Text and photos by Gadjo Cardenas Sevilla
Too bad that the name LG Optimus G doesn't really say much about what could be the year's most surprising and impressive Android smartphone yet.
Yes, it feels like forever since LG released anything significant in the already crowded smartphone space, but this quad-core processor toting, 2 GB of RAM-sporting super smartphone shows that taking time to create exceptional products can pay off.
Hopefully consumers will take notice.
In terms of look and feel, LG has gone to their Chocolate and PRADA design roots, which means understated, fashion-focused lines and with subtle yet thoughtful design elements.
This time around, there is a slight inlay in the rear Gorilla Glass panel called Crystal Reflection, which shows a reflective design when the light catches it in a certain way. If you like the look and overall feel of the iPhone 4 and 4S with the glass enclosure, you will like the feel of the LG Optimus G.
The LG Optimus G isn't frivolous or foppish, it is certainly elegant and businesslike. Which makes me think that this is just the type of Android device that would appeal to the corporate set.
The Optimus G will come to Telus and Bell on November 13 and should be on the short list of anyone looking at a top-tier smartphone, specially those signing up for a new contract.
Let's face it, smartphone releases in 2012 have just taken technology to a whole new level. This is the year we saw the Samsung Galaxy S III, the iPhone 5, the Nexus 4 (also made by LG) and a cabal of extremely powerful and sexy Windows Phone 8 devices.
Competition in the higher end of the market is cut-throat. There are so many fanatastic smartphones out there today. So much so, that good smartphones that aren't excellent are soon forgotten.
The LG Optimus G is an excellent smartphone that's destined to be remembered.
LG's comeback device has the specs of a notebook crammed into a sleek and elegant 4.7-inch smartphone. Not only is it powerful, the user interface running on top of Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) is unobtrusive and free of gimmickry for the most part.
No talk of designs inspired by nature or any such new age claptrap. This is just a great phone.
To top it all, LG Canada has says the update to the anticipated Jelly Bean OS will come in Q2 2013).
This smartphone caught everyone by surprise, and wasn't preceded by any glitzy launch event or accompanied by any tacky commercials. It is almost as if LG is saying, "we don't need any of that, our product will speak for itself."
And speak loudly, it does.
In terms of design, the LG Optimus G is a slate-like rectangle with slightly rounded edges and thin bezels around the screen.
It is encased in plastic but the front and back are glass (Gorilla?) which give it a distinctly solid, premium feel.
This is heavier than the Samsung Galaxy S III and the HTC One X but it is a kind of heavy that is welcome and translates to a solid overall feel.
Also solid is the spec list which propels the LG Optimus G to the top tier of mobile devices released this year.
It has already blown through many of the benchmark tests and proven itself extremely competent.
For most users who aren't caught up in performance specs, all this just means that they will experience an extremely fluid and fast smartphone navigation experience.
Most apps will deploy quickly and those that are written to take advantage of the quad-core processor and the enhnaced RAM will be faster for sure.
There's something to be said for having a smartphone whose specs are even better than many tablets out there, but LG doesn't squander all the horsepower needlessly and distributes it when needed, in a highly controlled fashion.
Battery life is excellent, the LG Optimus G will easily last a day between recharges even with LTE and WiFi used in moderation, a couple of calls and using the GPS functionn
Our review unit running on Bell's network accessed the Internet quickly, made emailing and instant messaging. LTE coverage was good to great. The speeds reverted to 3G indoors and underground but blazed on within the Toronto downtown core.
I used the Optimus G as a mobile hotspot to install apps on my new iPad mini (I was excited) and was able to get all my apps installed on the device in around 45 minutes which is around the time it would have taken me at home office on my WiFi network. Gotta love Bell's LTE!
I tested the NFC capabilities and they worked as advertised. The camera seems quick and powerful enough for most tasks although I have not tested the photo or video capabilities at length, mainly using the phone for calls, apps and email.
Call quality was superb, although the speakerphone function wasn't as clear (could have been an issue with the connection) but I was overall satisfied with the Optimus G as a competent handset.
Google is releasing the Nexus 4 within the month. That is the new flagship device running the latest version of the Google Android OS and it is also made by LG with many of the LG Optimus G's features (except smaller memory capacity, no LTE capability and it will look more like the Galaxy Nexus in design).
This is a sure sign that LG is stepping up its game in the highly competitive Android handset arena and that it is working in close collaboration with Google.
In terms of hardware, the LG Optimus G is second to none, it is the software and the frequency of updates that concerns me a bit.
Like many, I've been badly burned by purchasing an LG Android device relegated to the dustbin because it never received a proper software update to bring it up to speed (in my case it was the 8.9-inch LG Optimus Pad).
That experience gives me pause because the LG Optimus G is good enough in terms of hardware to be relevant in 2-3 years but what are the guarantees we'll see anything in terms of sofware beyond Jelly Bean.
Of course, the same can be said for any non Nexus Android device bought today.
LG has made an impressive flagship smartphone with the LG Optimus G and one that can go toe-to-toe with any handset on any platform today.
If you're looking at a Galaxy S III or an HTC One X give the LG Optimus G an even chance and check it out, it might surprise you as much as it surprised me.
Rating: 4 out of 5