LG Optimus 4X Review
LG Optimus 4X
LG isn’t the first mobile phone manufacturer you may think of when it comes to the latest smartphones, but the Chinese company has released the Optimus 4X HD which aims to rival the big names including the iPhone 5 and Samsung Galaxy S3. But will it make the cut? Let’s find out…
The LG Optimus 4X has a 4.7 inch screen and measures just over 5 inches by 2 inches. The dimensions of the model are comparable with HTC’s flagship handset the One X, which is an ideal size that makes the most of the phone’s visual qualities whilst not feeling too bulky in the hand.
The Optimus is slightly thicker than some smartphones on the market, and at 8.9mm, the LG does feel slightly cumbersome when compared with the HTC One S or iPhone 5, though that said, the phone doesn’t feel particularly heavy to hold.
However, considering the One X and the Optimus 4X are essentially the same size, the latter seems to look less sleek, probably due to the square-ness of its design. The back casing of the handset does feel a bit plastic, but unlike some phones such as the Samsung Galaxy range, the case does not feel in any way flimsy or thin. The back cover features a kind of etched linear design, which I think makes the phone look even less sleek, though it does make the phone almost scratchproof.
There are no physical buttons on the phone’s fascia, which makes the handset at first glance appear quite smooth, but I did find that my fingerprints were more visible than on other touchscreen smartphones, making me waste a lot of time buffing the screen on my t-shirt. While this isn’t a major design flaw, it is a little annoying, especially when you are as fanatical about fingerprints as I am.
Phone Set Up
The LG Optimus 4X features a quad-core 1.5 GHz processor and uses Android’s slightly dated OS, Ice Cream Sandwich. Compared to other similar-sized phones such as the Samsung Galaxy S3 and HTC One X, the processor speed of the LG model is impressive and makes switching between home screens and applications really fast.
The display on the 4.7 inch screen is also really good due to its True HD-IPS LCD touchscreen and 312 pixel density.
One feature which LG has thought about is making the back case removable, unlike many HTC and Apple phones. This means that not only can you change the battery, but you can also insert an SD card to extend the phone’s memory without having to remove the battery and thus having to restart the device. The internal memory of the Optimus 4X is fairly average at 16 GB, though this would be a major disadvantage of the phone if it didn’t include the capability to add a storage device.
One thing that I didn’t particularly like in this model was the fact that the lock button was at the top of the handset making it difficult to unlock the phone with only one hand. However, this is one minor and personal issue, and isn’t a matter of make or break.
The Polaris Office is pre-installed on the Optimus 4X and allows you to manage not only your Microsoft Office documents, spread sheets and presentations, but you can also use the app to manage your phone’s alarms, ringtones, images, movies and podcasts.
The app is also sophisticated enough to allow you to create, edit and view documents in as much detail as Microsoft Office would on your laptop. From creating graphs from spread sheet data to looking up words instantly on Google, the Polaris Office app means that the user doesn’t have to reserve their business dealings to the confines of the office.
While this isn’t a ground-breaking app to feature on a smartphone, it does make it really easy to access all of your phone’s applications without having to click on them individually. To have a list of all of your phone’s files, including a separate option for your favourite files, it makes it quicker and simpler to view and make use of all the apps on your handset- ultimately fulfilling the aim of a modern smartphone.
Another feature on the Optimus 4X which I really liked was the Quick Memo tool. This feature is situated on the drop-down settings bar accessible from any screen and literally allows you to make a quick handwritten memo on top of the existing screenshot.
Although there is no pen like in the Note 2, the Optimus allows you to use your finger as a pen, making it quicker to switch between the memo feature and other applications. You can choose different coloured ink and nib sizes when making notes, which is great for when you are colour-coding a list or graph, or when you just want to make things look pretty!
Because Quick Memo is a feature of the phone and not an app, it is really easy to select when you are on any screen, especially as you can access it with one swipe without having to exit your application to open the Quick Memo one.
