This time we present you with the odd but excellent LG Optimus Vu, provided by LG Portugal. Everyone was curious about this odd looking addition to the smartphone market and we are here to try and demystify this new 4:3 ratio screen smartphone.
LG packed the Vu in a minimal looking box, just like those we have been used to by the L series devices. Within the box you will find:
- LG Vu
- NFC Tag
- Quick Started Guide
- Micro SIM card slot opener
- Charger Adapter
- USB cable
Check out the Unboxing video to take a closer look at how the Vu is packed and the contents of the box.
Design and Ergonomics
The Vu has an appealing design apart from the weird 4:3 aspect ratio which makes it almost square. It follows the design of the Optimus series, being that it has nice rounded sides and a nice “chrome” brim all around.
It also inherited the rugged back pattern that facilitates grabbing the phone with only one hand, because you will need the other free hand in order to be able to use the smartphone. On the front of the Vu sits the screen as well as the four touch buttons on the bottom (back, home, tasks and settings), on the top of the screen you can also find the luminosity and proximity sensor.
On the left there’s the micro SIM card slot, which can be opened with the little piece that comes in the box, if you lose it a clip will do the trick as well. On the right you will see the volume rocker and on the top sits the lock/power button, the 3.5mm phone jack, the micro USB port and the QuickMemo shortcut button.
The stylus has the perfect size to weight ratio in order to allow the user to write effortlessly with it as if it was a regular pen. The only thing we found odd was the fact that we had to carry it around because the Vu didn’t had any slot or hook to attach it to.
Maybe it was a design decision, maybe they left it out because of the size of the battery, and one thing I am sure about is that when I needed to write something down I ended up writing with my fingers or my Asus pen because I didn’t have the Vu’s stylus handy.
The 5.0 HD-IPS LCD screen has amazing colors and contrast, which are to be expected, but it also has amazing viewing angles, fact that you can see in the photos as well as in the video review. The colors portrayed are magnificent and the luminosity sensor works wonderfully and quickly adjusts the screen brightness according to the environment lighting conditions.
Another great thing is the amount of brightness this screen can summon, we had no problem whatsoever reading what was displayed when we were outside ad the sun was shinning directly at the screen. We found an issue with the touchscreen that annoyed us and will probably discourage people from buying the Vu, so we expect the next unit produced to have this fixes, or an update if the issue is software related.
When we first connect the device to the charger it all seemed well but after being charging for about half hour, the screen stops responding completely, and the only way to make it work again it to disconnect the Vu from the charger and sometimes even power off the device.
We found another flaw with the homescreen and this time I was able to capture it on video, so check out the following video, and take your own conclusions:
Performance and Software
The Vu comes with 4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich Android OS, overlaid by the well-known Optimus UI from LG. The Optimus UI allows you to have up to 7 homescreens as well as choose the default homescreen. You can also customize the lock screen by choosing the unlock shortcuts and the kind of clock shown on the top.
Again, as has been happening with LG devices, the VU still hasn’t got and update for the 4.1.2 Jelly Bean Android version. We keep saying that LG has to try harder to keep their customers satisfied, and this could be easily done by keeping them with the latest software available, which besides refreshing their devices, will most likely make them perform better, since the newest Android versions bring optimizations for devices.
As has been usual with devices nowadays, the Vu comes with some proprietary applications from LG. While some of them are very welcome additions we feel that some mandatory applications were missing, like a file explorer, for example, it isn’t the first time LG forgot to put in a file explorer in their devices but the most recent already have it.
The preloaded applications are as follows:
- Video Wiz
- LG Tag+
- Media Center
- Polaris Office
- Remote Call Service
- Quick Memo
From the previous we, obviously, omitted the Android OS basic apps, and we will explain what the new additions from LG do, and if you want, you can check the L9’s or L5’s review to see what they do.
The new additions to the usual LG line-up are:
This application allows you to edit videos and make some cool effects without having to transfer the files to your computer.
This is similar to the known S Note and Supernote. It allows the user to make use of the Vu’s stylus to draw and takes notes efficiently. The Notebook has loads of options that enable you to do very specific things, so feel free to check it out.
This gets everything in one place when it comes to photos, videos and songs, this way you only have to access one application and get everything, instead of having to open the music player, video player and gallery.
This isn’t a new addition per say, but it was modified for the Vu, since LG added the QuickMemo shortcut button on the top of the device. If you press the Quick Memo button the Vu automatically unlocks itself and opens Quick Memo, making it quick and easy to write something in the middle of a meeting.
The Vu’s speaker and video playback are great, the screen does it job gracefully and the speaker is there to support it along the way.
The Vu behaved remarkably when responding to user request, whether they were within a game or simply browsing the web. The truth is that the interface was fluid enough in every circumstance we could think of. That is to be expected when there’s a 1.5 GHz Tegra 3 under the hood along with 1GB RAM.
Take a look at the benchmark results below:
Connectivity and Battery Life
Browsing the web was pleasant with both the stock browser and Google Chrome. Pages took little time to load and scrolling in pages with infinite scroll quickly loaded images as well. We took the liberty of running a few SpeedTest rounds for your amusement.
Again LG kept NFC connectivity on board their device and they did good, since it is a really useful connectivity option and allows users to keep tags with predefined behaviours enabling the users to waste less time in their daily routine with less important stuff.
The battery lasted pretty long when you take into account the massive screen size. Using the Vu frequently to write in the Notebook as well as checking emails and websites I got up to a full 24H of use. Gaming brought it down a few hours, but that is to be expected in all devices.
The Vu has a 8MP rear camera and a 1.3MP front camera. The front camera takes decent photos in well lighted environments and is definitely enough for skyp or hangout video chats. When you try to take a picture in a poorer environment you will notice the grain in the photos, se be assured there are no miracles there.
The rear camera takes good photos when daylight is available, otherwise you will always notice some grain popping up here and there in you photos, with the flash turned off. You can see in the sample photos that the difference between the daylight and indoor pictures is quite noticeable. Maybe better processing could have been done?
When it comes to recording videos, the Vu’s camera did a good jog capturing moving objects, in good lighting conditions. F you take a look at the indoor sample video you will see the same grainy effect that was shown on the pictures.
Outdoor Rear Camera Video Sample:
Indoor Rear Camera Video Sample:
Indoor Front Camera Video Sample:
Video Review Part 1:
Video Review Part 2:
- Battery Life
- Preloaded Applications
- No slot or hook for the stylus
- No microSD card slot
- Touchscreen issues
Overall we really liked the VU, even though it first seemed like a bit of a misfit amongst other smartphones available on the market. The reality is that it is a good performing smartphone that will allow anyone who buys it to take full advantage of the preloaded applications it bring and they will enjoy their device thoroughly.
Is it a competitor for the Note II? Taking into account the price tags of each device, everyone would choose the Vu, with a price tag of 599€, without network provider, against the Note II’s 700€. The truth is, the Note II has 2GB of RA, a screen with 5.5 inches and greater ppi, and it also has a micro sd card slot. If you’re low on cash and need a really good smartphone I would advise you to go with the Vu, if you have 200€ to spare, maybe you can afford the Note II and probably won’t be disappointed, apart from the amount of preloaded applications it brings.
Review by: Cátia Sofia @ AndroidEmotions