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printed October 21, 2014
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Review: LG Optimus G for Sprint

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Media

The Optimus G doesn't stray beyond the native Google media applications. The ultra-simple MP3 app is on board, as is the simple video playback app. These are joined by the Google Play Store, Play Music, Play Movies, and Play Books apps. The Store is a fine place to discover and download all sorts of content, ranging from apps to tunes to movies and so on. Each of the separate apps is then used to playback that specific content. The native YouTube app is also included.

One thing that's cool is an app called SmartShare. This app makes use of the DLNA powers on board the G to ease the pain of connecting with and sharing content to HDTVs and other DLNA-compatible equipment. I found the app intuitive to use and managed to pair the G to my TV set with no trouble.

 

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Camera

The Optimus G may have a 13-megapixel camera, and uses a layout similar to what many other Android phones do with respect to the controls.

If you're the point-and-shoot type, just use the big shutter button in the right side of the screen (there's no physical camera button). You can also easily jump to the video camera, user-facing camera, and video camera from these controls.

The left side of the viewfinder is where all the advanced controls are. In other words, if you fancy yourself an artiste and want to ensure the best shot possible, these are the buttons you'll need to press in order to fine-tune the camera. The G offers plenty of cool features, including panorama, HDR, continuous shot, "Cheese shutter" (predetermined voice commands make the shutter fire), and a Time Catch shot mode for timed bursts.

These tools all work as expected, though I thought the HDR capture mode was a bit slow when compared to other devices. The Time Catch mode is tricky to learn. It is essentially a tool for taking five successive shots so you can pick the best one. It's probably a good tool to use when taking pictures of kids who won't sit still. It takes a few tries to figure out how best to time it.

The rest of the controls (exposure, ISO, white balance, etc.) are easy enough for any old zombie to figure out.

Oh, and the G's camera flies. Absolutely nothing slows down the performance of this camera. It is as fast a camera as I've ever seen on a cell phone.

 

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Photos

The Sprint G boasts 13 megapixels, which is about as many as we've seen stuffed into a smartphone. Sadly, this is a case where more pixels doesn't mean higher-quality photos. The images I captured with the Sprint G were good, but they were not great. The smaller 8-megapixel sensor in the AT&T version of the G produces visibly superior shots when compared directly to those taken with the Sprint version.

The biggest problem I saw was focus, or the lack thereof. Images captured with the Sprint G were softer than those taken with the AT&T G. There was also less contrast and it wasn't as good in low-light situations. Exposure and white balance were fine, though.

The 13-megapixel shooter works, no doubt, and will still make plenty of people happy. But when pitted head-to-head with LG's own (lower-resolution) device on a competing network, it comes up a bit short.

 

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Video

I could not tell any difference between the video quality of the Sprint G versus the AT&T G. Both were clear, exposed properly, and showed accurate colors. The videos were a bit shaky-looking when shot at 1080p HD, but you can dial the resolution down to get a smoother look. When shooting in 1080p, you want to be as still as possible. Drop the resolution to 720p and the results improve dramatically when panning the G around.



Gallery

The G use the stock Android 4.0 gallery app. It's a fine app for controlling your photos. I find it really easy to share pictures via this gallery app to pretty much any social network you want to, and managing your separate photo libraries is a snap.

Rotate and crop editing features can be accessed from the main gallery view. If you want to do more than that, you have to load an included secondary editing app (happens automatically) that lets you adjust color, apply filters, reduce red-eye, and other fine-tuning type improvements. The editing features are nice to have and can make a questionable photo a usable photo. There is also a simple video editing tool that lets you stitch together separate video clips into a longer clip. I thought it was self explanatory and easy to figure out.

 

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Apps

There are 53 apps pre-installed on the Sprint version of the Optimus G. Most of them are Android apps, but a fair share are Sprint apps. Of course the Google Play Store is available for downloading more apps, and the Sprint Zone is also on board if you care to wade through apps preselected for you by Sprint. Most of the preloaded apps cannot be deleted, but there's more than enough room on board the G for your own.

 

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Bluetooth

The G's Bluetooth 4.0 radio worked perfectly. I had no trouble pairing it with a half dozen different devices. Most importantly, I had a great phone call with my brother when paired with my car's hands-free system. His voice was loud and clear through the stereo system. Music worked well, too, via Bluetooth headphones.

Browser

The G has both the standard Android browser installed and Chrome. Whichever of the two included browsers you choose, the G does well as a browsing device over Sprint's 3G network. Despite the limitations of Sprint’s 3G network, the G was a relatively zippy browser of the interwebz via both the stock Android browser and Chrome, both of which do a fine job of rendering web pages.

 

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Clock

Out of the box, the G offers the same lock screen clock performance that most other Android devices do. There's a white digital clock on the home screen that can/cannot be seen easily on light wallpaper.

HOWEVER, the G lets you sub in a massive digital clock that is so large it can be read from the moon. It's seriously awesome. Way to go, LG.

 

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GPS

Google Maps is the only mapping software pre-installed on the G. If that's all you ever use, you'll be fine. It is a capable piece of software for discovering local points of interest and routing directions to them. As far as the GPS radio is concerned, it is quick to locate and accurate. I found that it pegged me in about 10 seconds and to within 10 feet. Pair these with the ultra-fast performance of the G's quad-core processor, and you have an excellent navigation device in the Optimus G.

QuickMemo

The Optimus G also includes the QuickMemo app. QuickMemo lets users capture a screenshot and then open it in the Notebook app. The Notebook app lets you scribble on the screenshot with various pen styles and in various colors. You can add your own scrawled text, or insert actual typed messages. You can erase the notes and leave the background unaffected. You can attach additional content, such as photos or videos, and send them all together as a package via email, SMS, Google+, Picasa and so on. QuickMemo on the G is hindered somewhat by the lack of a stylus, however.

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