Hands-On: LG G Pro 2 and G2 Mini
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Feb 23, 2014, 8:39 AM by Eric M. Zeman
Here are our first impressions of the G Pro 2 and G2 Mini from LG.
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G Pro 2
LG announced the G Pro 2 earlier this month and showed it to the press at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. As the name suggests, the device is a follow up to last year's phone. Here are our impressions of LG's fabled phablet.
LG clearly put in a lot of work to give the G Pro 2 a premium look and feel. The G Pro 2 may be made of plastic, but it feels strong and the materials are of high quality. LG went with a minimalistic design, but it really works. The phone is thin and light, and the bezels are razor thin. The front of the G Pro 2 really is all screen. The I like the chrome band that circles the outer edge, it really looks classy.
Of course, it is a very large phone. The G Pro 2 is enormous in order to accommodate the 5.9-inch 1080p HD screen. LG favors in-plane switching LCDs, and the G Pro 2's truly looks fantastic. It's hard to put into works just how attractive it is. It is sharp, clean, and very bright.
There are no buttons on the front of the device because the G Pro 2 adopts the same design language seen on last year's G2. That means the buttons are on the back surface. I can't say I really like this design, but LG is going with it for its premium devices moving forward. The buttons are positioned close to the top of the back surface. There's a screen lock/power button in the middle and volume buttons above and below it. The whole assembly has a curved feel to it and it is really easy to tell which button you're pressing. There are no other buttons around the outside of the phone. The microUSB port is on the bottom and the headphone jack is on top.
LG is making a lot of hay about the new Knock Code feature. Knock Code is an evolution of KnockOn, which was first introduced on last year's G2. Knock Code lets users create one of 86,000 possible wake/unlock combinations. The code turns the screen on and unlocks it at the same time. In practice, it was very wonky. I had to repeat the sample pattern several times to get it to work. My guess is this will get easier over time, but in the few moments we spent with the phone, I found it hard to use.
The rest of the user interface is fairly typical for an LG device. LG has added several features to the camera, such as the ability to adjust focus after the fact, as well as mode shooting modes.
My first impressions of the phone are fairly positive. For people who like phablets - or really large phones - there's plenty to like. LG doesn't believe in using a stylus (like the Samsung Galaxy Note 3), but it still offers multitasking and other split-screen modes for power users. LG hasn't said when the device will come to the U.S., but it probably won't be too long before it shows up.
As the name implies, the G2 Mini is a smaller version of the G2, which is LG's current flagship smartphone. It doesn't quite live up to its name.
In order to "miniaturize" the phone, LG reduced the size of the screen from 5.2 inches to 4.7 inches. It also lowered the resolution from full HD to qHD. After spending a few moments with it, I can say that it is nice, but lacks the premium feel of the G Pro 2 and G2. It is a bit squatter and thicker, and the materials are not as nice. It found the phone easy to hold and use, but I disliked the scratchiness of the rear cover. It is a good size, though, and it might appeal to those who would rather have a smaller phone than today's behemoths.
The screen is a bit of a disappointment. I wish it were a 1080p HD display. It has one-quarter as many pixels as the G2, and it was obvious to my eyes. Still, it is very bright and colorful. LG makes good screens, and, despite the resolution, the G2 Mini's is still high quality.
The Mini has a similar design esthetic to the G2 and G Pro 2. That means there are no buttons on the front, it has a silver band circling the outside, and all the buttons are on the back. Speaking of which, the buttons are positioned close to the top of the back surface. There's a screen lock/power button in the middle and volume buttons above and below it. The whole assembly has a curved feel to it and it is really easy to tell which button you're pressing. There are no other buttons around the outside of the phone. The microUSB port is on the bottom and the headphone jack is on top.
As with the G Pro 2, the G2 Mini uses the Knock Code feature. As I said of the G Pro 2, the feature is a bit difficult to get the hang of. It didn't want to work and I had to repeat the code several times to get it to work. I would hope that over time this feature gets easier to master.
The user interface is identical to that of LG's bigger flagship phones. It runs Android 4.4 KitKat with LG's customizations on top. I found it to be very fast on the G2 Mini and didn't see any hiccups in performance in the pre-production units on hand.
LG hasn't said if or when the G2 Mini will hit the U.S., but my guess is it will arrive before summer.
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G Pro 2 is sexy.