LG Optimus 4X HD P880 review

You wouldn't say it, but the first one to mention this LG Optimus 4X HD was us. We were thousands of blogs ahead. To complete the circle now we have an extensive review before this quadcore device is in the shop.

But enough about us, let's talk about this Optimus 4X HD. LG's flagship was announced on the eve of the MWC and is the successor to the Optimus 2X Speed. There we saw it for the first time, it turned out to be a false start.

The model demonstrated there got stuck in front of our camera. It's a flaw that LG telephones have to deal with more often; software problems. During this review, we are going to see whether LG has improved its life and whether it can compete with Samsung's HTC One X and Galaxy S III.

We tested the white version of the Optimus 4X HD with Android 4.0.3 Ice Cream Sandwich. In addition to the white version, the Optimus 4X is also available in black.

LG Optimus 4X HD near lake

What's with the device?

Our test sample was in a black oblong box with red accents. The colour scheme is reminiscent of Formula 1. No surprise because LG sponsors the popular racing sport. On the box the letter "4X" and "HD" are accented. This immediately gives us two important advantages: a quad-core processor and an HD screen. In addition to the Optimus 4X, the box contains a quick start guide, data cable, in-ear headphones with controls and a charging plug. There's only one size cap in the box, if it doesn't fit you can still use your own headphones thanks to the 3.5mm audio jack. Furthermore, we find two NFC tags in the form of a sticker. More about that later.


If the competitor Galaxy S III is still full of curves, LG has a completely different approach. Actually the Optimus 4X is the successor of the Galaxy S II. Tight corners dominate the appearance. The Galaxy S3 is feminine because of all the curves. Because of the corners of the 4X this design will probably appeal to more men. At least we liked it. Strangely enough this makes the phone seem a lot more compact than for example the S3 and One X. It's optical deception, the dimensions of the earlier mentioned phones are almost the same.


The Optimus 4X's screen is exactly centred both horizontally and vertically. That's why you might want to keep it the wrong way round. Luckily, there's the LG logo at the top of the screen to help you. Here you will also find the loudspeaker behind a small gauze with the sensors on the left and the secondary camera on the right. At the bottom of the screen are the touch-sensitive control buttons that are only visible when they light up. Those who were used to a Samsung will have to get used to this. On the left is the back button and on the right is the option button. Just the other way around. In the middle is the home button. Disadvantage is that these buttons are fairly close to the screen. During our test week, it has happened that we accidentally pressed the home button, while that was not the intention.


There are two metal edges around the device. This nicely breaks the appearance and moreover, they reflect the light nicely. It gives it a chic look. On the left side are the volume buttons, the right side is free of buttons. Anyone looking for the on/off button should look at the top. We would have preferred it to be on the right side. Furthermore, on top of the audiojack connection to which you can connect headphones. The small dimple next to it is the second microphone to filter out ambient noise. At the bottom is the head-microphone with the MicroUSB connector.


When we turn the camera around we see the camera module with a metal decoration around it in the left corner. To the right we see a single LED flash. The flash looks a bit small, we'll see later if that affects shooting pictures in the dark. By the way, the back is not smooth like the Galaxy S III, but has a diagonal relief. So it looks like cotton, and strangely enough it feels like cotton too. A plus as far as we're concerned, because this is 'just' plastic. Also present is the LG logo and a small whim behind which the speaker does its work. Do not think you get the device silent by putting your finger on it, there 'leaks' then quite a bit of sound. At the bottom is finally a small notch.

Whoever puts his finger behind it picks the battery cover right off. Handy, because that way you can change the battery yourself. The cover also serves as the NFC antenna. The inside of the phone also contains the microSD connection and the SIM-card input. Contrary to the competition, LG has chosen the MiniSIM format.


The Optimus 4X's battery size is a non-nauseous 2,150 mAh. That's the biggest competitor's Galaxy S3 and One X. Of course, that doesn't automatically mean the battery life is longer - there are more factors to consider.

Nvidia Tegra 3 4 PLUS 1 processor .
The Nvidia Tegra 3 processor

LG has used the Nvidia Tegra 3 processor with four + one cores. If you are gaming or watching video, all four cores are used. But if you're watching a web page it switches to the more energy efficient fifth core. This means the battery has to last even longer.


If all that's not enough, there are still some settings imaginable. Of course there is the automatic brightness, but there is also a very extensive power save mode. From a certain battery level, it immediately switches some things off so you can still come home. After a week of testing, we were very pleased with the endurance. A day of intensive use does result in a message in the evening that the battery is starting to run out. It never came to the point where it switched off. With normal use (which in our case is perhaps a little more than average) we still had half a charge left. The one day we used it at least, we still had 70 percent left. Very neat figures if you ask us.

