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LG Optimus G Review [Sprint]

Whenever we ask our readers to give us specs that they would like to see in a “dream device,” you would most certainly see a few, if not all of the Optimus G’s listed. Although, LG isn’t pushing the Optimus like Samsung is pushing the Galaxy S3 and you won’t see this device on all four major U.S. carriers. Customers on AT&T and Sprint will only see the device, but more importantly, the next Nexus device is rumored to be based around this phone, so it makes reviewing this device’s hardware and look somewhat more important than others.

If you’re on Sprint, let’s go over why this device may or may not be your next.  

The Good:

  • Specs:  Welcome to this device’s main selling point. The Optimus G on Sprint features specs that easily set it ahead of the pack. The phone houses a beautiful 4.7″ IPS+ HD display, 2GB of RAM, a massive 13MP back-facing camera, 32GB of memory (non-expandable), 1.3MP front facing shooter, NFC technology, and 4G LTE capabilities. These specs are awesome. Better yet, this device actually feels like it takes advantage of having them and it’s incredibly fun to use.
  • Performance:  Thanks to those amazing specs, this device blazes. Switching between apps, gaming (I touch on that below), and browsing the web are child’s play for this device. In fact, I don’t think I experienced any real “lag” with the device during day-to-day use. The Snapdragon S4 Pro chip is a truly exciting piece of hardware and I’m hoping more devices will begin to use it. It should be interesting to see what NVIDIA, Texas Instruments, and Samsung come up with to counter Qualcomm’s beastly SoC.
  • Display:  Kellex reviewed the AT&T version of this device and I promised myself I wouldn’t steal from his review. I lied. K’s opinion on the display matches that of my own and he also has a much better macro lens than I do. I will paste the Display section from his review here to make sure everyone gets just how awesome this display is: “The 4.7″ HD IPS+ display on the Optimus G is stunning. The whites are actually white, brightness levels are very good, the viewing angles are exceptional, and colors pop without looking fake, all thanks to the LCD tech used. LG used ‘Zerogap Touch,’ which eliminates the gap between the LCD and front glass, so that the display looks incredible and also seems extra responsive to touch. With close to 318ppi and a non-PenTile layout, there are few things, if any, wrong with the display on this phone. And as always, here are some macro shots so that you can see the pixel arrangement.”

(Click each image for larger versions)

  • Camera:  I haven’t been able to say enough good things about LG’s work with this camera. Sprint’s variant features a 13MP sensor, perfect for shooting almost anything I threw in front of it. When in low lighting, I found performance to be exceptional and I got some really nice shots when I visited a farmer’s market. Unfortunately, around my place this time of year there is zero sun, so I wasn’t able to get too many sunny shots. Of the shots I did take, the resolution was humongous which made for larger files to send and upload, which if you’re on mobile connection and not on WiFi, could spell trouble. Lowering the resolution in the settings may be something most users should look into.

  • Size/Feel:  When it comes to smartphones these days, size matters! For some, this device will be simply too big. I handed it off to some iPhone owners and to them, it’s a brick. To me, it’s just right. It’s all about what you grow accustomed to and user preference. There’s no “perfect size” in my opinion. LG was able to fit the biggest display possible inside this body, without sacrificing size and weight. The device in hand feels great, but yes, you will need two hands at times to operate it. If a big display is something you seek, it’s a fantastic choice.
  • QSlide, QuickMemo, and Live Zooming: I lied again. Without having to redo the same thing twice, Kellex touched on LG’s custom software that was baked into the Android OS, and although I didn’t get to use it as much as I had hoped, from the time I did have with it, I was impressed. Here’s a quick hands-on video that K recorded. “LG included a handful of new UI features that they hope will help this device, along with others going forward, stand out from the crowded Android world. The three that I found myself using the most were QuickMemo, QSlide, and Live Zooming, all of which I have demoed for you below.”
  • Gaming:  With the device’s massive display and powerful Snapdragon chip, gaming is fantastic! It can easily (and I mean easily) handle titles like Granny Smith and Angry Birds, and then kill it with Mass Effect, Shadowgun, and Dead Trigger. With all of that display to work with, your fingers aren’t cramped or fighting for space. I would say it’s the perfect mix of size and speed for gaming when it comes to smartphones.
  • Software/Skin:  I enjoy stock vanilla Android just like the next guy, but this LG skin isn’t all too bad. They’ve taken out any excessive junk and basically just threw in some nice visuals. For example, when you’re turning off the screen, you see a circular shape close in on itself which looks fantastic. The launcher is great (minus the annoying sorting of apps feature) and of course, it whips around nicely thanks to the S4 Pro. Another aspect I like about the skin is that it allows many custom options. You can apply pre-made “themes” to your device, which can give your device some personality by changing up color palettes and application icons. It’s an easy change and makes the device that much better for someone who needs more control over the look of the phone. I was hesitant at first about LG’s skin, but this device has helped me see the light.

