At the Optimus G we received a book full of lyrical terms such as 'unparalleled performance', 'true-to-life experience' and 'revolutionary'. This device was, if we were to believe the PR, a gift from heaven.
And it's fair to say, at first glance the Optimus G does indeed have a chance of success in the top end of the market. This is what LG is aiming for with this device. However, the Optimus G does not seem to be a match for the Galaxy S4 and HTC One. Is the LG Optimus G too late? Or could the Optimus G still win that race?
What's with the device?
The Optimus G comes in a chic box. The packaging is barely larger than the Optimus G, which with its 131.9 x 68.9mm fits other new high-end devices that are not modest in size. The included accessories are black and shiny: the charging plug with included USB cable looks great, but despite the flashy LG logo, the earbuds have a rather cheap plastic appearance. Something that does not quite fit with the rest of the package. There are still earpieces included in different sizes. The Li-ion battery has a large capacity of 2,100 mAh and cannot be removed from the device.
The Optimus G is a very beautiful aircraft, one of the most beautiful we have seen so far. The packaging looks like a jewellery box and the phone more than lives up to those expectations. The design is beautifully minimalistic and sleek. The phone lies light in the hand and makes an elegant impression. This is also due to the rounded corners.
The whole unit is executed in deep black, with a nice detail on the back: that side has a nice glass cover with a dotted pattern that catches the light. The front is almost entirely occupied by the display, with the exception of a black frame. In this border we find the three illuminated buttons at the bottom: back, home and applications, and at the top the LG logo and the internal camera lens.
The other keys are kept to a minimum: at the bottom we find the USB port, at the top the input for the earphones, on the left the volume key that can also be used as a camera key, and on the left the lock/on/off key. On this side there is also a tiny hole. If you insert the included silver key, the SIM card comes out.
LG has put all kinds of tricks into this device to increase stamina. Not only the powerful battery contributes to this. Of course, you can adjust the brightness and time-out of the screen, but an eco mode has also been added to extend battery life. The interface also allows the display to use up to seventy percent less power than AMOLED displays.
Of course we can't measure the exact energy consumption, but what's striking is that the Optimus G has a remarkably long lifespan when used intensively. We didn't have to put it on the charger every night, it was fine if we skipped that one night. A good performance.
There's really nothing to complain about either. When calling, the voice of the caller sounded clear and distinct, and the telephony app has all the functionalities you expect: you can use the keypad and scroll through the contacts, as well as turn on Bluetooth.
A plus point is that this app, like all other fixed functionalities, is spacious. You never have to search for an option and there is no mirror with keys that are too small. The call information can be found in the phone app. You can display received, missed and dialled calls all at the same time, as well as filtering.
You can also customize the tabs in the app so that groups or favorites are displayed or not. An extra that can come in handy when calling is QuickMemo. We'll tell you more about this later.
The display on the LG Optimus definitely convinced us. The screen is nicely roomy with a diagonal of 4.7 inches and has a resolution of no less than 1280 x 768. This display improves the overall performance of the phone. It also responds perfectly to touches and, as with the whole phone, it has all sorts of conveniences hidden inside, such as 'smart screen', which means that the screen does not lock when the phone detects that it is still being looked at. The screen is made of Gorilla Glass, so it won't be damaged. A deep bend for LG.
Optimus G has been upgraded to Androids Jelly Bean OS 4.1.2. The combination with the Snapdragon S4 Pro makes it not only fast and perfect to run, but also easy to operate.
As usual, the menu consists of one home screen surrounded by six other screens that you can fill in with widgets as you like. The same goes for the lockscreen. This can be done via the options as well as via the application key. At the bottom of all screens there is room for up to six icons of your most frequently used apps. You can choose these yourself, and you can also add an icon you like. You can even choose a photo you've taken yourself as an icon.
A striking feature is the extensive drop bar where you can not only adjust the sound and Wi-Fi as usual, but also activate QuickMemo, for example. You will also see an overview of the QSlide Apps, an interesting addition. These apps can be opened 'on top' of the app you are already working on. So the drop bar has become a full part of the menu.
The phone book is exactly what you expect it to be: you can enter all the information you need (from multiple phone numbers and email addresses to addresses and nicknames), and you can easily navigate through it. Scrolling is also easy, but that's no different with this screen.
