Samsung Galaxy S3 vs LG Optimus 4X HD – head to head comparison [video]

June 18, 2012
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The Galaxy S3’s presence is currently being felt throughout the world. With the S3, Samsung has easily produced one of the hottest smartphones to ever hit the market. Destined to shine, the Galaxy S3 bears the specs that help it handily beat out nearly any phone on the market. But, despite its prowess, Samsung’s superphone is facing some top-notch competition. Competitor HTC, with their One series phones, obviously aims to steal the spotlight from the Galaxy S3. But, who would expect the not-so-prominent LG to throw a quad-core behemoth into the mix? One that gives Sammy a run for their money, at that!

Not yet slated for a U.S. release, the LG Optimus 4X HD has been shaking up European and Asian markets for a few weeks now, and is waiting to make a stir in the West. LG’s beast of a phone produces no grey area, people usually love it, or they hate it. Personal preference aside – the LG stands up to the GS3 in almost every single aspect of hardware and software.

Price and Availability

The Samsung GS3 is available for $699.00 unlocked, and will also be shipping in carrier variants in the next month . The LG Optimus is available on the European market for a firm $733.00, and is pending release in the US and other markets.

Hardware

The second you lay eyes on each phone it is obvious that their makers have spent some quality time perfecting the design of each.  The build quality is unmatched in both the LG and the GS3. Each device feels solid and strong in the palm of your hand. Each of these devices are garnished with silver/chrome accents and look extremely attractive.

Spec Comparison

Spec wise, both devices are remarkably similar, except in a few notable areas, like the display technology, and the SoC (processor) they use. In terms of the most obvious difference, that would definitely have to be the display. Samsung is well known for its AMOLED displays, and, while quite popular, tend to offer images and video that are more saturated in nature, than that of LG’s IPS-LCD.

The Galaxy S3

  • Quad Core 1.4GHz Cortex A9 processor
  • 4.8” super AMOLED display with 1280×720 resolution, at 306 pixels per inch.
  • 8MP rear facing camera with 1080p video capture, and a 1.9mp front facing camera with 720p HD video.
  • 2100mAh battery

The LG Optimus 4X HD

  • Quad Core 1.5GHz NVIDIA Tegra 3 processor
  • 4.7” True HD-IPS display with 720×1280 resolution, and 312 pixels per inch.
  • 8mp rear facing camera with 1080p video capture, and a 1.3mp front facing camera with 720p HD video.
  • 2150mAh battery

Software

Each device is running Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. On top of ICS, Samsung has overlaid their TouchWiz user interface. LG has done the same with their Optimus 3.0 overlay. Each overlay is fairly intuitive, despite many users’ wish for a vanilla Android experience. The hardware of each phone makes for a buttery smooth software experience, and gives users access to features that otherwise wouldn’t be available.

UI comparisons

I found that folder access and creation was much easier on the LG Optimus 4X HD. Folders, when created on the GS3, require the user to drag an icon to the bottom of the screen, rather than over the top of another icon, like on the LG. Both devices feature rather obtrusive ways of opening folders. Dimming the rest of the screen around the folder makes the folders feel out of the way.

The LG also give easy access to screen brightness right from the notification menu. Whereas the Galaxy S3 has no master brightness control, the brightness must be changed on a per-program basis.

For example, when on the homescreen, brightness may be set to full, but upon opening the web browser the user must access the menu to set the specific brightness for the browser. This makes for a rather tedious experience, in my opinion. The Optimus also has a QuickMemo feature, where the user can instantly draw on the screen at any time. LG also has implemented their LG Tag NFC client, which allows users to program NFC tags, much like Samsung’s upcoming TecTiles. The S3 has the advantage of being preloaded with apps like S-Voice, which is a native voice control app. LG has none. The Galaxy also bears the Smart Stay feature, where the phone monitors the user’s actions, and turns off the screen if the user is no longer looking at it. Controls such as the screenshot utility are heavily gesture-based on the Galaxy S3, making for a more simple, intuitive experience.

Camera

Each device is packing an 8mp front facing camera. The options are pretty similar, but the focus options on the GS3 take the cake, and both LG and Samsung offer HDR options here, too.

Here are some test shots with each device.

Speed and Performance

The blazing fast quad core chips provide an almost identical user experience when using the phones for basic tasks. It is when we benchmark that differences are seen in performance.

Make no mistake though – both devices represent the absolute pinnacle of performance on a mobile device of this nature. Operation is ridiculously smooth across the board, and I was not able to make either stutter under even absolutely ridiculous loads.

Battery Life

The LG Optimus has a slightly larger batter with 2150 mAh. Each phone has power saving functionality as well as battery management options. Each device is very capable of keeping charge for 24 hours with moderate-to-heavy use.

Display

Some smartphone users swear by HD-IPS displays, and others loyally support Amoled displays. Purists tend to favor the true IPS, as it provides optimal vertical viewing angles, and colors more “true” to thier source. Amoled displays provide more rich dark tones, as the pixels actually turn off, instead of displaying the color black. Here is a test image between the two devices, with each devices’ brightness on full.

Video

To see each device in action check out our comprehensive review video here

Wrap up

All in all, each device is extremely capable and will outperform most users needs. The Galaxy S3 is a humongous hit, and will probably sweep the U.S. market, unlike the LG. Only time will tell if the LG Optimus 4X HD will make an multinational appearance, and only personal preference can lead you to buying one or the other. Which one takes your pick? S3 for the win with its HD AMOLED display, or LG with its IPS-LCD and industrial design? Let us know in the comments below, and we’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have.

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