  • Battery:  This thing is a tank. Over my week with it, I haven’t seen it hit zero once. There is a high-density 2,100mAh battery resting inside this slim shell, which was specifically designed by LG and LG Chem for this device. The long lasting battery can also be attributed to the new Snapdragon S4’s quad-core technology, which features “Asynchronous Symmetric Multiprocessing” (aSMP) allowing each core to power up and down independently. When we say this new Snapdragon processor is where it’s at, we mean it.

The Bad:

  • Hardware buttons:  By now, this will always go down in my “Bad” section. With Android evolving into one sexy OS, I somewhat expect the OEM’s to enforce that and apply it to their designs. On-screen keys are something I very much enjoy. The buttons function fine and there’s nothing wrong with the way they light up, it’s just the simple fact that they are there is enough for me to be turned off. On-screen keys or bust.

  • Keyboard:  The stock keyboard features a Swype-like feature that can’t get a word right even if its life depended on it. If you’re a speed pecker, forget about it. Auto-correction is sub-par at best and you’re much better off simply downloading a third party keyboard from Google Play. Dependability on the keyboard is something they could easily fix in an update, so hopefully they’ll think about spending more time on it.
  • Sprint:  In the area of Portland I live, Sprint is somewhat of a joke. We haven’t been blessed with their 4G LTE yet, but let’s hope that it comes soon. The device has been running on their 3G network while I’ve had it and needless to say, doing any kind of web surfing, video streaming, or anything dependent on their network is a serious bummer. While on the go I like to watch YouTube videos and read comments on the site, but with the Sprint 3G, it’s almost stressful to watch the pages load or videos render. I’ve been spoiled by 4G LTE and this phone needs it stat.

  • Random bugs and Skin issues:  This is thee most frustrating bug I’ve actually encountered. No screen rotation in apps. Whether it’s just this phone’s sensor is dead or busted, I can’t stand it. For example, I have Screen Rotation turned on and I can’t go from landscape to portrait mode on the homescreen. Not a deal breaker, but that’s just the beginning. In the YouTube app, I scroll through the videos in portrait. I select a video, then tilt the device to watch in landscape. NOPE. No rotation. It sticks to portrait. Another fine example. From the lockscreen I’ll open the camera app, snap a couple shots, then hit the home key. I’m taken to the homescreen, but it will be stuck in landscape. The only way to go back to portrait is to turn the display off, and turn it back on while holding the device straight up. Again, this could be just the phone they sent us, but this is something they will need to fix in an update if it affects all of the phones. It kills me.
  • Ice Cream Sandwich:  Plain and simple, this device should come with Jelly Bean out of the gate. Every inch of it is top tier except for the actual OS. Not much else to say. An update to JB will eventually be pushed to the device, but that doesn’t help anyone who wants their fix of Google Now or all of the other goodies Jelly Bean brings.


Software Tour:


The Verdict:

Rather than having to explain why people should think about picking this device up, it’s easier (and shorter) to explain why you shouldn’t. Sprint’s network will easily hinder your experience with this phone if you don’t live in an area with their 4G LTE service. It’s as simple as that. These days, where data speeds are uber important to buyers, that’s a deal breaker for some. It’s not the phone’s fault, but my experience definitely warrants me to warn people about jumping onto Sprint for this phone.

Other than that, if speeds aren’t something you’re going crazy over, this device features top tier specs that are unmatched. It has a camera that will surely be able to produce fantastic shots for being inside of a phone, and on top of that, LG’s custom skin doesn’t make me want to die like Blur and TouchWiz.

Will this device bring LG back onto the playground and out of the metaphorical timeout that we as consumers have placed them in? I certainly hope so given the fact that I strongly believe in “the more the merrier.” Welcome back into my heart, LG.

  • Reminds me a lot of the OG Galaxy S2

  • dsass600

    Guys I have a question for you. I would buy the next Nexus over the DLX but it has a 720p display and not a 1080, plus I think the SLCD3 on the DLX is going to look nicer than the SAMOLED on the LG Nexus. What do you guys think? My main concern is the resolution, and whether or not 1080p is going to be that much better than 720p. Let me know. Thanks.

