Optimus G Pro

Better than the Galaxy Note 2? Is that even possible? Yes, it is. And it is. (But for how long?)

The LG Optimus G Pro is, shall we say, inspired by the Samsung Galaxy Note 2. Let's just get that part over with. There's absolutely no way not to see it, nor has LG really done anything to make us want to think otherwise. One begat the other. End of story.

And I don't care. 

I've never been a huge fan of the larger Android smartphones. That's not to say there's not a place for them (there is), and that's not to say they haven't sold well (in Samsung's case, they've sold very well). But they've always been just too wide for me. And the display resolution never did it for me, given the size of the screen itself. (We'll save the whole pen input thing for another time.) But after getting an intimate, sit-down look at the Optimus G Pro in a restaurant in Barcelona, Spain, well away from the bustle of the show floor, it started to grow on me. Maybe it was the wine (I don't think so). Maybe it was meat (possible). Maybe it was the flashing neon ringing the home button. (OBEY.)

More: The Optimus G Pro at Mobile World Congress

But, no. There's something about the Optimus G Pro that didn't make me want to put it down like other oversized phones of similar design. 

What follows is a sort of mini review of the Optimus G Pro. We've got a Korean version here. That means we can't really test real-world battery use. Or data speeds and network connectivity. (Suffice to say, if you're in Korea, it'll be fast.) One of those things directly affects the other, of course. The other thing is that we have absolutely no idea if and when the Optimus G Pro will ever come to the United States. The official line is yes, sometime in the second quarter. Until we hear it from a mobile operator's lips, however ...

But I'd love to see it here.

The video walkthrough

Basic Optimus G Pro Specs

  • Chipset: 1.7GHz Quad-Core Qualcomm? Snapdragon™ 600 Processor
  • RAM: 2GB DDR
  • Memory: 32GB / microSD (up to 32GB)
  • Display: 5.5-inch Full HD (1920 x 1080 pixels / 400ppi)
  • Camera: Rear 13.0MP with LED Flash / Front 2.1MP
  • OS: Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean
  • Battery: 3,140mAh (removable / wireless charging capable)
  • Size: 150.2 x 76.1 x 9.4mm 

The Optimus G Pro ha​rdware

LG Optimus G Pro.

As far as the fit and finish of the Optimus G Pro goes, there's nothing overtly surprising here. It's a big, plastic phone that looks a whole lot like another big plastic phone. Power and volume buttons are in the usual places, though LG's added a dedicated button -- called the QButton -- to toggle the QMemo tab. The button's in an interesting spot, toward the top on the left-hand side, and it can be remapped to serve as a camera button if you like.

LG Optimus G ProThe home button at the bottom deserves a mention. It's a long rectangle ... like that other phone's home button. It's longer and thinner though. So it's different. Barely. It does light up around the edges in a sort of retro '80s vibe, which is cool in the daylight but kind of annoying at night. The home button's flanked by a disappearing back button on the left, and a menu button on the right. For those of you keeping score at home, that's exactly like ... that other phone ... only in reverse.

One item of note up top: There's a small infrared port next to the 3.5mm headphone jack for controlling TVs and such. That's the big trend of 2013 so far, with IR ports also on the HTC One and the Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0.

LG Optimus G Pro.

There's nothing crazy going on out back. The big plastic battery cover is sort of done in the same reflective pattern as you'll find on the Optimus G or, more specifically, the Nexus 4. (Though obviously it's a different production method.) Underneath you have access to the 3,140 mAh battery, micro SIM and SD card. I love how LG showcases the battery capacity here.

One area where the Optimus G Pro definitely bests the Note 2 is in the display. Its 5.5-inch, 1920x1080 IPS display is words better than the Note 2's 1280x720 AMOLED display. It's also got less of a bezel -- the space between the display and the edge of the phone -- if you're worried about that sort of thing. We'd be surprised if the next iteration of the Galaxy Note didn't improve on the resolution, however. 

LG Optimus G Pro.

The other major difference between the two phones is the feel. They're nearly identical in height (the Optimus G Pro, at 150.2mm is just a hair shorter), and spot on in thickness (9.4mm). But the Optimus G Pro is 4mm narrower, and it's a noticeable difference. That's not to say it doesn't feel big -- it does. But for those of us without oversized mitts, it's a more comfortable (or maybe less uncomfortable) grip.

