Review: LG Optimus G Pro on AT&T

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The Optimus G Pro, LG’s answer to the Samsung Galaxy Note line of devices. And I have to say, it’s definitely a competitor. Sure some people might say that it’s just a bootleg version of the Galaxy Note 2. Which in many cases it is, but there are plenty of things on the Optimus G Pro that I like better than on the Galaxy Note 2. Let’s go over the Optimus G Pro’s specs really quick, so we know what we are working with here:

  • 5.5-inch 1920×1080 resolution IPS+ LCD display
  • Snapdragon 600 quad-core 1.7GHz processor
  • 2GB of RAM
  • 32GB internal storage; microSD card slot
  • 13MP rear facing camera, 2.1MP front-facing camera
  • 3140mAh battery
  • Android 4.1.2

The Optimus G Pro has the same screen size as the Galaxy Note 2, but it seems to be a bit smaller. I can actually use the Optimus G Pro one-handedly comfortably, but the Galaxy Note 2 it wasn’t all that comfortable to use it with one hand. So it doesn’t seem to be as wide as the Galaxy Note 2.

Optimus G Pro Hardware

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The hardware seems to be a bit better feeling in the hand as well. On the front of the device you’ve got your 5.5-inch 1080p display, home, back and menu buttons along with your speaker grill and camera at the top, on the right side is your power button on the bottom you’ve got your microUSB port, the left side is your volume rocker and another physical button which is mappable. At the top is your IR blaster and 3.5mm headphone jack. Flip it over to the back and you’ll find your 13MP camera, flash, speaker and a small-ish AT&T logo.

The Home button

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If you follow me on Google+ or Twitter, you probably know how much I hate physical buttons. The Optimus G Pro is no different. But there is one thing about the physical home button that I do like. Which is the fact that the LED notification light is part of the home button. You can check out this Vine I did earlier this week which shows you how awesome it really is. That is hands down my favorite feature of the Optimus G Pro.

Display

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Full HD 1080p displays are normally pretty good looking. But the IPS+ display on this device is just gorgeous. The entire time I’ve had it, I’ve kept the brightness at around 50% because it’s just so beautiful to look at and use. The Nexus 4 also uses IPS+ but it is at a 720p resolution so it’s not as great as this one is. Comparing it to the 1080p Super AMOLED display on the Galaxy S4, it’s different. That’s about all I can say without sounding biased. When you’re outside, the IPS+ display is a little easier to see than the AMOLED. But they are both rather tough to see at full brightness, unfortunately.

Performance

The Optimus G Pro has a Snapdragon 600 processor inside which Qualcomm announced at the beginning of this year. It’s in many devices like the Galaxy S4 and HTC One and has proven to be no slouch, despite the reported “S Lag” on the Galaxy S4. On the Optimus G Pro I didn’t notice much of anything in terms of lag, or even it being slow. Even without disabling any of the bloat that comes pre-installed on the device. Which there was plenty of that on the Optimus G Pro. The 2GB of RAM definitely helps with multi-tasking on the device, as it does with any device. The Optimus G Pro is really smooth, and their custom skin does not bog down the system like on other flagships out there. It’s actually a really nice experience.

Software and Skins

As I stated in the beginning of this review, the Optimus G Pro comes with Android 4.1.2 – Jelly Bean on board, it also brings LG’s custom skin along for the ride. Admittingly, this my first time with an LG device. I’ve used the LG Lucid 2, but that was not a flagship by any means. Then the Nexus 4, which I don’t really consider an LG device. Using LG’s custom skin was quite refreshing actually. They’ve thrown in a lot of features into the launcher that you’d normally install Nova or Apex to get. One example is changing the size of the icons in the app drawer. You can choose 5×6 or 4×5. Personally the 4×5 icons are too big for my liking. You also have Quickmemo which basically allows you to write on the screen and leave notes. The Optimus G Pro doesn’t have a stylus, but your finger works pretty well nonetheless.

There is one complaint I have about the Optimus G Pro though, that is the notification drawer. As you can see in the image above, the notification drawer seems a bit too busy too me. You have the normal quick toggles at the top and you have the Qslide apps which are customizable, but you can’t completely get rid of them. This might just be me, But I’d like to have the option to completely get rid of the QSlide apps and the toggles in the notification drawer.

Quick Memo

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Quick Memo allows you to write a not for yourself. As you can see in the screenshot above. I wrote a quick memo that just says “Android Headlines Review” I know my handwriting is probably the worst anyone’s seen before. You can then share these memo’s via Android’s built-in sharing feature. You can also save them to the internal storage or SD card of your device.

