I played with it the other day. It does feel like it'll slide across the table like a hockey puck.
I think the next step with Corning is to have a textured surface for the back of phones.
It’s been a bit of a boring year for LG. Aside from a few mid and entry level handsets, the last really interesting phone that LG brought out was the Optimus LTE.
During that time, we've been treated to phones like the HTC One S, One X, Motorola RAZR HD LTE, ATRIX HD LTE, Sony Xperia ION, and Samsung Galaxy S III. One similarity between all those phones are that they all have similar Qualcomm dual core processors.
One thing I’m sure many manufacturers hate about Android is that they all have access to similar hardware so they all end up having to play the hardware game. I was a little surprised that LG didn’t join the party with their own similar offering.
Now, LG is launching their new flagship phone. The LG Optimus G. It actually shares the same guts as the upcoming Google Nexus 4 with a few changes that I'll discuss later.
What’s special about it is that it ups the stakes in the hardware game with it’s new Qualcomm processor that doubles the core count plus adds a new more powerful graphics processor: The Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro. While I’m sure it’s going to become quite ubiquitous for now it makes the G unique.
While quad core processors in phones are not new; the Nvidia Tegra 3 has been around for 3 quarters, but the G’s chip is different. You see the Tegra 3 sports 4 ARM Cortex A9 cores while the G has 4 Qualcomm Krait cores. Qualcomm has been using dual core chips with Krait cores to compete with quad core Cortex A9’s with a lot of success. In many of my benchmarks, the dual Krait cores are more than a match for the Corex A9 quads. You see the Krait is sort of half a generation ahead of the Cortex A9’s so it’s a more efficient design.
Another thing that sets the G apart is it’s graphics processor: the Adreno 320. Up till now Qualcomm’s Krait chips have been making due with the Adreno 305. While it’s generally faster than the Tegra 3, it’s a lot less powerful than the iPhone 5’s A6 chip. We’ll see if the Adreno 320 is able to close the gap later.
The G is a really solid phone. There’s no flex or twist at all when you squeeze it. Make sure you don’t drop it!
The display is a 4.7" 1280x768 IPS LCD display. It looks amazing. It's sharp, has great viewing angles. Unfortunately it's been raining every day lately so I haven't had to chance to try it out in bright sunlight.
Both the screen and the back are covered with Gorilla Glass 2. The back is polarized with an awesome 3D pattern. I love the finish on the LG logo. Both are actually underneath the glass.
Having glass on both sides makes the G kind of slippery. You might get one consider putting a polyurethane screen protector on the back to add some grip. Those are the type of screen protectors that you have to wet first before you apply them. The kind that feel kind of sticky.
The G has a really narrow bezel. It's not an easy phone to use with one hand because the screen is really big. Also because my palm keeps touching the screen when I'm reaching across with my thumb. If you get the G make sure you buy a case for it that has a raised lip around the edges.
separate volume buttons, microSIM card slot
camera, LED flashlight
When it comes to Android software, manufacturers take 3 approaches. First, you have Nexus devices which are vanilla Android. Then you have some like Motorola and Huawei take a minimalist approach and try to add as little as possible to Android.
Others, like Samsung, try their hardest to add to Android and make their phones as different as possible.
All three approaches have merit. If you have a Nexus device, all the manufacturer has to do maybe update their drivers when there’s a new version of Android. It’s a similar story for the minimalist approach. When Google announces a new Android, there will be less to customize. This saves the companies money and allows them to get their updates into the hands of customers faster.
On the other hand, Samsung customizes Android heavily. This means that they have to do more work to get a new Android release working on their phones. Fortunately, for them, they have the financial resources to make this happen because they’re making money faster than a rapper can spend it.
The thing is, if you just sell your phone as being an vanilla Android phone, there’s very little to differentiate it from other Android phones. It’s fine if you’re interested in playing in the lower-end of the market. The problem is that you probably won’t make a lot of money if you go this path. Just look at the LG Optimus G’s cousin the Nexus 4. It has almost the same hardware but it’s priced much lower.
