Look and feel
Some people will be put off by the LG Optimus G Pro’s bulky size, but it’s solidly constructed and doesn’t waste any space. We like the glossy finish and sparkly disco backing.
Ease of Use
The ability to multi-task on the spacious 5.5-inch screen makes the Optimus G Pro an excellent device for staying productive, and the display is both sharp and responsive.
Too many to list. The Optimus G Pro’s second battery and charging dock are excellent extras, while the 13MP camera is crammed full of useful tools.
A quad-core processor backed up by 2GB of RAM keeps everything ticking over nicely, even when multi-tasking or playing the latest Android games.
Despite the powerful processor and bright, enormous screen, the LG Optimus G Pro keeps going for well over a day with standard use, and can stream video for six hours before dying. The secondary battery doubles this.
Review by Sunetra Chakravati,4/10/2013 11:50:14 AM
Ease of use
Long battery life (plus secondary battery);
Sharp and spacious HD screen;
Feature-packed 13MP camera
Will be too big for some tastes;
LG’s Optimus G Pro isn’t pencilled for a UK release yet, having only seen the light of day in Asia. But this 5.5-inch behemoth packs in such a fantastic array of features, including a beautiful and enormous Full HD screen and super-smart 13MP camera, that we’ve got all our fingers and toes crossed for a British arrival. From its excellent multitasking abilities to the incredible multimedia performance, this is a step up even from the marvellous Nexus 4 (as long as you don’t mind slipping a girthy machine into your pocket or bag).
Bit of a beast
And girthy it is. The LG Optimus G Pro is a solid handful, which begs to be operated with two hands like Samsung's Galaxy Note 2. However, LG has made sure not to waste any space at all – the 5.5-inch screen stretches incredibly close to the edges, while the phone is a lot slimmer than we expected at 9.4mm. It’s undoubtedly hefty at 172g, but still isn’t quite as oppressively heavy as the Nokia Lumia 920.
We love the simple white design, broken up by a silver border that runs around the edges, and the LG Nexus 4’s sparkly disco rear also makes another appearance here (in a more subtle fashion). Although the Optimus G Pro’s body may lack the refined and durable feel of the metallic HTC One, it’s still a solid, premium finish that feels tough enough to survive a few knocks.
The phone’s power button is positioned on the right side while the volume rocker is over on the left. There’s also a bonus shortcut button on the left edge of the device, which can be configured to open any app you like when pushed, although we found we kept hitting it by accident. Eventually we simply disabled it in the settings.
LG has hinted that a stylus would be bundled with the Optimus G Pro should it come to the West, which can be stored in a handy slot at one corner of the phone when not in use. This Korean version has a very different piece of apparatus in its place – a slide-out aerial, something we haven’t seen on a mobile since back in the day, when men were men and mobile phones had to be carried in their very own briefcase. Tugging out the aerial didn’t seem to make any difference to our reception, but it could be used to fend off muggers or other unforeseen threats.
‘Stunning’ is probably the most accurate one-word description of the LG Optimus G Pro’s 5.5-inch display. Sporting a dense 1920 x 1080 Full HD resolution, we found ourselves gawping at the clarity of images – pull up a street photo, for instance, and you’ll be able to read every tiny sign and license plate. HD videos play out in their full glory, and colour reproduction is a beautiful compromise between realistic tones and enhanced vibrancy. In short, photos and videos look bloomin’ marvellous.
A screenshot taken with the LG Optimus G Pro. Purdy!
That crystal clarity also helps when browsing the web, as you can zoom right out of a particularly busy page yet still read the tiny text just fine. We also found the maximum brightness was strong enough to ward off evil reflections when using the Optimus G Pro outside.
Multitasking is the LG Optimus G Pro’s strongest hand, unsurprising given that immense screen. As with the likes of Samsung’s Galaxy Note 8.0, this means you can have multiple apps open at once. Just pull down the notifications tab and you’ll see a ‘QSlide’ bar containing apps such as the web browser, video player, memo pad and calendar. Tap the app you need and it will open in a dinky window, which you can move about and resize. You can only open two of these windows at once, plus a full app in the background, but we can’t see why you’d ever need more to be honest.
A web browser window and email window open at the same time. Sliding the QSlide bar on the browser window makes it fade into the background...
Best of all, the QSlide windows come with a transparency slider at the top, which allow you to make them temporarily see-through. This is particularly great if you’re watching a movie but want to bash out a quick email, check something on the web or generally mess around. Just make the video semi-transparent, and you can continue to watch it in the background while you do your thing.
