors when you're powering the phone on and off.  To the left of the Home button, you'll find the Back button. A Menu button is located to the right of the Home button. The Back and Menu buttons will light up when touched. Above the display, you'll notice LG's logo as well as a proximity sensor and the phone's front-facing 2.1 megapixel camera.

 

The top edge of the Optimus G Pro contains a 3.5mm headset jack along with a microphone. On the left edge of the phone you'll find the QuickButton and volume keys. The QuickButton provides easy access to an application of your choosing. The default application is QuickMemo. You can change the application in the Settings menu. You'll find the Power button on the right edge of the phone. A second microphone and the microUSB charger/accessory port are located on the bottom edge of the Optimus G Pro.

When you turn the Optimus G Pro over, you'll find the rear-facing 13 megapixel camera and LED flash along with a speaker. AT&T's logo is located just below the camera.

There's a fingertip cutout on the back cover of the Optimus G Pro that makes it easy to remove the cover and access the battery, micro SIM card slot, and microSD slot. The back cover is made of a thin, lightweight plastic that doesn't seem very durable, but it's also not much different from what we're seeing from many of today's smartphones.

When placed on a charger or used for an extended length of time, the Optimus G Pro will get warm, but we didn't feel it was any worse than with other phones we've tested.
 

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User Experience

When you start up the Optimus G Pro for the first time, you’ll see AT&T’s Ready2Go screen. This service lets you set up your phone from a web browser, making it quick and easy to configure all of your accounts, import contacts, personalize your wallpaper, ringtone, web bookmarks and home screens, and connect to Wi-Fi networks.

After setting up the Optimus G Pro using Ready2Go, you'll see the Optimus G Pro's default Home screen which houses five Quick Keys or icons just above the Home button. By default, you'll find Phone, Messaging, Browser, Camera, and Apps located here. You can press and hold to remove an icon or add a new icon to this bar. We were able to add two additional icons to this bar for a total of seven icons. You cannot remove the Apps icon from the Quick Keys launcher, however.

The Optimus G Pro has three default Home screens, but you can add additional Home screens for a total of up to seven. To view a thumbnail of all Home screens, pinch in. While viewing the full list of apps, you can add background images as a wallpaper and change the size of the app icons.

LG includes a number of software features that help differentiate the Optimus G Pro from other phones. QuickRemote lets you use the phone's built-in Infrared sensor to control compatible TVs, Blu-Ray players, cable provider set-top boxes and more. To configure QuickRemote, select a room, add a device, select your device's manufacturer, and press a few on-screen buttons to help the phone determine which signal to send to your device. This app worked pretty well on our home entertainment gear and the setup was quick and easy. If you find yourself using the remote feature often, a quick setting change from within the app will make the QuickRemote app appear automatically on the notification panel or swipe Lock screen when you're at home.

   

One of the best features that differentiates the LG Optimus G Pro from other phones is known as QSlide.  With QSlide, you can view up to three applications at the same time. For example, with QSlide you can watch a video while using another application or take notes in the Note Pad app while surfing the web. To access QSlide, swipe down from the top of the screen. You'll see the QSlide apps which include Videos, Note Pad, Calendar, and Calculator. You can move and resize QSlide apps and change their transparency. This is a really handy feature. In fact, we hope manufacturers will take note of this and implement similar features on future phablets and tablets.

   

LG also includes a feature known as QuickMemo that lets you capture screen shots, write on any screen, create memos, and share images you've created. You can easily access QuickMemo by dragging your finger down from the top of the screen or by pressing the QuickButton on the left edge of the phone. Although there are times where we found ourselves wanting a stylus to use with the QuickMemo app, LG does not include a stylus with the Optimus G Pro.

   

Another feature LG offer with the Optimus G Pro apart is known as VuTalk. This feature lets you collaborate on a screen in real time with another user, provided they have a phone that also uses VuTalk. Using this feature you can share notes, photos, and maps during a call. Unfortunately we were unable to test VuTalk since we didn't have another Optimus G Pro or other VuTalk compatible phone available.

LG includes its own LG Keyboard as well as the Android keyboard on the Optimus G Pro. The LG Keyboard includes a path option similar to SWYPE where you can enter a word by drawing a path through all the letters. This keyboard has a number of options such as the ability to split while in landscape mode, display an extended view with a number key row, and more. During our tests, we were also pleased with the sound quality on the Optimus G Pro.

   

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Camera And Battery Life

You'll find a 2.1 MP Full HD front-facing camera and a 13 MP full HD rear-facing autofocus camera with full HD video recording capabilities on the Optimus G Pro. The camera has a variety of controls and features including Cheese shutter, various Scene modes, and various camera controls such as brightness, ISO, and white balance. The phone also has an Intelligent Auto shooting mode as well as HDR, Panorama, Burst Shot, and Beauty Shot modes.

LG also includes a feature known as Time Catch Shot on the Optimus G Pro. This feature helps ensure you won't miss an important moment by taking five sequential pictures before the shutter key is touched.

LG's VR Panorama as found in the Optimus G Pro lets you snap photos in every direction. Then the phone combines the images into a single panoramic image. It's a neat feature that's a bit different from a standard panoramic mode, which you'll also find on the Optimus G Pro. When using VR Panorama, the camera will show you a square outline where you are suppose to point the lens next. Results during our tests were mixed. Some of the images stitched together well while others had definite jagged edges.

Overall, we were satisfied with the quality of images captured using the Optimus G Pro's rear-facing camera. Some of our macro shots of flowers weren't as crisp or detailed as with other smartphone cameras, but it is not uncommon for a smartphone camera (even a high-end smartphone) to struggle with capturing this level of detail.

