Sunday, September 23, 2012

LG Electronics Insight - LG Optimus L9 and Optimus G

Samsung Insight

In this series we'll post our views on the tsunami of handsets that companies are introducing with the Christmas season in the spotlight. Everyone wants to steal a piece of the cake from the market leaders: Apple, self pleased with his iPhone 5 (or was it the 4S2?) and Samsung, with its succesful Galaxy line of smartphones.

This time we're going to talk about LG and his need of not losing the boat that his fellow Korean compatriot -Samsung- is captaining. LG Electronics is now back to the game with two aces: The Optimus L9 -a remarkable midrange offering- and the Optimus G, a beast that they have defined as the "most powerful smartphone ever build".. true? or just marketing hype?

LG Optimus L9

LG Optimus 9

A handset that joins the crowded list of mid-range smartphones with ICS 4.0.4, a proof that the companies are fighting hard to make a place on this segment, where most of the users tend to satisfy their buying needs. We already reviewed the specifications of the L9 in our IFA 2012 coverage so you might want to revisit it before going on.

In terms of overall design, the handsets reminds me of the successful Samsung Galaxy S2 and it is quite pretty (the S2 was also nice). The large 4.7 inch IPS display of the Optimus L9 makes the package quite elegant and -at the same time- offers clear images with rich detail and comfortable viewing angles.

LG has also listened to one of the major complaints from customers of any brand: the battery life. The Optimus L9 sports one of the largest batteries of the mobile industry at 2150 mAh; allowing users to enjoy the new features all day long with maximized performance while retaining its sleek design. And the battery is removable too, unlike other lazy manufacturers that use sealed batteries to cheat their customers.

The performance that we have observed in a pre-production unit is all right; the operation is snappy, the applications load fast and we have not observed major hiccups in the animations and transitions (we'll provide further details when we get a retail unit though).

In the end, we think this is a very interesting smartphone to keep an eye on if it's competitively priced (please note the price of the Optimus 4X HD, with 4 cores and similar specifications has been reduced below 400 EUR). The availability of the L9 is yet to be confirmed but it is expected to ship this fall.

LG Optimus G

LG Optimus G

Called to be the phone that LG has choosen to fight the high-end Android devices, the manufacturer has focused their efforts into making a very powerful phone, with quad-core processor at 1.5 Ghz and 2GB of RAM. This suggests that the performance will be top-notch, comparable to the Samsung Galaxy S3 and the Note II.

To gild the lily, LG equipped its flagship with LTE connectivity, a thing that sets it apart from its competitors and places it as the first quad-core smartphone with LTE technology.

As for other notable features, there is a 13Mpx rear camera and an spectacular IPS True HD+ (1280x768) display of 4.7 inch surrounded by a bezel of just 3 mm that makes it look awesome. It also sports 32GB of onboard memory, NFC and many other things you can read in our sneak peek.

Remarkably, LG also managed to fit a big removable capacity battery (2100 mAh) into this thin body which should allow for a full day of heavy smartphone usage. It definitely looks that LG wanted to focus on features just to become the king of smartphones, specifications wise.

In terms of design, I immediately fell in love with this elegant slate of just 8.45 mm thick (it is just a matter of deciding between the black or the white finish). In terms of reliability, I really hope the Optimus G will honour its flagship condition but -you know- there's always a small shadow of doubt around LG products given the experience we had in the past with other phones of this manufacturer.

There is always a big question mark around the LG smartphones, and that is the ​​software updates policy. Both handsets will launch with Android ICS (when Jelly Bean is out for some months now) and hopefuly they will be upgraded to the latest release by Google (surely they're capable enough).

This is currently the only thing that prevents me in buying a phone from LG. It is really painful waiting for the updates while other (less powerful) handsets have theirs promptly. That makes some customers feel abandoned by a manufacturer that does not care enough about customer loyalty.

LG may go the way of Sony here. The Japanese company began the same course, corrected its behaviour and now is trying to catch up with the OS updates.

In my opinion, the manufacturers should forget about developing their interface layers in an attempt to stand out from the competition. The differentiation adds very little in terms of user experience and may even adversely affect the performance of their products. Instead, they should focus on providing value added services to its customers: promptly firmware updates (as they come out of the Google labs), high quality applications, integration services with other platforms (PC, TV), etc.. features that ensure loyalty and attract customers of other companies and ecosystems (that's what Nokia is trying to achieve in its Windows Phone strategy).

If LG is willing to get rid of this blot on his name, these phones surely will sell well, disputing some sales to current Android leader, the Samsung Galaxy S3. It is expected in Korea this fall at an undisclosed price. My guess is that it will be globally available for the Christmas season. I can't wait!