LG Optimus G Pro.

And I don't care that you can't use it outside of Korea -- any phone with a TV antenna is friggin' cool. 

All in all, I like the design of the Optimus G Pro. Yeah, it apes the Galaxy Note 2. A lot. Maybe some iPhone 5 design, too, particularly where it transitions to the flat surface at the top and bottom, with the silver ring flaring out from its hairline thickness on the sides. Maybe it's a mashup of existing styles, but it works here. 

The Optimus G Pro software

As is the case these days, we're working with a customized version of Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean.

LG Optimus G Pro

I've got a love-hate relationship with LG's software. I'm rather enamored with the lock screen. It's got app shortcuts, which are a must these days. World clock out of the box? Check. And that little zoom-in feature, where you get a peek at what you're unlocking to, is excellent. 

LG Optimus G Pro

LG's menus are clean. Very clean. And its toggle buttons have been refined since original Optimus G, going from two-dimensional toggles to three-dimensional switches. Very nice. Fonts are heavier, too.

LG Optimus G Pro

The notification area is busy as ever, full of things I'll never use. But I'd rather have the options than not, I suppose, and it's still fairly customizable.

LG Optimus G Pro

Holding down the home button gives us a new way to switch apps and get to Google+. LG makes use of all that screen real estate, showing recently used apps and a couple of links to U+ applications. Tucked at the bottom are "clear all" and "task manager" buttons, with an on-screen button for Google+ sandwiched between them. It's an extra step to get to Google+, which is a shame, but at least it's there.

LG Optimus G ProLG Optimus G Pro

As far as apps go, a lot of what's on this Optimus G+ is specific for Korea, so we'll not worry about them for our purposes here.

The Optimus G Pro camera

LG Optimus G Pro

LG put its full 13-megapixel camera into the Optimus G Pro. The stack extends ever so slightly from the back of the phone, but the lens is recessed a tiny bit as well. (There's a 2MP shooter out front, for what that's worth.)

LG's camera app has improved from previous versions, with larger, more recognizable buttons.

As we've mentioned previously, the Optimus G Pro is the first phone other than the Galaxy Nexus or Nexus 4 to do 360-degree panoramas out of the box. Google calls them "Photospheres," LG calls it "VR Panorama."

Sample shots

Warning: Images open in full resolution in a new window

LG Optimus Pro panorama

LG Optimus G Pro sample picLG Optimus G Pro sample pic

LG Optimus G Pro sample picLG Optimus G Pro sample pic

LG Optimus G Pro sample picLG Optimus G Pro sample pic

LG Optimus G Pro sample picLG Optimus G Pro sample pic

The bottom line

We don't yet know when or where the Optimus G Pro will be coming to the United States. Regardless, it's already got some stiff competition from the Samsung Galaxy Note 2, and probably from whatever version follows that, and definitely from the Galaxy S4, which is due in just a week.

The Optimus G Pro hasn't changed my mind about oversized smartphones. Either you love 'em, or you don't. The 5-inch-plus range isn't for everyone, and that's cool. But LG's done a pretty stand-up job with the Optimus G Pro. The hardware is solid. The Snapdragon 600 performs admirably, and the 32GB of storage is decent. Would the U.S. operators muck it up? Quite possibly.

But given our look at the Korea version of the Optimus G Pro, we're more than willing to give LG's latest a long, hard look when it comes stateside.

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There are 42 comments

cenkaetaya says:

As a Note 2 owner this looks pretty cool.

I wonder how the speaker phone is. Note 2 speaker is incredible. I almost always just keep it on my desk and use the speaker phone so i hope LG has a good one too.

Otherwise there is not much difference.

A better screen and slightly better camera.

I think Galaxy Note 3 will surely outdo this in every way.

SONY is the only company i would be interested in to make a Note like phone.

