Time goes by and Samsung and Apple still dominate the Smartphone market worldwide, and other companies have been struggling to capture the third place in this list. LG is one of the brands that has been in this fight, but it seems that the South Korean giant is still missing something.
Even though they have already conquered a place in the low and medium range smartphone markets LG still lacks devices that can compete with the high-end devices of the market heads. LG seems to have noticed this fact as has been changing its course and getting in the market new high-end devices that have been causing good vibes around users.
This is what happened with the Optimus G we had in for reviewing. Some care was taken with its design, powerful Hardware and updated Software, these were some of the things that make it a powerful contender to the competition, but will this conquer the users as well? Is an equipment such as the Optimus G worth it? You will take your own conclusions in the next paragraphs.
Design and Ergonomics
As was said before, LG has been seeking to reach the high-end smartphone market for a while now, and to achieve that they started with improvements in the design front in order to impress the users.
When we received the equipment for reviewing the box immediately seeks to give the users that this is an equipment different from all the others we have seen from LG. A grey box with a silver G on the top and a red line across it, making a statement about the ambition and power of this equipment.
After you take the lid of the box you still get the feeling of standing before a high-end device: the rectangular device with gloss finishes and rounded corners, the metal rim around it and the capacitive buttons that takes us back to the Optimus 4X HD, which we previously reviewed. When you take it out of the box the gloss finish is still the most noticeable aspect of the device.
Lets talk about sides to give you a more detailed view of the device. On the front, aside from the 4.7-inch True HD IPS screen with Gorilla Glass 2 protection, you will also find the front 1.3MP camera the proximity and luminosity sensors and a notification LED. On the back, which is also protected with Gorilla Glass 2 we have the 13MP camera its LED flash and the speaker.
On the top we have the 3.5mm earphone jack and a microphone. On the bottom we have the microUSB cable slot and another microphone.
On the left we have the usual volume rocker and the microSIM card slot and finally on the right side we have the power/lock button.
It is easy to work with the Optimus G using just one hand, being that all the buttons are easily accessible. Besides that, and given that it has a reasonable sized screen you can use your thumb to reach all the features available on the screen.
The smooth touch of the device is very pleasant and even though it fits well in the user’s hand and is still functional all these glossy surfaces have a con. When it comes to grip, the Optimus G isn’t the greatest and the risk of letting it slip of your hands is pretty major if you aren’t careful. This increases with careless users, and being that it is all made of glassy surfaces it probably won’t last long.
In all LG devices reviewed previously by us the screen was almost always a great feature. With the Optimus G LG has kept that up so you can expect a great viewing experience.
The IPS LCD screen with 4.7 inches and a 1280×768 px resolution with 318ppi has a powerful brightness and excellent levels of contrast and saturation.
For those who like comparisons, if you take the LG Optimus G side by side with the Samsung Galaxy S IV and look at the spec sheets, you will opt for the S IV. This hangs mainly on the fact that the Optimus G is not 1080p but it is impossible to spot the difference when you have them side-by-side.
The luminosity sensor of the Optimus G helps achieving a good viewing experience everywhere you go. But when you find yourself outside, under the sunlight you might find the need to adjust the brightness for yourself.
There is an issue with the maximum brightness of the Optimus G. In regular conditions, without playing games you will get a notification: “It isn’t possible to increase the brightness of the screen due to high temperature”. Besides that having the brightness at a maximum level greatly decreases battery life, and we will get back to this later.
Performance and Software
Contrary to what we have seen in previous LG devices the Optimus G presents itself with a recent Android version and is due to get and update soon. With the 4.1.2 version the Optimus G is capable of getting hold of the improvements that have been available in the system in order to take the most out of the hardware performance.
Since 4.4 is already out there you might be thinking why we say having 4.1.2 is good, well Google has been putting updates out there pretty fast and many makers have been taking their time in order to put out a single update with all the changes as soon as a version of the OS sticks for a little longer.
For those who have been keeping up with our reviews of LG devices, when it comes to Software, there’s nothing new to read. LG seeks to have their interface that strays far from the original Android UI.
With the Optimus UI 3.0 all the icons are modified and the menus have been gifted with white backgrounds and we have a new font type: LG SmartGothic. Some native applications were also modified. The notification bar also suffered some changes and is now pretty crowded: besides the quick settings bar you have another bar to add mini apps and another to adjust the screen brightness.
The UI presents itself with square icons and the applications’ menu has a background with clouds and tabs that keep the widgets and user installed applications separate from all the others. Even though this is all custom LG has kept it possible for the users to change everything, so those of you who may not like the initial presentation bear in mind that you can change all of it.
When it comes to preinstalled applications, there is nothing worth pointing out given what we have already seen in previous devices. The main feature still is Quick Memo, that can be accessed by pressing the volume up and down buttons at the same time and take notes by hand.
With very powerful Hardware it would be expected that the Optimus G would have a great performance when it comes to benchmarking tests. But that didn’t happen and the values we achieve are below par, especially if you compare the results with the Samsung Galaxy S IV or the Sony Xperia ZQ.
