Let’s be honest here, LG hasn’t had the best of luck when it comes to smartphones. It caught a break back in the day with the Optimus 2X for being the first dual-core handset to hit the market that wasn’t exorbitantly priced. Since then, we’ve had a few good handsets like the Optimus Black and the Optimus 4X HD, but that could not truly overpower the competition. So when LG sent us an invite for the unveiling of the Optimus G, we were a bit sceptical as whether it would make a big impact and shake up the competition or simply be an updated 4X HD with better specifications. This is our first impression of the LG Optimus G.

Design and build
We are happy to report that the design and finish of the Optimus G is a huge improvement over the 4X HD, even though it shares similar dimensions. The finish of the handset, especially the back, is inspired by the Nexus 4 as it features the same texture and pattern when viewed under any light. The sides feel a little sharp due to the chrome trim running along the edge, which is a bit annoying at first, but it also gives you some grip. The power and volume rocker take their place on either side of the handset and are within reach. The glossy back masks fingerprints very well, so maintaining a clean look is not that hard.


Build quality and aesthetics have been bumped up

The phone feels sturdy and well-built and is fairly light as well. The 4.7-inch HD screen has an aspect ratio of 15:9, which is why it feels a little wider than the Nexus 4 or the Galaxy Nexus. The TrueHD IPS+ display produces good colours and the brightness levels are high enough for any lighting condition. To top it off, we have Corning Gorilla Glass 2 for added protection. The display also has very good sensitivity and even the lightest touch is registered. We were quite impressed with the overall design and finish of the handset, which is a notch above LG’s usual offerings.


The sealed back is similar to the Nexus 4 in terms of design

Thanks to the generous helping of 2GB RAM and a spiffy quad-core SoC, the Optimus G is fast – really, really fast. During our usage, we didn’t come across even the slightest hint of lag. Apps open and close really quickly and you jump right back into them without having to wait. We have partly Jelly Bean to thank for this as well as a much optimised Optimus UI 3.0. The skin looks a lot more mature as compared to what we’ve seen on LG’s previous offerings. It finally looks a lot less like TouchWiz as LG has dialled down the colours for the theme and the icons.

We got a chance to try out some of the new features in the Optimus G such as QSlide, QuickMemo and Screen Zooming. The QSlide function works a lot like the split-screen mode on the Note II. There’s a small list of apps that work in this mode and can be accessed directly through the notification bar. Once opened, you get a floating window that can be dragged around and resized. LG takes it a step further and lets you adjust the transparency of the app as well, which is really cool. With the transparency set to below 50 percent, you can continue using the phone “through” the opened app as if it were not there. You can have two of these apps opened at a time. Again, there’s absolutely no lag whatsoever when performing this task.


The Optimus G pulls off some cool new tricks without breaking a sweat

QuickMemo lets you write anywhere on the screen by simply selecting the mode from the notification bar or holding the volume up/down button for two seconds. This brings up a little carousel from the top that lets you select brushes, colours, etc., but instead of capturing a screenshot and then letting you write, which is how it usually works, it creates an overlay so your writing stays while you continue to use your phone. This is something really unique and a lot more practical as well. Make sure you watch the video for all these features in action.

LG has also added a bunch of other gestures like the ability to pinch-zoom into a video, adjust the size of the thumbnails on the gallery and many more, which we’ll delve into with greater detail in the review.

The Optimus G launched in India with a 13MP camera. This makes LG the first smartphone maker to ship an Android handset with this large a sensor in India. The camera interface hasn’t changed much, but we do have some new features like SmartShutter, which captures a burst of images and lets you select the best one later on. Then there’s Cheese Shutter, which lets you capture an image by just saying “cheese”, which makes it a lot easier for self-portraits. There is a lot to explore, but for now, here’s a sample shot from the camera. The shot was taken without flash and everything set to auto. 


Very good low-light captures

Looks incredibly promising
The official price of the Optimus G is Rs 34,500, but you can already find it online for Rs 30,990, or even lesser if you look hard enough. In the short time we’ve spent with the handset, we can say quite confidently that LG is definitely onto something here. The phone wowed us with its buttery smooth operation and ability to keep up with whatever we threw at it. The new look of the UI is definitely a step up and is easily just as functional and usable as TouchWiz, if not better. LG has nailed it with the launch price, however, and we feel this could be a much better value proposition compared to the Galaxy S III or the Xperia ion. We’ll reserve our final verdict for the full review, but one thing’s for sure, the Optimus G has certainly put LG back in the running for the top high-end droids of 2013.

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