February 27, 2013

MWC 2013: LG Optimus G, Vu, F and L series hands-on


Introduction

LG staff must have been charged for excess baggage on their way to Barcelona – they've brought lots of new phones to MWC 2013. The LG Optimus G Pro uberphone leads the way, followed by the Vu II, but the company also fleshed out its F and L series, populated with low, mid and high-end smartphones.


The LG Optimus G Pro is not new – it was already announced for Korea, Japan and North America, but now it’s hitting the Old Continent too. The situation with the LG Optimus Vu II is similar.
The F series are LG’s new mass-market LTE-enabled phones that will capitalize on the expanding LTE market. The more upmarket LG Optimus F7 failed to attend, so we only got to see its Optimus F5 sibling. Update: the Optimus F7 was here after all - we dug it up and spend some face time with it too.
The L series are second generation devices and are getting even more affordable. All three models (L3 II, L5 II and L7 II) have dual-SIM options, which is a big deal for emerging markets.

LG Optimus G Pro hands-on

The Optimus G Pro is LG’s top dog and is one of the best Androids available at the moment. It's powered by the recently announced Snapdragon 600, which employs four Krait 300 CPUs plus an Adreno 320 GPU, all this generously garnished with 2GB of RAM (benchmarks coming soon).
The eye-catching 5.5" IPS display of Full HD resolution is definitely one of the smartphone's key features. LG is keen on making lots of noise about how the colors are rendered, pitting it against Samsung’s AMOLED displays. Long story short, LG claims the Optimus G Pro’s display shows 100% accurate colors, unlike AMOLED screens.
Of course, we took it for a test drive ourselves and we can safely confirm that the images indeed look great and colors pop, especially the reds. The display is impressively sharp too, thanks to the amazing pixel density of 400 ppi.
So, the screen junkies that we are, we decided to get out the Galaxy S III and put its Super AMOLED 720p screen next to the True HD-IPS+ 1080p LCD of the G Pro.
On paper these two screens are quite different. The LG smartphone has an LCD with a full RGB matrix, while the Galaxy S III's is Pentile AMOLED.
Pentile is old tech (we saw it on devices like the first Galaxy S) and doesn’t feature the full set of subpixels – the green pixels are the complete set, but there're less red and blue pixels than an RGB. Still, at 1280 x 720 resolution the 4.8″ Super AMOLED has a pixel density of around 306, which is well into retina territory.
The screen of the LG Optimus G Pro is a handful – True HD-IPS+ LCD with a resolution of 1920 x 1080. Stretching across a 5.5″ diagonal, it produces around 401 pixels per inch – that’s sharp!
Now that we have taken care of the formal introductions, it’s time for these two to meet.
 
A head on image of the two screens
Looking at both screens head on you’ll immediately notice the Super AMOLED’s advantage. The class-leading contrast shows in the images. Colors are over-saturated compared to the LCD of the LG smartphone and generally look warmer and more pleasing.
However the Optimus G Pro screen has really punchy colors too, especially for an LCD. Plus, LG made big fuss about the color rendering being 100% accurate as opposed to the one of the Super AMOLED screen.
  
Check out the reflective surfaces and viewing angles
Then we come to viewing angles and reflectivity. Samsung’s device has the upper hand here with the typically superb Super AMOLED viewing angles.
The LG Optimus G Pro screen is more reflective and there is contrast loss when you’re looking at the screen at an angle – but it isn’t Xperia Z bad, being an IPS unit.
Overall, the LG Optimus G Pro stays in line with the Optimus G with the obvious advantage of increased size and sharpness. We’d gladly recommend it to a friend.
   
LG Optimus G Pro hands-on
The build quality is solid too and for a device this big bending is virtually non-existent. The great build quality aside, we are also very pleased with how well LG has managed to place the physical keys on the Optimus G Pro. We can’t say the same thing for the HTC Butterfly, for example. The good news continue with the availability of a customizable shortcut button in the top left. You can use it to quickly launch apps when the device is unlocked.
An interesting addition to the Optimus G Pro is an IR blaster utilized by the QRemote app, which lets you control your TV and Blu-Ray player.
LG went for a full-plastic build for the Optimus G Pro, but still managed a premium, quality feel. The phone is agreeably light, too for a device of this size. In fact, it measures 150.2 x 76.1 x 9.4 mm and weighs 160 grams.
Especially for the MWC, LG is showcasing the LTE version of the G Pro, which features a specially designed back cover. It looks interesting, but imitates the Nexus 4's back pattern, and honestly, we're not very fond of it.
  
