LG had announced the Optimus 4X HD in February this year, but it took a couple of months to land on Indian shores. The Optimus 4X HD is the company’s finest offering yet. It has got everything you would need - and want - in a smartphone. Yes, it’s LG’s answer to the HTC One X and the Samsung Galaxy S III. But is LG a little late to the party? Or do users have reason enough to choose the Optimus 4X HD over its more prominent Korean counterpart? Let’s have a look.
Three backlit capacitive buttons
Design and Build Quality
The Optimus 4X HD comes in two colours, white and black. We got the black model for review. At first look, it didn’t look remarkably different from the other Androids we’ve recently reviewed. A closer look gave us a better sense of satisfaction. First, this phone doesn’t look plastic or cheap or flimsy; it’s a nicely made, well-built device. Two silver rims run across the sides of the device with a triangular strip in between, which is just plain aesthetics. The back has a matte contoured finish to it that gives a good reassuring feel while holding the phone. The 4X HD may not be very beautiful to look at, but it’s certainly not ugly. Let’s take a quick tour of this device.
The 4X HD is huge. The front comprises of the large 4.7-inch IPS display with three backlit capacitive buttons at the bottom, a front camera and the LG logo at the top. A power button, a microphone and a 3.5 mm headphone jack are located at the top. On the left is a volume rocker, while at the bottom is a microUSB slot bang in the centre along with the secondary noise cancellation microphone. The back has the second LG logo, an 8 megapixel camera, an LED flash and a speaker grill towards the bottom. Under the hood there is a 2150 mAh battery, the SIM card slot and a hot swappable microSD card slot, which is not located under the battery.
The Optimus 4X HD is one big phone. At 133 grams, it’s only a wee bit heavier than the One X on paper, but the device has a nice solid feel to it. The build quality is good and there aren’t any flimsy flaps or creaks that you have to worry about. Though it may not have the aesthetic feel of the One X, this Optimus has enough class to be classified as a flagship phone.
Available in white as well
Features and Performance
LG has put the best of everything in the 4X HD. It’s powered by a 1.5GHz quad core Tegra 3 processor with 16GB of internal storage and 1GB of RAM – enough to keep it chugging all day long or till the battery lasts, at optimum speed. LG has put its custom Optimus UI 3.0 skin on top of Ice Cream Sandwich 4.0.3. It’s a welcome improvement over the previous iterations of the skin. The new Optimus UI allows you a lot more customizations. The drop down notification bar lets you add and modify your desired power control options. You can change the look of your icon and though the available library of icons isn’t the best, you have the option to create your own icon. The phone comes with four preset themes as well, with each one having a distinct layout, style and icon set. Cozywall and Marshmallow not your style? You can settle for the more demure, professional looking and simple Biz theme. These themes are besides the original Optimus theme.
The interface - customizable
It’s these small personalized improvements that incline us towards recommending the new Optimus UI. However, the overall look could still do with some more improvements starting off with better colour schemes for the icons and the menus. The menu is neatly categorized into Apps, where you have the default content and your downloaded stuff; Downloads, to quickly find the stuff you’ve downloaded; and Widgets, to view and add the widgets you need to your home screen.
This latest version of the Optimus UI works butter smooth on the 4X HD. There wasn’t a single time when the phone actually hung or slowed down, which is telling for an Android device. While this comment may be great for this smartphone, it’s not particularly good news for the resource hungry operating system. Multitasking is an absolute breeze. We opened a couple of memory intensive apps and there was no hint of lag whatsoever. However, considering there are multiple cores continuously at work underneath that hood, there’s nothing less we’d have settled for.
The Optimus 4X HD was put through a set of synthetic benchmarks and we compared it with similar priced handsets. Samsung’s Galaxy S III was a clear winner, as can be seen from the images below, but the other handsets were all placed at a joint second.
The improved UI makes its presence felt in the media department as well. The music player has a few cool additions. It now comes with a sleep mode option that automatically switches off the player after a set time interval. There are a bunch of equalizer settings and they work well to tweak the sound output. Dolby Mobile has been included in the fray as well. Music via the bundled earphones was good with a nice thumping bass and a nice tone quality. The usual formats are supported but the default audio player refused to play our FLAC files.
