LG announced the followup to the Optimus G today, bringing a brand new design, a massive specs sheet and rear volume controls that promise a refined, mature Android experience.
The device will launch this fall across multiple Canadian carriers for an undisclosed amount, but we’re guessing somewhere in the $249 ballpark.
LG did a lot to improve the device over the previous version, and we’ll start with the most obvious facet: the screen. The device has been updated to a 5.2-inch 1080p IPS display that looks ab-so-lutely stunning. This may be the best smartphone display I’ve ever seen, and that’s saying a lot. Not only has LG managed to practically eliminate the bezels from the device — moving the volume and power buttons from the sides to the back facilitated this — so the device maintains a thin profile despite its size, but the viewing angles, colour saturation and sharpness is astounding.
The casing has changed, too, from last year’s Optimus G, which boasted a glass back that the company admitted was too slippery and prone to cracking under unfortunate circumstances. LG went with plastic for this year’s flagship, and while we can’t speak to its long-term health, it unfortunately takes on some of the characteristics of its rival’s top device, the Galaxy S4. The back, which is non-removable, gives off a slippery first impression, but there is a heft to the handset that is lacking on the equivalent Samsung product.
Of course, one of the main selling features will be the rear volume and power buttons, which LG says is more than a mere aesthetic change. The company says that your fingers naturally rest near that area anyway. The power button is slightly recessed, so it shouldn’t be an issue when resting in your pocket or a bag, but LG’s design gambit could be a liability. The volume buttons are not actually buttons, so unwanted presses shouldn’t be an issue, and they can be used as a camera shutter and app launcher.
In terms of specs, this thing is a beast. This is the first device announced in Canada to carry a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor, which will have four Krait 400 cores clocked at 2.26Ghz and the company’s new Adreno 330 GPU clocked at 500Mhz. This SoC is a huge upgrade over the Snapdragon 600, and should allow for next-generation 3D gaming (when it arrives). On first impression, the Android 4.2.2 interface is buttery smooth, with no hint of slowdown. Apps load quickly and games play smoothly, but that isn’t a huge departure from the last generation of Android devices, too. It remains to be seen how developers will take advantage of the new chip and whether the extra clock speed affects battery life negatively. There’s also 2GB of RAM and either 16GB or 32GB of internal storage.
Speaking of battery, the enclosed cell clocks at 3000mAh, and should be more than enough for a full day’s uptime. Keeping the battery sealed kept the device thin — the chassis is a svelte 8.9mm — but there’s no question some power users are going to be disappointed in that discovery.
The camera has also received a sizeable update in the G2, adding a brand new 13MP sensor and optical image stabilization for improved lowlight performance. The bar was set pretty low with the Optimus G, which had one of the poorest camera sensors of this previous smartphone generation, but we have high hopes for this one. The camera interface, too, has been souped up, bringing manual controls and a number of nice-looking filters to bear in the process.
Audio quality on the G2, both from the speaker and the headpiece, is supposed to be significantly improved over previous LG models and the company claims it is better than all of its competitors.
LG’s Android interface still looks quite bloated — you don’t see your notifications until halfway down the screen — but there are some substantive and useful improvements to the experience. QSlide, LG’s equivalent to pop-up video, has been enhanced with other usability in other apps. One can now tap the screen twice to turn it on, something that custom kernel users will be used to on other phones, but it appears to be one of the first OEM implementations of the feature.
There are also a few more interesting user-focused features, including Answer Me, which automatically answers a phone call when you lift the phone to your head; an intuitive Guest Mode; Slide Aside, which exits an app with a three-finger swipe; a IR blaster for TV remote control, and more.
The LG G2 will launch in black and white models, and we’ll update with carrier-specific information shortly.