720p IPS Display
The LG Optimus G features a 4.7" True HD IPS Plus display running at 1280 x 768. That's a little higher than the usual high end 1280 x 720 resolution, and that equals an impressive 320 dpi. LG makes excellent IPS displays and the Optimus G's is very sharp and colorful with neutral color balance and very clear text. Viewing angles are wide since it's IPS and the display is bright, though glare is still an issue outdoors as with all smartphones thanks to the glossy glass. The display is fused directly to the glass, so you don't feel like there's a window pane between you and what's on screen. The Optimus G has Gorilla Glass for durability. I'd give the HTC One X's excellent Super LCD display an edge for viewing angles and glare-reduction, as well as a more "close to the surface" look where text and images seem painted on the screen. Likewise, the iPhone Retina display looks sharper and more immediate, but the Optimus G easily beats out the Samsung Galaxy S III display.
Performance and Horsepower
OK, geeks, this is where the LG Optimus G currently beats every other Android smartphone on the planet. The quad core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro 1.5GHz CPU has more spare CPU cycles than you can imagine. Seriously, it's too bad there's no way to donate some processing power to Project SETI@home. LG incorporates quite a few visual effects and frivolous but entertaining features like the ability to play a video on top of any app, with adjustable transparency, and the phone still doesn't skip a beat. The Optimus G scores a new record high on the Quadrant benchmark and it does extremely well on most other benchmarks. More important than synthetic tests, it feels fast and doesn't bog down quickly when several apps are running in the background. Today's most demanding 3D gaming titles play fluently (watch our video review to see them in action), and 1080p video plays smoothly. That said, the screen is 720p, so there's no point to playing 1080p video unless you want to take advantage of the Optimus G's MHL video out to an HDMI 1080p TV or monitor.
The Otpimus G on AT&T and Sprint benchmark nearly identically, so we haven't listed separate benchmarks for each model. The phone scored 94,921 on Browsermark.
LG has gone to town with software features that make use of the Qualcomm Krait's processing and graphics power. QSlide lets you play a movie over any other app and you can set the transparency level (fade out to read a text message, then fade back in to your video). You can zoom when playing videos (in fact you can pinch zoom everywhere) and there are several spiffy transition options for page turns in the homescreen UI. QuickMemo lets you take notes anywhere at any time, and you can even mark up a web page or Word document and save it as an image (screen shot). There are a few features that remind us of Samsung's, like Wise Eye that checks to see if you're looking at the screen so it won't turn off and the water sound effect in the lock screen. Smart Shutter lets you take a photo using your voice (say "cheese", "kimchi" or other trigger words). You get the idea: there's a lot going on here.
Phone and Data
Both versions have clear incoming and outgoing voice that's above average, though not quite as crystal clear and full as the Samsung Galaxy S III, HTC One X and HTC EVO 4G LTE. We had absolutely no trouble engaging in conversations with call recipients and ambient noise rejection was effective with minimal digitization.
Though we're in a supposed Sprint LTE coverage area, none of our Sprint phones have picked up an LTE signal, leaving us with meager 3G coverage for data. The Sprint version averaged 600 kbps for download speeds, which is very low compared to the big three national carriers but par for the course on Sprint. With the AT&T model, we saw speeds that are slightly below typical for 4G LTE on AT&T (16Mpbs down and 14Mpbs up according to Ookla's Speedtest.net app). Reception on both models in decibels was the same as other top Android phones on their respective carriers.
The Optimus G has a 2100 mAh Lithium Ion battery that's sealed inside. That's the same battery capacity you'll find on other high end competing phones, but the LG lagged behind by 30 minutes in actual use tests. Standby on the other hand was excellent. We had no trouble making it through the day with light to moderate use. In fact with light use we managed 2.5 to 3 days on a charge. But with heavy use that included a few GPS navigation sessions, 45 minutes of streaming video, several phone calls, an hour of music playback with the screen off and an hour of locally stored video playback, the phone went from 7am to 7pm before it drained to a 10% charge.
LG's finally cracked the high end market with the Optimus G. While other LG Android smartphones have looked good on paper, the Optimus G actually delivers a captivating experience with enjoyable software additions and superlative performance. The 4.7" IPS display is among the best and the phone is good looking too. One caveat, this is a big phone with none of the curvy tricks others employ to make it look and feel smaller.
Price: $199 with contract
Websites: www.lg.com/us/cell-phones, wireless.att.com, www.sprint.com