As far as video playback is concerned, the display is brilliant for watching videos. Nice colours, not overly saturated, not too pale, great viewing angles and that massive 4.7 inch screen mean you’ll be using this device a lot on-the-go to get your daily dose of entertainment. 1080p files played without a hitch and DivX, Xvid support is present as well. The media section is rounded off with the inclusion of an FM Radio with a nice simplistic user interface.
The Optimus 4X HD is a quad band handset. It has 3G, dual band Wi-Fi, DLNA, Wi-Fi Direct, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS, and last but not least, NFC. Everything you need and everything you want. The phone has a loud enough earpiece and speaker. In our call tests we observed no problems whatsoever while communicating with the recipient.
Brilliant inbuilt browser
The 4X HD has got a brilliant browser as well. We noticed a much faster loading time than usual and a much smoother experience for even image heavy sites. The stock browser also has a toolbar at the bottom that lets you quickly open a new tab and visit bookmarks and history. Manoeuvring between the open tabs was quick as well. Typing on the super large 4.7 inch screen isn’t a problem, but one handed usage will take some adjustment to get used to.
The phone also comes with two NFC tags that let you set up profiles for corresponding environments – car, office, sleep etc. You can change, add and modify profile options such as Wi-Fi, data network, sound, and Bluetooth. Upon tapping with the tag applications can be instantly launched. For example, if you place it in your car, the tag can instantly start Google Maps for you. It's a neat feature, and as the tag is already provided with the device, you can get started with using this relatively new feature.
Let’s start with the notable additions first. The phone comes with an Application Manager, which as the name suggests, lets you view the installed apps and uninstall them. There’s a Backup App that lets you back up your downloaded apps, bookmarks, calendar, call log, contacts, messages and system settings onto the internal memory or the SD card. The Media Home works as a hub for your videos, photos and music.
There’s a Task Manager to free up some additional memory, but there wasn’t any incident that led us to use that app. The other apps include LG’s SmartShare for DLNA streaming, LG SmartWorld, LG RemoteCall for diagnosis, Memo and Memo. May not be a big deal for many, but audio recording via the built in Voice Recorder app was surprisingly good.
The Optimus 4X HD is loaded with an 8 megapixel camera with a single LED flash. It takes a second or two to startup before you can get clicking. Outdoor snaps are really good as the colours appear natural. Focussing is good though you might have to try a couple of times to get your best shot. Continuous shot lets you snap six photos at a time and macro shots are nice but we still preferred the One X’s macro and burst mode effects. Second place isn’t bad though.
Video recording at 1080p @30fps is possible and there is ample image stabilization while recording. The video also has live effects that provide silly faces duch as big mouth, big eyes and backgrounds to your shots. That effect changes the video recording to VGA though. The front camera works well for self-portraits and video calling. As can be seen from the images above, for casual snaps and photography, the 4X HD’s camera will more than suffice.
2150 mAh battery
Is the 2150 mAh battery enough for the Optimus 4X HD’s quad core processor? Well, if you hoped that it would last more than a day, you’re going to be disappointed. The battery is still underpowered to actually give you worry –free usage during the day. In our video loop test, we managed 9 hours, which is still higher than what the One X managed. We’d recommend you to carry a charger around (or an extra battery) if you have moderate to heavy usage.
Worth a buy?
Verdict and Price in India
The Optimus 4X HD is priced at Rs. 34,990 (MOP). It’s a tiny bit cheaper than the S III and the One X, but when you’re considering such a price tag for a phone, the price difference between the three is a paltry amount. On paper, the Galaxy S III performs faster in benchmarks but has a questionable design and build and the bland TouchWiz UI. The One X doesn’t have a removable battery or a removable microSD card slot but has an overall better look. If you’ve got no brand preferences, this Optimus won’t disappoint you one bit. It performs par excellence in all sections (minus the battery – where all the quad cores falter) and it’s the phone that shoots LG back onto the radar. If you're shopping in this price range, and you're looking for a powerful smartphone, go ahead and pick the Optimus 4X HD.