Look and feel
The LG Optimus 4X HD looks a lot like the Optimus L7, with its slim rectangular build, metallic-rimmed body and full-frontal glass panel. It looks smooth and feels good in the hand
Ease of use
A spacious screen makes it easy to browse through Android Ice Cream Sandwich’s intuitive interface, as well as surf the web and bash out emails and texts. Using the Optimus 4X is a cinch
We were massively underwhelmed by the eight-megapixel camera, thanks to a ropey auto-focus and poor evening/night time performance. However, you do get the usual high-end features such as NFC
With a quad-core processor on board, the Optimus 4X can run any game or app you throw at it, with no performance issues at all
Another of the Optimus 4X’s weak spots, the battery drains in just 3-5 hours when watching movies or playing games. The Samsung Galaxy S III and HTC One X performed much better in our battery tests
One thing’s for sure: LG is prolific when it comes to phone launches. We recently reviewed its trilogy of fashion phones, the Optimus L3, Optimus L5 and Optimus L7, as well as the chic designer Prada Phone 3.0, and the Korean company isn’t done yet. Next up is the super-powered Optimus 4X HD, boasting a quad-core processor and a supremely crisp 4.7-inch screen – but is this the perfect smartphone for media and gaming?
LG followers will notice that the Optimus 4X looks a little bit similar to the Optimus L7, which came out last month. The Optimus 4X takes the same rectangular design, boasting a slender body with a full-frontal glass panel and dual metallic rings running around the edges. Even the rear is identical, with a soft papery texture that feels great in the palm. You can peel the back off to access the SIM and microSD slots and the battery.
We love the sleek design, but have to admit we’re more interested in what lies beneath. The ‘4X’ part of the LG Optimus 4X’s name comes from its quad-core processor, which makes this mobile as powerful as the Samsung Galaxy S III and the HTC One X, our only five-star phones of 2012 (so far). With that amount of power, you can download any game you like from Google’s Play store, and it’ll run with a silky smooth frame rate. However, the phone does heat up when the processor works hard – not enough to singe your pinkies, but enough to concern us all the same.
Games look great too, thanks to the impressively sharp 4.7-inch screen. The densely-packed pixels keep images crisp, whether you’re flicking through your photo collection or relaxing with a movie, while colours are glossy and vibrant. The screen is pleasingly bright too, so you’ll have no trouble using the Optimus 4X outdoors. Excellent viewing angles make it possible to watch a show with a friend, without enduring dark or fuzzy images.
When the Optimus 4X is in standby mode, the battery doesn't drain at all. However, with regular use you’ll be lucky to get a full 24 hours from each charge. With most of the features turned off and the screen brightness set to low, you’ll happily be able to text and check emails for well over a day, but stream video or play games and you’ll see the battery level plummet. We didn’t quite manage five hours of TV before the screen faded to black, while games sap life even quicker – expect no more than two to three hours if you’re playing intensive 3D titles. Even browsing the web over Wi-Fi saps the power a little too eagerly.
LG has included a ‘power saver’ mode which disables features and turns down screen brightness when the battery hits a set level, but this won’t help when it comes to media playback and gaming (in our tests, we had a lot of these features disabled anyway). If battery life is important, we’d recommend the Samsung Galaxy S III or the HTC One X instead.
Android fans will be pleased to hear that Ice Cream Sandwich comes pre-installed on the Optimus 4X – no annoying waits for an upgrade here. The interface is as slick as ever, and you can customise which shortcuts appear at the bottom of each desktop screen (up to five at one time). You can also add toggles for Wi-Fi, NFC, GPS and other features to the notifications tab, so you have all of your favourites in one place. You can also access your phonebook, texts, emails and the camera direct from the lock screen by tugging on the appropriate icons, although there’s no apparent way to change these shortcuts.
Big phones like the Optimus 4X are perfect for browsing the web on the move. That large and responsive touch-screen makes it easy to read and scroll around almost any website, no matter how dense, and the sharp resolution means text is crisp and clearly legible even when zoomed right out. You can stream video using websites such as BBC iPlayer after downloading Flash from the Google Play store, although the browser occasionally crashed on us when doing so.
Texting and emailing are simple enough using the virtual keyboard, thanks to the generous screen size. Each key comes with alternative symbols in the corner – hold your finger on the button and the appropriate number or punctuation will be used instead, saving you from flicking through alternative keyboards. A decent auto-correct is also a big help for speedy typists. Our only issue was occasionally quitting out of the apps by accident when trying to hit the ‘space’ bar, as the touch-sensitive buttons beneath the screen are pushed right up next to the display.
Unfortunately, after enjoying the excellent cameras on the Samsung Galaxy S III and HTC’s One series, the Optimus 4X’s eight-megapixel effort is nothing short of a crushing disappointment. Focus is a huge issue, as the auto-focus often fails to latch onto a scene or subject, leaving them fuzzy. You can tap the screen to focus instead, which takes a second or two, although even that isn’t guaranteed to give you a sharp shot. Photos taken in dimly lit areas came out near-black, while the flash massively over-exposes any subjects that aren’t stood 10ft away.
Features are standard for a smartphone camera. You can change resolution, use various settings for evening shots, landscapes etc, and toggle the flash. There’s no burst mode, but you can shoot HD video. Our clips looked fine when played back on a monitor, although voices other than our own were a little soft. A 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera does the job for Skype calls.
As one of the first big quad-core phones announced at the end of last year, we had high hopes that the LG Optimus 4X would be a mind-blowing media machine, perfect for gaming or movies on the move. The bright, crisp 4.7-inch screen is a great way to enjoy video or surf the web, and the quad-core processor handles the most complex 3D titles with ease, but the poor battery life restricts you to shorter journeys. A mediocre camera is another blot on the Optimus 4X’s report card, especially given the steep asking price.