   

   

   

The camcorder's Dual Recording feature lets users capture video from both cameras simultaneously. You can control which camera is the primary shooter and move the second camera image around and resize it to best suit your situation.

Video captured using the Optimus G Pro was very good. As you can see and hear from the sample clip below, the phone was able to capture the birds chirping even with a lawn mower running in the background.

Battery Life

You'll find a 3,140 mAh user replaceable battery inside of the Optimus G Pro. AT&T says this battery should last for up to 15 hours and 30 minutes of talk time or up to 24 days of standby time. In an attempt to quantitatively measure the Optimus G Pro's battery life in a controlled benchmark environment, we used AnTuTu's battery test. During the test, we set the screen to 50% brightness. Although this test is relatively new for us, we were able to compile results from a few phones to give you a few comparisons.

 

Real world use will obviously vary depending on how you use the phone. In about two and a half hours, we drained the battery from a full charge to 70%. During this time, the screen was on and set to 100% brightness most of the time (the screen was set to timeout after 10 minutes of inactivity and more often than not, we picked up the phone and used it before the screen timed out). We also used various features of the phone during this time. While in standby mode overnight (10:00 PM to 8:00 AM), the battery dropped from 60% to 52%.
 

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Performance

Next, we'll take a look at how the LG Optimus G Pro compares to other smartphones by examining its performance in a few benchmarks that are currently available in the Android Marketplace.

General Compute, Javascript and Web Browsing Performance{Title}
  General purpose workloads

Scores on the multi threaded Linpack tests can vary considerably from one run to the next. On multiple occasions, we saw scores over 700 on the Optimus G Pro, putting it in line with today's other high-end phones and earning the Optimus G Pro the second spot in our chart.

In the SunSpider JavaScript benchmark, the Optimus G Pro earned a terrific score, coming in just a bit behind the Samsung Galaxy S 4. We used the stock browser for the SunSpider and Rightware BrowserMark tests since it reported higher scores. Google Chrome is also available on the Optimus G Pro.

The Rightware BrowserMark benchmark evaluates the web browsing and browser performance of a device. The Rightware test shows a similar result as the SunSpider JavaScript benchmark where the Optimus G Pro earned second place in comparison to other phones we’ve reviewed.

Graphics Performance
Pushing the pixels

GLBenchmark is an OpenGL ES 2.0 benchmark with a number of performance metrics incorporated in it.  We specifically used the Fill Texture Fetch suite to measure raw texture fill rate of a graphics core and the Egypt Off Screen test to measure 3D performance in frames per second.  The Off Screen test renders workloads at 1280x720 for all devices, but off-screen, so Vsynch and screen refresh are not limiting performance.

In the Egypt Off Screen test, the Optimus G Pro achieved 29 frames per second, which is comparable to the iPhone 5, HTC Droid DNA, and Google Nexus 4. In the Fillrate test, the Optimus G Pro came in second place for Android phones behind the HTC One. 

An3DBench XL is a benchmarking tool based on an Android port of the jPCT 3D engine. The app runs 7 tests in total that look at graphics processor fill rate and complex rendering workloads and scenes.

The Optimus G Pro fared exceptionally well in the Ninja’s Garden and Magic Island tests, earning the top spot in Ninja's Garden and the second spot in Magic Island. The phone didn't fare quite as well in the Flower Power test, but still earns seventh place.

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Conclusion

If you're considering a purchase of the Optimus G Pro, the phone's large, 5.5-inch screen is likely a key feature that has caught your eye. Indeed, the screen looks great, and the fact that it supports Full HD (1920 x 1080) resolution is a definite selling point as well. However, although the Optimus G Pro's large screen is definitely an attractive feature, the resulting increase in the phone's footprint will deter some users. Ultimately, you'll have to decide whether the bigger screen is worth the tradeoff in overall size, though clearly there is a market for this class of device.  In fact, those who want/need this much screen real estate, could likely never go back once they experience it.

LG's QSlide apps feature takes advantage of the screen real estate on this phone as well, by letting you view up to three apps at the same time. Although the phone only supports select apps in QSlide mode, the supported apps (Videos, Note Pad, Calendar, and Calculator) are the most obvious choices. Keep in mind that any app can run in the background of these QSlide apps. This feature is a unique addition that helps users appreciate the Optimus G Pro's larger screen.

LG also includes a few other software features on the Optimus G Pro that you don't always find on a smartphone including QuickRemote, QuickMemo, and VuTalk. The QuickRemote and QuickMemo apps were easy to use and add some utility. We wish LG would have included a stylus for use with QuickMemo as Samsung did with its Galaxy Note II. VuTalk seems like a cool idea in concept but unless you know other users who also have this functionality on their phone, you won't be able to use it.  

During our tests, the phone performed very well our benchmark runs. During real-world testing, the Optimus G Pro responded quickly and smoothly to flicking through home screens, opening apps, browsing the web, and performing other tasks. Battery life is a bit of a mixed bag and will vary depending on how you use the phone. The large display requires a good amount of power, so demanding users may find the phone needing a boost before the end of the day.  That said, with its 3140mAh battery, it does hold up pretty well for its screen size.

You can the Optimus G Pro for $199 on contract and there are unlocked versions available as well. All in all, the Optimus G Pro offers a number of compelling features in addition to excellent performance. If you want a large-screen smartphone and are willing to put up with the footprint of such a device, the LG Optimus G Pro is definitely worthy of your consideration.

     
  • Great performance
  • QSlide multitasking
  • Gorgeous Full HD (1920 x 1080) display
  • Large footprint
  • Camera quality could be better
  • Lots of preloaded apps



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