If you don’t customize Android then there’s less you can do to make your offerings stand out. You end up competing on hardware only. When that happens you have less to tell consumers which makes it harder to tell them why you're phone is better.
What most OEMs are aiming for is to create something that is more than the sum of it’s part that will help them distinguish their product from the rest of the pack.
Samsung has succeeded in doing this. Most people who buy a Galaxy series phone don’t care that it’s running Android. It’s become a question of iPhone or Galaxy.
Compared with previous phones, LG has set down the same path as Samsung with the G. It’s a very customized phone. Whether they can sell enough G’s to make enough money to keep up with software development costs remains to be seen.
Anyways, it’s good that they’re being ambitious. If you’re going to aim for something, aim for the stars. Since we’re talking about stars, many of LG’s customizations are very similar or at least were inspired by Samsung. You can watch videos while using the rest of the phone (though LG’s implements this in a different manner), the phone watches you when you use it to see if it should keep the screen on, you can screen capture the screen and then write on it, there are some motion features like the ability to move home screen icons by tilting, that sort of thing.
Since we’re talking about software development, one thing the G has going for it is that many carriers are no longer interested in having exclusives. The G is the first higher end phone from LG in quite a while that is available on Bell/TELUS/Rogers. While the Rogers version is slightly different, they’re all very similar. Remember the Galaxy S II Vibrant, Captivate, Obfuscate? Carriers don’t care about exclusivity as much now. This should make it easier for LG since there are less phone SKU’s to focus on.
The Telus and Bell versions supports LTE on AWS frequencies while the Rogers one has LTE support on 2600Mhz.
The Optimus G comes with Android 4.0 AKA Ice Cream Sandwich. ICS came out around a year ago and has been superseded by Android 4.1 and 4.2 both of which are known as Jellybean. While Jellybean isn't common yet some high-end Android phones like the Galaxy S III and Note II already have Jellybean so I'm a bit disappointed that the G doesn't come with it too.
To me the biggest difference between 4.0 and 4.1 is that 4.1 has smoother menu transitions and it has Google Now, a sort of personal assistant.
At the launch, LG choose to highlight 4 main software features: QSlide, QuickMemo, Time Catch Shot and Live zooming.
QSlide allows you to view a video while you’re using the rest of the G. Sounds familiar? It’s like Samsung’s pop-up video but LG implements QSlide differently. Pressing the QSlide button makes it so the video is transparent. That way you can see both the video and what you’re working on at the same time. If you have trouble seeing what you’re working on you can adjust the transparency so the video becomes more opaque.
I’m sure LG will say QSlide is better because it allows you to see more of your screen plus you don’t have to constantly move your video around while you’re trying to use the phone. Personally, I think QSlide is much worse than pop-up video because I find it hard to look at the phone. I also found that the QSlide controls sometimes get in the way - just like pop-up video does.
QuickMemo allows you to capture a screen shot and then write on it. Sounds familiar right? LG’s QuickMemo is better, in that you can capture the screen and then choose to have a solid background so that you can write on it. To start-up QuickMemo, just press both volume buttons simultaneously.
With QuickMemo, you can be in a phone call, launch it, choose a solid background and then write down a phone number. It’s actually a really cool idea. After you’re done you can save the QuickMemo to your gallery or share it.
Videozoom allows you to zoom into videos. I’ve never really wanted to do this before on my phone but I guess someone might find it useful. I thought LG could have done a better job implementing this feature. When you zoom into a video, the area the video takes up is bounded by whatever area the video originally took up. When you’re zooming in, the zoomed in area should fill the entire screen.
Time Catch Shot is a camera feature. When it’s on, the G is constantly taking pictures. When you press the shutter button, it automatically saves the last 4 pictures it took, plus the one you just snapped. It’s like a burst mode that works in reverse. It’s an interesting feature but it would be more useful if you could use it in conjunction with burst mode.
