Over the last few years, the dynamics of mobile phone manufacturing arena have changed significantly; companies that were once at the top are nowhere to be seen and others have risen to the helm. LG belongs firmly to the first category, as a company that is struggling to keep pace with current conditions in the smartphone market. Meanwhile it's once close competitor and Korean counterpart Samsung has taken the top spot.
LG seems to have been trying a lot of tactics but is yet to get to come up with a successful high-end Android device. It announced the first dual-core smartphone last year and similarly the first quad-core phone this year (although Optimus 4X HD was last to reach the market). At first glance, LG seems to have finally stuck gold with 4X HD, but will this phone finally help the company change its fortunes, we will find out in this review.
The other two quad-core smartphones that we have seen this year had very distinct looks. While HTC's One X had this beautiful polycarbonate clad body, Samsung's Galaxy S III was more plasticky and conservative. LG has gone for the elegant look, it might not look as good as One X, but it is certainly very likeable. It's angular, slab-like thin design is decent for a flagship model, but may be not ideal. It is still very plasticy.
The phone is huge, mainly because of the 4.7-inch display on-board, but is still comfortable to hold unless you have very small hands. It is all black (white version also available) apart from the two silver strips running on the edge of the smartphone.
The volume rocker has been intelligently hidden on the left side such that you won't even notice it the first time. The power button is located at the top along with 3.5mm headset jack, and Micro-USB port is present at the bottom of the smartphone.
The build quality is solid and the smartphone feels nice in hand thanks to the rubberised and textured back. The front of the device is covered with single piece of Gorilla Glass to help with you with scratches and occasional falls.
Overall, LG has made one great piece of hardware; it might not go down in the history books but the hardware is unlikely to dissapoint anyone either.
720p displays have become the standard these days and anything less would not do justice to the 4.7-inch screen on LG Optimus 4X HD. The device sports an IPS panel, which provides great colour reproduction and viewing angles.
Despite being good in its own right, the display still falls short of the superb HTC One X display, but only because the One X has set a very high standard. Optimus 4X HD still is a great display and one of the best that you will find outside One X.
Similar to other flagship smartphones, LG has also included 8-megapixel rear camera and 1.3-megapixel front camera in Optimus 4X HD. The image output from the rear sensor is pretty nice and the resulting images are quite good. However one issue that plagues the Optimus 4X HD camera software is its nature to lose manual focus after every 2-3 seconds. So if you tap to focus on an object in your frame, the phone will initially focus on that but switches to auto-focus after two-three seconds. This is, of course, pretty irritating and had us rushing to click photographs before the dreaded auto-focus kicked in! We couldn't find any preference to disable this behaviour.
Overall, the camera software is quite simple, yet decent, but does not offer extra features like the funky Instagram kinds of effects present in One X. However the options to tweak ISO, White Balance, and Scene mode are present.
The camera supports full-HD recording and also allows you to add funny face/ background effects during live recording.
Software/ User interface
One of the biggest positives for Optimus 4X HD is the revamped Optimus UI on the smartphone. It is far better than the previous versions.
The Korea manufacturer has finally got it (almost) right. The same skin is present on all other Ice Cream Sandwich smartphones from LG, so even if you don't go for 4X HD and opt for cheaper ones like L5 and L7, you will still get this nice UI.
Starting from the unlocking your phone, to making a call or browsing the web, the user interface is pretty decent and most of all, fast. Well, the fluidity can also be attributed to the beast quad-core processor on-board, but still it is some nice work from the folks at LG.
Apart from the cosmetic changes by LG, the interface seems pretty stock, unlike HTC's Sense interface.
The new LG lockscreen is also worthy of mention. Unlike the stock ICS way of swiping the lock sign to unlock, on Optimus 4X, you put your finger anywhere on the screen and a circular translucent window to your home-screen opens up. When you swipe away that circle, your phone is unlocked. Lock-screen also hosts four app icons at the bottom, swiping any of them from the lock-screen, takes you directly to that app, which is pretty useful when you are in a hurry to make a call or send an SMS.
LG also allows make several customisations to home-screen. Some of them are ability to apply one of the four themes, or changing the home screen effect.
One software enhancement that we particularly liked on Optimus 4X HD was the inbuilt comprehensive backup mechanism that allows you to backup or restore apps, bookmarks, calendar, call log, contacts, home-screen or system settings to the device memory or SD card.
In terms of the pre-loaded apps, LG has included SmartWorld (extra app store), SmartShare (DLNA app), RemoteCall Service (remote servicing tool), Quickmemo (note app) and MediaHome (a dashboard for all multimedia content on your phone).
Similar to Sony's SmartTags, LG is also bundling a NFC sticker, which allows you to change system settings to a predefined set by simply tapping your device to that sticker.
Performance/ Battery Life
Be it HTC One X or LG Optimus 4X, there are no doubts about performance of Tegra 3. This quad-core processor is a performance beast and that has been proved again and again. Everything is just snappy on Optimus 4X HD.
Thanks to the stockish interface, the 1GB RAM on-board is not bogged down, which means that despite opening multiple apps, the phone remains butter smooth (not Jelly Bean's Project Butter kind, but the best you can get on ICS).
It is the best performance we have seen so far of any LG Android device and amongst the best across Android devices from any manufacturer. The Korean company has certainly stepped up its game big time and the Optimus 4X HD marks its entry into the big league of power-phone makers.
On the gaming front as well, as expected, the phone did not show any sign of strain during Shadowgun or Dead Trigger sessions.
That brings us to the tricky part. If you bundle a quad-core processor and 720p display, it is likely that your battery will not last very long. The 2100 mAh battery in Optimus 4X HD will just about get you a day's worth of juice with normal usage.
With multi-core processors and HD displays in our smartphones, we really need some breakthrough innovation in the battery technology to take us to the next level.
The last few high-end smartphones from LG haven't really clicked with consumers and LG is the only one to blame. However, the company seems to have finally got it right with Optimus 4X HD. Right from the presence of Tegra 3 to great software and elegant design, LG Optimus 4X HD ticks all the right boxes.
Overall, the Korean manufacturer has released a great Android smartphone, maybe not at the same level as the One X and the Galaxy S III, but certainly a worthy contender nonetheless.
For more images of LG Optimus 4X HD check out our gallery.
Price: Rs. 34,490