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Bloatware

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The Optimus G Pro comes with a ton of bloat, or would that be pre-installed apps? There’s close to 60 apps pre-installed, just like with the Galaxy S4 which I reviewed last month. There’s a bunch of AT&T apps and just a few LG apps that are pre-installed this time.

Battery Life

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Battery life on the Optimus G Pro is about as expected. Since it does have a 3140mAh battery and is a 5.5-inch display. It normally lasted me around a full day (~17 hours) and that was all on AT&T’s HSPA+ network, since I haven’t been able to get LTE here with the Optimus G Pro. So I’d have to say I’m pretty satisfied with the battery life on this “phablet”.

Benchmarks

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There are two benchmarks we use to test the devices that we use. One is Vellamo which tests the javascript and HTML5 capability of the device. The other is Basemark X 1.0, which tests the GPU speed and performance. Primarily for gaming. You can see the screenshot of the Vellamo benchmark above, and the Basemark benchmark is down below.

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Camera

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The camera on the Optimus G Pro is a 13MP shooter so it should do pretty well, and as you can see in the pictures above and below, it did pretty well for a smartphone camera. The interface is rather intuitive as well, but unfortunately it wouldn’t allow me to take a screenshot of it. The camera does have a slight bump to it on the back, but it’s not as bad as the bump on the Galaxy Note 8.0. I’d also say that the camera on the Optimus G Pro is better than the Nexus 4, but as far as comparing it to the Galaxy S4, that’s a very tight race and I think that depends on personal preference.

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Network

It is running on AT&T’s network, so it does support their HSPA+ and LTE network. I haven’t had much of an issue with the network on the Optimus G Pro at all. Other than not being able to get LTE in my area, but I’ve had that issue with other AT&T devices as well.

Availability

The Optimus G Pro is available at AT&T now for $199.99 with a new two-year contract. It’s one of the very few LG devices AT&T carries. It’s pretty competitive with the other flagship devices on AT&T’s network including the HTC One, Galaxy S4, and I guess you can call the iPhone a flagship for them since they sell more than any other carrier.

The Good

  • Display: I honestly can’t say enough great things about the display on this device. It’s one of those things that’s better to experience in person
  • Battery Life: Pretty good for a 5.5-inch 1080p display always running on mobile data
  • Form Factor: I actually really like the form factor on the Optimus G Pro. It’s a bit taller than the Galaxy Note 2, but it’s still comfortable to use.
  • Home button: I can’t say enough about this either, despite it being a physical home button. I love that it is also your notification LED.
  • Pricing: Very competitive with the other flagships out there, but not hitting the $299 price point that the Galaxy Note 2 started at
  • Storage: It has about 23.30GB of the 32GB available plus support for a 64GB microSD card slot giving you around 96GB of space.
  • Mappable side button: On the left side, there is a button above the volume rocker that is originally for QuickMemo. But you can map it to do anything you’d like. In fact, I have it mapped to open the camera and take pictures. This is one of my other favorite parts of the Optimus G Pro as well.

The Bad

  • Availability: Unfortunately the Optimus G Pro is only available on AT&T at this time. It also doesn’t appear to be heading to any other US carriers either. Which is a major con for this great device. 
  • “Borrows” from Touchwiz: It’s quite apparent that the Optimus G Pro borrowed a lot of features from the Galaxy Note 2 and Touchwiz in general.
  • Notification Drawer: I spoke about this earlier in the review, but it appears to me that the Notification drawer is just a bit to busy for my liking. I wish it was a bit more customizable.
  • Storage: Out of the 32GB of space, you have about 23.30GB of usable space out of the box, but there is a microSD card slot.

The Verdict

So should you buy the Optimus G Pro? Why not? I’ve been struggling to find bad things to say about the Optimus G Pro. The only real bad thing I can say about it is that its an AT&T exclusive and probably won’t have the developer support of the Galaxy Note 2. If you’re not into rooting and ROMing then this is probably the best device available for you right now, at least until the Galaxy Note 3 comes out this fall. If you’re one of those that’s looking into a “phablet” for your next device, you’ll definitely want to check out the LG Optimus G Pro.

The Optimus G Pro definitely has me excited to see what LG has planned for 2013 and beyond. In the past they’ve been thought of as a mid-range OEM. Releasing devices like the LG Viper, and the Spectrum on various carriers. Along with not updating their phones in a timely manner. I’ll be keeping an eye on the Optimus G Pro to see how long before they update it. But I’m definitely excited for LG’s future.

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