There are many small customizations, many of them are quite useful. Here’s an example: Lots of Android phones allow you to launch the camera and other apps from the lock screen. The problem is that if you turn pattern unlock you lose this option. On the G, if you draw your unlock pattern and leave your finger on the screen it will bring up shortcuts for the camera and other programs. Very nice!
LG also allows you to make a few other customizations. You can set the home screen and main menu animations when you move left and right. I really like how you can back up the layout of your home screen. I’m talking about the widgets and wallpapers.
Most of the included applications along with the home screen supports landscape mode. You can disable this if you want.
Another Samsung feature that LG has borrowed is the ability to change settings from the notification area pull-down. I prefer how LG has implemented theirs: You can customize it and choose which options show up.
I love the File Share feature. When you turn it on, you can access files on the G from a computer (and other devices) using Samba. It’s similar to what you can do with a Playbook or a rooted Android phone. I turned it on and was able to copy pictures to and from the G to my PC.
While the G supports microHDMI, what’s really cool is that it also supports Miracast. Miracast allows you to mirror the contents of the screen on your TV. It works via WiFi so it provides similar functionality that you’d get from an HDMI cable only wirelessly.
To use Miracast, you either need a fancy TV with Miracast or a Miracast dongle. The demo I saw had mixed results. While it worked, videos skipped occasionally plus there was too much lag to use it for gaming. Still, the demo was downtown so it might be matter of ‘dirty air’. Maybe it will work better if you try it in the suburbs or somewhere where there’s less WiFi.
If you don’t have any Miracast hardware, you can always stream videos using DLNA.
One interesting feature is aspect ratio correction. Recently, every high-end Android has come with a 16:9, 1280x720 display. The G has a 1280x768 display with an aspect ratio of 15:9. It’s basically more ‘square’. Since 1280x768 isn’t a common aspect ratio many program will appear to be stretched on the G’s screen. You can fix this by telling the G which programs you want to run with a 16:9 ratio.
There’s a backup feature. You can set a schedule for it to run. Since the G has no microSD slot the backups get saved to the G. That means you’ll have to save the backups to your computer.
You get 2 video editing programs. One is a more traditional editor where you can insert and split clips, add transitions and titles while the other is a more hands off one where you insert clips, select a style and let it do its thing.
Neither has tons of feature but it makes them easier to use. They should be enough to please most people.
I really dislike how you can’t disable the camera shutter sound. It makes a sound even if you use a 3rd party camera applications.
Despite the G’s monster processor, the camera’s performance is a lot slower than the Galaxy Note II’s or the Apple iPhone 5. Focus speeds, picture to picture times, burst modes are all slower than on the Galaxy S III and Note II.
I can forgive slow performance if the camera takes razor sharp photos but unfortunately it looks like LG skimped on the G’s camera sensor. It’s not sensitive at all which means it struggles mightily indoors. It’s extremely difficult to take sharp photos indoors without the flash - even if you have a static subject (like a plate of food).
Apple iPhone 5: 1/15 f/2.53 ISO 3200
Galaxy Note II: 1/17 f/2.6 ISO 1250
Galaxy S III: 1/15 f/2.6 ISO 800
Optimus G: 1/10 f/2.4 ISO 1600
The G looks like it does well in this test but it's actually using a very slow shutter speed (1/10 sec).
There is a burst mode but it’s similar to the Motorola RAZR’s. You turn it on, press the shutter button and it takes around 6 photos.
You can have the Optimus G shoot when everyone says ‘cheese’. I didn’t try this feature.
While the G does a good job of capturing audio, video quality isn’t that great.
SunSpider (lower is better):
Apple iPhone 5: 911.7
Samsung Galaxy Note II: 1005.4
LG Optimus G: 1314.1
HTC One X (Tegra 3): 1550.9
Samsung Galaxy S III: 1781.5
While the G's SunSpider score is a little disappointing, let’s move onto our next test Vellamo which is a suite of browser tests.
