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Summary:

AT&T’s exclusive LG Optimus G Pro arrives on May 10. An early review unit shows another contender for the flagship phone market but there’s a few design decisions that puzzle me.

LG Optimus G Pro featured

Last week, AT&T announced it is exclusively selling the LG Optimus G Pro for $199 with contract. The phone can be pre-ordered now and is expected to be available on May 10. I received an early review unit and have spent just a little time so far using the phone. A few things already stand out to me: LG is mimicking Samsung’s large phone approach — both with hardware and software — and those looking for a flagship phone will have to add the Optimus G Pro to their list of potential candidates.

I’ll have a full review forthcoming — I never review a phone without at least five days use for testing battery life and other reasons — but for now, here are my first impressions, in no particular order, followed a some images of the phone.

  • When I first removed the phone from the box, I thought I was sent the wrong phone. It appears nearly identical to the Samsung Galaxy Note 2, although LG’s new handset is roughly a quarter-inch narrower in width. And that small width shaving makes a big difference — for the better — when holding this phone.
  • Like the Note 2, the Optimus G Pro is all plastic and has a removable back cover. In all seriousness: If I didn’t see the LG branding on the top of the device, I would have sworn it was Samsung made.
  • The 5.5-inch 1080p display is excellent, easily rivaling those on the Galaxy S 4 and HTC One, both of which also have 1920 x 1080 resolution screens. There’s nary a pixel to be seen.
  • LG’s software is much improved over earlier efforts. Although this phone doesn’t run stock Android, LG’s skin is very minimal compared to similar phones. The home screens have a nice 3D effect: When swiping through them, everything on the display rotates around the left axis of the screen as if the icons and widgets were rotating around a flagpole.
  • Short of LG’s Tag+ NFC software and an IR remote control app, there are no other LG-specific apps. The same can’t be said of AT&T: I count at least nine bits of software from the carrier.
  • Similar to the Galaxy S 4, the Optimus G Pro has settings split up by four tabs. It’s not a confusing layout, but clearly the high-end Android phones are gaining more features that could add complexity. There are no hover gestures, but you can pause video by turning the phone over.
  • A quad-core 1.7 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 with 2 GB of memory powers the phone and for some reason it appears to perform a smidge better than the HTC One and Galaxy S 4 in my limited usage so far. I suspect the lack of a complex skin atop Android may be the reason, however, it’s too early to determine a performance winner.
  • I don’t mind a physical home button on Android phones although some do. The one on the Optimus G Pro isn’t my favorite though. I find it too small; it’s wide enough, but very thin. It does, however, have a nice LED ring around it with different colors for notifications and such. I also personally don’t like the placement of the two capacitive buttons: Back is on the left side of the Home button, while Menu is to the right. This may not bother others.
  • The phone comes with 32 GB of internal memory at this price; cheaper than the 32 GB Galaxy S 4. And you can expand it, unlike the HTC One, although some won’t have to. However, the total space available is 23.3 GB, which surprises me; I would have expected around 26 GB or so. Carrier bloatware, perhaps?
  • Like many new phones, the Optimus G Pro ships with Android 4.1.2. There is a bit of multitasking capability as some apps and widgets have a transparency slider. Use this and the app is see through so you can interact with other apps. Slide it back for the original app to regain focus.
  • Although there isn’t a stylus, the phone has a dedicated note-taking app called QuickMemo, which is available from the drop-down notifications shade. I almost wish there was a stylus because I don’t see many folks taking notes here with their fingers.
  • I haven’t taken many photos with the 13 megapixel rear camera yet. I did notice that there are only a few camera modes: Normal, HDR, Panorama, VR Panorama, Burst Shot and Beauty Shot. Perhaps that’s a good thing so consumers won’t get overwhelmed by a wider range of image modes.
  • It’s too early to determine battery life on a single charge. However, with a 3140 mAh battery, I’d be disappointed (and somewhat surprised) if this phone doesn’t easily last a full day for all but a very select number of power users.
 
  1. Thanks for the review but I would have appreciated more focus on the “bloatware” that is preinstalled on the unit instead of needless complaints that leaves any tech-minded individual shaking their head. You had the ability to give us this extremely important information and yet decided to hold it back from the public.

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    1. I didn’t decide to hold back any information from the public, nor is this a review.

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      1. Great preview! I look forward to the full review.

        @ ash6222 – you call yourself a tech-minded individual? you are obviously a retard who never learned to read, otherwise you would have read what the author wrote in the second paragraph.

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        1. Agree with Raza and look toward full review. This phone is on my top 3 list to buy fairly quickly. So, looking forward to full review. As for first poster, always gotta be some of them around :(

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          1. PixelCloset Monday, May 6, 2013

            I love my galaxy note, but decided to move on to LG Optimus G Pro recently after a lot of research. I decided to buy it because my positive experiences in using LG in the past (LG chocolate and other LG phones).

            I received my white version of the LG Optimus G Pro from Korea. Really love it especially because it’s really speedy with 2gig RAM in it. Loving the upgrade, loving the QMemo as well as the size :)

            In terms of colour, I prefer the white one over black because the pixelated pattern on the back cover looks really beautiful in white. The shape makes it more sturdy and feel less plastiky compared to S3 and Galaxy Note 8 tablet.

            Another small detail that I really love is the LED behind the main button that lights up whenever you have notification/message/missed call.

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      2. I understand that this is more of a preview and not a review and I was a bit harsh on my criticism – sorry for that. I have owned the Samsung Skyrocket II since its release and have become incredibly frustrated with the preloaded bloatware and its sluggish effects on the OS. Bottom line is that you had the phone in your possession and I suppose I am impatient because I can’t wait to get a new phone. A simple video review after the phone is released will probably answer my questions.

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        1. No worries – I know that enthusiasm for new tech doesn’t leave much room for patience. ;)

          I can tell you that so far, the bloatware doesn’t seem to be impeding this phone’s performance. It does take up storage capacity (which is a bummer) but this phone is at least as fast the GS4 and HTC One, both of which can have similar bloatware, of course.

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  2. I know this might be a silly question, but do you think the stylus from the Galaxy Note would work with this particular phone? love my note but am drooling over the 13p camera feature.

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    1. PixelCloset Monday, May 6, 2013

      I love my galaxy note, but decided to move on to LG Optimus G Pro recently after a lot of research. I decided to buy it because my positive experiences in using LG in the past (LG chocolate and other LG phones).

      I received my white version of the LG Optimus G Pro from Korea. Really love it especially because it’s really speedy with 2gig RAM in it. Loving the upgrade, loving the QMemo as well as the size :)

      In terms of colour, I prefer the white one over black because the pixelated pattern on the back cover looks really beautiful in white. The shape makes it more sturdy and feel less plastiky compared to S3 and Galaxy Note 8 tablet.

      Another small detail that I really love is the LED behind the main button that lights up whenever you have notification/message/missed call.

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      1. Where can I get the white version to buy I love this phone but I don’t want the black version I’m tired of having black phones

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    2. Not a silly question at all! Unfortunately, the S-Pen is useless with the Optimus G Pro because it requires a special digitizer in the phone. If the S-Pen were capacitive, it would work just like your finger.

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  3. That earpiece looks even farther up the body of the phone than the one on the Note II. I sometimes have difficulty getting optimal sound out of the Note II’s earpiece without holding it in an awkward and odd-looking manner, almost like I’m listening to the topmost edge of the phone.

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