  
LG Optimus G Pro hands-on
As promised, we ran some benchmarks to see how the Optimus G Pro's four Krait 300 cores handle some stress testing.
AnTuTu and Quadrant are compound benchmarks, testing the overall performance. The Optimus G Pro is very close to the performance of the Xperia Z, which is surprising considering its newer Krait architecture.

AnTuTu

Higher is better
  • HTC One22678
  • Sony Xperia Z20794
  • LG Optimus G Pro20056
  • Samsung Galaxy S III15547
  • Oppo Find 515167
  • Huawei Ascend P213358
  • HTC Butterfly12631

Quadrant

Higher is better
  • LG Optimus G Pro12105
  • HTC One11746
  • Sony Xperia Z8075
  • HTC One X+7632
  • LG Optimus G7439
  • Oppo Find 57111
  • HTC One X5952
  • Samsung Galaxy Note II5916
  • Samsung Galaxy S III5450
  • Meizu MX 4-core5170
  • Huawei Ascend P24838
  • LG Optimus 4X HD4814
  • Nexus 44567
SunSpider is all about pure JavaScript performance. Here, the Optimus G Pro failed to match the prowess of Windows Phones and the iPhone 5, but did well enough to be right on their tail.

SunSpider

Lower is better
  • Samsung Ativ S891
  • Apple iPhone 5915
  • Nokia Lumia 920910
  • Lenovo K900962
  • Samsung Galaxy Note II972
  • HTC One X+1001
  • LG Optimus G Pro1011
  • Motorola RAZR i XT8901059
  • HTC One1124
  • Samsung Galaxy S III1192
  • Meizu MX 4-core1312
  • LG Optimus G1353
  • HTC Butterfly1433
  • Sony Xperia Z1906
  • Nexus 41971
We also shot a quick hands-on video of the freshly updated Optimus UI running on the G Pro.

LG Optimus F7 hands-on

The Optimus F7 is the better-spec'd of the two mass market LTE-enabled phones by LG. It packs a 4.7” True HD IPS screen of 720p resolution and 312ppi.

The Optimus F7 has a 1.5GHz dual-core processor with 2GB of RAM – not as powerful as the Optimus G's, but it borrows the QSlide multitasking and Live Zooming (pinch zooming for playing videos) of the LG flagship.

    
LG Optimus F7

The back of the F7 has a nice looking pattern. It’s somewhat similar to that of the Nexus 4, but the effect isn’t as good.

   
LG Optimus F7

LG Optimus F5 hands-on

The LG F-series is all about connectivity and, more specifically, LTE. The Optimus F5 is at the low end of the range, while the F7 is the premium offering.

The F5 is built around a 4.3" IPS display of qHD resolution, and it's actually quite a pleasant one at that. It treats you to accurate colors looking at the screen head-on, but quickly loses ground as you tilt. The display is also quite reflective, which could be a problem when using it outdoors.

Powering the phone is a 1.2GHz dual-core processor and 1GB of RAM. They help it run Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean skinned with LG's Optimus UI. Everything was moving at a good pace and we didn't experience any lag with the UI or delay in opening apps.

We should also mention the cool features that come with the latest iteration of the Optimus UI skin. One of them is Live zooming, first seen on the Optimus G. Multitasking is enhanced thanks to the upgraded QSlide features allowing you to open two apps at the same time. You can change the size, position and the transparency of the apps you've opened. Those include video, browser, memo, calendar and the calculator.

    
LG Optimus F5

With such a heavy belt of features, the 2,150mAh battery sounds decent for a midrange smartphone of this size. The good news is that LG has managed to keep the F5's waistline at the reasonable 9.3mm. In fact, the F5 is really pocket-friendly at 126 x 64.5 x 9.3 mm.

It's an all-plastic device, with a chrome-like side frame. Both the white and black versions are prone to fingerprints, but they are a lot less prominent on the white one.