Call quality

It's precisely because of these two microphones that calling with the Optimus 4X is a very enjoyable experience. The sound is nice and clear even if the volume is just a little bit louder. The only criticism is that while you can browse through your contacts via a tab from the ringing app, you can't get into the ringing app from your contacts.


We find the strict separation between the two apps a stranger anyway, as far as we are concerned they can be integrated perfectly well. It is also possible to filter the call information, for example, by received calls only, and even by date. Never before have we seen it so extensive.



The Optimus 4X HD's 4.7-inch display is not small. LG calls it a True HD IPS screen because of its 1280 at 720 resolution. In terms of sharpness, this is indeed the best you can get. However, the screen seems to be a bit deeper in the device than is the case with the One X, so the viewing angle is a bit less. It shouldn't spoil the fun, this is just one of the better screens you can get in a phone today. As far as we are concerned, better than the Galaxy S III with its challenged PenTile layout and sometimes somewhat exaggerated colours. We have a YouTube video that compares the difference between True HD IPS and Super AMOLED.


Rarely have we seen an Android launcher as comprehensive as on the Optimus 4X. It is very similar in functionality to the paid LauncherPro and ADW. LG calls it Optimus UI 3.0 and there are quite a few settings to be made, to put it mildly. This is great because it allows you to personalise your 4X, or if you don't need to, just leave it at the default settings. The home screen has a maximum of 7 screens of which you can set the default home screen yourself. Each screen has a Google search bar at the top that you cannot delete. Fortunately, it doesn't take up much space, but it does mean that your widget can be up to 4 high.


We are very charmed by the animation when you scroll from one home screen to another. Not only does it go very smoothly, it also looks very nice. There is also a choice of other animations including an accordion effect. You can even set that when you are in the left home screen you scroll left to the far right screen. Whatever you want.


At the bottom of the screen there are four shortcuts with the menu button as standard. However, you can add up to 5 apps and you can also use folders. A clear advantage over other launchers. Moreover, you can even set themes.


The menu consists of pages with a grid of 4 by 4 with icons. At the top there are tabs for apps, downloads and widgets. Here too, you can set the necessary settings. For example, if you want a grid of 5x5 instead of 4x4, that's no problem. This way you can make optimal use of the high resolution screen, although it does get a bit crowded. The launcher remembers which page you were on when you start an app or go back to the home screen. Handy, because this way you don't have to keep looking for your page with frequently used apps.


The notification screen is largely that of Ice Cream Sandwich itself, with some additions. The shortcuts at the top to turn WiFi on or off, for example, can be arranged entirely to your own taste. If, for example, you want it completely empty, then that's no problem.


So there are no disadvantages at all to the menu of this LG? No, and if we have to think of anything, it is that the option menus are very white. That's not quite in line with the rest of the layout, but let's be honest, there are worse things. Besides, we haven't had a jam at all during our test week, so the menu is nice and stable!


As just discussed, this LG has a separate application to call and a separate application to view your contacts. Strangely enough, you can also view your contacts from the call app, but it is slightly different in terms of functionality. This can seem a bit confusing. For example, the phonebook is much more extensive, especially in terms of settings. For linked accounts, for example, you can specify whether those contacts should also be displayed. Unfortunately, an option to only display contacts with a linked phone number is missing. If that contact does have a phone number, a phone icon will appear behind the name to start a call right away.


The contact overview is also very similar to standard Ice Cream Sandwich, although there is no possibility to view history or linked images of that person. That's a pity because you have to look in all the separate apps. But in general it is very clear and reasonable in terms of functionality. Of course there is the possibility to create groups and favorites. By the way, the latter is also included in the call app, which also contains your most called contacts. They are missing in the phonebook app. Strange.



We're not going to dirty a lot of words about this part. Sending messages with the Optimus 4X is as it should be; just right. Again, LG hasn't changed much to the standard Android and if it has done anything else it has improved. Even if it's light. For example, there is a phone icon at the top right of the conversation in case you need to make a phone call. The keyboard is from LG and makes almost the same sound as the iPhone. However, it works fine. However, they have positioned a relatively large number of keys, which makes some of them a bit small. There are also a lot of settings imaginable here. For example, there is Shape Writer that works about the same as Swype. With one exception; he sometimes gives hilarious suggestions. If you're not very precise, he makes the strangest possible words. For example, he regularly turns the word "one" into "Eto'o". We don't really see the resemblance.


Furthermore, there is of course the Gmail client and a separate e-mail application. If you prefer to send Instant Messaging messages then there is the standard Google Talk application. Furthermore we find a Cell Broadcast app which is of little use here in the Netherlands.