Vellamo 2 HTML 5 (higher is better):
LG Optimus G: 1713
Samsung Galaxy Note II: 1841
Samsung Galaxy S III: 1630
HTC One X (Tegra 3): 1608
Vellamo 2 Metal:
LG Optimus G: 643
Samsung Galaxy Note II: 628
Samsung Galaxy S III: 580
HTC One X (Tegra 3): 492
Here, the Note II edges out the Optimus G by a whisker in the HTML 5 portion while it wins the Metal by a small margin. Frankly, I'm a little surprised that the G doesn't do better given that it has 2 more of the GS3's processor cores. While I don't expect quad cores to double the score over dual cores, I was expecting a little more. I guess it's a case of diminishing returns when you go past 2 cores.
GL Benchmark is an OpenGL gaming benchmark. The on-screen test is useful for comparing devices with similar resolutions.
GL Benchmark 2.5 on-screen (frames per second):
LG Optimus G: 37
HTC One X (Tegra 3): 15
Samsung Galaxy Note II: 17
Samsung Galaxy S III: 21
While I was expecting the G to be faster than the other phones, its margin of victory is pretty amazing.
The off-screen test runs the test at 1920x1080. This allows us to compare devices with different screen sizes.
GL Benchmark 2.5 off-screen (frames per second):
LG Optimus G: 29
HTC One X (Tegra 3): 9.7
Samsung Galaxy S III: 13
Samsung Galaxy Note II: 17
Apple iPhone 5: 29
Here the G ties the iPhone 5 which is pretty astonishing. It's more than 3x faster than the One X, more than double the speed of the S III and nearly double the speed of the Note II. Wow!
Basemark is another OpenGL gaming benchmark.
Basemark (frames per second):
LG Optimus G: 39.1
Galaxy Note II: 43.27
Galaxy S III: 31.13
HTC One X (Tegra 3): 19.2
Here, the G is about 33% faster than the S III and about double the speed of the One X though the Note II edges out the G by a hair.
It’s hard to say if the 2100mAh battery is big enough. I went downtown and noticed the battery drained about 30% on the way in - that’s not bad considering I was watching videos, surfing the web, checking in on Foursquare, doing other stuff all the same time while using Bluetooth headphones. It’s also impressive because the train was stuck for about 15 mins due to a tree that fell on the tracks. Just to compare, my GS3 which has 2 less cores and the same battery drains about 40% on my way into town - and that’s without a 20 min delay.
The thing is, I’ve noticed the G’s battery meter doesn’t always drain linearly. There are times when the battery meter falls off a cliff. Anyways, my seat-of-the-pants feeling is that the G will make it through the day albeit barely. It’s best to charge it when you get the chance.
GL Benchmark 2.5 battery test (mins, higher is better):
LG Optimus G: 153
HTC One X (Tegra 3): 115
Samsung Galaxy S III: 165
Samsung Galaxy Note II: 277
Apple iPhone 5: 129
I'm impressed with the Optimus G's performance here given it's 2100mAh battery. Despite having double the cores and a brighter screen it's only slightly behind the Galaxy S III here.
I couldn’t help noticing but the G gets really hot right next where the camera. While it’s true most phones get warm, it’s more noticeable on the G. If you’re doing something intensive, you’ll notice that after a minute. The G is a very powerful phone, that’s really thin. I guess heat is the price you pay.
As a phone:
The earpiece is pretty loud. It’s actually louder than the iPhone 5 and similar to my Blackberry Bold 9900. Sound quality is slightly fuzzy sounding.
The speaker on the back isn't very loud.
Compared to my Note II the G seems a little better at hanging onto a weak LTE signal in my house.