User available storage is just short of 8GB, but is expandable via a microSD card slot (up to 32GB). At the back, there's a 5MP autofocus camera, compete with an LED flash. It can also record 720p videos at 30fps. A 1.3MP camera at the front takes care of video chatting.

Overall, the F5 offers quite a lot: LTE, a dual-core CPU, Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean (we all know how LG updates their phones), and an OK display. It should do well on markets where LTE has proper penetration.

LG Optimus L7 II hands-on

LG has refreshed their L-series of smartphones for 2013 renaming the whole line-up to L II and the L7 is the best-equipped of the trio. Since the L-range is more value-oriented and generally cheaper than the F-series, the L7 is close to the level of equipment of the F5.

As such, the Optimus L7 packs a 4.3-inch display producing 480 x 800 pixels of resolution. This rounds up to the reasonable 217 pixels per inch. Colors are alright, as well as the brightness.

   
LG Optimus L7 II

The L7 is running Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean, with the Optimus UI skin. Powering the device is a Qualcomm MSM8225 Snapdragon chip with dual Cortex-A5 CPUs running at 1GHz. It doesn’t sound particularly exciting, but manages to keep the system going at a good pace.

As for the actual design of the device, you can tell it apart from the F5 and F7, as it lacks a home button, replacing it with the classic four-button Android arrangement of capacitive controls. Like the rest of the range, it’s all plastic, too and measures 121.5 x 66.6 x 9.7mm.

   
LG Optimus L7 II

There’s also a dual-SIM version of the phone (as a matter of fact, each L II-series member has one) and it’s simply dubbed L7 II Dual. We were told that it supports dual SIM standby.

  
LG Optimus L7 II Dual

LG has also included a separate capacitive key on the main row of buttons below the screen to manage SIMs. Here are some hands-on photos of the phone.

   
LG Optimus L7 II dual

All in all, the L7 II is very nice to hold and touch, despite its glossy plastic finish. Its fingerprint-prone but not too bad.

LG Optimus L5 II hands-on

The LG Optimus L5 II feels a lot like a downsized L7 II. It has a 4” WVGA screen, which is a lot better than what we saw on the original L5. Viewing angles aren’t great – certainly not as good as LG’s high-end phones, but it’s enough for the phone’s position in the pecking order.

The CPU clock speed has been bumped up a bit too – it’s now at 1GHz, but there’s a single core, unlike the L7 II. The phone runs Android 4.1 Jelly Bean with LG’s familiar customizations.

    
LG Optimus L5 II

The LG Optimus L5 II has a dual-SIM twin, the L5 II dual. You can tell the two apart by the keys under the screen – the dual-SIM version uses only capacitive keys. The hardware Home key has been dropped to make room for the SIM switch button.

  
  
LG Optimus L5 II dual

That’s a shame – we really like the color LED notification light around the hardware key. The single-SIM version of the phone comes with a nice UI that lets you customize the colors of notifications for different events, same as on the L7 II.

LG Optimus L3 II hands-on

The second generation of the L series concludes with the cute little Optimus L3 II. As the very name suggests, this is the entry level offering in the range.

The smartphone has a tiny 102.6x61.1x11.9mm body with a 3.2” IPS LCD display of QVGA resolution (320 x 240 pixels). Just like the other members of the lineup, the L3 II is entirely made of plastic, which feels nice to the touch, despite the phone’s low price tag.

  
LG Optimus L3 II

On top of that, we are quite fond of the LEDs that reside under the home button and give the L3 II more character than many of its low-end rivals.

The low screen resolution isn't great for long reading or browsing. Colors are a bit pale as the contrast isn’t great either.

Under the hood, there’s a Qualcomm MSM7225AB chipset with a 1GHz single-core CPU and 512MB of RAM. It may not sound like much, but with the helping hand of Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean and its Project Butter it keeps things well in order. Plus the low resolution is not that demanding.

  
LG Optimus L3 II

Just like the rest of the L II pack, there’s a dual-SIM version of the L3. The L3 II Dual loses its hardware home button, so an additional capacitive SIM management button can fit below the screen.

  
   
LG Optimus L3 II dual

LG Optimus Vu 2 hands-on

The LG Optimus Vu 2 is not a new device (it's been around since late last year), but we snapped a few up close shots for completeness' sake.

  
   
LG Optimus Vu 2


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