July 16, 2012, 6:42 a.m.
Authors: Joshua Flood, Senior Analyst, Devices, Applications & Content Craig Foster, Senior Analyst, Navigation, Telematics & M2M
LG Optimus 4X HD on Sale in Europe
Last week, I opted to upgrade my phone and after lengthy consideration, plumped for the recently-released LG Optimus 4X. I had been eagerly-awaiting the release of Samsung’s new Galaxy SIII smartphone but despite possessing an impressive array of specifications, the design was a major disappointment to me. The giant “soap bar” look, strange choice of colours (pebble blue and marble white but no black) and “plasticy” feel were all huge turn-offs. Battling the SIII for the title of best Android phone is another quad-core behemoth – the HTC One X. Although it’s undoubtedly sleek and sexy with specs that more or less match the SIII, the absence of an expandable memory card slot and an inability to remove the battery made this phone a no-go too.
LG’s flagship phone stacks up well against the SIII and One X, with a design akin to the former’s remarkably popular predecessor, the SII. Having now had a chance to familiarise myself with the device, I decided to briefly note its pros and cons, before inviting my colleague and ABI’s resident mobile devices expert, Joshua Flood, to comment on how it stacks up against its aforementioned rivals.
Pros and Cons of the 4X Apparently, 3.5” phones are so 2010, unless of course, you’re Apple. With every new gadget launched, Samsung has gradually increased the screen size on offer. The phenomenally popular Galaxy Note is so big at 5.3” that it has been dubbed a “phablet”. If truth be told, I think that any phone bigger than 4” is too cumbersome to operate and the 4X certainly falls into this trap. Turning the phone off on and on, operating the volume rocker or the three capacitive buttons involves careful manoeuvring of the phone in your hands. However, if you want the latest technology in your pocket, it seems a small price to pay and one that doesn’t seem to bother many technophiles given the early success of the SIII and One X. Another drawback of the 4X is the autofocus feature that acts as a hindrance rather than a help when snapping away or shooting a video. An example of this so-called “breathing” issue, can be found here (the name will soon become apparent). Although the autofocus feature can be disabled by using a different camera app to the stock app that the phone ships with, it is an annoyance that might put off some would-be buyers. It would be highly surprising if LG didn’t produce an OTA fix for this in the not too distant future. I’ve read some early reviews that slate the 4X’s battery, despite it packing a beefy 2150mAh of capacity. In constant use, the battery does drain fairly quickly, granted. However, how often do you constantly fiddle with your phone? Today, at 8.30am, I unplugged the device at full charge. At 5pm, the battery level was 90%. This is not bad going considering I’d periodically checked for messages, done a bit of light browsing etc., and all in all, early signs are that the battery is a winner. An LED notification light is conspicuous by its absence and this is sure to be a bugbear for those needing a flashing light to tell them they’ve got mail. On to some more pros: The LCD screen is simply excellent and is perfectly readable in bright sunlight unlike phones with AMOLED and Super AMOLED screens I’ve seen and used. The Nvidia quad-core Tegra 3 processor is lightning fast, the NFC tags are a unique and useful feature, while the design and adaptability blows the SIII and One X out of the water. LG’s own Android skin, “Optimus UI”, is also slick, featuring neat apps like Quick Memo. How it Compares to the SIII and One X Craig provides an excellent overview on LG’s Optimus 4X HD. The Korean smartphone manufacturer has definitely been working overtime to make some real progress in the smartphone market and this is well reflected in its latest offering. As the 4X has not been set a release date in the USA, we’re going to have to do a cost analysis via the UK smartphone market. From a price perspective, the LG Optimus 4X looks good. On expansys.com, the device is priced at 425, the One X at 450, while the SIII will set you back 500. Additionally, Craig mentioned his delight at the screen quality and the LG and HTC smartphones both have IPS LCD capacitive touchscreens. The SIII, on the other hand, has a Super AMOLED touchscreen. The LG smartphone battery betters the Samsung (2100mAh) and HTC (1800mAh) batteries in terms of available capacity. The 4X has an internal storage of 16GB (many review sites mistakenly claim the 4X is expandable to 32GB when LG’s official site shows that it is, in fact, 64GB), the SIII 16GB (expandable to 64GB), and the One X 32GB (non-expandable). Examining the smartphones from an overall size and weight perspective, the previous analysis repeats itself and the Galaxy is the largest overall smartphone and joint heaviest. However, when looking at the additional features of the Samsung and HTC, the smartphone heavyweights begin to distinguish themselves. HTC offers a burst-shot mode that is very useful. Samsung goes even further with a burst-mode capable of 20 shots in a row, at a rate of 6 photos per second. The SIII also has a Best Shot feature that takes 8 pictures and picks the best one from certain parameters as well as packing in numerous other interesting features, such as Smart Alert, AllShare Cast and Play, and Smart Stay. It should be noted though that a number of these features can be incorporated into LG's phone by downloading a different camera app such as Camera ZOOM FX. Being a bloke from the north of England, we pride ourselves on three things: making delicious gravy, brewing a good cup of tea and being tight with our money. I would be willing to bet the last 10 in my pocket that the Samsung Galaxy SIII will be the best-selling smartphone of 2012. However, LG’s marketing in recent years has been shoddy at best. With a little more exposure, the 4X has the potential to catapult the company that little bit closer to its Korean rival in the smartphone market share rankings.