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Initial impressions of the Optimus G

- September 20th, 2012
LG Optimus G

LG Optimus G. (Supplied)

I had the chance to look at the new LG Optimus G at a media event Wednesday. I didn’t have much time to play around with the phone, due out in early November, but here are my first impressions:

And simply put, it’s impressive. The Optimus G is the first phone to use Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro APQ8064 processor with Quad-Core. And the Krait CPU can run at different efficiency levels to provide better performance. As LG Optimus Reviewer’s Guide states:

“The Quad-Core Krait CPU can each clock up to 1.5GHz and includes Asynchronous Symmetric Multiprocessing (aSMP), which enables each core to power up and down independently according to the task, resulting in maximum performance and long-lasting battery power.”

Coupled with the next-generation Adreno 320 GPU, which provides faster frame rates and smoother graphics, LG claims the 4G LTE phone offers 40% better CPU performance, three times better graphics and better battery life than other quad-core phones. They even provided “independent benchmark tests” in the guide to back it up.

That being said, I’m not sure all of that stands up to scrutiny. Obviously as I had less than an hour to play around with the phone, I didn’t get to test out the longevity of the battery, nor did I really try to max out the CPUs with insane app use. But I didn’t notice any lag on any of the programs I did run. And the menu screens loaded quicker than on any phone I’ve ever used. It likely helps that the phone comes with 2 GB of RAM.

Q Slide

The Q Slide Function allows you to watch videos in the background while using other apps. (Supplied)

And I could play videos in the background while running other apps with ease. In fact, there’s a feature called the QSlide Function which allows you to change the transparency level of the screen so that you can run videos underneath other apps. There’s a similar feature for taking notes with QuickMemo. These appear to be somewhat gimmicky as most of the time if I was watching a video and not just running it for the audio, I can’t see why I would want to obscure the image with other apps. But it’s interesting nonetheless.

Another fascinating feature is the ability to pinch zoom whatever you are looking at on the screen. If you’re watching a video or looking at a photo and want to see something in the corner of the image, you can slide your fingers together on the screen to zoom in and get a closer look. Obviously, the quality of the video or image determines how pixellated it will look in close-up, but generally this stuff is shrunk down for mobile viewing anyway and so the information for the larger image is likely there anyway.

pinch zoom

Pinch zoom allows you to zoom into a section of the screen. (Supplied)

But you can even pinch zoom on other screens too, such as when texting or writing an email, which I imagine would be helpful for people with poor eyesight.

And the screen is very vibrant. The 4.7-inch WXGA True HD IPS display offers a resolution of 1280×768 pixels with a density of 320 ppi is a vast improvement over previous LG smartphones, which were a little underwhelming. But with the LG Optimus G, the colours pop and the picture is sharp. And the screen uses a new technology of called ZeroGap Touch which prints the circuitry on the back of the LCD screen making it slightly thinner and more responsive to touch.

At first glance, the  does look a little boxy, but that’s more because  of the design. At 141 g, it is slightly heavier than Samsung’s Galaxy SIII. But the 131.9 mm x 68.9 mm x 8.45 mm phone is also thinner and skinnier and fits more easily in the hand. My one complaint is that LG chose to go with a body that’s a single piece, so you can’t expand the 32 GB of internal memory with a microSD card or replace the 2,100 mAh embedded battery. Sure, it feels more solid this way but I’ve never been a fan of these one-piece phones. (If only Apple would add “unibody form” to its patent lawsuits. Then maybe other companies would stop doing it.)

I didn’t have much of a chance to play around with the cameras. It comes with a front-facing 1.3 MP camera and an 8 MP main camera. The main camera works well but I was in a well-lit room the whole time. The photo quality was decent and it had some nice features.

Time Catch Shot

Time Catch Shot allows you to take multiple pictures at once and choose your favourite(s). (Supplied)

Time Catch Shot is sort of mini photo burst function, that takes a couple of extra photos  before and after you press the shutter, so that you can the extra shots to compensate for those friends and family members who don’t smile properly or blink too much. But you can get a bit of motion blur if your hand is not steady.

And then there’s the voice activation shutter which takes the shot when the subject says “cheese,” smile,”  “kimchi” (a Korean dish made of fermented vegetables and spices), “whisky” (an alcoholic beverage made from fermented grain mash), or “LG” (which is some sort of electronics company). It’s fun and I guess can make it a bit easier to take the photo.

No price point has been set yet for the Optimus G in Canada but will be available through various wireless carriers, including Rogers, Bell and TELUS. It ships with Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0) but Jelly Bean (4.1) should be available by the second quarter of 2013.

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