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LG Optimus G (AT&T and Sprint)

Editor's rating (1-5): rating starrating starrating starrating star
Carrier: AT&T and Sprint
Manufacturer: LG
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What's hot: Excellent display, super-fast, nice software additions, good looking.

What's not: Big phone, battery life falls slightly behind the competition (but only slightly).


Reviewed October 20, 2012 by , Editor in Chief (twitter: @lisagade)

The LG Optimus G; it's hard not to be smitten even if you're not an LG fan. This high end Android smartphone is the first to ship with Qualcomm's new Snapdragon S4 Pro quad core 1.5GHz CPU with Adreno 320 graphics. It's fast, yes it is. The S4 dual core matched NVidia's Tegra 3 CPU on benchmarks, so we're excited to see what two more cores can do. In fact, it scored 7235 on the Quadrant benchmark, which is a new record for a stock Android phone (5,000 is the norm for the fastest phones and tablets). In this review we look at both the AT&T (LG-E970) and Sprint (LG-LS970) versions of the Optimus G, which sells for $199 with contract. The AT&T version will be available on Nov. 2 while the Sprint version will be available on Nov. 11.

LG Optimus G

The AT&T LG Optimus G.

The LG Optimus G has a front 1.3MP camera, dual band WiFi 802.11b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, a GPS, NFC and a 2100 mAh Lithium Ion battery that's sealed inside. Both models have 2 gigs of RAM. Though LG's track record for Android OS updates hasn't been impressive, we have hope for the Optimus G since LG is rumored to release the next Nexus phone (with similar specs to the Optimus G), and that should put them on a faster track for OS updates.

LG Optimus G

The Sprint LG Optimus G.

Design and Ergonomics

The smartphone has a gloss patterned "Crystal Material Finish" glass back that loves fingerprints. LG strove to marry the best of the iconic LG Chocolate and Prada phones with the minimalist, square black design. It's thin and squared-off, and the Sprint version re-introduces some of those chrome accents AT&T suppresses with their clean design. Honestly, both look quite nice but not as strikingly chic as the HTC One X, Nokia Lumia 900 or iPhone 5.

Both the Sprint and AT&T versions are very similar, with the same Optimus UI enhancements on top of Android OS 4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich (4.1 Jelly Bean will follow with no set date). How do they differ? The Sprint version has that slim chrome ring around the sides and no SIM card or microSD card slot. The Sprint version has 32 gigs of internal storage vs. 16 gigs on the AT&T model. Sprint sticks with the 13MP rear camera while AT&T moves down to a still very capable 8MP camera. AT&T adds a microSD card slot (yes!) and includes a 16 gig card. The Sprint and international versions have no SD card slot.

LG Optimus G

The Sprint version of the Optimus G is a hair taller and narrower. Honestly, they're extremely close in dimensions. Both phones feel fairly wide among today's big phones in the hand thanks to the slightly wider than normal display, though in terms of dimensions they're similar to other big phones. If you have small hands, neither will be comfortable. I have large hands, so the G is manageable though perhaps not optimal for one-handed use. While Samsung and HTC taper the corners and sides of their big phones to make them look and feel smaller, LG's unabashed rectilinear design does nothing to fool the mind or hand into thinking you've got a smaller phone. If the iPhone 5 and Motorola Droid RAZR M with their 4" displays are your idea of ergonomic perfection, the LG Optimus G will feel unwieldy.

Both the Sprint and AT&T versions have controls and ports in the same location. The power button is at the upper right edge and the volume controls are on the upper left, similar to Samsung Android phones. The AT&T version has a tri-color LED ring around the power button rather than the front face, which I prefer. The micro USB port is on the bottom on both models, and the 3.5mm stereo audio jack is up top. The camera module on the Sprint version protrudes a bit while the AT&T model's is flush with the casing. Both have a loudspeaker that fires from the lower right rear of the phone, where your hand might cover it.


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LG Optimus G Video Review



As noted, the Sprint Optimus G sticks with the impressive 13 megapixel rear camera that we first saw in the overseas version. Though some reviewers have reported hazy photos with the Sprint model, ours have been nothing but sharp with plenty of detail.

The AT&T model has an 8 megapixel camera that's quite capable, though we noted the 13MP camera captured more fine detail and did a better job focusing and creating sharper images for low light indoor shots (see guitar photo below). It's a close race, but I'd give the Samsung Galaxy S III and the HTC One X (not to mention that photographic monster the Sony Xperia Ion) the edge for photo and video quality.

Both models can shoot 1080p video up to 30fps and have HDR, panorama mode and an intuitive camera app with myriad features and settings.

AT&T LG Optimus G

sample photo


sample photo


Sprint LG Optimus G
sample photo

sample photo

Click on a sample photo to see a larger version of the photo. Pool photo is cropped at 100% zoom.

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.


  Quadrant GLBenchmark 2.1Egypt Offscreen AnTuTu Sunspider JavaScript Test
LG Optimus G 7235 59 pfs (v.2.5 used) 11,087 1289
Sony Xperia Ion 3126 34 fps 6391 2410
HTC EVO 4G LTE 5086 56 fps 7001 1650
Motorola Atrix HD 4627 55 fps 6123 1314
HTC One X 5001 56 fps 7074 1617
Samsung Galaxy S III 5102 51 fps 7011 1825

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 app). Reception on both models in decibels was the same as other top Android phones on their respective carriers.

Battery Life

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



LG Optimus G


LG Optimus G


LG Optimus G


LG Optimus G


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Display: 4.7" capacitive multi-touch IPS display. Resolution: 1280 x 768, supports both portrait and landscape modes.

Battery: 2100 mAh Lithium Ion rechargeable. Battery is not user replaceable.

Performance: 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro "Krait" quad core CPU with Adreno 320 graphics. 1 gig RAM, 16 gigs storage (AT&T) and 32 gigs storage (Sprint).

Size: 5.15 x 2.82 x 0.33 inches. Weight: 5.19 ounces.

Phone: AT&T: quad band GSM with 3G HSPA+ and 4G LTE. Sprint: CDMA with EV-DO Rev. A and LTE 4G.

Camera: 1.3MP front video chat camera and rear 8MP camera (AT&T) 13MP camera (Sprint) with LED flash. Can shoot 1080p video, has HDR and panorama modes.

Audio: Built in speaker, mic and 3.5mm standard stereo headphone jack.

Networking: Dual band WiFi 802.11b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0+ LE and NFC.

Software: Android 4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich (will receive upgrade to 4.1 Jelly Bean) with Optimus UI.

Expansion: 1 SDHC microSD card slot on AT&T model only.


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