I’ve been playing with the latest flagship phone from LG, the Optimus G, and before we fully review the device, we’re going to provide a quick list of first impressions after a few days of testing. Let’s put it this way: my brother ordered the Galaxy S III, and I think he may have made a mistake.

The Optimus G is far beyond what I’ve seen LG create in the mobile space. Their last phone, the Nitro HD, was severely lacking. This latest device hits a home run on so many fronts that I think it may be the best Android phone available when it releases in November.

I’m testing two models, from AT&T and Sprint, and there are some slight differences between the two. The Sprint model is identical to the world model, except that it works on Sprint’s CDMA network instead of GSM (of course). It has a 13MP camera, has a completely streamlined build, and is a single, solid piece. AT&T’s model, on the other hand, is bulkier and more rounded on the edges, and has a textured top and bottom. The power button also acts as a notification light , and there’s an available slot to swap out the MicroSIM and MicroSD cards. Finally, the AT&T model features a slightly better 8MP camera, which we’ll talk more about in the full review.

Both devices run on Android 4.0, but Sprint’s model is strangely more cumbersome but less intrusive. The available RAM on the Sprint model is always around 950MB (of 2GB total), compared to the 1.1GB available on AT&T’s model. I don’t know yet why there’s such a big difference in available RAM, but from my use it has little to no impact on actual use.

That’s because the Optimus G is extremely fast and smooth, thanks to it’s newest-generation Qualcomm Krait processor and the latest Adreno 320 GPU. I’ll talk at length about both in the review, but know for now that this phone is extremely fast. It doesn’t top out all of our benchmarks, but in the right conditions it can in nearly every case.

One potential issue for long-term use revolves around overheating. I thought it may one specific model, but both units tested had significant drops in benchmark performance after extended use and, more importantly, after getting extremely hot. I cooled the phones down and retested, and after a brief warm-up period they were back to benchmark-breaking numbers. It’s unclear as of yet whether that means thermal throttling is in place or if the phone just cannot dissipate heat well enough for the new CPU and GPU, but one thing is certain: performance drops significantly, from way over competition from phones like the HTC One X or Samsung Galaxy S III, to just under them both.

That of course means that performance far surpasses competitive devices. But it was very warm and muggy during my testing (as my non-air conditioned office is), which undoubtedly contributed to it.

The Optimus G also seems to have very good battery life, if users go into the settings and turn on the Eco mode. This effectively throttles the CPU to last-generation Krait speeds, which is still fast enough to use any function on the phone, and drops the power use from 10%/1.5 hours to 10%/5 hours. The first day I got the phones after charging I didn’t use either, only to find both were nearly discharged from minimal use over 10 hours. Minimal use meaning setting up the phone, downloading and installing apps, and answering a few emails. With Eco, that same minimal use, plus at least an hour and a half of low-end Android gaming after 13 hours, left the phone with 40% remaining battery.

A few other quick notes: the Optimus G has a gorgeous screen, one I haven’t tested but looks stunning. It looks better than the Galaxy S III’s display. The phone overall feels wide, wider than most phones, and has a strange 15:9 aspect ratio (compared to widescreen 16:9), which explains why the phone is so wide. It has a resolution of 1280×768, which should sound familiar if you’ve ever plugged a computer into a TV. Those extra pixels across make the phone wider than most other devices.

So far I’m extremely impressed with the Optimus G. If you’re thinking of picking up a Galaxy S III or another phone soon, I’d recommend you wait for a few reasons. First, prices will go down for the holidays. Second, there are a handful of upcoming phones that may overtake the GS3 in terms of performance, ease of use, comfort, etc., including the Optimus G is one. Finally, out of all of the upcoming phones, the Optimus G may be the top dog to beat; not only is LG rumored to be the next “Nexus” maker, but some reports stipulate that the Optimus G may be that phone (or at least a variant of it).

Whatever the case, the Optimus G has thus far been an exceptional device. Look forward to our full review in the near future.










James Pikover

 
Spawned in the horrendous heat of a Los Angeles winter, James was born with an incessant need to press buttons. Whether it was the car radio, doorbells on Halloween or lights, James pushed, pressed and prodded every button. No elevator was left unscathed, no building intercom was left un-rung, and no person he’s known has been left un-annoyed.