A couple of months ago, I was given a sneak peek of the LG Optimus G, the first quad-core LTE cellphone available in Canada. And I was quite impressed. Now that I have had a chance to play around with one, my opinion is largely unchanged. It is easily one of the most powerful smartphones available on the market today.
For one thing, it’s incredibly fast. Each core of the Snapdragon S4 Pro APQ8064 processor can clock up to 1.5 GHz and it uses a Adreno 320 GPU for graphics which supposedly provides faster frame rates than other more standard graphic processor units. Add in 2 GB of RAM, and you have one fast phone.
Whether you’re playing videos, taking photos or even just navigating through menu screens, the phone’s reaction time is almost immediate. The 131.9×68.9×8.45 mm phone comes with a 4.7-inch True HD IPS PLUS 1,280×768 pixel screen. LG boasts it offers 40% better CPU than comparable phones on the market. And I can safely say, that generally speaking, this phone is almost twice as fast as my own Samsung Galaxy SIII.
Thanks to the LTE network, this translates into strong Internet speeds as well. My test model, running on Telus’ network, gave me download speeds ranging from 23.02 Mbps to 32.49 Mbps and upload speeds of 10.46 Mbps to 17.33 Mbps, which is more than sufficient for anything you want to do online.
(This is good to know as LG’s other quad-core phone on the market in Canada, the 4X, was hampered by the fact it only works on a 3G network. And with that test model on WIND, I had trouble watching even the shortest online videos as it would either stall or downgrade the quality to compensate for the poor connection.)
Thankfully, this extra processing power doesn’t affect the battery life too much. I was worried that since the phone had four cores in it, just leaving it on would significantly drain the battery. I knew that the cores would slow or shut down if the phone didn’t require the extra computing power. But I was skeptical.
The phone uses a 2,100 mAh lithium polymer embedded battery which provides up to 12.5 hours of talk time and 500 hours on standby. And I was able to leave it on and unplugged for the day without having to charge it.
When it comes to making calls, the phone does fall down slightly. The in-call volume is fine. The person on the other end of the line will sound clean and crisp – assuming his or her phone is up to snuff. But your own voice will sound a little tinny and quiet. That being said, the conversation should still be easy to understand, provided you don’t whisper too much.
The phone comes with an 8 MP main camera and a front-facing 1.3 MP camera for video calls. And both are decent. Some markets offer the phone with a 13 MP camera – but Canada isn’t one of them. This camera would certainly have made the phone stand out as most smartphones have cameras of 5 MP or 8 MP. But the Optimus G I tested still provides good images. Obviously, the better the lighting, the better the image but overall the pictures are clear. The camera also comes with many bells and whistles, such as a voice activation shutter shot, the ability to take multiple pictures as once, HDR and panorama shots.
Like most high-end smartphones nowadays, it can also shoot video in 1080p and the image quality is on par with the still camera. Audio can be a little quiet, but reasonably clear.
But audio and video playback is great. Colours are sharp and the audio is clean. And as I mentioned in the previous blog entry, you can make the video transparent with the Quick Slide option so the video can play in the background while you use other features of the phones. This works with videos you record with the phone, download or view through the built-in browser. Other browsers (such as Chrome) or video apps (such as YouTube) don’t allow the option as far as I could tell. I thought it was a frivolous feature when I first saw it, and still think it is now, but it’s worth mentioning as it makes the phone somewhat unique.
Other features include: QuickMemo which allows you to make notes at any time by writing directly onto the screen, near field communication for making mobile payments and sharing information with other NFC-enabled phones and Miracast which allows you to mirror the phone’s screen with a Wi-Fi enabled TV or Miracast dongle.
The LG Optimus G is a single piece design, weighs 141 g, has a microSIM, no memory card slot but comes with 32 GB of internal storage. It currently runs on Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.04) but a Jelly Bean update (4.1) is expected next year. The phone is available through Rogers, Bell, Telus and Sasktel.
Telus has the best price for a three-year plan by offering it for $129 – almost a whole dollar cheaper than the other providers. If you’re looking to purchase the phone without a plan, you should go with Rogers or Sasktel which sell it for $599.99.