LG’s quad core giant: Optimus 4X HD review and hands-on video

June 13, 2012
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    LG may not be the world’s best-known smartphone maker or the largest maker of smartphones in the world, like their co-nationals Samsung, but the Koreans are, nevertheless, a force to be reckoned with.

    First off, the phone maker has passed through a long period of lackluster evolution, marked by mediocre products and a dwindling mindshare. But now, all signs indicate that LG is back with a vengeance. And for those in the know – LG has been making major waves in their display division, and is producing what many consider to be some of the finest displays available to date.

    Over the past several months, LG has scored a number of important wins. It stole the limelight at MWC with its new phones, including the Optimus 4X HD that we are reviewing today. Then, some technically impressive devices were leaked, suggesting that LG is keen to push the technological envelope, more than any other Android OEM has thus far. Very importantly, the Koreans achieved a rare performance – they managed to pull themselves back to profitability, after many consecutive quarters of losses.

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    LG’s renewed focus on technical excellence is slowly bringing the company back to the ultra competitive top tier smartphone battle royale. And this focus is visible in the LG Optimus 4X HD, a device that bears an arsenal of specs that will impress even the savviest of tech buyers. It’s clear that LG is ready to square off with Samsung, HTC, and even Apple. But will consumers agree? Read on.

    LG Optimus 4X HD Specs

    • Size: 5.21 x 2.68 x 0.35-inch (132 x 68 x 8.89 mm), 0.35 pounds (158 grams)
    • Display: 4.7-inch, 1280 x 720 IPS LCD, capacitive
    • Processor: Nvidia quad-core Tegra 3, 1.5 GHz
    • Memory: 1GB RAM DDR2
    • Storage: 16GB, microSD – up to 32GB
    • Radio: GSM, 3G, HSDPA
    • Connectivity: USB, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, DLNA, Wi-Fi Direct
    • Camera: 8MP, autofocus, LED, touch focus, image stabilization
    • Video: 1080p, 30FPS
    • OS: Android 4.0.3

    Design and Display

    First off, the body of the LG Optimus 4X HD is very sleek. It feels like most of the phone’s weight is actually in the screen, making for a somewhat lightweight design. This does not mean the 4X lacks strength, as it feels extremely solid in the palm of my hand. The rear backing also sits firm on the 4X, which cannot be said about some other modern phone’s back plates.

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    In front, the Optimus 4X HD is packing a beautiful 4.7″ true HD-IPS display. In Plane Switching (IPS) screens provide a different liquid crystal arrangement, for optimal side viewing. As you’d expect, the IPS arrangement makes for a beautiful viewing experience even at narrow angles.

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    The display has a 720×1280 pixels resolution with an impressive 312 ppi density, and the pixels are pretty much invisible in normal viewing conditions. The LCD delivers beautiful colors, that lack the saturation of AMOLEDs, but display purists swear by the natural colors of LCD.

    On top of that LCD IPS display, LG uses the now customary Corning Gorilla Glass for protection. The Optimus 4X HD comes with three capacitive buttons, the Back, Home, and Menu buttons; a long press on the Home button brings up the recent apps. The backlit capacitive buttons can be customized to stay on as long as the display does. The absence of physical buttons makes for a really smooth, minimalist appearance, although some might miss the tactile feedback provided by physical buttons.

    Overall, while the LG Optimus 4X HD doesn’t get many points for originality, its design is refined and sleek, and, in my opinion, the phone really looks great!

    Performance

    The Optimus 4X HD houses a blazing fast Nvidia Tegra 3 quad-core 1.5GHz processor. In addition to the Tegra’s four main cores, there’s the fifth “companion” core, clocked at just 500MHZ, which kicks in when the phone doesn’t need a lot of processing power, in order to save battery.

    Benchmark scores reveal that the LG Optimus 4X HD is a bit faster than the HTC One X, which is no easy task to accomplish.

    To complement the Tegra 3’s speedy circuitry, the Optimus packs 1GB of RAM (pretty much standard fare these days), as well as 16GB of internal storage, and an additional micro-SD card slot.

    The battery is a whopping 2150mAh, which exceeds both the Galaxy S3′s and the HTC One X’s battery capacity. Even with relatively heavy usage, I was still able to get through a full 24 hour usage cycle.

    The Optimus 4X HD is a 3G phone, so no blazing-fast network speeds to be seen here.

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     Camera & Gallery

    The phone features an 8 megapixel rear facing camera that captures 1080p HD video. It also has a front facing, 1.3 megapixel camera with facial recognition and smile detection.

    The gallery comes with a pack of intuitive features that I enjoyed playing with. I spent a good amount of time playing with the “Silly Faces” effects, as well as the in-gallery green-screen utility. LG has also included a function that allows you to speed up or slow down videos as you are watching them. The settings are intuitive and useful, so you’ll have no trouble to, say, switch from an action shot to a close up in a jiffy.