Their Xperia Z is too small, also id like it to have a 2x larger battery then it does.

rohiggidy says:

A phone that no one will buy. The note 2 was released in 2012 so i hope this phone is better **SARCASM**. Android OEM needs to stop copying samsung and create their own device. This phone wont help LG even if it sell 1 million. Note 2 is still the better device because of the software functionality and S features. In a few motnhs this phone will be stuck on 4.1.2 and the note 2 will get 4.2.2

ConTejas says:

This phone offend you much? LOL. Anyway, besides the plastic everybody knows who Sammy copied, so might want to get off of their nuts.

kbp08tls says:

LOL! If we could "like" or "thank" article comments, I would.

If Samsung would get over their fascination with their CRAPOLED displays, I might consider one of their products. As it stands though, if HTC were to release a "phablet" version of the One, with that beautiful display and build, that's where my money would go.

olorin says:

When the AMOLED displays first came out I hated their color, but now I love the screen on my Note 2. I love the positive impact the screen has on battery life & I love the way video looks with true black. Even some of the ultra high end TVs coming out are OLED based. Honestly, I think it really comes down to personal preference... just depends how you use the device.

bp240 says:

Making up names like CRAPOLED is the first sign of an ignorant response. You strike me as the type that goes on random youtube videos and says "LOLZ the dislike bar is the size of justin biebers dick XD". You'd be surprised how good screens like the Note 2's are if you were to leave the hivemind every once in a while and experience things with an open mind.

rd_nest says:

Don't forget about battery life. Check GSMArena battery test. 50 hours for LG, and 69 hours for Note2. That's exactly 38% higher.

return_0 says:

50 hours for "LG"? Hmm. Vague comment is vague. I suspect you're talking about a different LG phone and not the OG Pro.

planoman says:

Not to be a jerk and in full disclosure I am a Note 2 owner, but that sliver of a home button does not cut it. If you are going to copy something (Note 2) don't change something as important as the home button...I did not like the button on the S3 either...maybe it is just me.

mtmerrick says:

It's just you. I'm a note 2 owner, and I think the home button on the GSIII is much better than the one we have.

XavierMatt says:

This phone is just as ugly as as the note. And huge. The difference is the Note actually has the innovative SPen.

Fail for LG.

jrsharp70 says:

This . I like LG phones. I hate touchwiz. I will buy a note, because I want the s pen.

M Class says:

I'm a huge fan of the larger screens. I love my Note 2,and this has my interest. I'm looking forward to seeing what effect this might have on the next Note.

I would trade this for my Note 2... I realllly want to try a new LG Phone ;)
It's good to see LG stepping their game up.

Bruh-Man says:

I think I get it now.... LG makes phones for Samsung...

Gearu says:

I opened this because I thought it was a review of an Optimus G Pro Mini... *blank face* didn't notice it was a lowercase m.

ilongbored says:

My thoughts exactly. I was hoping for a "mini" version. I WANT A 4" FLAGSHIP PHONE!

XChrisX says:

In the Android world it's never gonna happen. Looks like you might need to start looking at Apple.

MrJazz says:

flanking.

npco543 says:

Damn you Phil...

I initially read the headline as a review of the Optimus G Pro Mini and thought finally, someone's building high-end phones without gargantuan screens. But then I realized it was the review that's mini, not the phone.

DaGODFather says:

This is an awesome looking phone and imo it looks better than the Note 2. So what it looks similar to the Note 2! Like Samsung didnt copy apple with its first galaxy phone(maybe not hardware wise but def software). I hope LG has a huge year this year!

Magnus#AC says:

This phone might look better and even sport a newer generation processor and have a higher resolution screen, but the Note 2 is by far the better device because of the S Pen innovation.

Lot of people reviewing the Note don't really know what they're talking about. It's not just the size of the Note that makes it the best phone, it's really the software and S pen.

After using the Note II I really don't see how I can tolerate the relative uselessness of of any other phone in existence at this time, even if they have newer or better hardware specs.

olorin says:

I agree that the S Pen is one of best things about the Note 2. I don't simply want a large screen phone with a high resolution screen, I want a multi purpose device. I use the S Pen at work all the time.

