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In the fall of 2012, LG unleashed its best smartphone to date, the Optimus G. The handset oozed with style and power, and proved to the world that LG knows exactly what it’s doing. But LG wasn’t done. The Optimus G became the DNA of the Nexus 4, which became the most popular handset of the Nexus lineup to date.
Now LG is back with LG– A beefed up Optimus G that’s firmly planted into the phablet territory with a 5.5 inch 1080p HD display. The device ships with best in class hardware and has the innards to take on anything on the market today. In this review, we’ll find out if LG’s efforts with the Optimus G Pro are enough to meet, or even beat the competition and if it should be your next smartphone.
If you haven’t yet, be sure to check out our previous review of the LG Optimus G Pro here!
The LG Optimus G Pro is a beast of a phone that you'll either immediately fall in love with or be overwhelmed by its size. This isn't surprising, as phablet devices just aren't for everyone. Still, the Optimus G Pro is a handsome device that you'll want to pick up when you first see it.
Rocking a 5.5 inch 1080p HD display, the face of the Optimus G Pro is almost all screen. The bezels are very small surrounding the display, making it look almost edgeless. The screen is stunning , and offers up a crisp a clear experience with some stellar viewing angles.
Above the display, you'll find the standard assortment of sensors (proximity and ambient light), along with the ear piece, LG's logo, and 2.1 megapixl front-facing camera. Below the gorgeous display are two capacitive keys for back and menu, with a physical home button in between them.
I'm a total sucker for a nice notification LED implementation on a smartphone, and LG did just this. Instead of having the LED off to the side, LG placed it right below the display, lining the perimeter of the physical home button. It's definitely a nice touch that I think people will appreciate.
The sides of the Optimus G Pro are minimal, but offer up a few new tweaks along the way from it's smaller brother. The bottom of the handset features the micro USB port for charging and syncing, along with the microphone for calls, where the top has the 3.5mm jack, noise-cancelling microphone, as well as an IR blaster to act as your TV remote control.
The right side of the device houses only the power/lock switch, and you'll find a small indentation to remove the battery cover here as well. On the left, you'll find your volume rocker and a dedicated button for Q Memo. This button can be customized to your liking, which is awesome.
The back of the Optimus G Pro is simple and to the point. Here you'll find the 13 megapixel camera, single-LED flash, and loud speaker all right next to each other, with AT&T's globe logo right below. The battery cover is also removable, so you can swap out the 3,140 mAh battery whenever you need to. You'll also find the micro SD card slot underneath the battery cover to expand your storage.
The Optimus G Pro just as much of a beast on the inside than it is on the outside. Featuring a 1.7GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 600, this thing flies. Other specs include 2 GB of RAM, 32GB internal storage (23GB available to user), NFC, WiFi, Bluetooth, and every bell and whistle you could want in a high-end smartphone.
The design of the Optimus G Pro is certainly and interesting one, as it basically looks exactly like Samsung's Galaxy Note II. While we have our doubts that LG is lacking in the design department (see Optimus G), it's a bit odd just how similar these competing devices are designed.
The battery cover itself features LG's patented Crystal Reflection Process that has a subtle shimmer when in the right light. The effect is somewhat subdued due to the fact that the battery cover is plastic and doesn't have the pane of glass found on the Optimus G or Nexus 4, which produces a more noticable effect. That said, seeing the back of the handset in direct sunlight is pretty stunning.
At the end of the day, the similarities to competition doesn't really matter. The LG Optimus G Pro is its own beast of a device that's powerful enough to take on any device on the market, no matter how it looks. Plus, the Crystal Reflection process found on the device is something you won't find on any other phone.
The Optimus G Pro looks to be able to stand a bit of wear and tear. It may be heavy on the plastics, but it certainly feels solid in the hand.
While we would have loved to see LG slap two panes of glass of both sides of the Optimus G Pro, but that surely sounds like it could be a fragile disaster. When dealing with screens of this size, we'd say that polycarbonate is a good choice. The OGP should easily be able to take on any normal wear and tear you throw at it, but we'd still advise anyone to keep that beautiful display protected at all costs.
The use of plastic on the Optimus G Pro keeps it relatively light -- for a phablet. Sure, we all wish that every phone had the build quality of the HTC One, but a solid aluminium body on a device with a 5.5 inch display would prove to be a small brick in the pocket.
Running on Android 4.1.2, the Optimus G Pro ships with one of the latest versions of the operating system. The handset also runs an updated version of the Optumus UI found on the original Optimus G.
LG's software continues to impress with some incredibly interesting features we first saw debut on the Optimus G. QSlide and QMemo really stand out, and if you're a power user, you'll likely find yourself using these features a lot.