In addition to the usual WiFi and Bluetooth, however, we would like to discuss another option here; SmartShare. Just as Samsung phones get along well with Samsung TVs, LG phones get along well with LG Televisions. This technique uses DLNA and if your TV also has that, you can wirelessly play content from your phone on the largest screen in your house; the TV.


As with previous LG telephones, the RemoteCall Service is also available here. If you experience problems with your phone, you can contact LG who can watch it remotely thanks to this app. If the problem is caused by something as simple as an incorrect setting, this is the way to solve it. A neat service that I hope you don't need.


In a search for a useful function for NFC, LG wrote Tag+ for the Optimus 4X LG. The app resembles Sony's Smart Tags in terms of operation. So you can perform actions with an NFC tag. LG delivers two NFC tags with your Optimus 4X as standard. LG has made it into a sticker. Our app comes with an 'Office mode' and a 'Car mode Tag'. Stick the latter in your car and activate the navigation and turn on bluetooth as soon as you hold the Optimus against the sticker.

During this test week we have used the GPS to navigate from A to B many times. We noticed that the Optimus 4X was sometimes wrong while we never had that with the Galaxy S3. Apparently the P880 is a bit less accurate than the S3. Whether this is due to the lack of GLONASS, we do not know. What is missing in the settings menu is the possibility to use sensors and networks to improve the signal.


The Optimus 4X HD is equipped with a neat 8 megapixel camera that can shoot photos in up to 3264 x 2448 pixels and video in Full HD (1920 x 1080 pixels). Those are great numbers. There is also a night mode, face recognition, HDR and a Panorama mode. An option for image stabilization is missing, or we don't know that there is one on the camera either. We suspect not, because the camera seems to have a lot of trouble focusing. We often had to help it a bit by 'touching' the subject before the Optimus 4X started focusing. We suspect a software problem, because once focused, the 4X HD delivers great images. There's another funny feature called Timeplay Mode. If you use this option, the camera shoots multiple pictures that you can review later. You choose the most beautiful ones. Handy to get the cat on it nicely.


The video camera also has some nice features. For example, you can easily zoom in during filming by applying pinch-to-zoom on the screen. There are also some effects that work as a kind of laughing mirror. You can even set a background, provided that your phone is on a tripod. Something that doesn't happen very often with a phone.


Existing programs

Was the Galaxy S III still full of applications, LG tackles it a little more modestly. And that's a plus as far as we're concerned, because it makes it a lot clearer. And it doesn't detract from the standard features when you take it out of the box. In addition to the usual apps for Android, we also find: Media Home, SmartWorld, Backup and Application Manager.


Media Home is an app in which all your videos, photos and music can be found and played. A separate media player. You can set up the app as soon as you connect an MHL cable (Mobile High-Definition Link) to an HDTV.


The video player also has a number of good features. There is the possibility to adjust the video format to the screen, you can adjust the playback speed and you can visually search. LG calls it Fingertip Seek and it looks like picture-in-picture searching. The nice thing is that the movie just keeps going, just like the second image. That's the advantage if you work with a quadcore phone! If you click on the second smaller image, you immediately jump to that part of the film. Very cleverly done.


SmartWorld is your own application store where you can download apps and games from outside the Play Store. The only condition is that you create an LG account.


Another handy addition is Backup which, like the name already gives away, allows you to make a backup. Normally you need root access to back up an Android phone.


But perhaps the nicest addition is QuickMemo. By simultaneously pressing both volume buttons the Optimus 4X takes a screenshot which can then be edited. Provide it with text, encircle a section and send it to a friend. Encircle a high-score, a note on Google Maps or attach a mustache to a photo and post it on Facebook. A funny feature that is really useful.


LG does not provide the Optimus 4X with games as standard, but these are widely available in the Play Store or in your own SmartWorld. In addition to the offer of paid content, free material is also available there.


Not often do we reluctantly send a phone back to the manufacturer. This Optimus 4X HD is one of those. After a week of testing it on the bus, we feel uncomfortable doing it. It's like waving off a good friend who's moving abroad. Of course, it's just a phone. But apparently a good one. Everything on it's just right. It's contemporary in size, but it's still compact. It's nice and tight, the metal edges make it chic and the profile on the back makes it less plastic. The quadcore processor more than lives up to its promise; it's lightning fast. The Galaxy S III will probably beat him, but in a photo finish. The launcher is huge but still clear.

Is there nothing at all wrong with this Optimus? The autofocus sometimes fails, but that seems to be solved in our experience with a software update. We don't want to write it off. The only thing we could come up with is that the device can get hot after intensive use. Mainly the top side. And what gets hot is actually wasted energy. Then you could say that the battery life could have been longer than it is now. Unfortunately for the pessimists among us, there is nothing wrong with the endurance. It is even more than fine. In the end, we can't help but conclude that LG has built an excellent top-of-the-range device that could well be a problem for the competition.

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