  • Alexander Garcia

    Haha! Long story short… Sprint SUCKS!!! =P

  • daniel

    So giving battery life without showing screen on time… and the fact that you aren’t using 4g but apparently wifi really doesn’t give a accurate view of the battery life. I got 15.5 hrs and 4hrs screen on time with my stock razr hd and like 13 of those hours were on 4g.

  • Live2Rootz

    They really need to do a head to head comparison with this phone and the GS3 when it finally is released. Would be interesting to see how much better the Optimus G actually is.

  • While this is a great device and I do hope it sells well, I’m almost sitting with cash in my hand to drop on the Nexus, with the only distraction being the PadFone 2. Now, if that device got onto multiple carriers and good worldwide availability on time, it could spell trouble for the Optimus G and LG as it has a better camera (judging by the Sony sensor) and better design (imo). I’m not considering the tablet dock in this discussion btw.

  • EraserXIV

    I love my Galaxy Nexus to death and I love the idea of software keys, but they just aren’t being implemented correctly to maximize screen space to device size ratio. The nice thing about the hardware keys is that they are harmlessly placed in the bezel below the screen without wasting screen space. If this model had software keys, that bezel below the screen would still exist and the software keys would take up precious pixels on the actual screen. See this picture of the Galaxy Nexus:

    • JDub

      I completely agree. I have also made this point with some negative comments thrown at me, although a few people did agree as well. There is almost always a black void in the space the software keys are suppose to be when they are hiding in apps. Kind of defeats the point of being able to hide the keys if that space isn’t being utilized. All of these device have chins for a reason and not screens going edge to edge. That’s because they have to fit hardware in those spaces and make the screen symmetrical to the device. Might as well have keys on those chins and make the screen the true size they boast in the specs. My gnex screen is just a 4.3″ hiding in a 4.65″ display.

      • EraserXIV

        Yes, if you must have a chin bezel, might as well put the buttons on there. If you are going to use software buttons, then get rid of (or at least minimize) the chin bezel.

        • Guys, are you all forgetting the notification LED?

          • EraserXIV

            Did you even look at the picture I posted? The notification light can be easily moved to the top next to where the earpiece is or even under the earpiece like HTC and motorola do.

          • But then it doesn’t look as elegant. It’s the little design moves that set it apart from the rest. And there’s not enough room on the bottom to ergonomically put buttons anyway.

    • Alexander Garcia

      Haha. To answer your question, the bezel is there to prevent mis-taps from the butt of your palm. It’s also the reason why a true “edge to edge display” with absolutely no bezel is a ridiculous concept for capacitive touch input displays. Everyone would then complain that they’re accidentally touching their screen and making their phone do all sorts of crazy stuff. Bezels do serve a purpose.

      • EraserXIV

        But you have to admit… that bezel is way too big. The least they could do is make it smaller.

      • JDub

        Theres enough room to put capacitive buttons on the bottom and retaining the same amount of bezel that the screen has on the sides. My palm usually rests on the side and not the bottom.

  • Tim could you post the blue water and mountains wallpaper? It looks awesome

  • TheUI

    Wow Tim-O, your handy work to the interface really sexied this beast up. If only she had a microSD slot.

  • Paul

    That’s good that the battery life was great with that size of a battery. But the S4 dual core processors are asynchronous as well so that’s not new.

  • teleclimber

    You haven’t broken the backplate yet??

    No, seriously, does it feel like it might break easily or was it just a fluke that it happened on K’s review phone?

  • tu3218

    Yeah I gotta say..why isn’t this the nexus? This phone sounds really nice, love the styling and theme. Not to mention very nice specs.

  • Matthew Merrick

    so… this or the gs3?

    • yarrellray

      Galaxy S3 pimp slaps this Lg Óptimus G all day long. Matter of fact the Galaxy Note 2 rules all smartphones peeiod.. Great review thou gotta feel sorry for Sprint if you don’t have LTE.

      • Matthew Merrick

        heh. 😛 i’m personally gonna try to get the note 2, but its toobig for a lot ofpeople :zp

  • discospeed

    i bought the S3 just recently (optimus G gets released 2013 in europe…and it’s LG). this phone seems to be almost perfect; amazing specs. the back glass is annoying, though. but can someone please tell me why on-screen keys are so hot nowadays? you lose quite a lot of real screen estate for… what? i fail to see an advantage. soft touch keys are ideal imo.

