The LG Optimus G Pro Is a Giant Smartphone That I Don’t Want to Send Back to AT&T

This 5.5-inch phone ticks most of the right boxes and has a $100 price tag to boot.

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Doug Aamoth / TIME

I’ve been “reviewing” the LG Optimus G Pro since early May. It’s taken so long for me to write this that the phone’s original $200 selling price has now dropped to $100 on AT&T. I don’t want to send it back, so I’ve been delaying the inevitable. If you’re reading this, though, it means I’ve hit the publish button, wiped my data off the phone and boxed it up for its trip back to AT&T’s headquarters in Dallas. We had a good run.

So, this is a phone for people with giant man-hands who are interested in the Samsung Galaxy Note II but don’t want to spend a lot of money and don’t care about not having the Note II’s signature stylus. The Optimus G Pro and Note II are both similar in size, each with a 5.5-inch screen, but LG’s offering manages to trim the side bezel just enough to make it feel more like a smartphone than a phablet.

Don’t get me wrong: It’s still a huge phone. I can’t hold it in one hand and have my thumb stretch far enough to tap the opposite upper and lower corners of the screen. And though it fits in my pants pockets, it’s not exactly comfortable if I’m riding a bike or bending over to pick something up.

In the below photo, from left to right, are the 5.5-inch LG Optimus G Pro, the 4.7-inch HTC One and the 3.5-inch iPhone 4S.

comparison

Doug Aamoth / TIME

LG has ticked all but a few of the boxes with this phone. The full-HD (1920×1080) screen is great, the touch keyboard is responsive and can be shifted to either side to accommodate one-handed typing, there’s a physical home button, there’s ample storage (32 gigabytes) with an easy-to-access expansion slot, and the quad-core Snapdragon processor handles Android with ease.

Like most phone makers, LG has lathered its own custom interface over the top of Android. I’ll duck as Android purists whip beer bottles at my head before saying that LG’s interface is actually pretty good. There are plenty of customization options, everything’s relatively intuitive and the added shine doesn’t slow the overall operation of the phone down noticeably. There are a few nice software extras as well, such as the ability to use the phone as a remote for your TV and other home entertainment equipment.

As for the phone’s so-so features, the battery is able to last through an entire day of moderate use, but heavy use wears it down more than I’d like to see with a phone this size. Also, the build quality is at best utilitarian and at worst plasticky. It’s not bad but it’s nothing to write home about. Finally, the camera takes serviceable photos, but color reproduction is a bit on the bland side and low-light images suffer. This isn’t a phone for those of you who want to get creative with your photo-taking; everyone else will find most photos turn out fine, however.

And now to the bad stuff. The speakerphone is bad. It’s arguable the phone’s worst feature. It doesn’t get loud enough and it’s very tinny. Turn the volume up all the way and it has a tendency to crackle. The positioning of the volume buttons on the phone’s left edge is too low, too. LG made way for a customizable quick-launch button to sit in the prime real estate of the upper-left corner of the phone’s bezel instead. I would have gladly taken the volume buttons higher up with the quick-launch button lower down. There’s no HDMI output either. This phone is more than powerful enough to drive content to your TV, but you’ll have to futz with DLNA settings to do so. That’s about it for the cons, though, and the phone’s $100 price tag helps ease the pain substantially.

Bottom line: If you’re looking for a giant smartphone on AT&T, the LG Optimus G Pro beats the Samsung Galaxy Note II thanks to its cheaper price and higher-resolution screen. There are almost certainly other contenders that’ll make their way to market later this year (Galaxy Note III? Something phablet-like from HTC?) but none of them will be priced at $100 out the door.

LG Optimus G Pro [AT&T]

7 comments
JeanetteGasper
JeanetteGasper

I love my big screen just wish if had signature for text messages. Anyone know how can get one added

phrancis51
phrancis51

I just bought the white version of this phone a few days ago from ATT, out of contract and unlocked for $400. I went straight to T-mobile and got a much cheaper unlimited no-contract plan with 4G LTE working just fine. I love this phone! I've been an HTC fan, with their beautiful skin,s for many years, but the limited screen size and storage on their recent offerings almost had me buying a Samsung Note 2. I'm glad I researched and found the cheaper, yet better spec'ed Optimus Pro instead. The article review is pretty spot on. I would have loved a better quality camera, no custom android skin, stylus, and different button placements, but all the other tech attributes at this price is simply awesome. Sure, the upcoming Note 3 is better, but way too expensive and while the rumored Nexus 5 might be a tad cheaper, it probably won't have a 5.5" screen and certainly won't have upgradable memory and batteries. I just wish there were more cases available for this unknown and underrated LG phablet...

mista1daful
mista1daful

after having this phone since its first week as my first non iphone in 6 yrs, i have to say this is a near perfect review. The only thing i'd change/add is that the stereo bluetooth is also a con, cant move very far away and the sound reproduction is bad (EQ apps help a bit). But other than that i love this phone. Ive added the zerolemon 9000m battery, which about doubles the thickness but i can go hard for about 48-72hrs on a full charge. Just wish i woulda waited for the price drop and the white version. Really Great Phone.

soulbrother1
soulbrother1

There should be no excuse for having a weak speakerphone!! A phone this big needs to have a good speaker.

NeilKellen
NeilKellen

The phone also features wireless charging out of the box with a compatible Qi charger,  and it sports MHL HDTV through the charging port with an inexpensive adapter.  Everyone goes on and on about the photo quality,  but I consider it an improvement over a lot of phones available today for the same price.

AKhan
AKhan

@eagle11772 @NeilKellen hihihihhi then u dont have to check this page,go and buy the NOKIA 1280 ,,very nice phone to make calls ,,cheap and best with speaking clock,,when u feel lazy to wake-up, it can give u a loud sound then u will wake-up like a jumping road hahahahah...