Just about a month since we’ve first heard about the Optimus Vu, LG’s 5-inch phone/tablet hybrid, the device has become available in its native South Korea. With all the vaporware floating around in the Android ecosystem, it’s good to see that, occasionally, a company delivers on its promises in a timely manner.
The Optimus Vu, LG’s response to Samsung’s 5.3-inch Galaxy Note, has a slightly smaller screen that the Note, but comes in a 4:3 aspect ratio that raised many eyebrows upon its debut. Nevertheless, if you can get over the weird form factor, you’ll find that the Vu packs some decent specifications, which let it compete easily with the Note, and many other smartphones (or should I say tablets? ) available on the market.
Among the highlights of the Optimus Vu, we can note the dual-core Qualcomm SoC running at 1.5 GHz, the 1024 x 768 screen with IPS, and the 8MP rear-facing camera with LED flash and autofocusing. Nothing ground-breaking (especially after the specs we were treated with at last week’s MWC), but again nothing to disappoint. Oh, maybe there is something – the Vu ships with Android 2.3 Gingerbread, with LG’s customary assurance that Ice Cream Sandwich will eventually grace its screen – in maximum three months, that is.
Samsung managed to push a respectable 2 million units of its pen-enabled Galaxy Note since their own “weird” device start selling three months ago. Moreover, the Koreans expect to sell no less than 10 million 5.3-inch Notes this year. To size things up, Samsung sold about 20 million Galaxy S2, since they launched their flagship phone in late April, last year.
So, does the Note’s good market performance means that the public is hungry for a new class of phone-tablet crossbreed devices? Can LG capitalize on this trend to deliver a hit Optimus Vu? Needless to say, that’s probably LG’s game-plan. There’s one little problem, though – at least in Korea, the Optimus Vu is priced significantly higher than the Galaxy Note. 250 bucks higher, to be precise.
The Optimus Vu became available on Monday, from South Korea Telecom and from LG’s online store, at 999,900 won, the equivalent of $900 US, without a contract. By comparison, the Note sells in Korea for 750,000 won or $650 US. Does this mean that you can expect the Optimus Vu to cost 900 bucks in the U.S. or Europe?
There’s a strong possibility that it will cost even more. In the U.S., the Note costs $650 at AT&T without a contract. In Europe it hovers between €650 and €800 ($850 to $1050), depending on the country. Unfortunately, the Vu will probably follow the same pattern, so prepare for some serious sticker shock.
No matter how you look at it, $900 ($1200 if you live on the Old Continent) for a smartphone (or for a tablet as a matter of fact) is very expensive, considering the strong competition that the Vu will face on the Western markets. Even with subsidizing from carriers, the Optimus Vu might still be more expensive than the Samsung Galaxy Note, and even pricier than the Galaxy Nexus and other high-end devices.
Considering its size, bizarre form factor, and hefty price, can the Optimus Vu make a dent when it comes stateside later this year? What do you think?