L to R: iPhone 5, Galaxy S III, Optimus G, RAZR HD LTE, One X, Galaxy Note II.
top to bottom: One X, RAZR HD LTE, iPhone 5, Galaxy S III, Optimus G, Note II.
Compared to the Galaxy S III, you get a much nicer feeling device, better screen and faster processor. The GS3’s camera is better plus Samsung has a decent track record of updating their flagship devices. The GS3 also has a MicroSD so it has more flexibility storage-wise though I suspect most people will be satisfied with the G’s 32GB.
You know what's funny? I was thinking about all the customizations LG has done and you know what? They're very comparable to what Samsung has done. With the exception of the camera the G is a very well thought out device. It feels nice in your hand, the software is intuitive, it's a real home run.
It’s funny that the G’s quad-core processor makes it more future-proof but LG’s terrible track record of abandoning their phones has the opposite effect. I suspect the GS3 will age better and hold its value better than the G.
Still, I'd pick the Optimus G and not just because of it's fancy hardware.
Compared to the Galaxy Note II, I’d say go for the Note II. The G may have a better display and faster processor but, as long as you can fit it in your pockets, the Note II’s size makes a lot of sense to me. The Note II also has a gigantic battery, a better camera and more flexible storage.
Really, the Note II's size makes it a better interpretation of what you can do on Android. Advantage: Note II.
As for the iPhone 5, it’s always difficult to compare the 2 because they’re so different. I guess the only comment I’ll have is that, like the GS3, the iPhone 5 is almost sure to age much better than the G. Based on Apple’s track record, the 5 will probably be running the latest version of IOs in a few years, while who knows what software will be on the G.
Really, the question here is whether you should get an Optimus G or a Google Nexus 4. Both have virtually the same hardware. The G has 32GB of storage while the 4 has to get by with just 8GB or 16GB. Neither has expandable storage. The G also has LTE while the Nexus 4 has penta-band HSPA and the latest version of Android.
If you like to hack your phone and play with custom ROMs then there's no question, get the Nexus 4. Still, you have to consider the differences.
32GB is enough storage that you won’t hear me complaining about the lack of expandable storage. 8GB or 16GB on the other hand isn’t. Some games can take up more than a GB. Add some pictures and video to the mix and you have a phone that will fill up very quickly.
LTE support is also very important. If you find your provider’s HSPA to be congested, then you should give LTE a try. While you may think you don’t need LTE’s super fast speeds, remember that all else being equal, LTE will be faster than HSPA. That means it will be faster, even if it has a weak signal. Personally, LTE is very important and it’s not a feature I want to give up. Still, penta-band HSPA gives you a lot of flexibility. You can use it and get faster than EDGE speeds on AT&T, T-Mobile, Rogers, Bell, TELUS, Mobilicity and Wind. Which leads me to my next point.
The wild card is the price. The 8GB 4 is available for $299 while the 16GB for $349. Both are unlocked. If you’re not interested in signing a contract, it’s hard to say no to these prices. You’re getting absolutely bleeding-edge hardware for about half the price of an unlocked iPhone. If you’re not signing contracts then you’re probably sensitive to your monthly costs. Why not get the 4 and port your number to a lower cost carrier?
In the end, the LG Optimus G represents the state-of-the-art phone. The finish, screen, processor, RAM are all top-of-the-line. Unfortunately, its Android version is about a generation behind and the camera is second-rate.
While it is heavily customized, many (but not all) of the customizations are well thought out. They're not just change for the sake of change. LG has done a really good job. Hopefully customers can connect with the changes they've made.
As for the phone itself, it’s earie to see many of the Touchwiz features that LG has stuck in the G. The LG Optimus G. What does the G stand for? Goldstar? Good? My guess is Galaxy.
It's appropriate because it's a better Galaxy.
- nice design
- screen is out of this world
- able to view video while doing other stuff
- powerful processor
- customizable home screen animation
- Android 4.0
- gets hot
- quiet speaker
Last edited by howard; 11-01-2012 at 10:04 AM.
