LG is not a new player in smartphone, but it never delivered a memorable products until Nexus 4, a collaboration with Google. Nexus 4 has been one of the most desired Android phones. But due to limited coverage on devices in Play Store, many potential buyers do not have the chance to order one.
Instead of bringing Nexus 4 to more markets, LG chose to release an own branded LG Optimius worldwide. It is a smart move to build own brand and this is probably also the purpose of Google to avoid the monopolization of Samsung in Android market. Optimus G shares many similar design elements found in Nexus 4. The build quality is incredible.
However, Optimus G is a bit outdated now, and its direct competitor is Galaxy S3. So, this year, during the Mobile World Congress 2013, LG announced the Optimus G Pro. It seems LG is a bit confused on the positioning of this device. The 5.5-inch screen puts it in the phablet segment; however, lack of stylus obviously disadvantage itself against Galaxy Note 2. You may refer to the comparison of Optimus G Pro and Galaxy Note 2.
Very likely, LG also expected this Optimus G Pro to be a rival to Galaxy S4. Will this one-stone-kill-two-birds product strategy work? At least, based on our review, it lost the battle against Galaxy Note 2. Now let’s compare it with Galaxy S4.
Design and build quality
Optimus G’s design and build quality is extrodinary, probably only HTC One can compete against it. But unfortunately, as design and build quality is concerned, Optimus G Pro has nothing to do with Optimus G. Optimus G Pro looks like a copycat of Galaxy Note 2!! Plastic was chosen to replace the glass. This is a serious joke if LG wants this Optimus G Pro to be a rival to Galaxy S4, HTC One, or Sony Xperia Z.
Samsung favors plastic and is often teased by competitors. But this does not hurt the popularity of the Galaxy product lines. Plastic to plastic, we have to say Samsung did a better job in S4 than LG in Optimus G Pro.
So, in this round, Galaxy S4 wins.
LG Optimus G comes with the old Jelly Bean 4.1. Although LG will surely update it to Jelly Bean 4.2 (as in Galaxy S4). But you do not know how long it will take.
Samsung gradually builds its reputation in Android update for their handsets in last 3 years. Now Samsung usually is the first manufacturer in shipping latest Android (except Google) in their high-end smartphones. More importantly, most owners get at least 2 major updates in Android versions. In updating Android version, Samsung now is only second to Google.
For the skin, TouchWiz is over-bloated.Unfortunately, LG’s Optimus UI is simply worse. The Optimus UI has some nice features, but it is clumsy and counter-intuitive. Anyway, TouchWiz is more matured and polished than Optimus UI.
In this software and skin round, Galaxy S4 wins again.
Camera and video
As in the comparison of Optimus G Pro to Galaxy Note 2, LG got about 6-month lead in hardware specs. The 13MP camera, and the coming update (it is a bit funny, most users haven’t got the phone, but a big update was announced already) really makes it a good phone camera.
But if we compare it with Galaxy S4, the advantages Optimus G Pro enjoyed over Note 2 disappear. Both have similar hardware specs and similar software enhancements. The update yet to be released is like another copycat of Galaxy S4 (or it is just coincident) .
So, for camera and video, it is a tie.
Both Optimus G Pro and S4 come with full HD display. Although Optimus G Pro has 10% lower pixel density (due to larger screen size), it is beyond the capability of most people’s eyes to differ such difference.
The major difference is between Samsung’s AMOLED and LG’s IPS. In a previous post, we compared different display panels in smartphones. For most users (non professionals on photograph) AMOLED is a better choice, the color is more vivid than that in IPS. Of course, for professionals, IPS generally re-produce the color more accurately.
So, for display, it is a tie again.
I seldom give verdicts because it is too difficult to do so. So, I normally let readers to have their own. But for this case, Galaxy S4 is obviously the winner. If LG had kept Optimus G’s design (distance itself from Galaxy Note 2), and polished the UI aggressively, it would have been too difficult to give verdicts.
What do you think?