The QuadCore, 1.5GHz processor with the Adreno 320 and 2GB of RAM aren’t enough to dethrone the Samsung Galaxy S IV in benchmark results but they are definitely enough for daily use without any issues. The smartphone doesn’t present any lag running animations or getting through menus and applications open almost instantly.
Even for those who like to play Android games this is a device more than capable of handling the most demanding games due to the Adreno 320 graphical processor. This is the same processor that is shipped with the Galaxy S IV and the Xperia ZQ, but the Optimus G keeps the advantage as it has the smallest screen and thus the smallest number of pixels making the frame rate naturally superior.
LG has opted to introduce their own music player, as is usual in all of their devices so far. The user interface is pretty pleasant and easy to use, while having some interesting features. It is possible to stream music through DLNA, search for songs in YouTube and if you have your phones plugged in you can turn Dolby Mobile on, which in turn significantly increases audio quality. The player controls are available in the notifications bar but they aren’t accessible in the lock screen, which would have been nice.
When it comes to playing video the player has a simple interface that allows the user to order the files by name, date, size and type, as well as change the way they are presented (list or grid). Besides being able to block the capacitive buttons, stopping you from closing the movie by accident, there are still options that allow the videos to the streamed by DLNA and play the video in a pop-up window.
When the video is being played in a pop-up window the user can adjust the opacity ad the size. You can still do other stuff while watching the video, if you keep the movie on top of another application it is possible, given that all the actions are made on the application running below the video.
The Optimus G speaker has great quality and it definitely helps when you want to play media without any issues. The sound isn’t easily distorted even when played in high volumes.
Connectivity and Battery Life
The Optimus G comes with loads of communication ammo. Besides the usual 2G and 3G network capabilities the Optimus G also has 4G capabilities.
- 2G Network: GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900
- 3G Network: HSDPA 900 / 2100
- 4G Network: LTE 800 / 900 / 1800 / 2100 / 2600
Wi-Fi has a reasonable range, being that sometimes the Optimus G showed some difficulty capturing the signal with quality, and when other devices had a close to maxed out signal the Optimus G reached half of the spectrum. Still, communicating via WiFi is pretty fast.
The wireless connectivity options of the Optimus G don’t end here, it still has Bluetooth v4.0 with A2DP and NFC to satisfy its users.
When it comes to battery life the Optimus G isn’t good nor bad it is simply more of the same. Everything regarding Smartphones has been evolving except the batteries.
The 2100mAh battery is enough for a day’s regular use of the Optimus G. By regular use we mean playing 2 hours of music, not more than half an hour of voice calls, an hour and a half of browsing through social networks, checking the news and replying to emails. During this use we kept the auto brightness on as well as WiFi/LTE/HSPA+ and the GPS.
At the end of the work day, at about 8PM it was already asking to connect to the charger. It is not good battery life, but it falls on the acceptable level. Take into account that having data connection on was the major culprit of the battery life decreasing so fast, if you keep it off battery lasts way longer.
13MP and LED flash are good specs for a smartphone camera but is it enough to take decent quality pictures? Not really.
In good luminosity environments the photos are good but even devices with lower camera specs can produce good quality photos.
The problem starts when luminosity conditions aren’t all that adequate. As it gets darker the detail loss in the photos increases more than what would be desirable. Besides that the automatic focus stops working correctly making us constantly checking if the photo is focused or not.
When it gets to a certain degree of light we are in the presence of a poor quality camera. The photos get really dark if you don’t want to use the flash and get pretty grainy. Then cars start to look like white and red spots and trees are black blurs. If you take into consideration other device cameras this is a very poor quality camera.
When you get the flash on, you get some quality back. The flash is acceptable and doesn’t burn the photos but the auto focus problem still sticks around.
The features introduced by LG aren’t enough to convince us. Features like taking photos through voice commands, taking 5 pictures at a time and choose the best, change the ISO values, color effect, white balance and everything else aren’t enough to transform the LG camera into something with great quality to compete with others available on the market.
Regarding video recording, the camera quality problem persists. In good lighting conditions you can record videos in Full HD at 30 frames per second and they will still look nice. But in lower light environments the recording quality drops significantly. Still, there are some features available like increase the eyes or mouth of people while recording in real time. There are also some white balance and color adjustments available.
LG device cameras usually aren’t enough to impress users and this is another device where that happens and LG could definitely have done better.
Indoor Video Low Light:
Indoor Low Light Flash:
Outdoor Video Sample:
Review Part 1:
Review Part 2:
- Non removable battery
- Wi-Fi with some range issues
- Below par camera
The Optimus G is a great device, with more pros than cons. Good performance, elegant design that gives it a premium look, great quality display and powerful hardware. But it looks like this is still not the device that will put LG side by side with Samsung. There are flaws that shouldn’t be there in a high-end device like the poor camera quality. It is 13MP thrown in the trash when they could produce massive quality pictures. The battery is another though spot even though this issue is common with all smartphones nowadays but LG chose to have a non-removable battery, which aggravates the problem, further.
At last LG has taken a look at the market and realized the importance of updated Software and this will receive an update soon.
In the end you are left with a pretty balanced and built device but which is still incapable of competing with the markets flagships. So this is nothing but good feedback for the South Korean giant in order to give us an improved device in the future.
Review by: Android Emotions Team