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LG has an ongoing smartphone downside: regardless of a few valiant efforts (the G2x involves mind) the company continues to reside in the shadow of rival Samsung. Most of this malaise could be attributed to hit-and-miss hardware combined with lackluster software (we're looking at you, Spectrum). Final February, at Cell World Congress, LG spiced issues up with a lovely collection of devices together with the Optimus L7, Optimus Vu and Optimus 4X HD -- the latter being one of the primary quad-core handsets introduced. Now, six months later, we stay in a world the place the worldwide versions of HTC's One X and Samsung's Galaxy S III dominate the superphone market and share the quad-core crown. With me-too options like a Tegra three processor, 4.7-inch HD display, 8-megapixel digicam and Ice Cream Sandwich on board, the Optimus 4X HD seems ready to play in the big leagues. Does it succeed or is it only a flash within the pan? Is it all fashion over substance or does it deliver one thing unique and meaningful to the table? If Samsung's Galaxy S III occupies the curved, organic, pebble-like finish of the design spectrum, LG's Optimus 4X HD is the polar reverse -- angular, manufactured, slab-like. With this handset, it is simple to assume that LG's skating where the puck used to be (the squarish Galaxy S II) until you discover the household resemblance -- the Optimus L7 and Optimus Vu share the identical aesthetic. As with the One X, there's one thing immediately likeable in regards to the 4X HD's proportions. The place the Galaxy S III's graceful traces take some time to grow on you (the white one being our favourite), LG's quad-core Optimus grabs your attention from the onset. Our white assessment unit (it's also obtainable in black) is particularly placing -- this is a safe, but elegant design, the type of cellphone you'd anticipate James Bond to accessorize his tuxedo with. Build quality is stable, with no flexing or creaks but the One X's machined, polycarbonate unibody still trumps the Korean competitors -- like the Galaxy S III, the 4X HD's plastics feel and look a bit low-cost for a flagship. It is the form of phone you'd count on James Bond to accessorize his tuxedo with. In entrance, the Optimus 4X HD is all Gorilla glass. A white bezel surrounds the 4.7-inch display, interrupted solely by three backlit, capacitive buttons at the bottom and the proximity sensor, earpiece, LG brand and 1.2-megapixel front-facing shooter up top. That silver LG logo seems like an afterthought right below the earpiece's tastefully recessed white mesh grille. It is worth noting that those capacitive keys are invisible till backlit and difficult to see in shiny sunlight so you will must memorize the order: back, home and menu (from left to proper). Yes, like Samsung with the Galaxy S III, LG's clinging on to some vestigial menu button instead of rightfully offering a recent apps key. Whereas an extended press of the home button brings up the current apps list, the 4X HD's key format is the exact reverse of the Galaxy S III's. Why is it that, two Android variations beyond Gingerbread, manufacturers still can't agree on button placement? Here is a hint Samsung and LG: Ice Cream Sandwich and Jelly Bean already provide a typical key layout -- use it. Flip the Optimus 4X HD over and you're greeted by a vast, white, textured and removable plastic back cowl adorned with an 8-megapixel autofocus digital camera mounted in a flush, machined aluminum pod and flanked by a single LED flash (top left), one other LG brand (embossed and centered beneath) and two horizontal slits covering the mono speaker (backside left). Like with the earpiece on the entrance, the attention to element and the match and finish are spectacular. The battery door's edges are beveled and contribute to about half of the handset's 8.9mm (0.35-inch) thickness, making the 4X HD extremely comfortable to hold regardless of its chiseled build. Talking of thickness, it isn't the one measurement that is on par with the competition -- at 141g (4.97 ounces) and 132 x 68mm (5.2 x 2.Sixty eight inches), weight and footprint are additionally related. Pop the back cowl off and you will find an NFC antenna embedded in the again of the door, with matching contacts on the phone subsequent to the standard SIM holder and microSD card slot above the removable 2,150mAh Li-Ion battery. The battery door's edges are beveled and contribute to half of the handset's thickness. What's left of the sides of the Optimus 4X HD -- the flat half that is not part of the beveled back cover -- is delimited by two chromed-plastic rims, one following the edge of the front glass, the opposite meeting the seam of the battery door. This white