Yes, the LG Optimus G is the first quad-core smartphone on Sprint's network, but that's not the only thing that's impressive about this device. LG has fitted the Optimus G with a beautiful 4.7-inch display, and loads of extra features and apps. Unlike the Optimus G on AT&T, Sprint's version also comes with 32GB of internal storage and a 13-megapixel camera. Does this $199 device have it all?
The back of the Optimus G features subtle patterning, reminiscent of tight quiltwork, resting underneath a polycarbonate film. There's a slight chrome border framing the front panel of the Optimus G, bringing a streak of elegance to this otherwise plain device.
Display and Audio
ZeroGap Touch, LG's high-gloss, tempered-glass design, reduced screen glare and allowed us to view the screen even in direct sunlight. The display on the Optimus G is also bright, measuring 344 lux compared with a slightly lower score of 336 lux on the HTC EVO 4G LTE. The Samsung Galaxy S III mustered only 213 lux. The Optimus G for AT&T was slightly brighter, scoring 387 lux. The category average is 299.
Audio quality was great when we listened to Sleigh Bells' "Rill Rill," with full, round music; the sound easily filled our testing room. Unfortunately, the speaker became muffled when we rested the phone on a table or countertop.
Both the phone keyboard and the QWERTY keyboard provided strong haptic feedback as we typed texts and emails.
Software and Interface
There are seven home screens, providing plenty of room for apps and widgets. The home row supports up to six icons or folders that remain at the bottom of the display. Using a pinch gesture on any home screen opens the home screen editor, where pages can be added by pressing the plus button or deleted by dragging them to the top of the screen.
You can view recent apps and switch between them by long-pressing the home button. Long-pressing on the Menu button launches a Google search.
The LG Optimus G also includes Wise screen, which uses the front-facing camera to scan for facial features, ensuring the display doesn't power down even if you haven't touched the phone for a period of time. (If this sounds like Samsung's Smart Stay feature, it's very similar.)
Much like other recent LG phones, users can create custom icons for apps on the Optimus G using LG's images or pictures from the gallery. The Optimus G also supports app folders, which can be created by dragging icons on top of each other. When expanded, these folders resemble widgets.
Courtesy mode allows users to silence alarms or pause video by flipping the phone facedown. We could also use side-to-side tilt gestures to switch between screens when moving app icons on the home screen.
Similar to Samsung's TecTiles and Sony's SmartTags (pictured above), LG's Optimus G also supports NFC tags, which cause the phone to perform a set of actions when touched. With the LG Tags+ app, we set a profile for the "office" location that included turning on Wi-Fi, setting the phone to vibrate only, and opening the Web browser. We wrote this profile to an NFC tag and were able to launch these settings any time we tapped our phone to the tag.
Other bundled apps include Polaris Office 4.0, Google Chrome, a Calculator and Calendar app and Video Wiz.
We could easily switch back to our main theme, with all our app layouts and widgets in their proper place, by going back through the Sprint ID application.
We found Sprint ID to be handy, essentially giving us a different phone for different tasks or moods. When we wanted to check news, switching to a customized theme especially for news is handy, and we could easily switch back to our old skin when we were done.
On the benchmark CPU test, the Optimus G scored a 3,565 against the average of 2,901, while the Samsung Galaxy S III (1.5 GHz Snapdragon S4 CPU) got a 4,324 and the HTC EVO 4G LTE (1.5 GHz Snapdragon MSM8960) blew them both away with a score of 5,450.
The Optimus G delivered strong graphic performance, clocking a 7,322 on the An3DBench test. The Samsung Galaxy S III notched 7,266 and the HTC EVO 4G LTE performed slightly better with a score of 7,390. The category average is 7,136.
On Quadrant, which measures CPU and graphics performance, the Sprint Optimus G scored 5,771, which beats the Galaxy S III (4,888) and HTC Evo 4G LTE (4,736).
While the Optimus G is LTE-capable, Sprint is just starting the rollout process of its 4G network. New York City is not yet supported, so we could only browse and download over a 3G connection. We saw a sad average download speed of 355 Kbps and upload speeds of 470 Kbps in New York City.
As expected, it took a lengthy 9.2 seconds to load NYTimes.com, 13.4 seconds to load ESPN.com and 13.1 seconds for Laptopmag.com.
Camera and Camcorder
We enjoyed playing with the "Say Cheese" feature, which allows you to take a picture when a specified phrase is spoken. The magic words that activate the Optimus G's shutter are "cheese," "smile," "kimchi," "LG" and our favorite, "Whiskey." This was a fun feature, but sensitive. We turned on "Say Cheese" in our office in the middle of a few different conversations and the shutter constantly activated.
The front-facing camera has a 1.2-MP sensor. There was noticeable noise around edges, but colors were still bright and vivid.
The rear-facing camera also records HD 1280 x 720p video. We were impressed by the video quality as we recorded passing traffic along our busy block in Manhattan. We could easily make out cars and people in both the shade and the sun as they bustled past us.
The Optimus G also supports live zooming during video playback, allowing us to pinch and zoom in and out on specific areas of interest. We could also slide our finger horizontally to fast forward and rewind the recording, and swiping horizontally adjusted the video brightness.
QSlide and Dual Screen
Additionally, the Optimus G has a feature called QSlide, which allows users to set the opacity on a video so they can navigate through their phone at the same time. We were able to dim the video and perform a Google search at the same time. While this was a cool feature, we couldn't find many practical uses. This, too, only works with videos in the video library, and not with other video apps. So we couldn't dim a YouTube video and use our phone concurrently.
The Optimus G can also play video with any DLNA-compatible display while the phone performs other tasks using the Dual Screen/Dual Play feature. Both the display and phone need to be attached to the same Wi-Fi network, and then video sharing is a button-click away. We connected to a DLNA-enabled Samsung TV and within seconds began streaming video from our phone to the larger screen. Once the video was playing, we were able to continue looking at pictures and browsing the Web on the Optimus G as usual.
Calls were loud and clear on the LG Optimus G over Sprint's network as we walked down the streets of New York City. This quality extended to both the earpiece as well as the speakerphone when making calls to both land lines and other cellphones. The caller, who was on a mobile device, heard some background noise; calling a landline provided a better connection.
On the LAPTOP Battery test, which involves continuous Web surfing via 3G, the LG Optimus G's 2,100mAh battery lasted 5 hours and 44 minutes, nine minutes less than the LG Optimus G for AT&T, despite AT&T browsing over 4G LTE rather than the Sprint version's limited 3G connection. This runtime is also just under the category average of 5:59. The Samsung Galaxy S III lasted significantly longer at 7 hours and 40 minutes.
VerdictSamsung Galaxy S III lasts longer on a charge and has more polished software, but we like this phone's brighter screen and faster processor.
|Form Factor||Candybar Touchscreen|
|Operating System||Android 4.0|
|Data||EV-DO Rev. A|
|CPU||1500 MHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro APQ8064|
|Internal Memory||32 GB|
|Memory Expansion Type|
|Display (main)||4.7 inches|
|Bluetooth Type||Bluetooth 4.0|
|Front Camera Resolution||1.3MP|
|Video formats supported||MPEG-4|
|Video formats supported||H.264|
|Video formats supported||H.263|
|Talk / Standby Time||13 hours|
|Size||5.2 x 2.1 x 0.3 inches|
|SAR Rating (Head)|
|SAR Rating (Body)|