LG Optimus G review

LG are still trying to show that they can build top-class phones as well as any competitor – is the Optimus G proof positive?

July 21, 2013
LG Optimus G
Overall score70%
LG Electronics Developer
Android 4.1.2 Platform
Android Smartphone Genre

At first glance, the Optimus G looks like a fairly generic black rectangle. On the top towards the left is the 3.5mm headphone jack, while the microUSB port sits on the bottom.

The power/wake button is on the right side, while the volume rocker is on the left. Around back is the camera in the top left corner with the flash below it and the speaker in the bottom right corner.

A clear, flat surface covers the back, which displays a reflective panel underneath it with a symmetrical pattern that shimmers when light hits it at the right angle. It’s subtle, and you’ll spend some time checking it out at first, but it’s the front of a phone that draws most of our attention, not the back, so it ends up forgotten.

The earpiece sits bordering the top-centre, with the front-facing camera and some sensors to the right and left of it. Below that is the screen with capacitive navigational keys below that (Back, Home, and [that infernal] Menu).

The corners are slightly rounded, but with its flat back and barely rounded edges, the Optimus G is mildly uncomfortable to grip. However, the flat profile does mean that the Optimus G is a skinny 8.5mm.

Overall, the Optimus G has a definite slab feel to it, doing little to stand out and little to offend. Swapping out the back for something a little more grippy would have been nice, though some may prefer the sparkling.

LG Optimus G

LG Optimus G

LG Optimus G Internals and performance

Inside the Optimus G is a 1.5GHz quad-core processor, with an Adreno 320 GPU and 2GB of RAM. Our review unit had 32GB of non-expandable storage, with about 25GB of that available to the user.

Connecting you to the world is WiFi a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, and HSPA+ (up to 42Mbps down and 5.76Mbps up).

Decent specs indeed, and those manage to net it 18,579.6 points in AnTuTu, which places it fourth, just behind HTC One (19950.2) and Sony Xperia Z(20194.4), though well behind the Samsung Galaxy S4 (27582.4).

In practice, the Optimus G zoomed along, with few noticeable hiccoughs along the way.

LG Optimus G Screen

The Optimus G features a 4.7-inch 1280×768 display. The resolution may leave some disappointed, as it’s not up to scratch with the current top dogs with 1080p beasts, but the difference wasn’t that severe to us and certainly not enough to be a deal breaker.

Viewing angles were great, and we had little to complain about in terms of colours or brightness, inside or outside. Overall, it’s a very good display that left us impressed.

LG Optimus G

LG Optimus G

LG Optimus G Sound and call quality

Call quality was good with no complaints on either end, though not nearly as great as the HTC One.

The rear speaker was tiny and, as can be expected, tinny and lacking in bass. The bundled earphones were of similar breed – decent but struggling with bass performance.

LG Optimus G Camera

The Camera on the Optimus G was rather disappointing. Even in good light, shots tended to come back noisy, and unless you were very diligent with focusing and refocusing, you usually got soft photos.

The software included lots of toggles and switches, including HDR and Panorama modes, along with a Time Catch Shot feature, which basically takes a sequence of photos and lets you choose which ones to keep after the fact. Nice options to have, but it’s not nearly as feature rich as the software on the Samsung Galaxy S4.

Click through to our album to see some sample shots: LG Optimus G sample photographs

LG Optimus G Battery life

We found the battery life on the Optimus G to be acceptable, though we have experienced better.

In regular daily use, we got about a day’s worth out of the device. Lighter use should see it last multiple days without too much trouble. The Optimus G also includes some Power Save and Quad Core Control software to help extend the battery as much as possible.

LG Optimus G

LG Optimus G

LG Optimus G Software

LG have included a handful of extras with their skin on top of Android 4.1.2.

We spent a little time looking at the lockscreen and it’s different unlock effects. By default it has an expanding bubble effect that’s both weird and fun to use. This can be tweaked to a simple circular opening, a water ripple quite similar to Samsung’s, or even a spreading ink effect. They’re fun to play with, though there’s no useful difference. More important is that the lockscreen has configurable shortcuts similar to what we’ve seen on other OEM skins.

The Optimus G obviously includes some bundled apps. This includes Memo and Notebook for simple note taking. Then there’s a Video editor app that lets you stitch together and edit your videos on the phone itself, while Video Wiz allows you to easily make a video clip (using video and/or still images) set to music. It’s more than a little confusing to have multiple pre-installed (and irremovable) apps with essentially the same functionality.

Last, but not least are LG’s floating apps (QSlide). These are accessible from the notification shade and include a browser (named Internet), Memo, Calendar, Calculator, and Videos. When selected, they open as floating windows above the current app and can be dragged around as you like. Floating apps are nice to include, but we wish that the app choices weren’t so limited.

LG Optimus G Conclusion

The LG Optimus G is good. Not amazing, not bad, certainly not terrible. The hardware itself is decent by current standards and the software tweaks are nice, though not nearly as fully featured as the S4 or as slick as clean Android (or even the HTC One, for that matter).

LG still have a way to go before they can stand up to the high rollers, but the Optimus G leaves us hopeful that they can pull it off.

The Optimus G has an RRP of R6,999, which seems a bit pricey. If you can manage to find it for cheaper, then it could be a good option. However, if you’re not that lucky, you’d probably be better served with the HTC One or Samsung Galaxy S4.

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