plastic area is host to numerous connectors and buttons: a normal 3.5mm headphone jack, secondary mic and energy/lock key on high; a micro-USB / MHL port, primary mic at the bottom; a quantity rocker on the left; and nothing on the fitting. Here once more, LG reveals impeccable craftsmanship, with a delicate, recessed, pyramid-like pattern adorning the white plastic left and right sides, and the volume rocker protruding simply sufficient to be situated by feel. Sadly, the Optimus 4X HD's "True HD IPS" capacitive touchscreen falls short of the One X's phenomenal Super LCD 2 and the Galaxy S III's good Super AMOLED displays. It is definitely a high quality 4.7-inch, 1,280x720-pixel panel in its personal proper -- non-PenTile and vibrant, with deep blacks, natural colors and respectable viewing angles. The issue is glare, particularly in direct sunlight and when looking on the display screen from vertical angles greater than 30 levels. We suspect that this is the results of the display not being bonded to the entrance glass -- a obvious omission (pun meant). This deficiency can considerably be overcome by boosting the display brightness, but at the expense of battery life, of course. The problem with the display is glare, especially in direct sunlight. Spec-sensible, the Optimus 4X HD ticks just about every superphone checkbox aside from LTE -- but hey, that's what LG's Optimus LTE II is for, proper? 21Mbps (850 / 900 / 1900 / 2100MHz) plus quadband EDGE (850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900MHz) unlocked radios, WiFi b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0 LE, GPS / AGPS and NFC. Virtually talking, this implies you'll benefit from the 4X HD nearly anyplace in the world except on AWS 3G networks like T-Mobile in the US and Wind in Canada (we used an AT&T SIM without any points). Whereas the microSD card slot may be mounted as a USB mass storage device, the only solution to entry the 16GB of internal flash is through MTP or PTP. The usual array of sensors tops off the features record, together with ambient mild, proximity, compass, accelerometer and gyroscope. Unfortunately, there is not any notification LED. The 4X HD feels snappy across the board. From the moment we put our mitts on the Optimus 4X HD, it was clear that this handset isn't any slouch. That is to be anticipated, considering the athletic Tegra three chip hiding within. Still, LG has a historical past of riddling its high-notch hardware with sub-par software program. Thankfully, the company's mild Ice Cream Sandwich customizations have kept the inventory performance (and expertise) mostly intact. The 4X HD feels snappy throughout the board, as confirmed by our suite of benchmarks. Radio efficiency matched our expectations, with no issues to report. Calls sounded loud and clear in our tests, and noise cancellation labored notably well. The constructed-in speaker is somewhat tinny sounding, but will get the job executed. US' largest GSM provider. Battery life, nonetheless, is less stellar. In our standard rundown take a look at, the place we start with a full cost and play a video in a loop with the show brightness and volume set to half, a 75 percent or better 3G signal, WiFi and GPS enabled however disconnected, and Bluetooth disabled, the Optimus 4X HD's 2,150mAh battery lasted six hours and 21 minutes. That's on the decrease finish of the spectrum when in comparison with the present crop of excessive-finish Android phones. Also, while this result's similar to what we observed with the Tegra 3-geared up One X, HTC's flagship solely packs a 1,800mAh cell. We managed to get about 14 hours of moderate use from the 4X HD -- that is checking email and social networks, occasional calling and texting, taking a few pictures and mild web browsing. This implies most folk might be in a position to use LG's quad-core Optimus for an entire day on a full cost but energy users will possible want to convey a charger. Getting the digicam to concentrate on something but the center of the frame is an train in frustration. The Optimus 4X HD camera is a blended bag. Whereas there's nothing flawed with the hardware -- a modern 8-megapixel backside-illuminated sensor and autofocus lens paired with a single LED flash and able to recording HD video at 1080p -- the software program is flawed. There's really no downside with the person interface, which is complete and intuitive. Our gripe comes from an autofocus strategy which offers zero flexibility. The shooter is continually re-focusing but there's completely no way to forestall this. There isn't any devoted two-stage camera key, no method of touching and holding the on-display screen shutter button to lock focus and exposure then releasing it to take the shot. Even contact-to-focus