While most smartphones give you an app to access the daily news, or allow you to download one from its app store, the Optimus 4X comes with a really good news app pre-installed. The app can be personalised in order to allow the user to choose which news stories they receive. For instance, you can choose from a selection including education, technology, sport, world etc., which means that you don’t have to spend hours trawling through news stories that you are not interested in.
Audio and Visual
The screen, with a ppi of 312, produces really clear and sharp images, whether viewing images in the gallery, or simply just scrolling through its home screens. The 4.7 inch screen makes viewing videos and TV programs quite comfortable, and as the pixel resolution is exactly the same as the HTC One X, the Optimus produces a similar quality picture.
As for the audio quality of the phone, the volume range is quite extensive. In fact, it is almost too loud to listen to music when the phone is switched to full volume. The earphones that come with the handset are of a good quality, though they have in-ear canal buds, which I personally don’t like. This is a feature that is completely personal, though, and may be a feature that attracts users more to the phone.
The high quality screen on the Optimus makes this model a really good phone for gaming. The images are sharp, clear and not in any way pixelated. Also, the touchscreen is sensitive enough to play fast-paced games comfortably. Although no games come pre-installed on this model, it is easy to download them from the Google Play Store, often for free.
Being an Android smartphone, the Optimus 4X manages home screens really well, allowing the user to move, change and delete all apps and widgets around the 7 home screens. Because of the model’s large screen, it is possible to fit 16 apps on each of your home screens, minimising the time spent trawling through the separate ‘apps’ icon.
Moreover, there is a touch button that can be activated when the phone is unlocked which takes you straight back to the main home screen. This is especially useful if you want to quickly return to your dominate screen when you are playing a game or surfing the web, or are simply on another home screen. There is also a scroll bar at the bottom of the home screens which I helpful in alerting you to which way you are scrolling when looking for a certain application.
Camera & Video
I tested the Optimus 4X’s 8 MP camera out by taking a few shots in and around Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter to see how it compared to other smartphones’ 8 MP lenses.
The photographs that emerged were sharp and clear, and picked up on detail quite well. Perhaps I was helped by the fact that the lighting was good on the particular day that I road tested the camera, as when I assessed how well the camera reacted to different lighting levels, the Optimus did not perform quite as well as expected. As you can see in the images to the left, the first picture taken in a very low light hardly picks up on any detail at all. Although the camera’s LED flash produces a somewhat better image, the poor performance in low lighting is a real disappointment, especially when compared to the iPhone 5 and Samsung Galaxy Note 2’s 8 MP cameras. To compare the photo quality of these cameras, visit out iPhone 5 review or Samsung Galaxy Note 2 review page.
Moreover, there a remarkably fewer pre and post-production options on the Optimus 4X compared with the Samsung Galaxy S3 or HTC One S. That said, you could choose from taking shots in HDR, panorama or continuous shot modes.
For some odd reason there are two ways to select the zoom on the Optimus 4X: either by selecting the specialist zoom icon on the camera’s main screen, or by simply pinching the touchscreen as with most other smartphones. The pictures taken at full zoom sometimes showed the detail of the object in question, but some close-up shots came out a little blurry.
The phone’s video is also quite standard for a smartphone today and has HD capability, recording at 1080p at 30 frames per second. When recording videos, the Optimus 4X picked up sound quite well, and allowed you take still shots at the same time as recording a video, as has become expected with the recently released smartphones. However, when I tested this feature, the video recorded the loud ‘clicks’ that the camera made when taking the still shots, which interrupted the video.
I was surprised to realise just how quickly the phone’s battery charged to full capacity, though this was a nice discovery, especially when you are in need of a power top-up in a hurry.
When left idle, the Optimus’ battery lasted for almost a week, which I was really impressed with. When used more frequently, the battery obviously discharged more quickly, but stood up well to most other smartphones.
However, one minor issue I had with this model is that it doesn’t tell you what percentage of the battery is left in detail, which means that you can’t see which applications are draining it most. The only gauge of how charged the phone is is displayed on the battery bar at the top of the screen which is small and inaccurate to judge.