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LG Optimus G puts LG back into the game
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LG Optimus G puts LG back into the game

It has been quite some time since LG has had a flagship smartphone worthy of the name…one that could go toe to toe with the market leaders. Well, the Optimus G looks to be that phone.

A big shiny black slab greets you as you take the cover off the box..edge to edge Gorilla glass with rounded edges of glossy black plastic with a thin metallic trim. The bottom is the same Gorilla Glass 2 as the front. This phone looks and feels well built with a kind of minimalist design. The bezel around the screen is very thin so the Optimus G doesn’t feel as big in the hand as the 4.7″ screen size would lead you to believe. It is a good weight and feels nice in the hand well balanced but, very slippery…I worry about dropping it and how that would affect the glass covering…I would be tempted to get a case for this phone.

Turn it on and prepare to be amazed…The screen is a spectacular  A vivid 4.7″ (768 x 1280) True HD IPS Plus Display. It looks amazing at any angle. At over 300 pixels per square inch, it’s fair to call it “retina” quality. The color and brightness are top notch. It certainly is among the best screens among the current crop of flagship phones and refletions are minimal because LG uses a screen technology called Zerogap touch – it basically means the all the screen layers are laminated together to prevent glare and the in-cell touch layer is actually inside the LCD.

The Optimus G is powered by a 1.5Ghz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 with 2Gb of RAM making it fast as stink. Internal storage is 32GB with no way of adding more. The result of all this power is a smooth operating phone and I noticed none of the usual lag common to Android 4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich…I am surprised that LG chose not to equip this powerhouse with the latest jelly Bean version of Android. Apps open quickly and Videos are as smooth as silk and look spectacular on this gorgeous screen.

LG does however make up for the absence of Jelly Bean by adding a few cool features to the UI…my favourites are QuickMemo and the QSlide. QuickMemo allows you to take a screenshot of the device and write or draw on the image before saving or sharing it.  QuickMemo can be accessed from the notification bar or by pressing volume up, volume down and the power button at the same time. QSlide allows you to watch a video while they using other apps. It puts the video above the UI and you can then play with the opacity to make the video more/less transparent. Unfortunately it only works with on-device videos so you can’t for example, do it with YouTube videos which is a bit of a bummer.

Phone performance is very good quality in both directions with plenty of volume available but the radio did not perform as well with data…the phone was unable to sync with the Telus LTE network from my home which is on the fringe so was restricted to fairly slow 4G about 1800kbps,…every other LTE capable phone I have tested here has been able to manage 10,000kbps or better. Within the LTE footprint performance was spectacular besting my very fast home connection….Battery life was average for a phone like this…plan on charging it every day.

The front facing 1.3 megapixel camera is fine for video calls or self portraits in really good lighting conditions. The rear facing camera is an 8MP module also capable of shooting 1080p video but it defaults to a more realistic 720p. The camera has all the usual features plus o couple of cute LG exclusives…Time Catch Shot, for example, takes a series of six shots around an event, so you can choose the best single image to keep. You can also set it to take photos if you say one of five programmed words: “cheese,” “smile,” “whisky,” “kimchi,” or “LG.” Just beware that you may snap unwanted shots when instructing people to say cheese or smile.

http://youtu.be/SFatYuOdW8Y

Picture quality was generally good outdoors, nice and sharp good colour with occasionally a tiny bit of oversaturation. Indooors was way more problematic with or without flash results were not great and the Auto white balance seemed to have trouble adjusting to incandescent lighting resulting in an orange cast to the pictures.

The Optimus G’s 1080p HD video quality  was a totally different story…videos are very good, both indoors and outdoors but outdoor shots were clearly the best. Audio was excellent, the image was clear and strong, and I didn’t notice any stuttering or jerkiness during playback.

http://youtu.be/QTipQRfwJO4

After producing too many questionable phones over the past couple of years I am glad to see that LG seems to have found the groove again. The Optimus G could have been at the top of the Android big screen pile..if the radio had been a bit more sensitive, and the camera better indoors. As it is I would rank it a solid number three and a worthwhile buy especially is such things as a great screen for example are more important to you.

The LG Optimus G is available from Telus, Bell SaskTel and Rogers starting at $79 with a 3 year term and $650 with no term.

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Bob Benedetti

Former RCAF Fighter Pilot Bob worked for CTV Montreal as a Reporter, Producer and Executive producer for 35 years retiring in 2004. Bob started reporting on personal technology in 1995 at CTV and continues today at Home Technology Montreal

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