I played with it the other day. It does feel like it'll slide across the table like a hockey puck.
I think the next step with Corning is to have a textured surface for the back of phones.
You make great reviews.
I am @guamguy on Twitter.
That was a good review. Personally I have been most interested in seeing the reviews on the LG Optimus G because its the similar hardware to the LG Nexus 4. I like the pure Android experience with no extras added on and that's what makes the LG Nexus 4 so appealing to me, that and faster Androids updates.
But I will say two things:
1. The LG Optimus G has an uphill climb to make especially considering its price tag in relations to the LG Nexus 4. Of course its selling point is LTE, 32GB Internal Storage and the microSD card slot, all of which the LG Nexus 4 doesn't have.
EDIT: I have read the specs on the LG optimus G on LGE.com and AT&T and the AT&T version has a microSD card slot, but only 16GB Storage for that version. It all depends upon the carrier as explained below by the author of the post.
2. For myself, I am still wrapping my head around a $300-$400 price tag for an unlocked Smartphone (for here in the United States) considering I have never ever spent more than $200 on a phone before and my only Smartphone was $100 in a pre-black friday sale last November. Now here I am looking at a LG Nexus 4 and $350 price tag for the 16GB model and I'm getting sticker shock. Don't get me wrong, its a flagship Smartphone that is worth the money especially with it being unlocked, but damn that is quite a jump for sure.
Just a thought.
Last edited by graveboss; 11-02-2012 at 05:00 PM. Reason: To update a mistake I made in the information.
Just a teensy correction. Those S4 dual phones use the Adreno 225, not the 305. The only device that uses the 305 is the yet to be released HTC 8S.
To graveboss: I think you may have misread Howard's review. The Optimus G DOES NOT have a MicroSD card slot, and so in that respect it is the SAME as the Nexus 4.
I current have the Optimus G for testing and I can assure there is no slot (other than the one on the side of the phone for the Micro SIM, which might be what you mistook for MicroSD).
The one we get up here doesn't have one but we get 32GB.
Yeah. Sprint version is 32Gb internal with no micro SD slot, while AT&T version is 16Gb with micro SD slot.
Forgot to mention, the AT&T version only has an 8mp camera but the Sprint version has a 13mp camera. Between the micro SD availability and camera mp sizes, this can easily confound readers on a review when they see their own carrier variant doesn't match the specs listed in the review.
Don't drop it !?
That's one aspect of these new toys I can't stand, well that and battery life.
My very old phone can be mistreated and beat on, and still works.
My wife's old calmshell phone goes for days without a charge.
Asking me to plug any of these newer smart phones in more than once per day is getting ridiculous.
Sure, for some, its their only internet connection, but for me, a super cheap phone and a wifi connection for my laptop or maybe a new tablet are the way to go.
Very nice review. Im not a fan of the glass backs.. look how many people have cracked Iphones not only because they are slippery but because they break easier.
Ill buy an Iphone when it doubles as a light saber... But then again Android would have that feature 3 years before...
Yes that's right, all my phones have been prepaid. I have had Tracfone, Boost Mobile (nice phone on Boost too), Verizon Wireless (three LG Phones including Chocolate 2) and now AT&T GoPhone. All of the phones are prepaid branded phones including my latest one, an AT&T GoPhone branded LG Thrive for $100 that was a pre-black Friday sale last November.
So when I say that haven't paid over $200 for a phone, I'm not kidding. Of course a lot of those phones were bought new except one that I bought used on ebay. So to jump from $100 to $350 is a big jump. That said, the LG Nexus 4 is a flagship Android Smartphone that is well worth the money and considering many of the unlocked phones on the market are either toys or very expensive, the LG Nexus 4 is worth the money.
I also want an unlocked phone so I don't have to depend upon the carrier to update the phone and I might move to T-Mobile in 2013 or 2014 if the coverage gets better.
love the aesthetic of this phoen