    • balthuszar

      You’re going to hear that the screen when the buttons are there is 4.3 but when watching videos, playing full screen games the buttons go away so you don’t lose screen real estate in those circumstances… But I agree with you

      • discospeed

        i watched some videos on youtube, and the on-screen keys are still there in fullscreen games & widescreen apps :/

        • balthuszar

          supposedly, if you watch movies the buttons go away…i asked the same questions when i heard about on screen buttons

  • chris125

    To bad Verizon passed on this because it is better than their droid branded moto devices

  • SuperMario

    You said the phone has a good battery life. However from the pictures it seems that you were on Wi-Fi the whole time. Even the GNEX has amazing battery life on all day Wifi usaged. I really wanted to see how this battery holds up on all day 4G.

    • arod

      Idiot, read the review. He doesn’t have access to 4G in his area.

  • 2001400ex

    Razr maxx hd review. Seriously should be done before a sprint phone.

    • chris125

      They reviewed the RAZR HD which only difference is battery life… boom

      • 2001400ex

        Negative. They put out a synopsis, not a review. Ta Dow.

        • Live2Rootz

          This is a superior phone and the phone the next nexus will be modeled after. It deserves it’s spotlight before a Moto phone with hardware specs that should have come out on a phone last year. Boop.

  • Looks like most the issues with this phone are software-related. So the phone would make a great Nexus.

    • until you realize the nexus has a max of 16 GB (non-expandable) and 8 MP camera that isn’t as good as the 13 GB.

      At least the Nexus has on-screen buttons and stock android. I’m really looking forward to it. I don’t care about the camera.

      • I can live with 16Gb. It’s more than enough for apps and I stream most of my media anyway. If 8 mp camera has a good sensor (megapixel number is not that important), then it’s fine too.

        • Backups, roms, and app backups take up a lot of space though. 🙁

          • teleclimber

            To me, the point of having a nexus device is that the software is great and always up to date with Google’s latest. Therefore, no roms needed. Therefore 16Gig is plenty.

          • 16 includes the ROM installed. You’ll probably start out with 14.5 gb of space. Pictures and videos eat up a lot as well.

          • You only need space for one backup and one ROM, you can transfer the rest to PC.

          • I, too, have one backup at once, but I still don’t think that is a lot of space. I’ve had backups that are 2 gb.

        • Paul

          One of the main points of the processor is how it handles games though – and there already are games that are 1-2GB in size. I wouldn’t be surprised to see games that are 3-4GB come out in the next year or so to make use of the adreno 320.

        • michael arazan

          With games in the 100’s of mb for one game, let’s really pray if this becomes a nexus it’ll have better storage. For the first time ever I like an LG phone. Wow that’s weird saying that.

      • There’s no certain info on that. You’re judging by a prototype/test unit. The 8 MP camera is not a bad thing at all. Its the sensor that matters. And looking at the ATT version of the Optimus G, the stills and 1080p samples look pretty good.

  • speraider430

    What is the clock widget in the first picture? Nice device!

  • Tim, were you neurotic about the back glass being fragile-ish? I’m just wondering if Kellex just had a freak accident or not.

    • Just him being a scaredey cat. I didn’t have the same issues and I don’t find it to be all that fragile 🙂

      • I’m a little confused about the crack since these phones are made out of Gorilla Glass. I’m glad to hear you didn’t have any problems with yours.

        Still trying to decide between this and the GS3. Thanks for the excellent review!

        • Paul

          I don’t remember LG saying what the back glass is made of. It’s probably cheaper.

    Sorry, but just the normal battery screenshot means absolutely nothing.

    • I’ll add some pics for you 🙂

    • Kim

      @kimir:disqus so… this or the gs3?what Victoria explained I am blown away that people able to profit $8819 in one
      month on the computer. did you see this web link…bit.ly/RkDmvZ

  • Abhijeet Mishra

    I have to ask: how do the blacks on the Optimus G’s display stack up to an SAMOLED? I use the Galaxy Nexus, absolutely love the sexy blacks on the SAMOLED which blend in with the Gnex’s sexy black front, but since the next Nexus is from LG and I will be buying it, I’m thinking that I’m going to be missing these SAMOLED blacks a lot.

    • Mario Mendez

      I, too, love the black colors on my Galaxy Nexus.

      • Abhijeet Mishra

        I basically love the SAMOLED blacks like crazy, hehe. On the Galaxy S, S2, and now GNex. But yeah, GNex has to be the best looking ever.

        • Mario Mendez

          Thanks to SAMOLED the on-screen buttons on the Galaxy Nexus look like they are hardware buttons due to the black on them matching so well with the black around the Galaxy Nexus LCD. Only difference is on the Galaxy Nexus the on-screen buttons move around and don’t get in your way when viewing a video on its beautiful screen.