Hands-on with the AT&T LG Optimus G

Hands-on with the AT&T LG Optimus G

Summary: I haven't spent much time with LG smartphones, but have to say the Optimus G is one impressive smartphone that deserves consideration.

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I have used quite a few smartphones over the past few years, but never had the chance to test out LG products until my recent T-Mobile Optimus L9 review. For the past couple of weeks I have been using an excellent device, the AT&T LG Optimus G. This is the carrier branded version of the smartphone that the Nexus 4 is modeled after. This new smartphone is available on Sprint, but that model has a 13 megapixel camera.

Check out my image gallery of the LG Optimus G for AT&T.

First Impressions

I was sent a press evaluation unit from LG so cannot comment on what the exact retail package experience will be if you buy one from AT&T. I have held some LG feature phones in the past and while they were decent they were never enough to make me consider buying one. However, when I picked up the Optimus G I was immediately impressed by the feel of it and it has made me consider the Nexus 4. The form factor is a fairly regular rectangle, but the edges are rounded and LG has added some nice touches to improve the quality. The glass back and front give it a quality feel and if it was just a bit narrower I would want to hold it more often. The display looks great and everything has been zippy and enjoyable so far.

Specs and hardware

The LG Optimus G has specifications you expect today from high end Android devices, except for the current operating system. Specifications include the following:

  • 1.5 GHz quad-core processor
  • 2 GB of RAM
  • Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich
  • 4.7 inch WXGA (1280x768 pixels) resolution display
  • 8 megapixel rear-facing camera
  • 1.3 megapixel front-facing camera
  • 16GB integrated memory and microSD expansion card slot with 16GB card included
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • 802.11 a/b/g/n WiFi
  • NFC
  • 2,100 mAh battery
  • Dimensions of 5.15 x 2.82 x 0.33 inches and 5.19 ounces

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The LG Optimus G has a couple unique hardware features, including the "Crystal Reflection" back cover that shows different patterns depending on the angle and lighting. The back is glass with a pattern feature below it to give it this ability. I am a bit worried about the glass back and think Apple learned a lesson with using glass on the back of smartphones. It's scary enough to drop a phone and worry about the display breaking, but if the back is glass too then there could be an issue with cracking there as well.

While the battery is not removable, LG was able to add in a microSD card slot next to the microSIM card slot on the left side of the Optimus G. The textured top and bottom pieces are interesting and add some design flair to the device. I like the power button on the upper right and headphone jack on the top as well. The camera and flash are offset to the left side of the upper back.

Software

The LG Optimus G is loaded with Android 4.0.4, which is a it disappointing when you consider the same device as the Nexus 4 is running Android 4.2. Carriers always slow down the update releases and LG hasn't had the best track record at timely updates so it may be some time before the Optimus G sees a Jelly Bean update.

While the latest Android OS is not loaded on the Optimus G, LG did a great job with Ice Cream Sandwich and offers a custom user experience very similar to what we see on Samsung TouchWiz devices. I do like quite a bit of TouchWiz and find for the most part it adds value so in that same way I see it with LG's UI. For example their QSlide is similar to Samsung Pop-up Play so you can watch a video while doing other tasks, Wise screen is similar to Samsung Smart stay where the display stays on while you are looking at the screen, and both interfaces let you change the font type and size to make the display readable to you. These utilities seem a bit more polished on the Optimus G. Neither the Optimus G or my Galaxy Note II appear to slow down at all with these custom interfaces though.

Other software additions on the Optimus G include the following, as described by LG:

  • QuickMemo allows users to take notes on captured documents or photos with their fingers and instantly share with colleagues as an attachment or URL.
  • Live Zooming enhances viewing experiences by enabling consumers to zoom in up to five times while watching video to see small details normally hidden on the screen.
  • Photographs can be intensified with camera capabilities like Time Catch Shot, which empowers the user to choose the best photo among various shots taken before the shutter button is pressed.
  • Dual Screen Dual Play not only allows mirroring between the smartphone and a TV or monitor, it also has the ability to display different content on each screen. For example, a slide presentation can be displayed on the monitor while the Optimus G shows the accompanying speaking notes.
  • Creativity is also put to the test by the Icon Personalizer, which allows consumers to customize the sizes and images of their most-used apps.

As you can see there are some very helpful utilities and features here and I personally find them to be a bit more helpful than many of the Samsung TouchWiz additions. I like that I can rotate the home screen panels in landscape, which is something TouchWiz does not provide. There are also a TON of settings on the Optimus G so you can do things like set sound profiles, manage notification light settings, customize the top notification curtain, manage the quad-core processor, and much more.

Daily experiences and final thoughts on the LG Optimus G

I found the 8 megapixel camera to take great photos and video. Like my Galaxy Note II, you can use your voice with common words, "cheese or smile", to capture photos. LG lets you customize the quick shortcuts and the camera is very simple to use with solid results. It is a very pocketable device, performs flawlessly, secures a solid LTE connection, and has a battery that easily lasted me through many full days.

This is the most impressive LG phone I have tried and is a great option for smartphone buyers today. It runs a fast processor on LTE networks and is very responsive. If you like the software touches seen on Samsung devices, but want another option then you will like what LG did with their custom UI. I think there are some nice touches in there, especially for newer smartphone owners. LG did a great job with the Optimus G and I recommend that you check one out the next time you swing by an AT&T store.

Topics: Mobility, Android, Reviews, Smartphones, AT&T

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