The device is also overlaid with LG's user interface, the Optimus UI 3.0, which isn't as stylishly simplistic as the vanilla Ice Cream Sandwich skin. Though I like how the icons are customizable, some widgets look clunky (especially the unattractive weather widget), and even though I like that it's sporting the Roboto font, the keypad and app drawer still look a little outdated. There are a few welcome changes, however, like the fact that you can access up to five apps of your choosing from the lock screen by simply swiping over its icon. Personally, I prefer Android's minimalistic interface, but it's refreshing to see LG actively changing and taking chances with its products' UIs.
The Near-Field Communication (NFC) chip enables the handset to wirelessly communicate with other NFC-enabled devices within a short distance. LG included two Tag+ stickers labeled Office and Car mode that let you use the NFC feature to activate certain settings on your phone that you customize. For example, every time you go into your car, you may want to launch Navigation and turn Bluetooth on. Once you set up and save those settings using the LG Tag+ app, you can activate them whenever you tap your Car Mode Tag sticker.
Though there were a few times when a sticker wouldn't save its presets, the feature is reliable for the most part and extremely easy to set up. The NFC chip wasn't quite as sensitive as it was on the, however, since it took a couple of taps to get the NFC to register.
Camera and video
The 8-megapixel camera offers a variety of options: autofocus, touch focus, a flash, an 8x digital zoom, face tracking, geotagging, a timer, continuous shooting, and panoramic shooting. It also has a voice command for the shutter (you say "cheese" and it'll take a picture), a brightness meter (-2 to +2), four image sizes (ranging from 1,280x960 to 3,264x2,448 pixels), six scene modes, four ISO options, five white balances, four shutter sounds, and four color effects.
The front-facing camera offers the same brightness meter, white-balance options, color effects, shutter sounds, timer, and geotagging feature, but only two scene modes (normal, and night) and two sizes (either 640x480 or 1,280x960 pixels). There's also a "mirror image" option that saves a vertically flipped version of your photo and a "beauty shot" meter that lets you adjust the brightness and blurriness of an image. This comes in handy when you're taking self-portraits and want to soften the photo.
Recording options consist of the same digital zoom, flash, exposure meter, geotagging, color effects, and white balances. In addition, there's audio muting and you can choose from seven video sizes (ranging from full HD 1080p to QCIF).
Though the front-facing video camera has fewer options, it still retains a good deal of features; you get the same exposure meter, white balances, color effects, geotagging, and audio muting, but there are only five video sizes (ranging from HD 720p to QCIF).
Photo quality was respectable. Images were in focus with distinct edges, colors were true to life and bright, and objects were well-defined. With dimmer, indoor shots, however, dark hues were hard to distinguish and bright whites were washed out. The front-facing camera understandably performed poorer. The smaller number of megapixels did mean more graininess, poorer focus, and muted colors, but you can still make out faces and objects easily.
Video recording was decent. Images were crisp, colors were true, and there was no lag time between the viewfinder and the movement of the camera. However, playing the recorded audio through a headset sounded way better than through the speaker. With the output speaker, sounds were tinny and harsh. But with the handset, especially with Dolby Mobile sound activated, audio sounded richer, with more depth.
I tested the quad-band (800, 1700, 1900, 2100) LG Intuition in San Francisco using Verizon. Signal quality was perfectly adequate, without any dropped calls or audio clipping in and out. Sound quality, however, was mediocre. Voices were audible, but muffled. When increasing calls to maximum volume, I heard a noticeable amount of static coming through the other end. On the other hand, my friend told me I sounded fine and clear.
The output speakerphone quality was also poor. Calls, as well as music, sounded incredibly sharp and severe, making it harsh. You can also hear the sound bouncing off the back plate of the device. Turning the volume down helped somewhat, but it was disappointing regardless; for calls, it muffled my friends' voices even more.
Listen now: LG Intuition call quality sample
Verizon's 4G LTE network (1xEV-DO Rev. A, 0) was impressive. For example, loading the CNET mobile site took an average of 6 seconds, while loading our full site took 22 seconds. The New York Times desktop site clocked in at 13 seconds. ESPN's mobile site took 6 seconds on average, and its full site loaded in 10 seconds. On average, the game Temple Run, which is 22MB, took 1 minute and 38 seconds to download. And the Ookla speed test app showed me an average of 2.75Mbps down and 1.78Mbps up.
During our battery drain tests, the Intuition's 2,080mAh battery lasted 9.95 hours. Anecdotally, it had a decent battery life. After spending a few hours playing games, watching videos, and chatting with my friends, I found that the battery had only drained by about three fourths of its charge. Charging it, however, took a noticeably longer time than with other phones. I plugged it in for a couple of hours and only got about 30 percent of battery back. According to the FCC, the Intuition has a SAR rating of 0.80W/kg.
As a standalone unit, the LG Intuition is a solid piece of machinery -- its attractively bright 5-inch screen belies its lightweight and slim build, its 4G LTE speeds are fast, and it's packed with features like NFC and QuickMemo. But when put in the context of what's available in the market, the device faces one notable competitor. The Galaxy Note goes for the same retail price, has a bigger screen, and its stylus can be stored inside. And while the Note's only carriers are AT&T and T-Mobile, its successor, the Samsung Galaxy Note 2, is slated to be on , including Verizon. In addition, it'll have an even bigger 5.5-inch screen and a quad-core CPU.
Considering all these factors, what's the final verdict? If you're a Verizon customer and you must have a phablet right this minute, then the LG Intuition won't let you down, since again, it's a satisfactory handset. But if you're a patient soul who can sit out until November, and have $100 to spare, it's best to wait and see what the Note 2 will offer.