LG Optimus G Review: The Fastest Android Phone Ever, But at What Cost?
The recently-released Optimus G is LG's latest flagship handset. It's also the first domestic smartphone to feature the Qualcomm Snapdragon quad-core processor, prompting the company to claim that it's the most powerful smartphone in the world. In addition to its fancy CPU, the phone features a 4.6" 1280x768 IPS touchscreen display, 4G connectivity, 13-megapixel (with Sprint) or 8-megapixel (with AT&T) rear-facing camera, 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera, 16GB internal memory, and Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich).
While the premise of a super fast smartphone sounds enticing, we wanted to see if the Optimus G actually lives up to its hype. Our friends at GadgetReview thus scoured the Internet for reviews to see if, after extensive testing, the Optimus G is as good as it sounds.
A Phone That Runs Fast and Hot
The LG Optimus G for AT&T and Sprint ($200 with a 2-year contract) packs a 1.5GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro processor, which makes it one of the fastest smartphones available. According to Gizmodo, this smartphone is ideal for "Android users who crave some real horsepower." The combination of the enhanced processor and 2GB RAM enables applications to run extremely quickly. Benchmarks performed by Engadget show that the Optimus G is faster than nearly every major competing new phone, including the Samsung Galaxy S III and HTC One X.
But all that power comes at a price. According to PCMag, the Optimus G can get so hot that the screen automatically dims to help keep the device cool, further explaining that, "all that speed makes for some overheating issues." The Optimus G includes an "Eco" mode which helps keep the phone's temperature down, but it also slows down performance.
Beautiful Display, But Mediocre Design, Camera, and Battery
According to The Verge, the Optimus G features "a simply great" 1280x768 IPS display that provides stunning and vivid colors. The publication also praises the display text as "crisp and beautiful." Further, the high resolution screen is bright for outdoor use, and it provides high-contrast picture for watching video.
The build of the phone itself, however, leaves plenty to be desired. Some media outlets categorized the Optimus G as wide, large in the hand, and very plain. "While pleasant-looking and functional, it certainly isn't pushing boundaries," writes CNET. The Verge notes that AT&T's model is thicker than Sprint's, but the former also includes a microSD card slot for user-expandable memory. Both publications found that the camera was weak when compared to competing phones like the Galaxy S III and Apple iPhone 5, especially AT&T's version which carries just a 8-megapixel camera. The model through Sprint alternatively features a beefier 13-megapixel camera.
Battery life is a major issue for most reviewers, and many cite the new, advanced processor as the culprit. Engadget writes that the AT&T model lasted for 8:43 hours on continuous Eco mode use, compared to 7:53 hours for Sprint's model. Once you switch off the Eco mode, the battery life is shorter, as one might expect.
Fast But Bloated Software
The Optimus G runs on Android 4.0 and includes a number of software features that are specific to the device, including QuickMemo for writing notes and taking screenshots anytime, and Video Wiz, which creates montage-style videos from clips recorded with the camera. Computer World was particularly impressed with the Screen Zooming feature and the Dual Screen Dual Play capability, which allows the user to connect to a TV or monitor and mirror what's on the smartphone's screen. The publication points out that the latter would be a helpful feature for presentations.
However, the Optimus G also includes a lot of useless software, especially on the AT&T version, and PCMag even goes so far as to call it "bloatware." Most publications have made similar complaints, but few offered further explanation.
Is the Optimus G the Phone for You?
The LG Optimus G is the most powerful Android phone on the market today, and for $200 it's as good a deal as you can get on any brand new smartphone. (Obviously, like most Android smartphones, it'll soon see sizable discounts.) But its excellent display and fast speed are enough to make it an easy buy. However, be wary of overheating and the weak camera. All in all, though, the smartphone's list of excellent features combined with its incredible speed make the Optimus G an excellent smartphone worth considering this holiday.
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