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CES: LG Optimus G smartphone hands-on review

07 Jan 2013

LAS VEGAS: The Optimus G is LG's current flagship 4G Android handset. While LG's remaining tight-lipped regarding its Optimus G UK release plans, given the fact that the country's just launched its new EE 4G network, we're thinking the handset may appear sooner rather than later.

Because of this, when offered the chance to have a hands on look at the Optimus G at LG's Consumer Electronics Show 2013 keynote we couldn't resist.

Design and build
Visually the Optimus G looks a lot more like previous Optimus handsets than LG's latest Nexus 4 smartphone.

The Optimus G is fairly angular and slightly boxy when compared to HTC and Samsung's latest One and Galaxy handsets.

Despite looking different to most handsets the Optimus G is fairly similarly sized, falling into the large smartphone size bracket measuring in at 132x69x8.5mm and weighing 145g.

While this means the device will feel slightly unwieldy to small-handed smartphone users, we found it meant that the Optimus G hit the same size sweetspot previously nailed by the Samsung Galaxy S3 and HTC One X+.

We were slightly concerned regarding the Optimus G's build quality, with our hands on time with it leaving us unconvinced that its unibody plastic chassis could survive even a minor bump or scrape unscathed.

Screen
The Optimus G features a 4.7in screen that comes loaded with True HD-IPS + LCD capacitive touchscreen technology.CES LG Optimus 4 UI

With a 768x1280 pixel resolution and 318 ppi pixel density we found the display was pretty decent, boasting decent viewing angles and brightness and colour balance levels.

However, comparing the display to the Lumia 920 we had on hand, we did notice a slight disparity in quality, with the Nokia phone's screen looking slightly crisper. This could be more to do with the showroom's lighting levels and we can't be sure before doing some more thorough tests.

Speed
In terms of speed we were very impressed with the Optimus G. Being powered by a hefty quad-core 1.5 GHz Qualcomm Krait CPU that is ably backed up by a Adreno 320 GPU and 2GB RAM we found the device easily dealt with all the preinstalled services and apps loaded on the device.LG Optimus G processor management

The same was true when loading webpages. Testing the Optimus G on the US AT&T 4G network we found the device loaded multiple pages and videos instantly, we're hoping the device will be equally impressive if and when it arrives in the UK using the country's EE network.

Unfortunately though, we didn't get a chance to really put the Optimus G through its paces, with an LG spokesman all but snatching the device from our hands when we tried to install some more demanding apps onto the device.

Camera and video features
Taking a few photos around the showroom floor, whole competent, we found the Optimus G's 8MP rear-facing camera could struggle in low light conditions.

In the few test shots we got to make, the photos all looked dull and at times a little bit fuzzy.

However, our initial disappointment with the camera's photographic capabilities was quickly was assuaged when we stumbled upon the host of video features LG's loaded the Optimus G with.

Chief among these is the Optimus G's ability to zoom in on captured video. Shooting a short video on the Optimus G we found we were able zoom in on video's being played numerous times.

While this may sound trivial, we can imagine the ability to zoom in captured video very useful, with it letting you spot numerous facts, or nuances you have missed when initially shooting it.

Operating system
We were particularly disappointed to find the Optimus G is still running on Google's Android 4.04 Ice Cream Sandwich operating system, not its new 4.1 Jelly Bean version.

This means that you won't get useful features like Google Now, a service that offers you push updates on your surrounding area base on your online search habits and the option to run multiple user accounts off the device.CES LG Optimus G operating system

Even worse, LG's chosen to overlay the Optimus G's operating system with its own custom user interface. This means that the Optimus G's user interface is very different to versions seen on other Android handsets, a fact that may put off new users to the ecosystem and will delay its promised upgrade to Jelly Bean.

Battery
While we didn't get a chance to check the Optimus G's battery the levels boasted by LG are reasonable. LG claims that the Optimus G's non-removable Li-Po 2100 mAh battery boasts 335 hours life on standby and 15 hours talk time - even when running over 4G.

Additionally, LG's loaded the Optimus G with a power management option that lets you reduce the processors power consumption. The service allows you to extend the Optimus G's battery life at the expense of processing power.

Overall
Summing up, while we are pretty impressed with LG's Optimus G, even during our opening hands on we did notice a few nagging issues.

Chief of these is its outdated Android operating system and less than convincing build quality. We're hoping at the very least, where it to arrive in the UK, LG will have rolled out its Jelly Bean update.

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