    All software functions aside, the camera is very functional. I was able to take many great shots with the Optimus 4X HD, in a variety of lighting conditions. Check out below a couple of samples shot with the LG Optimus 4X HD, and stay tuned for a full camera test that we will publish soon.

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    Software

    LG’s superphone runs on Android 4.0.3 Ice Cream Sandwich, with LG’s Optimus 3.0 skin applied on top. I found the Optimus UI to be considerably better than Samsung’s TouchWiz or HTC’s Sense. Adding folders, apps, and widgets to the homescreen is a breeze, and navigating the interface is aesthetically pleasing.

    The system toggles and menus are not too gaudy or overdone. There are also many nice screen transitions, as well as four different themes and three systems fonts to choose from. Overall, it’s very easy to customize the Optimus 4X HD.

    LG didn’t bloat the phone as much as you would expect, as most of the preloaded apps are quite useful. LG has included many widgets for the 4X, including SmartWorld, Social+, and Today+, all useful for keeping up to date at a glance.

    LG has also included an NFC tag writing application, so no need to install one from the Play Store. Near Field Communication allows users to interact with pre-programmed tags, and set the phone to execute certain actions when the tag is in range.

    Also coming by default on the Optimus 4X HD is a very intuitive Quick Memo application, that lets the user doodle or draw on any part of the screen at any time. This feature just begs to be used with a stylus, so watch out Galaxy Note! The phone also comes preloaded with ShadowGun, Samurai II, and NVI, titles that make use of the gaming prowess of the Tegra 3 System on a Chip. Another potentially useful inclusion is the LG SmartWorld app, which is a tool that suggests apps based on your preferences.

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    Overview                     

    So how does the LG Optimus 4X HD stack up against the Samsung Galaxy S3 and the HTC One X, the main contenders to the title of king of Android?

    Well, it’s safe to say that the LG will most likely outperform the dual core variants of the GS3 and HTC One series. From a technical point of view, the Optimus 4X HD leaves little to be desired. The screen is beautiful, and generous in dimensions and resolution, and the IPS makes using it a pleasure. Beneath the screen, Nvidia’s Tegra 3 hums away, delivering buttery smooth performance across UI navigation, web browsing, and app utilization.

    The software side is quite enjoyable as well, and, as I said, you might find that Optimus UI is a breath of fresh air, especially if you are growing tired of TouchWiz and Sense.

    On the downside, some might find that the industrial design is a bit boring, but that’s really a matter of preference. There were some crashes and inconsistencies that marred a bit of the user experience, but no real deal-breakers fortunately.

    Now for the big question – is the LG Optimus 4X HD better than the HTC One X or the local rivals’ Galaxy S3? I say that LG’s flagship is definitely a worthy competitor in the high-end smartphone competition, but the race is so close that it all comes down to personal preference.



    You can watch our in-depth video review of the Optimus 4X HD below.

    Video Review

    Let us know your opinions in the comments section below. If you have any questions, fire them out, and I’ll do my best to answer. Also, check out the full image gallery below.

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    Comments

    • Arcee

      Is the front camera HD?

      • Clayton Ljungberg

        It is, 720p.

    • DanDan

      Pretty nice phone..

    • Jake

      Will this phone be available in the US anytime soon?

      • mrzzz83

        ahhahah….ahahhahahaaaaaaaaaaaa……

        *Ahem*

        No. The us does not get cool phones.

      • http://AndroidAuthority.com/ Bogdan Petrovan

        It was just launched in Europe, but LG didn’t mentioned a US availability date. Check back with us, we’ll report as soon as it happens!

    • Baypky

      How does this differ from the optimus lte2?

      • Dann

        Optimus LTE2 is one chip dual core snapdragon with LTE and has a physical button, also it has a smaller screen
        While this phone has tegra quadcore and only 3g support

        • Baypky

          Thanks for the info.

    • MasterMuffin

      Samsung galaxy s 3 wins, but this lg is much better than hox!!

    • sn0wbaLL

      nice phone but i just cant see myself buying an lg phone. i dunno why, its like its in my dna not to buy an lg phone.

      • http://AndroidAuthority.com/ Bogdan Petrovan

        Yeah, they have a bad rap, but with their new stuff is quite good actually

        • sn0wbaLL

          agreed. i know its good but still, i just can’t…ugh

    • Mazui Desu Ne

      Very good phone… I like it very much… Just a little quirk, the black border on the screen.. it’ a bit big… Not that it bothers me a lot… Very good phone still…

    • cowboy6728
    • kc

      Arrival timing! No matter how nice a device may be, if it arrives late after all the rest are here, its sales purpose is defeated. With Google Nexus 7 tablet out soon, and 5 more Nexus smartphones from 5 different manufacturer end of this year, I have yet to see this device in our part of the world – S.E.Asia.