is damaged, focusing only briefly where you point however then returning to that steady focus leitmotif before you even have a chance to snap the image. Evidently, getting the digicam to concentrate on something but the middle of the body is an exercise in patience and frustration. It's too dangerous, actually, as a result of the ensuing shots are fairly lovely. Colours are perhaps somewhat delicate however white balance and exposure are pretty correct. Low mild efficiency is respectable sufficient -- noise only rears its ugly head in the most excessive of circumstances. The Optimus 4X HD features HDR, panorama and burst modes, the latter capturing about 4 to 5 frames per second however restricted to VGA decision. On the subject of transferring pictures, the 4X HD records 1080p HD video at 30fps with steady autofocus and mono audio. Picture and sound high quality are certainly wonderful for content material encoded at 10Mbps -- there's some excess sharpening and extra autofocus hunting than we're comfy with, however nothing that cannot be remedied with a software update. Because it presently stands, LG's quad-core Optimus falls in need of the Galaxy S III and One X in the camera division, but there's nonetheless some untapped potential. This UI is ahead of anything we have ever sampled from LG. We were pleasantly stunned with LG's UI 3.0 pores and skin running on high of Ice Cream Sandwich once we reviewed the Optimus L7 recently and we're blissful to report that the Optimus 4X HD follows suit. Billing itself as "unobtrusive and simple", this newest UI is leaps and bounds forward of anything we have ever sampled from LG before -- each when it comes to experience and performance. What you are getting then is mostly inventory Android 4.0.3 with a few embellishments -- some actually useful, others purely cosmetic. The fast settings menu within the notifications tray is definitely a worthy function. By default it permits you to access the QuickMemo app (used to annotate what's on the display screen and save the result as an image, Galaxy Be aware model), switch sound profiles, allow / disable WiFi and switch Bluetooth on / off. Of course it is fully configurable with a number of other settings to choose from, resembling airplane mode, GPS, NFC and hotspot. Also useful are the 4 customizable fast-access apps on the lock screen. The launcher adds a number of tweaks, including some harking back to CyanogenMod (the 5x6 app grid possibility) and our favorite -- the power to create folders in the app tray by merely dragging and dropping apps. Oh, and 5 apps will be packed within the dock, up from the default 4. On the more cosmetic finish of things, you're in a position to pick out totally different transition effects for the home display screen and one in every of five clock widgets for the lock screen. On the subject of pre-installed apps, LG's stored muddle to a minimal. Take into account that our overview unit is being sold unsubsidized -- provider versions will possible feature additional bundled apps. Yahoo!'s Finance, Information and Weather apps also come pre-loaded, along with Polaris Workplace. Solely a few of these apps may be uninstalled, however all of them can be disabled. You'll find much more info about UI 3.Zero in our Optimus L7 review. It's clear that with the Optimus 4X HD LG's trying to step things up a notch and break away from an embarrassing string of forgettable smartphones. From a design standpoint it's a success -- the 4X HD is refined and well-crafted, with great attention to element. At this worth level (€490 / $590) we'd desire fancier materials, but this additionally applies to Samsung's Galaxy S III. Spec-smart it matches the invoice, a minimum of on paper. The display, whereas better than most, misses the mark when in comparison with the screen on HTC's One X, mostly resulting from excess glare. Battery life is a little underwhelming as well, regardless of the generous 2,150mAh cell. Lastly, we might like to see a software replace to unleash the digital camera's full potential, especially with regards to the autofocus. Regardless of these limitations, the Optimus 4X HD packs a severe punch by way of efficiency -- it runs one of the quickest and least offensive Ice Cream Sandwich skins we've encountered up to now. Ultimately, LG's flagship may not have toppled Samsung's Galaxy S III and HTC's One X from the quad-core throne, but it is positively made it to the royal court. All merchandise really helpful by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our mum or dad company. A few of our tales embody affiliate hyperlinks. If you buy one thing by means of one of those hyperlinks, we might earn an affiliate commission.

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