QSlide allows you to run two applications at the same time by adjusting the transparency. Applications can also act like widgets that one can move around like windows. While QSlide is limited to only a few applications, it's still one of the coolest implementations we've seen when it comes to doing two things at once on a smartphone.
A nifty update in the software now includes what applications can be used for QSlide right in the notification panel.
QMemo is also a rockin feature on the Optimus G Pro, and it's easier than ever to access now. The OGP has its own dedicated button for QMemo now (although it can be customized for just about any installed application), and when pressed, the current screen on the phone will be captured and you can quickly jot down notes and share. If you're on the phone and need to take down a number, simply hit the QMemo button and write the number down right on your screen.
The Optimus G Pro ships with a IR blaster, allowing you to kick your standard remote to the curb. Setting up your TV and cable box is very easy and you'll be able turn on and off your TV, adjust the volume, and change channels from your cable box. It's pretty great. Unlike the Galaxy S 4, HTC One, and Xperia Z and ZL, the Optimus G Pro doesn't give you a program guide to see whats on TV. This gives the competition a bit of an edge when it comes to usuability, but I certainly wouldn't be surprised if we saw LG come out with a similar solution in a forthcoming update.
As per usual, the OGP ships with a nice selection of AT&T bloatware. The lucky apps that you'll likely immediately disable in the settings are: AT&T DriveMode, AT&T FamilyMap, AT&T Locker, AT&T Navigator, AT&T Ready2Go, AT&T Smart Wi-Fi, AT&T Messages, Mobile Hotspot, Mobile TV, and My AT&T. There may be an application or two in the pre-installed software that you may want to keep around, but there's certainly quite a bit of software that you'll probably never touch.
Overall, the software experience on the Optimus G Pro is similar enough to the software we loved in the original Optimus G, but with some nice tweaks along the way. Currently, there's still no word as to when the AT&T version will be getting the "Value Pack" LG announced back in mid-March that will bring some great new features and updates to the software.
Like a few other newer smartphones today, the Optimus G Pro has a nifty feature that allows automatically adjust shooting modes without any effort by the user. Close up an object? Macro mode will automatically kick in, and so on. In testing, sometimes the camera wasn't sure what mode to switch to and went back and forth from landscape to macro at points. Nonetheless, photos still came out pretty darn nice.
You're given multiple scenes (portrait, sunset, landscape, night, etc.) to choose from, along with white balance, color effect, ISO settings and more. The camera software isn't as robust as certain smartphones like the Xperia ZL or Galaxy S 4, but it will certainly get you where you need to go with little fuss. Luckily, even if your photo doesn't come out perfect, the built in photo editor will give you what you're looking for.
Like many LG smartphones before it, the Optimus G Pro features SmartShare. SmartShare allows you to easily send or view content over a network through DLNA. If you have a media server on your home network, you can easily view and even download the content right to your Optimus G Pro. Certain codecs aren't supported on the device, but this can be allieviated by downloading a third-party video player app in the Google Play Store.
There's a wealth of movies available through the Google Play Store, Netflix and much more for the Optimus G Pro, and it's something you'll find yourself doing often. Watching 1080p HD videos on the screen is a dream and you'll have a hard time putting it down once you start.
Call quality on the Optimus G Pro was pretty great. Calls came through loud and clear, with no distortion on either end whatsoever. However, when testing the speakerphone fuction, we did get a bit of feedback from the loudspeaker, but this has more to do with the speaker itself than the network.
Thanks to the massive 3140 mAh battery, the Optimus G Pro can last a full day without struggling. Not only was it a great decision to make the battery huge, we're very happy to see that it's removable. We haven't has much time with the Optimus G Pro yet, so if battery stats change dramatically, and we doubt they will, the review will be updated accordingly.
While phablet devices certainly aren't for everyone, if you're in the market for one, the LG Optimus G Pro demands a good, hard look. With a gorgeous display and powerful innards, this phablet is definitely one of, if not the best phablet on the market today.
LG seems to have no problem taking Samsung head on, and proves that with this device. With phablets gaining more and more popularity, LG is poised to make a name for itself in this category.
While there will be inevitable comparisons to the Galaxy Note line, I personally enjoy the Optimus G Pro a lot and believe it can stand on its own. It offers up practical features that you'll probably continue to use after the novelty has worn off. Not a bunch of "sucker" features that are cool to show to friends, only to never be used again within a month's time.
This is another smartphone that seriously shows that LG knows what it's doing, and that it's far from being done. The Optimus G is still a favorite of ours, and now we have the Optimus G Pro to hold us over for even better things to come from LG.