      The very reason the DELL 5″ smartphone which was innovative, beautiful, and broke the norm of devices sizes then, arrive so late that the dualcores devices like the SGS2, HTC Sensastion, etc., were all out, making the DELL 5″ obsolete technically.

    • Sith Lord

      LG is ready to play ball with Samsung, HTC, and even Apple. EVEN APPLE…. illiterate apple fanboy

      • http://AndroidAuthority.com/ Bogdan Petrovan

        Gee, someone is frustrated. At last count, Apple sells the most successful smartphone on the market, so, like it or not, they are the ones to beat. Quit trolling.

        • trob6969

          Apple is only “the one to beat” in regards to sells but in terms of features and functions Apple has been beaten many times ever since the release of the original Motorola droid.

          • Clayton Ljungberg

            “Apple has been beaten many times ever since the release of the original Motorola droid”

            yes…. this is something we are aware of, lol.

            at the same time, sales are generally a big part of what make a device successful haha, hence our statement.

            • trob6969

              The context of the paragraph makes it clear that the theme is ‘tech’ not sales so why was “…and even Apple” added?

            • Alpha

              LG 4X HD IS NOW DOING GREAT SMARTPHONE EVER!

            • Alpha

              apple will be lose ! because of it’s high price and their phones are very easy to broke up ….

              just drop it two time and broke up!
              bye bye apple…………..

            • Mars3390

              yeap and thats why they sell more. I think is called consumerism

          • poipound

            damm now i know who bit the apple android did hiya

        • Rajanaveen

          I agree apple is best smart phone seller, but if its war between iOS ,android will beat the apple sales margin of about 30%, just imagine if only one manufacturer was making every android phone on this planet, there will be no apple in the chart.No abuse,please this is what i feel.

          • BigTexFyre

            I disagree. If there was only one manufacturer making every android phone, there wouldn’t be so many different ones. Every one would either look like the Samsungs, Motorolas, or the LGs. No way would one manufacturer vary their products so much.
            So in that aspect, its amazing that Apple continues to be the #1 selling smartphone with only one model. (yes, its the top selling INDIVIDUAL phone)

        • Sith Lord

          who said apple is not successful. as an organization, yes it is better than most. but if u say ONLY apple (according to the article), its wrong. Product wise, which feature of apple should other manufacturers beat? i dont get it, all the other SMARTPHONES have more/better features hardware/software wise. Yes, there is an aura around apple products, that does not make apple the company to beat.

          as a general user (not a fanboy) …

          iphone is not the greatest, there are products better than that. no other manufacturer is great as well……

          the article should be such that the users are the winners and not a product/company

          • http://AndroidAuthority.com/ Bogdan Petrovan

            See, what we wanted to say is LG is ready to compete with the big boys, and the biggest of all is Apple. I thought that is clear. Anyway, suggesting that anyone at AA is an Apple fanboy is ridiculous.

            • http://www.facebook.com/robin.thakur.710 Robin Thakur

              I just got a SGS3 in HK to play with and potentially replace my 4S with, but so far, I think I will be selling it and keeping the 4S. The screen is quite big and bright, but not sharp like i’m used to and the colours look incorrect even in natural mode. There are a bewildering amount of options, but some things just don’t seem very well thought out like the motion controls which don’t work most of the time. I have never got the move hand across display to take a screenshot action to work, and the smart stay eye detection seems to not work reliably either. The camera takes shots really fast which I like, but again the quality is much worse than the iPhone 4S camera, no contrast and images look washed out. The battery seems to deplete really fast based on my standard usage, before midday I had only 58% left! The biggest negative is the lack of apps, specifically games. Few of the games i like and play are available for Android, meaning I have to keep both devices with me. The music player part of it seems similarly lacking, and it isn’t clear how you put music, videos etc on the device, as there isn’t an iTunes equivalent for Android that I have found so far to make life simple. I guess you could just drag the files onto it, maybe wirelessly, but it seems like hard work in this day and age. The touch detection is not as responsive or as precise as iPhone and neither is the stock keyboard or autocorrection. Is there a better keyboard than the one which ships with the GS3? Does anyone know if or when Airplay will work on it? Having an Airplay speaker in nearly every room, it would be a shame if I can’t use those. Have tried DNLA last night, but that was a bit unreliable and slow (as always). The voice detection seems to not understand names very well in comparison to Siri, but I haven’t tried adding nicknames to the contacts yet which might help.
              The gmail integration, widgets and mapping are superior to an iOS5 iPhone but you seem to need a seperate mail app for my corporate exchange account and gmail accounts, which seems unintuitive, though again, there might be a better way of doing this I’m not aware of. The one thing I wish was on the iPhone was the ability to change certain phone settings like Wifi etc from the notifications/lock screen.
              It’s been an interesting experience so far to see other ways of doing things, but overall prefer my iPhone for its usability. I know that it is probably possible to change Android to work the way I want it to, but again, I’m not sure I want to invest so much time learning about and then customising a phone/rooting it etc. rather than using it. Definitely not bashing Android with this post, I just invested £400 of my own cash to try it for myself and giving my honest observations which are of course limited to the SGS3.

