Monday, November 25, 2013

LG Optimus G Pro

LG Optimus G Pro
S$ 238 with 2 years mobile contract @ S$39 per month
LG has always been outside the limelight when it comes to Android smartphone. It is little wonder since they have been living in the shadows of Samsung's aggressive marketing campaign and launches. The Korea electronics giant was forced to take a back seat as Sony's Xperia Z series took second place. But is LG smartphones really that bad? I decided to find out while I was researching for a cheap Android smartphone for my folks with a basic tier mobile contract. I set off with a few simple criteria: big screen, speedy, good camera, price. The following models were shortlisted: Samsung Galaxy S4 Active, Sony Xperia Z, LG Optimus G Pro. Look up here for technical specifications: http://www.phonearena.com/phones/compare/Samsung-Galaxy-S4-Active,Sony-Xperia-Z,LG-Optimus-G-Pro/phones/7840,7539,7709.
In summary, both S4 Active and Xperia Z are waterproof and dustproof. In terms of processor speed: S4 Active fastest, Optimus G Pro, Xperia Z slowest. In terms of camera, S4 is the only one sporting a 8-MP while the rest are equipped with 13-MP. In terms of price: S4 Active @S$ 298, Optimus G Pro @S$ 238, Xperia Z @S$ 218.
So why LG Optimus Pro over Xperia Z and S4 Active? LG Optimus G Pro is the only one among the 3 to have a 5.5-inch display.
LG Optimus G Pro interesting comes with different product codes with many different configurations among different carriers. The official LG F420 become LG E988 in Singapore.

Packaging

Close-up
13MP rear camera capable of 1080p FullHD recording.
The top left-hand side button is a shortcut button for QuickMemo, which is a screen capture function with memo overlay. This button can be reprogrammed to other functions. 
The left-hand side sports the volume rocker. 
 The right-hand side sports the power button.
 Ambient light sensor and 2MP front camera.
 IR Blaster for universal remote control.

The Accessories
 The package comes with a free wireless charger.

Size Comparison
LG Optimus G Pro vs Samsung Galaxy Note II
 LG Optimus G Pro vs Apple iPod Touch 5
 LG Optimus G Pro vs Olympus PEN

Comparison with Samsung Galaxy Note II
Optimus G Pro is LG's answer to a phablet and it was obviously modelled after the Galaxy Note II.
The Optimus G Pro was released much after the Note II, hence in terms of hardware, the former is much superior. Both
 Note II Super AMOLED
Optimus G Pro FullHD IPS TFT
 Left: Note II (1280x720), Right: Optimus G Pro (1920x1080)
It is obvious the G Pro have better resolution and pixel density.

The Interface
The only drawback of the Optimus G Pro is its less than mature Android OS skin compared to TouchWiz by Samsung. Samsung has already made what is good to best, while LG is still struggling to create something good. The user interface is user-friendly, but those who had been to Samsung, will never look back at LG's.
Default home screen and screen cap using QuickMemo button during camera mode. 
Standard Android screens skinned in LG's format. 
Universal Remote app and Calender app
 Dialer and SmartShare app
LG Optimus G Pro SmartShare app, imo, is much better and snappy than Samsung Link app.

Sample Pictures
Here are some sample pictures from the LG Optimus G Pro 13MP camera.
IMO, in comparison to Samsung Galaxy cameras, Optimus G Pro is less snappy and always tend to refocus and hence, make manual bursts slower. There seems to be a more significant "shutter" lag as well. Colors on the the screen appears to be less vibrant and have a cyan hue, however, when reproduced on the PC, colors look much more natural. The dynamic range is smaller, hence the photos tend to be more neutral and less bright.


Here is a 8MP sample from Samsung Galaxy Note II.
Despite the camera snaps faster with no obvious "shutter" lag, it does give a sense of fast shutter speed, but in fact it is not and prone to motion blur. However, in terms of low light performance, Optimus G Pro pales in comparison.

Verdict
The LG Optimus G Pro was supposedly the company's flagship, but did not see much light before the G2 is launched. Blame it on bad timing. The overall user experience of the Optimus G Pro is pleasant and comfortable for an existing Android user, though Samsung users may whine about it. The Optimus G Pro is very speedy and smooth when running Full HD videos on its brilliant True IPS Full HD 5.5-inch screen. Sound from the speaker is nothing to shout about. Streaming and browsing is seamless on 4G/LTE. LG Optimus G Pro may be overshadowed by Samsung's endless barrage of marketing, however, if you really pick one up and try it out, you may consider an LG. The good is that LG being less popular tends to command a lower price and see sharper price dips. The specifications and design may not necessarily pale in comparison to similar priced Android phones. However, the user interface needs plenty of catch-up. The bad is that LG users will have a tough time find variety and cheap cases and screen protectors, since the demand is just not there. If I am to compare Optimus G Pro against the likes of Galaxy S4, Note III or Xperia Z1, I will not hesitate to choose any of the rest. However, I must admit that I was tad tempted to switch my Galaxy Note II to the Optimus G Pro, and won't hesitate to switch from a Galaxy S3.
At the end of the day, you get really best hardware under the hood for that price tier!

Product shot on Sony RX100 Mk.I
Sample photos shot on LG Optimus G Pro and Samsung Galaxy Note II

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