Basically, to win me over, it would need to:
-have something similar to an S Pen (not just any stylus would do)
-Recognize my face so the screen stayed on & didn't rotate while looking at it.
- Have at least comparable battery life.
- Would prefer LG to show that they can keep up in the software arena with appropriate updates & intuitive interface (the Note 2 is the first phone I've owned that actually seems to anticipate your needs, which is why I think the newer Samsung phones have actually had good reactions from some apple users).

I want LG to do well (the owners of webOS will always leave that little "what if" in the back of my head), but they need to prove themselves. Any manufacturer is capable of throwing great parts together and making a wicked-fast phone that makes people drool, but not everyone has shown they can innovate.

Johnbibbs says:

So if LG copies Samsung and Samsung was sued by Apple for copying them wouldn't it make sense that we will soon seen Apple and LG in court with Apple saying that this phone looks like the iPhone 5?

codiusprime says:

Came here for butthurt Note 2 owners, was not disappointed.

borgdog says:

LOL As a Note 2 owner, I can assure you my butt is just fine, as is my phablet. That said, I would actually buy this over the Note 2 at this point, I actually rarely use the s-pen and would not miss it much, but that's me and my usage scenario. Smaller bezel, better display, and faster... works for me.

rd_nest says:

You came here to see some "butthurt" people. Says a lot about your attitude in life. I feel sorry for your friends and family.

codiusprime says:

Aren't you cute.

MERCDROID says:

HAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!!!

rd_nest says:

Seen enough "butthurt" people here? or do you plan to stick around for few more?

cozzy123 says:

wow LG is putting up some competition now with the nexus 4 and these G series phones. HTC is putting out a cool new device with the ONE. This year may be a little more contentious. I like it.

rd_nest says:

By the time N3 is launched, everyone will even forget there was any LG/HTC phones in 2013.

There are just 2 companies in mobile arena. Apple and Samsung. Rest are just pretenders. They may as well kill themselves just to save us from the trouble.

Yes, and everyone's fan-fav Moto had long died a painful death. Even chinese companies are better than Moto now.

MERCDROID says:

Motorola is owned by Google now. I wouldn't count them out just yet.

return_0 says:

Sorry to burst your bubble, but Motorola is owned by Google, the company that made your precious Samsung what it is. And LG is still Google's current partner in Nexus phones, what Android really is.

MOTH477 says:

IMO what makes NOTE 2 successful is the S-Pen and Touchwiz. Also apps like S-Note and the multi-tasking feature. The S-Pen helps differentiate Note 2 for other phablets. You can say you never use the S-Pen but the idea of knowing it's there if you need it to me it's a plus over any other phablet. I use my S-Pen a lot and it would be difficult to transition to a phone that doesn't have this.

ofutur says:

The biggest problem this phone has is that it's from LG. They're really bad at software. Updates are always late or cancelled. Best to stay with a more serious manufacturer.

SniperFery says:

I have been using the Note2 since the launched and the first line made me though "oh man..." but after reading through the whole article, my note2 still wins. I'm a fan of phablets and monstrous specs, however spec wise, note2 simply wins. EXYNOS 4412 clocked at 1.6ghz and 3500mAh battery plus S pen with NatureUX says it all. Sure LG has great build but just like my dad's Optimus Vu, softwares from LG is just outdated aside from N4 that really change my mind about LG.

gregmcph says:

The LG Optimus G Pro Mini.

Synycalwon says:

The hardware specs are great, but the hardware itself looks cheap, especially in the pics next to the Note 2. Also don't care for the glitter on the battery door (glitter is for tween girls :P). Finally the software just looks horrid, especially the white menu backgrounds. :(

return_0 says:

These titles really have to be worded better. I thought this was a review for an LG Optimus G Pro Mini, which I assumed was referring to the smaller version released in some other country (I can't remember which one atm), until I saw the specs listing a 5.5-inch screen. Maybe putting a hyphen between "mini" and "review" would help.

tacky12 says:

I think that if we could screwdrive a little hole in the Optimus G Pro, and steal an S pen from a butthurt Note 2 owner and call it the "L Pen", the Optimus G Pro mini will be way better than the Note 2. Also, I'm sure that the Optimus G Pro will get an update to 4.2 Jellybean later on.

tacky12 says:

Woops, not Optimus G Pro mini. Lg Optimus G Pro.