        • Sperrybird

          actually, sammy sells more smartphones than apple. Also, the only reason the iphone beats out every other smartphones in terms of sales is because there’s only one iphone where everyone else including samsung sells a varied selection of phones thus diluting the sales total for each model they sell.

          • BigTexFyre

            True…

    • camcam52

      Hi Clayton !! I have one question.
      Please, really, is lg 4x screen better than the screen of htc one x ?
      I will not buy the gs3 because il has a pentile screen and i have seen the screen of htc one x. Really it is better than the screen of gs3.
      So i wish to know.

      Thank you for your answer !

      • Clayton Ljungberg

        Hello! The specs for the HTC One-X screen are almost identical:

        “Super IPS LCD2 capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors
        Size 720 x 1280 pixels, 4.7 inches (~312 ppi pixel density)”

        So spec-wise, they probably have the same quality. It is all up to preference, though!

    • http://www.facebook.com/balazs.geczy.9 Balázs Géczy

      Did you notice any problems with reception? I’ve read that it tends to lose signal from time to time.

      • Clayton Ljungberg

        I was unable to test the reception, as the phone was a UK model, and wasn’t compatible with my SIM. Sorry!

    • D1124723

      does the 4x comes with unlocked bootloader?

      • Clayton Ljungberg

        It does not, unfortunately. I began scanning forums for a root method though, and as soon as one comes up, we will cover it here!

    • http://billhay.es/ Bill Hayes

      Had LG seen fit to update my O2X to ICS by now I’d be seriously considering this. As it is… nah.

    • http://twitter.com/ahmed_a_nasir Ahmed Nasir

      I think it looks nice!

    • Alexander Garcia

      If this ever makes it to the US un-bastardized by our evil carriers, I’d definitely consider one of these bad boys. This phone is my kinda phone from the sleek industrial design to the bad-ass display.

    • jo

      I have a question I’m not too phone savvy. I was wondering if I bought an unlocked version of this phone will my sim from my iPhone 4 work with this ?? I live in the US.

    • Martin Møller

      Just bought this phone 5 days ago in Denmark, even though I was a little worried about it’s battery. I hadn’t seen any reliable battery tests at that point (and still haven’t!!!)
      Anyway It seems OK. At least in standby it only uses around 2% pr. hour, but it does seam to use quite a lot wit the screen on (obviously).
      My biggest problem is that the Danish layout in the LG-keyboard isn’t standard.
      The Scandinavian letters æ, ø, å, are placed in VERY odd places!!!!!
      In my opinion an unnecessary design choice, that makes it a pain to write on.
      But of cause only a problem if you plan to use a Scandinavian keyboard layout :-)

    • vijyay

      superb phone lg..10 out of 10..full marks amazing phone….no word for your great work…but plz improve your software update panel..becz other companies like samsung,htc or sony ericsson launch android new update as soon as possible..or you are slow in that type of issues..pls improve this..otherwise you are top in everything

    • g0rge

      Last thing I will ever do is buy another LG phone after this G2X that’s still hanging out in my pocket and still providing me about the worst technology experience I’ve had to date…monitors and televisions sure…a cell phone? never again.

    • BigTexFyre

      In the modern fight for smartphone superiority, being 3G is the kiss of death. With the current market flooded with 4G, 4G LTE, and the upcoming iPhone 5 supposedly being 4G/4G LTE, LG has shot itself in the foot by limiting its phone’s network capabilities to only 3G.

    • hoomAN

      lg is great.

    • Keven D

      Looks like a nice little machine, but like the G2X was last year, it’s not gonna last for long with LG being so bad at updating Android. If you’re lucky, you’ll get Jelly Bean, but when the next version of Android comes six months later, don’t expect this phone to get it, LG will be too busy with their future new phone to care about you. LG just doesn’t care about updating their phones, even with flagship phones, like the LG Optimus 2X was.

      Unless you change your phone every six months, avoid LG at all costs, you’ll regret it.

    • Doc

      Hi, I was just taking a look at the LG 4X HD, I haven’t looked through the thread (at work). I would really like to order the LG 4X, but didn’t know if i could use it on T-Mobile account. Is it usable in the US now?

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