LG is making waves at Mobile World Congress 2014 with the unveiling of its new G Pro 2 phablet. The handset is a significant improvement over its predecessor, the Optimus G Pro, and offers several new features including LG’s Knock Code screen unlock functionality and an enhanced camera. We went hands-on with the G Pro 2 at LG’s press event and came away impressed with what the phone has to offer.
Up front, the G Pro 2 gets a 5.9-inch, 1920 x 1080 resolution IPS display, which is a big jump from the Optimus G Pro’s 5.5-inch, 1920 x 1080 resolution panel. The bigger screen means the G Pro 2 is far larger, though thinner, than the G Pro, 6.2 x 3.2 x 0.33 inches versus 5.8 x 3.0 x 0.37 inches. Surprisingly at 6.1 ounces, the G Pro 2 is actually a hair lighter, 0.1 ounces, than the G Pro. The G Pro 2 also gets a more refined chassis complete with a metal mesh-style back panel that helps improve the phone’s overall look and feel.
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In terms of performance, the G Pro 2 is miles ahead of the G Pro. Inside, LG’s new phablet gets a 2.26-GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 CPU, 3GB of RAM and 16GB or 32GB of onboard storage. That puts the LG in the same class as Samsung’s high-powered 5.7-inch Galaxy Note 3, which also sports a Snapdragon 800 chip and 3GB of RAM.
Also like the Note 3, the G Pro 2 gets a 13-megapixel rear camera. LG has equipped the shooter with several new options including 4K image and video capture and a slow-motion recording option. The G Pro 2′s camera also includes improved optical image stabilization and a Natural Flash that shoots a photo without the flash followed by a second with the flash and combines the two to create a single more natural looking image. Even more interesting is the camera’s cool Magic Focus option, which lets you take a picture then change the focus between the background and foreground.
For users with smaller hands, the G Pro 2 features LG’s new Mini View, which lets you swipe your finger across the phone’s soft-touch Android buttons opening a scaled down version of the G Pro 2’s interface. Activating the feature can be a pain, though, as swiping too slowly or quickly prevents Mini View from opening. Additional software improvements include LG’s new Dual Browser mode, which lets you open two Web browser windows on screen at once. Unfortunately, the feature does not work with Google’s Chrome browser.
Like all of LG’s G series smartphones, the G Pro 2 gets the company’s slick QSlide floating apps, which let you open two windows apps on screen at the same time. There’s also LG’s QRemote, which lets you take control your entertainment center from your handset.
The feature LG seems most proud of is the G Pro 2’s Knock Code function. An outgrowth of the company’s KnockON, which lets you unlock the phones display with two taps on the display, Knock Code lets you unlock your device using one of more than 80,000 knocking patters. LG has also introduced a new Content Lock function that when used with Knock Code, a password or swipe pattern lets users lock files, images and other documents so guests can’t access them.
LG has yet to announce U.S. pricing or availability for the G Pro 2, though the handset is already on sale in South Korea. If past precedent is any indicator, we’d expect the G Pro 2 to go on sale for about $199 with a two-year contract, the same price the G Pro launched at. Overall, we liked what we saw out of the G Pro 2, though we’ll have to hold our final impressions until our full review. Stay tuned.