Though we’re not big fans of the term “superphone,” LG”s new Optimus G Pro is one handset that belongs in this exclusive category. Sure, the G Pro has high-end specs like a stunning 5.5-inch 1080p IPS display, 1.7-GHz Quad Core Snapdragon processor, and a whopping 3,140 mAH battery, but its the wide array of proprietary LG software features that really make the device stand out.
We were able to play with an LG Optimus G Pro here at Mobile World Congress 2013 and were blown away by its multitasking features, unique camera software and gorgeous screen. At 150.2 x 76.1 x 9.4 millimeters, this isn’t the smallest smartphone we’ve used, but it felt very light and is compact enough to fit in our pocket. Chassis design isn’t one of LG’s strongest points, though. The glossy white plastic casing on the G Pro won’t stand out in a crowd, nor will the subtle checkerboard pattern on the back.
The 5.5-inch, 1920 x 1080 IPS screen is extremely bright and sharp, delivering a strong 400 PPI. A photo of red flowers, which appeared on the lock screen, really popped. Speaking of the lock screen, we were particularly impressed with the animation which appears when you unlock the device, which begins as a small window onto the desktop and expands to reveal the entire desktop.
LG has added a number of nice touches to the UI, but our favorite is version 2 of QSlide, which allows you to run certain apps in tiny windows on the desktop. On the original Optimus G, QSlide simply allowed you to run a video on top of your content and then change the transparency of the video so you could see through it.
However, with the new version of the software, you can choose from half a dozen different apps, which are available on a QSlide bar that appears when you pull down the notification drawer. During our brief hands on, we tried running a web browser, a video player, a calculator, a calendar and a voice recorder in their tiny windows. We were able to run two different QSlide apps at once and drag them around or resize them as we would with an application window in Microsoft Windows or Mac OS X. We could also adjust the level of transparency on each window or close it by tapping on an X widget in its upper right corner.
Adding infrared transmission to smartphones seems to be a new trend. Last week, we saw HTC announce the HTC One, which came with an IR blaster and now LG is providing one on the Optimus G Pro. We got a demo of the remote control software, which works with any TV or stereo, but we were surprised to see how primitive it was. Unlike other devices that come with a channel guide to help you choose what you want to watch, LG’s solution is nothing more than a set of onscreen buttons for controlling the volume, video source, channel.
Ever watch a video and wish you could get a closer look at the character on the right? With LG’s Live Zoom, you can pinch to zoom on any offline video. We tried watching a skiing video on the Optimus G Pro and zoomed in on the skiier instead of viewing the entire mountain he was slaloming down.
To make sure you take full advantage of the rear 13-MP and front facing 2.1-MP cameras on the Optimus G Pro, LG has added a host of new features to its built-in camera app. Dual Recording mode allows you to shoot video from both cameras at once, capturing your facial expressions while you react to whatever you’re filming on the back cam.
Audio zoom lets you focus on the microphone on a particular person to make sure his/her speech is louder in the video. A new VR panorama mode makes it easy to shoot panoramas. After following the on-screen instructions, we were able to stitch together a nice 180 degree shot in a few seconds.
Like other Optimus devices, the G Pro also has QTranslate, which uses the camera to provide real-time, offline translations of foreign language text as soon as you point the camera at it. While we didn’t test this feature on the Optimus G Pro, we saw it running on another phone and were impressed with how quickly it translated English language writing on a sign into Chinese.
The LG Optimus G Pro also supports Vu Talk, a feature that allows you to share a real-time common whiteboard with a call partner, as long as that call partner has another Optimus G, LG Vu or Optimus F series phone. We tested Vu Talk out on an Optimus G and appreciated its ability to share not only sketches, but photos and maps on the whiteboard while maintaining a normal voice connection through the phone dialer.
LG also includes a new app called Safety Care, which you can configure to automatically send alerts to your family when you dial an emergency number, when your phone dies or under other circumstances.
With a ton of power, a gorgeous screen and a slew of extras, the Optimus G Pro is an exciting Android flagship phone that should be able to hold its own versus both the HTC One and upcoming Samsung Galaxy S IV. We can’t wait to put this device through its paces and, in particular, see just how much endurance that whopping 3,140 mAh battery provides.