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LG Optimus G (Sprint)

With a quad-core CPU and 4G LTE capabilities, we examine whether the LG Optimus G has the muscle to be the next big contender.

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LG officially announced its next flagship phone, the LG Optimus G, at recent press events in both New York, NY and South Korea. The device will host a whopping 13-megapixel camera and a 4.7-inch HD display.

The Optimus G will go on sale in Korea in late September and will be offered in other countries, including the U.S., later on. In early October, both AT&T and Sprintannounced that they'll carry the handset. Until we get a review unit in our office, however, we only have the specs to go by. But, judging by its specs and LG's recent devices, it has plenty of superphone potential.

Design
The LG Optimus G measures 5.19 inches tall, 2.71 inches wide, and 0.33 inch thick, making it slightly wider and thinner than the Optimus 4X HD (which measures 5.19 inches by 2.69 inches by 0.38 inch). Because of the screen's new Touch Hybrid Display technology, the Optimus G's display is also thinner than those currently on the market.

The phone weighs 5.11 ounces, making it a bit lighter than the 4X HD as well, but the height remains the same. In other words, tall. It won't be able to fit in small front or back pockets of jeans comfortably, nor will it be easy to use with one hand, but it's thin and light enough to throw in a clutch or small bag without much fuss.

The Optimus G comes in black and white, and sports a 4.7-inch True HD IPS+ display with a 1,280x768-pixel resolution and an aspect ratio of 15:9. Given how impressed I was with the 4X HD's touch screen (which also measured 4.7 inches and was HD IPS), I find the sound of this very promising. Especially considering that it also has a 320ppi pixel density, which means we can expect bright, vivid colors and crisp images.

Features
One of the most anticipated features of the handset is the 1.5GHz Snapdragon S4 Pro quad-core CPU. While I'll hold off on comparing Qualcomm's quad-core processor with Nvidia's Tegra 3 quad-core processor (the latter being the chipset that powers the 4X HD), Qualcomm's dual-core processor has a solid history of being fast and reliable.

The HTC One X, for example, impressed us all with its dual-core CPU, and if Qualcomm is looking to beef up its processor offerings, as it said it is, then the Optimus G will undoubtedly deliver great speeds. In addition, the device is equipped with an Adreno 320 GPU and 4G LTE capabilities.

The handset houses a 2,100mAh battery, which roughly translates to a reported talk time of 15 hours. This is a bit less powerful than the 4X HD's 2,150mAh battery, which leaves room for concern. Though the 4X HD's battery was adequate enough, with heavy quad-core usage it drained quickly. True, the reduction in the Optimus G is only slight, but it may have an effect when all cores are chugging away.

LG Optimus G
LG's next flagship phone, the Optimus G. Brian Bennett/CNET

Because the phone has near-field communication (NFC) support, it should come with LG Tag+ stickers. The 4X HD, the Vu, and the Optimus L7 all were NFC-enabled, and included these tags. The stickers allow you to activate certain settings on your phone that you customize. For example, every time you go to sleep, you may want to put your device on vibrate, dim your screen, and have your music turn off after 10 minutes of playing. Once you set up and save those settings using the LG Tag+ app, you can activate them whenever you tap your "Sleep Mode" Tag+ sticker.

The handset also includes Dual Screen Dual Play, which enables users to beam screen images onto a TV; a feature called QSlide Function that displays two different screens or tasks (for example, watching a video and sending a text) at the same; LG's note-taking feature, QuickMemo; Bluetooth 4.0; an Application Link feature that launches preselected apps at a certain time; 32GB of onboard storage; and 2GB of RAM. In addition, users can zoom in and out of the phone's screen and recorded video.

One bad note I'm anticipating is that LG will probably slap its Optimus 3.0 UI on top of the Android 4.0 OS. With its boxy icons and clunky widgets (particularly that unattractive weather widget), the UI isn't as sleek as the vanilla Ice Cream Sandwich skin. Fortunately, however, users will have the option to customize app icons. And though I like that it sports the Roboto font, the keypad itself on the updated UI still looks outdated.

Camera and video
LG reported that the Optimus G boasts an eyebrow-raising 13-megapixel camera. Some of its features include a Live Zooming option that lets you zoom in and out while playing a video; Time Catch Shot, which lets you to choose and save the best of five images shot when you pressed the shutter; and a voice-command shutter called Cheese Shutter. There's also a feature that adjusts the shutter speed if the camera senses the photo's subject moving, and a low light/noise reduction function.

LG Optimus G
A glimpse at the Optimus G's 13-megapixel camera. Brian Bennett/CNET

Given that it's decked out with four cores, I expect the camera to be lightning-quick. With the 4X HD, the shutter was so seamless, there was no indication or delay on the screen that let me know I took a picture. I relied only on the shutter sound. I could also hold the shutter down to take one picture after another. This isn't the same (or as fast) as continuous shooting (though again, there is an option for that), but that's how fast the camera can operate.

Outlook
LG scored a win with the 4X HD, and I expect nothing less with the Optimus G. Though I remain wary of its battery life and anticipate an unappealing UI, the device will be sure to please. It touts the same high-end specs as the 4X HD, but it adds 4G LTE capabilities and a superior camera. If everything else stays constant (and by that I mean the software isn't buggy or, you know, the phone doesn't explode in my hand), then the G definitely promises to be a winner as well.

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