LG Optimus G review: Grand Slam

GSMArena team, 22 October 2012.

Final words

Safe to say, LG has done it - all the right pieces are put together in what's a good-looking and powerful smartphone. And unlike the Optimus 4X HD, the Optimus G isn't trailing behind the competition. This time LG is ahead of the pack.

The powerful S4 Pro chipset will make sure that you get as smooth a smartphone ride as you can possibly find. We are not just talking benchmark scores and bragging rights here - the LG Optimus G really moves around at the speed of your thought.

The screen is quite impressive too even though, depending on your preferences, it might come just short of the best around. And the camera delivers quite decently. As long as the relatively high--resolution 13MP sensor doesn't lead you to expect miracles, you should be quite happy with it.

The only thing about the LG Optimus G that raises doubt is the stubborn insistence, bordering on a pathological obsession, to match whatever it is that Samsung has - from the hyperglaze finish to the Nature UX. It leaves a cheap impression and betrays an inferiority complex. When you have the most powerful smartphone, ripples and bubbles on the lockscreen are irrelevant. And by the way, LG's Q Slide is better than Samsung's Pop-up Play.

The choice of finish won't be everyone's cup of tea but that was the case with the Galaxy S III too. Sure, LG had their reasons for going with plastic and glass, but then again so did HTC for the ONE X and Nokia for the Lumia 800 and they managed better than the Koreans.

That's just nit-picking though - the Optimus G isn't a smartphone that we would mind carrying around. The gorgeous screen is where all the attention will be focused anyway, and the loading times are so short, you won't have much time to waste.

And yet, we hope that LG realizes that putting together a great package only ticks off the first item on the to-do list. There's no escaping the fact that Samsung has already delivered Jelly Bean to the Galaxy S III and the Optimus G is still stuck on Ice Cream Sandwich. The Optimus UX may have managed to catch up with Nature UX, but a flagship can't be excused for not running the latest version of the platform available.

The drama surrounding the Optimus 2X ICS update dealt a severe blow on LG's reputation, and the fact that the Optimus 4X HD is still on the JB waiting list doesn't help either. LG should take extra care not to mess this one up or it would completely use the faith of the tech-savvy users who, when buying a flagship product, would like to be treated to the latest and greatest software.

It's crucial for LG to deliver the update before the holiday shopping spree and unlock the Optimus G's full (market) potential. With Google's event fast approaching this October, there's a good chance that come Christmas, Ice Cream Sandwich will be succeeded twice. At that point, LG should have at least delivered one update and committed to the other.

But let's not look too far in the future and see what the Optimus G is up against if you are in the market for a smartphone right now. Currently pre-orders for the smartphone are going at about €599 and that will probably be as much as the handset will cost at launch. We expect it to settle at about €499 a couple of weeks later at which point the fight between it and the Galaxy S III should boil down to value-adding software features or personal design tastes.

We'll be comparing the LG Optimus G and the Galaxy S III in more detail in a dedicated article later on, but here goes the short version. The Optimus G has more pixels and, thanks to its full RGB matrix, a slightly sharper screen, but it lacks the natural contrast of the Galaxy S III AMOLED. Still, the LG flagship has its rival handily beat in terms of performance. On the other hand, the Galaxy S III has Jelly Bean already, so this may be as close a call as it gets.

Samsung I9300 Galaxy S III
Samsung I9300 Galaxy S III

The HTC One X recently got a slight update in the face of HTC One X+. The two Tegra 3-powered smartphones can't match the LG smartphone in terms of performance, but can still offer more than reasonable speed and are more attractively priced. Couple that with a slightly better design (particularly on the One X+) and an equally good screen and it might be worth the trade-off.

HTC One X HTC One X+
HTC One X • HTC One X+

At the end of the day, geeks who are looking for the ultimate performance have little choice, but to opt for the LG Optimus G. As smartphones learn more and more tricks, two things get increasingly important - computing power and screen (both in terms of real estate and image quality) and LG has nailed them both.

LG has finally has a flagship to be proud of and one that's an OS update away from being the Android smartphone others have to work hard to match.