Fast 4G LTE speed; Powerful graphics and performance; Bright, vivid display can be viewed outdoors; Slick interface, with useful features; Camera delivers beautiful photos and fast shutter-speed
Boring design; Below-average battery life
The LG Optimus G offers a beautiful, 4.7-inch display, lots of innovative features and fast AT&T 4G LTE speed.
The Optimus G isn't just the first phone on AT&T to feature a quad-core processor. It's also LG's first legitimate competitor against the Samsung Galaxy S III, the iPhone 5 and other premium smartphones. LG additionally packs this 4.7-inch device with a slew of innovative features focused on performing a number of tasks simultaneously. Throw in AT&T's smoking-fast 4G LTE speed and an eye-popping HD display, and you've got a lean, mean multitasking machine. Read on to discover why the Optimus G is the best device the company has ever made.
A large, 4.7-inch display holds court in the front of the device, encased by a black bezel. Capacitive touch buttons (Back, Home and Menu) sit along the bottom, with a chrome LG logo at the top. A 1.3 megapixel camera sits in the top right corner.
The sides of the phone are wrapped in dark gray chrome, while the top and bottom are lined in black, ridged plastic. A small power button is on the right, flashing bright red as the phone charges. The left side of the Optimus G holds the volume rocker and a long port cover that conceals slots for a microSD and SIM card. A microUSB slot can be found along the device's bottom edge, with a headphone jack located on top.
We could fit the 5.15 x 2.82 x 0.33-inch device snuggly in our pants pocket. The 5.2-ounce Optimus G is slightly thicker and heavier than the Samsung Galaxy S III (5.4 x 2.8 x 0.3 inches, 4.7 ounces), but feels a little more solid. The Sprint version of the Optimus G is a bit lighter (5.1 ounces) and noticeably narrower (5.19 x 2.71 x .33 inches). The Sprint Optimus G lacks a microSD Card slot, but it comes with 32GB of storage.
Display and Audio
Thanks to LG's ZeroGap Touch -- a high-gloss, tempered-glass design -- we were able to view the display outdoors in direct sunlight. In terms of brightness, the Optimus G impresses, notching 387 lux on our light meter. That was more than enough to outshine the 299 lux Android phone category average and the 210 lux score of the Galaxy S III.
The Optimus G's sole speaker delivered audio loud enough to fill our small test room. However, it lacked depth and clarity. As we listened to the "I Don't Like" remix, the bass was non-existent. The gritty track sounded flat, and rappers Pusha T and Kanye West's vocals suffered greatly as a result.
Both the QWERTY and Phone keyboard delivered strong haptic feedback as we typed out texts and emails.
Software and User Interface
The LG Optimus G runs Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) with the Optimus 3.0 overlay. Similar to the LG Intuition and LG Escape, swiping in any direction will unlock the phone. We absolutely loved the ripple effect accented by the rose petals floating serenely on the surface. Swiping one of the four icons along the bottom of the screen (Phone, Messaging, Browser and Camera) will automatically launch that app.
The lock screen features a large, easy-to-read digital clock with the date located just below. Another cool touch is the Iris-Out transition when you press the power button to turn off the screen. Similar to an old-school cartoon, the screen turns to black with an ever-shrinking circle, reminiscent of a closing camera iris.
Five omnipresent apps (Phone, Messaging, Apps, Browser and Camera) sit below a sliding white bar that illustrates home-screen navigation. You can swap out these apps with a quick drag and drop.
The notification area includes several shortcuts for various options, including toggling Wi-Fi, Vibrate, Bluetooth, NFC and GPS. You can also activate QuickMemo from here, which lets you scribble on the screen and share that image (more on that below). LG even lets you edit the order of these settings, and add and remove options. We added screen brightness and put it second on the list after QuickMemo.
Wise Screen , a new addition to LG, works just like Samsung's SmartStay feature. The function disables display timeout by scanning your face to detect whether or not you're looking at the screen. In a head-to-head comparison, we found the two devices were evenly matched. However, the S III was a little faster in detecting our faces.
Similar to recent LG phones, Optimus G users can create custom icons for apps, using LG's list of images or photos from the gallery. We could also create folders by dragging app icons on top of one another, which is a great way to conserve space. Folders can also be expanded to resemble widgets.
We also came across a few functions controlled by gestures, including flipping the device to mute calls, stop alarms and pause videos. The Optimus G also features tilt mechanics that enabled us to move apps from one screen to the next. We simply held down the app and tilted the phone in the direction we wished to move the app.
In the videos app, we used pinch to zoom in and out of features. Swiping to the right displays a large timestamp and progresses the video, while a left swipe rewinds. An upwards swipe increases brightness, and a downwards swipe decreases it.
The Optimus G is loaded with carrier-branded software. Some apps are more helpful than others. People experiencing difficulty using the phone can use AT&T DeviceHelp for quick usage-tips. AT&T Messages helps users streamline communications by aggregating voicemail, email and texts into one stream. The Locker gives users 5GB of free space to store images and videos. Other AT&T apps include FamilyMap, Navigator, Code Scanner, LiveTV, Smart Wi-Fi and My AT&T.
