LG Optimus Vu

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/ Updated: 1 March 2012 4:00 pm GMT

LG was obviously feeling jealous of Samsung's 5.3-inch Galaxy Note device, because it's gone and crafted its own enormo-phone. Dubbed the LG Optimus Vu (no, we're not sure how to pronounce it either), this monstrous mobile packs a powerful processor and a 5-inch display.

I've gone hands-on with the Optimus Vu, which is currently excluded from the UK because it includes 4G tech that our humble networks can't handle yet. But LG told me that a version of the Vu will be coming to Europe, including the UK, later in the year, so now is the time to read up so you can look smarter than all your mates when this phone finally arrives.

Design

The Optimus Vu's headline feature is that it's absolutely gigantic. I've spent a lot of time with the Galaxy Note, a similarly massive mobile, but I still did a quick double-take when I saw the Vu for the first time. I had to look around to check I hadn't wondered into a tablet exhibit by mistake.

The reason the Vu looks so massive is that it's much wider than most mobiles. This 5-inch display has an unusual 4:3 aspect ratio, meaning it's really broad.

LG Optimus Vu thickness
The Optimus Vu sports an unusual 4:3 aspect ratio and is only 8.5mm deep.

LG reckons that aspect ratio will mean the Vu is better for reading ebooks and browsing the web. I'm tempted to agree -- the wider screen would likely make cruising around websites a pleasant experience. But there's a compromise to be made.

Because it's very wide, the Vu is tough to wrap your mitts around, and at 90.4mm wide, it's so broad that I think you'll really struggle to squeeze it into your pockets, even though it's astonishingly slim at just 8.5mm deep.

You might fit it in a back pocket if you're not fussed about sitting down or having a big rectangular bulge over your buttocks. A suit jacket pocket could suffice, but I think many people would need to carry a bag to accommodate this phone, which isn't ideal.

So there are some practical limitations to be aware of, though the actual screen itself looks lovely. Sporting a healthy 1,024x768 pixels, everything on the Vu looked colourful and clear, which is promising.

The casing itself looks acceptable, and while the textured black plastic around the back had my socks remaining firmly on my feet, I was impressed by how thin and light the Vu was, despite its size.

LG Optimus Vu back
Oh, to live in a First World country with 4G connectivity! The UK will have to wait for the non-4G version of the Optimus Vu to arrive.

Hardware

The Optimus Vu is rocking a 1.5GHz dual-core processor. I've clapped eyes on some quad-core mobiles at this year's Mobile World Congress -- check out the HTC One X, for example -- but I reckon the chip inside the Vu will prove more than capable of handling whatever you wanted to do with this phone, including hi-def video and graphically demanding games, with no lag.

I certainly didn't notice any stutter during my hands-on, but CNET UK will be properly benchmarking the Vu when the time comes for the definitive review.

The rear camera has a healthy 8-megapixel resolution, while there's a 1.3-megapixel snapper stuck on the front. The Vu will also have an extremely capacious 32GB of on-board storage, which I think will be more than enough room. That hints to me that the Vu will be rather expensive -- but you probably guessed that part already.

LG Optimus Vu camera
Popping out of the peep hole is the 8-megapixel snapper. There's also a 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera.

Software

The Vu I was toying with was running on Android 2.3 Gingerbread, but LG told me that by the time it goes on sale, it'll be updated to Android version 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS). That's just as well, because ICS is the latest version of Android, and with a luxury device like this, you'd be right to expect cutting-edge software.

ICS offers a host of graphical tweaks, including a glowing blue Tron-esque interface and a neat multi-tasking system. LG will likely make some alterations to the default Android 4.0 though, so it may look and behave differently when it gets updated.

LG Optimus Vu software
Stare closely enough and you'll see Tron whizzing around on a Light Cycle.

One excellent feature is a button on top of the phone that -- when pressed -- lets you doodle over whatever the phone is currently displaying. That could be handy for scribbling notes or marking an 'x' on a map for example. Once you've finished scribbling, you can share your graffiti'd screen over email, by text or upload it to the Internet. It's a handy feature that seemed well implemented.

Outlook

The LG Optimus Vu makes a good first impression with its lightweight design, powerful processor and impressive screen. It's seriously big though, so I think many people will be put off by the thought of lugging it around, or the baffled stares you'd draw if you answered a call in public. Stay tuned for more news on the UK release, as well as the in-depth review.

For more phones and tablets from Mobile World Congress, keep your browser pointed toward mwc.cnet.co.uk.

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Where to Buy

LG Optimus Vu (unlocked)

Part Number: OPTIMUSVu
Pricing is currently unavailable.

Quick Specifications See All

  • Technology CDMA2000 1X / GSM / WCDMA (UMTS)
  • Combined with With digital camera / digital player
  • Service Provider Unlocked