Of course there are a lot of devices with which you have different options for entering messages, but often the alternative options are quite a hassle, if you really want to use them. The Optimus G is an exception to this rule. Traditional' typing of messages on the touch screen is as easy as it gets, but swiping from letter to letter also works very well. It's instant, and it's really faster than typing. This doesn't apply to the third option: writing letters with your finger, which the device then recognises and enters into the message. If you've written an unclear letter, the device will make a suggestion.
The e-mail function also works well. The device supports almost all providers, and we tested it with G-mail. The Android version of Gmail is known and everything works well here as well. This is an easy-to-use app that also takes full advantage of the great screen. Google Talk is available for instant messaging. What is striking is that Facebook and Twitter are not installed by default, but of course you can download them yourself.
This is due to our enthusiasm for the display, but we have nothing but praise for the browser. It is fast and you surf flawlessly from site to site. Of course, it remembers all the networks used, you can open different tabs and save your favourites. Nothing is missing from this browser. When zooming in and out with pinch-to-zoom, the screen remains crystal clear. For this browser the Optimus receives a ten with a sticker.
Both the photo and the film camera are full of options. First the 13.0 Mpixel photo camera: at the risk of repetition, the colours of the photos are beautifully clear and sharp. It is noticeable that the quality of the pictures we took at night or at twilight is considerably worse. That makes sense of course, but the hole was very large. The photos can be taken via the touchscreen or with the volume button, which also functions as a camera button. Nice gimmick: you can also choose a word, for example 'cheese', and that works as a voice command for the camera.
The usual camera options can all be found here: flash, shutter speed and timer, brightness, focus, size and zoom can be adjusted, and there are several scene modes (normal, portrait, sports, sunset and night). You can edit the photos in different ways, for example by giving them a filter or using QuickMemo to draw something on them. With the 'smart shutter', the camera can continue to take photos before you do, and you can even take photos of missed moments. Other options include adjusting ISO and white balance, geotagging and something called 'beauty shot': a feature for the internal camera that 'instantly makes the shot more beautiful'. To be honest, we didn't see the difference immediately. Once you are satisfied with your photos, you can share them via messages, Bluetooth, FileShare, e-mail, Google Plus, Memo and Picasa.
Optimus G allows you to make high quality movies that also have good sound. LG's SmartShare also allows you to stream movies to other devices. If you're concerned about your privacy, you can also lock movies. With Video Editor you can then edit them, and within the app itself you can subtitle, cut and share the clips via these channels. All in all, both the camera and the movie camera have plenty of options: everything you might need, and even a little more.
You can sort the programs by alphabetical order or by installation date, and the icons can be resized to fit more on one screen. In addition to the standard apps such as Calendar, Alarm/Clock, Calculator and those we've already covered, Optimus G includes Application Manager and Backup, File Manager, Cell Broadcast, Chrome, FM Radio, Maps, Messenger, Music, Notebook (which displays your notes in a bookcase), Playstore, Polaris Office 4, Quick Translator, Remotecall Service, SmartWorld, Tasks, Video Wiz, Weather, Dictionary and YouTube.
There are no pre-installed games, but you can download them from the Playstore and LG SmartWorld.
LG announced the launch of a new app for the Optimus L-Series in August: Quickmemo. Quickmemo is an incredibly useful addition that makes clever use of the screen's high sensitivity. Pressing the volume control opens the QuickMemo app, which lets you write what you want to remember on the screen with your finger.
The memo can also remain visible when you're already working on another app, and you can easily open and close QuickMemo via the drop bar. You can also use part of the screen as a 'notebook sheet' and not the rest. There's no need to write directly on the screen - there's also a mode that looks like a white page.
By the way, you can share your notes instantly via MMS, Bluetooth, email, FileShare or Picasa, and you can add them to the gallery or to a notebook in the Notes app.
The review so far has been almost irritatingly positive. It doesn't happen often, but we had to think carefully about the drawbacks, and eventually we ended up with the night shots. A bit faint maybe. This phone would certainly be a good buy, not only because of its good looks, but especially because the Optimus G is incredibly complete.
The basis of this unit is the lightning-fast support and the display, which makes the other functions stand out optimally. Such a sensitive screen, with such colours and sharpness, makes the photos, movies and browser automatically better. And with QuickMemo, we've found an extra one that's really handy to use. There are many more advantages to this device. Think of Optimus G as a candy barrel where you'll keep discovering something new.