On the LG side, there's NotePad, which comes in handy for jotting down a quick note or two. We also like having the ability to attach images, audio and location to our notes, maximizing their usefulness. NFC fans will get a kick out of LG Tag+. Using LG's custom tags, users can create a set of rules to follow and commands to perform when two phones are touched together.
Third-party apps include Polaris Office 4.0, Twitter, YPMobile, Google Chrome, Amazon Kindle and YouTube.
The Optimus G delivered a top-notch score of 5,706 on the Benchmark CPU test. That's double the 2,835 Android phone category average. It was also enough to blow the Samsung Galaxy S III (1.5-GHz Snapdragon S4 CPU) and the Samsung Galaxy Note II's (1.6-GHz quad-core Exynos CPU) scores of 4,786 and 4,643 out of the water.
We also saw a strong showing in terms of graphics. Despite having 4 apps running in the background, "Bad Piggies" played smoothly. On An3DBench, the Optimus G scored 7,350 to top the 7,157 category average. The Galaxy S III notched 7,272. When we ran Quadrant, which measures CPU, I/O and graphics performance, the Optimus G scored 7,316 to shatter the 2,986 average. The Note II and the S III delivered 5,763 and 5,159 scores, respectively.
4G LTE and Web Browsing
As AT&T's stable of 4G LTE phones steadily grows, we continue to be impressed with the network's speeds. On Speednet.net, the LG Optimus G averaged a download rate of 25.8 Mbps and a zippy upload speed of 9.4 Mbps.
Surfing the web on the Optimus G was nice and swift. The phone loaded the mobile versions of CNN.com, NYTimes.com and ESPN.com in 2.4, 2.7 and 4.5 seconds. Loading the desktop version of Laptopmag.com took a mere 6.5 seconds.
The 1.3 megapixel, front-facing camera delivered deep and rich color as well, evidenced by our bright-red coat in our photos.
LG included a "Say Cheese" feature with the Optimus G, which automatically snaps a picture when the phrase is uttered. The feature also works with several other phrases (Smile, Whisky, Kimchi and LG) for shutterbugs who want to shake things up.
We were impressed with the rear-facing camera's 1080p video. Despite an overcast day, we still saw bright blues, glossy blacks and opulent yellows in passing traffic. As we watched the playback on our desktop, we could easily read text from a sign across the street and on passing buses.
After launching a video, we tapped the Q Slide icon, which displayed a small slider. As we moved the slider to the left, the video became more transparent, enabling us to see our homescreen and launch apps, such as the browser. We restored the video's opacity by moving the slider all the way to the right. Unfortunately, the feature doesn't apply to videos downloaded via the Google Play store.
Dual Screen/Dual Play
Building on the multitasking theme, LG has enhanced its media-sharing experience. Dual Screen/Dual Play on the Optimus G enables users to share video with DNLA-compatible displays while performing other tasks. After making sure both devices were on the same Wi-Fi network, we selected the video we wished to share. It began playing on our 46-inch Samsung Series 8000 Smart TV after a 3-4 second wait. From there, we browsed the web as the video continued to play on the TV.
Overall, we really like the feature; it's a viable way for people to share business presentations.
We enjoyed loud, clear audio during our test calls to both landlines and mobile phones in New York and New Jersey. However, we did experience a few instances of fade-out during calls to mobile phones. The Optimus G's speakerphone was nice and loud, though our callers reported some echoing.
During the LAPTOP Battery Test (continuous web surfing via 4G LTE on 40 percent brightness), the LG Optimus G's 2100 mAh Li-polymer battery lasted 5 hours and 53 minutes. That's 7 minutes short of the 6-hour Android phone average. The Samsung Galaxy S III lasted a bit longer, at 6:28, but it also has a dimmer screen.
VerdictS III), and the camera can compete with any Android phone on the market. However, the amount of AT&T software will be a turn-off to some, and Optimus 3.0 doesn't feel quite as polished or intuitive as Samsung's TouchWiz treatment. Overall, though, the Optimus G is a top-notch Android phone.
|Form Factor||Candybar Touchscreen|
|Operating System||Android 4.0|
|Networks||3G, UMTS, 4G HSPA+, 4G LTE|
|CPU||1.5-GHz quad-core Qualcomm MDM9215M APQ8064 with Adreno 320 GPU|
|Memory Expansion Type||microSD Card|
|Display (main)||4.7 inches|
|Bluetooth Type||4.0 + BLE|
|Front Camera Resolution||1.3MP|
|Camera Resolution||8 MP|
|Audio formats supported||eAAC+|
|Audio formats supported||AMR-NB|
|Audio formats supported||AMR WB|
|Audio formats supported||AAC+|
|Audio formats supported||AAC|
|Audio formats supported||MP3|
|Audio formats supported||EVRC|
|Talk / Standby Time||Up to 10 hours/Up to 13.5 days|
|Size||5.15 x 2.82 x 0.33 inches|
|SAR Rating (Head)|
|SAR Rating (Body)|