LG Optimus GJ review: Wild child
Waterproof smartphones have become a growing trend this year, and it is slowly turning into a feature that is not so much a bonus as it is a requirement. Enter LG's Optimus GJ. The device is IPX7-certified to withstand submersion of up to one meter for 30 minutes, complete with a removable back panel and a robust 1.5GHz quad-core Krait CPU.
Sony was the first to give a flagship the IP dust-and-water proofing treatment in the Xperia Z, and Samsung, not to be outdone, quickly responded with a rugged version of its own Galaxy S4 - the Galaxy S4 Active. LG is not to be outdone either.
Besides an awkward model name, the LG Optimus GJ has got the same internals and Android build as the LG Optimus G, which means that the user experience is, for the most part, identical. Unfortunately, the GJ had to shed its LTE, NFC and FM antennas as well as some of its internal storage to get the waterproofing trick to work, but LG has made up for that by adding a microSD card slot and a beefier battery.
Let's take a closer look at the key features of the LG Optimus GJ:
- Quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE support, dual-band 3G with HSPA
- 4.7" 16M-color 720p True HD-IPS Plus LCD touchscreen
- Android OS v4.1.2 Jelly Bean; LG Optimus UI 3.0
- Quad-core 1.5 GHz Krait CPU, 2 GB RAM, Adreno 320 GPU
- 13 MP autofocus camera with LED flash, geotagging, Intelligent Auto, image stabilization, Time catch shot, smart shutter and VR panoramas
- 1080p video recording @ 30fps with continuous autofocus and stereo sound;
- 1.3 MP front-facing camera, 720p video recording
- 16GB of built-in storage; microSD card slot
- MHL-enabled microUSB port, USB host support
- Independent content output over MHL (Dual Screen Dual Play), Miracast protocol support
- Bluetooth v4.0
- Wi-Fi a/b/g/n, Wi-Fi Direct and DLNA
- GPS with A-GPS
- Standard 3.5 mm audio jack
- Voice dialing
- Multi-tasking with mini-apps and optional app window transparency (QSlide)
- Accelerometer and proximity sensor
- Active noise cancellation with a dedicated mic
- User-replaceable 2,280mAh Li-Po battery
- Reflective screen doesn't do too well outdoors
- Doesn't have the latest Android build at launch
- The 13MP camera is only marginally better than the leading 8MP shooters
- 1080p video quality is unimpressive
- Quickly overheats, leading to slower performance
- No FM Radio, LTE, or NFC support
At first glance, it may seem like the Optimus GJ is just plain late to the party. The Optimus G is getting a little long on the tooth, and with no significant upgrade over those specs in the GJ, both of the aforementioned rugged offerings from Sony and Samsung handily outclass the LG device in both processing power and display fidelity.
Pitting the Optimus GJ against the 5-inch 1080p displays and more robust processors found in the S4 Active and Xperia Z seems like a recipe for disaster, but its biggest drawbacks may turn out to be its greatest strength. Here's why.
LG is just weeks away from unveiling its new G2 flagship, which will render the aging Optimus G (read: GJ) firmly into midrange territory. This means that rather than contend with more robust waterproof flagships, the Optimus GJ slips into the category of powerful midranger able to undercut the competition as one of the few IP-certified offerings without a flagship pricetag.
But we are getting ahead of ourselves by discussing its potential market impact. Let us first take a look at the hardware package offered by the waterproof LG Optimus GJ. Up next, we get underway with our usual hardware tour.