The Optimus G Pro can multi-task in other, clever little ways also. For instance, if you’re busy messing around on your phone and you receive a text, the message appears in a compact box at the top of the screen. You can either close it down or tap on it to respond right there in the box.
The Optimus G Pro crams in a powerful quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 processor, the same as the Samsung Galaxy S4. As well as multitasking with your apps, this means you can download the latest Android games from the Google Play store and play them with silky smooth frame rates. This phone won’t be outdated for quite some time.
Packing a beefy 3,140mAh battery (which is bigger capacity than the Samsung Galaxy S4, HTC One and every other recent premium device), we expected impressive longevity from the Optimus G Pro. We weren’t disappointed. After a full day of reasonable use (emails, texts, quick calls and web browsing), with screen brightness turned right up and Wi-Fi enabled, we still had half of our battery life remaining. We also streamed video over Wi-Fi for a full six hours before the battery died, and that’s with screen brightness turned to max – that’s a couple more hours than you’d get with the likes of Sony’s Xperia Z.
Don’t worry if you’re off on some epic journey and want to watch movies the whole way, because LG’s got you covered. The Optimus G Pro comes with a second battery in the box, plus a nifty plastic charger that doubles as a stand, so even if you run out of juice you can simply slot the new battery in and charge up the old one when you get the chance. Plus LG’s comprehensive power saver mode can be configured to disable power-hungry features when the battery hits a set level (such as 20%).
The LG Optimus G Pro’s 13MP camera is fantastic on its own, thanks to the smart automatic mode which takes care of brightness levels, ISO settings and all that other gubbins to produce well-lit, impressively sharp shots. However, it’s the sackful of bonus features that really help the camera to stand out.
You get all the usual tools such as burst shot, beauty shot and HDR mode, but LG has also thrown a couple of features rarely seen on smartphone cameras. Voice activation, for instance, allows you to take a shot by saying a pre-set phrase, such as ‘cheese’ or ‘kimchi’. We also love the ‘Time Machine’ feature, which is perfect if you’re always just missing that special moment by being too slow on the shutter button. This mode actually takes photos before you even push the button, and gives you the chance to view and save these premature shots.
You can also capture ‘VR Panoramas’, which are 360-degree photos as popularised by the LG Nexus 4. Simply stand on one spot and twirl around with your camera held out, and the Optimus G Pro stitches them together into a full scene – a great way of capturing breath-taking landscapes. There’s the occasional iffy join, but the technology works surprisingly well.
How the VR panorama looks when viewed as a normal photo. You need to view it on the Optimus G Pro to see it in all its 360-degree glory.
Suitably impressed so far? Well, switch to video mode (which can shoot Full HD 1920 x 1080 movies) and you get even more funky features. On top of the usual tools, such as taking still shots while recording video, there’s also a nifty tracking mode that can be activated at any time – just tap on a person, animal or piece of litter blowing mysteriously on the wind, and the lens will try its best to keep the subject in focus.
There’s also an interesting ‘Audio Zoom’ mode, which attempts to block out surrounding noise while picking up whatever your subject is saying. We found that when not in use, the Optimus G Pro’s mics did an impressive job of picking up everything going on in the room, but of course it can be a little overwhelming if lots of people are talking at once. With Audio Zoom enabled, our results were hit-and-miss. The crystal-clear audio tends to become muffled, as if the room suddenly and inexplicably filled with water, and voices behind us often still dominated proceedings.
But the most interesting new video feature is Dual Recording mode, which activates both the front and rear camera simultaneously – something Samsung also implemented in its upcoming Galaxy S4. The idea is that you can capture yourself rambling on about the scene you’re shooting, like those commentary videos that suddenly seem so incredibly popular on YouTube. Dual Recording is fully flexible, so you can either have yourself in a small box in the corner while the scene you’re shooting dominates, or if you’re massively egotistical you can swap them around so the front-facing camera is the main focus. You can even move the box around and resize it.
LG’s Optimus G Pro is one of the best premium smartphones we’ve tested, boasting a brilliant HD screen, powerful processor and long-lasting battery, plus a heap of useful and thoughtful tools. Multi-taskers will love it, movie fans will be in awe of the sharp and colourful screen, and photographers will appreciate the capable and feature-packed 13MP camera. The only potential eyebrow-raiser is the sheer size of the thing. We’re hoping the Optimus G Pro makes it to British shores soon, but in our opinion it’s well worth an import.
NOTE TO BRITISH READERS: Although the Optimus G Pro supports 4G in Asia, this feature doesn’t work in the UK thanks to a difference n bandwidth.