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LG G Pro 2 review: Stunning screen and speed without much style

The Pro 2's main camera features the bulk of the bells and whistles. It relies on a sharp 13-megapixel sensor backed up by optical image stabilization to quell jittery hand shake. LG also piles on the camera settings and shooting modes, including HDR, panorama, and burst, plus just about any manual toggle you can think of. One of the our favorite features is "Magic Focus" which lets you adjust the focus of an image after you've taken a photo. As for video, the camera is able to capture 4K and 120FPS slo-mo recordings. For more on the camera features, check out our deeper dive.

LG G Pro 2 (selfie mode)
Selfie mode with the front-facing camera gives a faux flash effect with the screen. Lynn La/CNET

As for now, the device passes our regular camera test with flying colors, as expected. It's very nimble, with a practically instantaneous shot-to-shot time. This is no doubt due to the phone's quick autofocus and speedy image processing. Images were sharp and in focus, and in well-lit environments, colors looked bright. Whites, especially, came off true-to-life, and you can see just a small amount of artifacts and digital noise in low-light situations.

LG G Pro 2 (indoor)
In this well-lit indoor shot, you can see how the CNET red pops and objects are sharp. Lynn La/CNET
LG G Pro 2 (outdoor)
The white hue in these chairs are accurate, and you can see plenty of detail in the wood grain. Lynn La/CNET
LG G Pro 2 (outdoor 2)
Despite dimmer lighting, the fountain and water still look clear, as well as the grass below. Lynn La/CNET
LG G Pro 2 (SSI)
In our standard studio shot, objects in the foreground look crisp and in focus. Josh Miller/CNET

We tested the handset in our San Francisco offices using an AT&T SIM card and call quality was impressive. Volume range was adequate, and voices came across loud and clear. We didn't hear any extraneous noises or buzzing, and we couldn't detect any static in our conversations. In addition, none of our calls dropped. We were told by our testing partner that our voices sounded clear as well, and that there was no outside disturbance.

LG G Pro 2 (unlocked, on AT&T) call quality sample

Listen now:

Though this phone isn't optimized for US carrier's 4G LTE network, it showed some of the fastest, most consistent data times we've seen on AT&T. On average, the CNET mobile and desktop sites loaded in 4 and 9 seconds, respectively. The New York Times mobile site loaded in 5 seconds, and its desktop site loaded in 10. ESPN's mobile site loaded in 4 seconds, with its desktop site clocking in at 6. Ookla's speedtest app showed an average 18.34Mbps down and 9.93Mbps up. The 44.22MB game Temple Run 2 downloaded and installed in an impressive 37 seconds.

LG G Pro 2 Performance testing
Average 4G LTE download speed 18.34Mpbs
Average 4G LTE upload speed 9.93Mbps
App download (Temple Run 2) 44.22MB in 37 seconds
CNET mobile site load 4 seconds
CNET desktop site load 9 seconds
Restart time 33 seconds
Camera boot time 1.87 seconds

Flaunting all the power of a modern Snapdragon 800 processor plus a hefty 3GB reservoir of RAM, we weren't surprised that the G Pro 2 handles like a speed demon. The big phone churned through menus and home screens with buttery-smooth swiftness. Applications opened in the blink of an eye, provided we were connected to a respectable network.

Synthetic benchmarks confirmed our lively anecdotal experience. The Pro 2 blew the doors off of both the Quadrant and Linpack tests, scoring 17,483 and 613.3 MFLOPs (multithread), respectively. On average, the camera powered off and restarted in 33 seconds, and the camera launched in just 1.87 seconds.

Even though the handset is thinner than the Galaxy Note 3, the phone is equipped with a battery just as large (3,200mAh). This helped the Pro 2 demonstrate impressive longevity both in everyday use and while running benchmarks. Indeed, the handset persevered through the CNET Labs' video playback battery drain test for a long 14 hours and 1 minute before expiring. Still, it's an hour short of its rival, the Note 3 (15 hours), and two behind the Droid Maxx (16 hours) when subjected to the same test.

LG G Pro 2 (benchmarks)
A few data times on AT&T's 4G LTE network (left) and the handset's Quadrant results. Lynn La/CNET

With its stunning 5.9-inch LCD screen, Android 4.4 KitKat software, and oodles of mobile processing power, the new LG G Pro 2 is an excellent smartphone no matter which way you slice it. That said, the way this massive handset is positioned in the market puts it on a collision course with Samsung's similarly appointed Galaxy Note 3. And in a spec-for-spec battle, the Pro 2 is an even match with the Samsung juggernaut. Design, however, pushes the Note 3 over the top, and its more comfy grip makes the difference. Oh, and if having a stylus is what floats your boat, well, the Note 3's S Pen interface is icing on the cake.

To be clear, though, much of the G Pro 2's allure will depend heavily on how much it costs. Unfortunately, specific pricing for the Korean LG G Pro 2 model we reviewed isn't available, or at least it's not yet sold as an unlocked or US carrier-branded equivalent. But if you can snap up the G Pro 2 for about $100 less than the Note 3 (which it is predicted to be so, since its predecessor was priced at $200 on-contract), well, that's a steal in any book.

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