Remember back in the ’80s when we saw over-sized cell phones and longed for the day when they would be less cumbersome? Welcome to the future. Cell phones are lighter and thinner and definitely pack more punch than the phone we saw Zach Morris use on Saved By the Bell. However, despite becoming thinner, the trend is once again pointing towards larger phones. There are several 5-inch-plus devices from all the major manufacturers, most notably (no pun intended) the Samsung Note II. I recently had the privilege of spending some time using the LG Optimus G Pro and found that, while the device has its flaws, I do appreciate the larger sized “phablet” device as they are begrudgingly called by many people.
Performance: The LG Optimus G Pro is powered by a 1.7 GHz Snapdragon 600 processor, carries 2GB of RAM and an Adreno 320 chip to handle graphic processing. The G Pro arrives with Android 4.1.2 and, combined with its fast processor and large amount of RAM, performance on the device was great. I experienced little to no lag when moving between screens, browsing the web and opening applications. I expect that the performance will only get better if LG decides to update the software for the phone.
Display: The Pro G sports a large 5.5-inch IPS screen with a full HD 1080p resolution, giving it a pixel per inch value of 400. The display remained easy to read in various lighting conditions and when viewed from different angles. I found the colors on the phone to be very vibrant. The text was clear and crisp, making it a pleasure to read books on the G Pro.
Build: There are many factors that determine the build quality of a device. Some are subjective, like how a phones feels when you hold it, but we all agree durability and comfort using our phone is important when shelling out large sums of money for a device. The G Pro weighs in at 173g, which is slightly less that the Note II, but it still feels solid. LG uses a thin aluminum frame to separate the Corning Gorilla glass from the plastic removable battery cover on the back. I typically use a case on my device, but the G Pro feels durable enough to stand on its own without a case.
Network: What good is a phone with great specifications if it’s crippled by the network it’s running on? Fortunately, the AT&T network in my area is rock solid. While traveling the county, I consistently had a strong signal and only fell below two bars of service a couple of times. The data speeds I received far exceeded my expectations; I averaged 27MBs down and 12MBs up on the AT&T 4G network.
Battery: The G Pro sports a healthy 3140mAh battery, and after 8 hours of moderate use, I found I still had around 30% battery available. Power users many need to have a charging cable nearby, but they still should make it a majority of the day without needing to charge the phone.
Quick key button: LG added a button on the left side of the G Pro to provide a quick shortcut to applications. The default is set to QuickMemo, but it can be customized to launch any application. I applaud LG for having a dedicated button, but all too often, I found myself accidentally hitting the button and unable to navigate on my device. I typically keep my phone in my front pant pocket, and there were many instances when I took the phone out of my pocket and found the phone had launched QuickMemo. It would be nice if the button was either on the top or bottom of the phone instead of the side.
Interface: A good user interface is crucial to any device, and this is one area where I feel LG dropped the ball. The LG software overlay seemed antiquated, and it was not as intuitive as I would have hoped. The G Pro remains outdated, arriving with only Android 4.1.2 instead of 4.2, which is already shipping on many other devices. LG hasn’t mentioned anything regarding what devices will receive the new Android 4.3 software update, but given the Optimus G Pro is a high-end device, it’s quite possible that it will see this update sometime in the future. Hopefully the UI will get a slight tweak as well in the near future.
Pen: A 5-inch smartphone lends itself to using a stylus. Given there is a QuickMemo app, it was surprising to find the G Pro does not ship with a built-in pen. This is one glaring area whee the Note II outshines the Optimus G Pro. Hopefully we will see a pen included in the next iteration of the device.
The Final Word
If I were to sum up the Optimus G Pro in one word, it would be “competitive.” The Optimus G Pro falls into a market that may not appeal to everyone. We all want the most for our money, but not everyone is willing to carry a smartphone that barely fits in your purse or pant pocket. LG may not have the same amount of money other manufacturers have to promote their product, but do you really need that when you have a quality product that sells itself once you’ve used it? The Optimus G Pro isn’t in the limelight as much as the Note II, but when you compare specs and build, they are very similar. The Optimus G Pro is a great “little” device for those looking for a less expensive upgrade to a new “phablet” smartphone. You can find the Optimus G Pro on AT&T for $99 on-contract and $439 off-contract. There’s also a new White color option available.