It started off the multiple core smartphone era with the Optimus 2X in 2011 but the period since has seen LG playing catch-up in the smartphone wars, trying to keep up with the likes of Samsung, Nokia and HTC when it comes to high-profile devices. And the company certainly has not helped its case here by delaying the releases of some of its best-known products in the Indian market — the Optimus Vu came late to Indian shores and we are still waiting for the much-acclaimed Nexus 4. Even the arrival of the Optimus G has been accompanied by complaints that it has taken its time coming to India, especially given the fact that LG showcased its successor, the larger screened Optimus G Pro at the recent Mobile World Congress.
But leaving corporate strategy aside (after all, even Nokia never brought the N9 to India), what cannot be denied is that the Optimus G is perhaps the most formidable device to have emerged from LG’s smartphone arsenal in India. And unlike its predecessors, which focused more on interior muscle than exterior beauty, it throws in a few designer spins as well. The phone is a mere 8.5-mm thin and fits easily into one’s hand for such a large screened device (it has a 4.7 inch display), but what really grabs attention is the back of the device which is covered with glass and has a crystal pattern which glitters subtly when light falls on it. A classy touch to an otherwise routine looking device with a front that has no physical buttons (three-touch keys), with the volume rocker on the left and a power/display on/off button on the right.
Betwixt the glass on the display and the one on the back lies some very serious hardware muscle. The 4.7-inch scratch-resistant display sports a 1280 x 768 resolution, has a pixel density of 320 ppi, and in terms of brightness and richness of colour, certainly puts the likes of the Sony Xperia Z and the BlackBerry Z10 to shame. The back houses a 13.0-megapixel camera, the front a 1.3-megapixel one, storage stands at 32 GB (non-expandable) and powering all this is a Snapdragon S4 Pro 1.5 GHz quad core processor aided by 2 GB RAM. The phone runs on Android 4.1 — why none of the newcomers in the market run Android 4.2 is a mystery we have given up trying to solve — with LG’s layer over it. And it is a handy layer too, with features like QuickMemo which lets you capture a screenshot from any application, scribble a note on it and share it. We also love the ZoomIn features which actually lets you zoom into parts of a video — something that had earlier been restricted just to Web pages, images and text documents.
And thanks to the hardware within, all this happens at the rate of knots. When it comes to sheer speed of operation, the Optimus G is out there with the best, be it browsing the Web, watching films, playing endless hours of Temple Run or even getting creative and messing around with editing images and videos. It does have its weak points though — use the display at its best (it would be a sin not to, given how bright it is) and you will find yourself running out of charge sooner rather than later, and the camera onboard continues LG’s strange legacy of shooters that take brilliant pictures at one moment, and ordinary ones the other — the colours were not the greatest and noise levels shot up the moment the lights dimmed. It can shoot full HD video but the results are not likely to give the likes of the iPhone 5 or the Xperia Z sleepless nights. Sound quality is good on headphones and middling on speaker mode.
The Optimus G is easily the best handset we have seen from LG in India. We love the compact form factor and the understated design, and it pretty much ran everything we threw at it without lagging. Where it might come undone is in comparison with the so-called superphones that are likely to hit the market soon — Samsung’s Galaxy SIV, HTC’s One and LG’s own Optimus G Pro (a phablet-y avatar of the G with upped specs). That said, it has something going for it which those other worthies do not — a less than stratospheric price. At Rs 30,990, the Optimus G is easily the most affordable new quad-core smartphone in the Indian market, with a price tag that is significantly lower than the newbies from Samsung HTC, Sony and BlackBerry. Which makes it very good value for money for someone seeking a very good smartphone rather than the greatest in celltown.
LG Optimus G: 4.7-inch 1280 x 768 display, 1.5 GHz quad core processor, 2GB RAM, 32 GB storage, 13-megapixel camera, GPS, Wi-Fi, 3G, Bluetooth, Android 4.1
Price: Rs 30,990