Ever since the first Galaxy Note, 5 inch devices were coming out in all corners — but it’s very seldom that we see someone experiment with the smartphone form factor. In this case, LG tries to recreate the phablet by making the device with an aspect ratio of 4:3. Check out our full review of the LG Optimus Vu after the break.
The device feels like a direct reply to the Samsung Galaxy Note as it even features a stylus and an app for it. Can this device grab attention away from other 5-inch phones?
Design and Construction
The LG Optimus Vu, disregarding the aspect ratio of the screen, is just a beautiful device. We currently have the white version and it feels classy and high-end at all times. The chrome edges are somewhat prone to scratches, but other than that, the glass front and the material used on the back feels solid, premium and wonderful.
The device uses capacative buttons instead of on-screen buttons. For some reason, LG kept the menu button; that may be a good thing, but four capacative buttons (Multitasking, Home, Menu and Back) make the experience very cramped.
The left side of the device is clean while on the right side, you can find the volume rocker. On the top side, you can find place for the audio jack, the noise cancellation microphone, the power button, the micro USB port and a button to launch LG’s note taking app. The bottom side is clean as well; only the main microphone is there.
The power button lights up on the lock screen, while charging or during some instances. The micro USB port has a sliding cover, which is a nice addition as it maintains the flawless feel of the device.
On the back, you will see the 8 megapixel camera, LG’s logo, the speakers, the micro SIM tray and some fine print. The back features texture similar to the ones found on some other LG phones. It feels nice all-in-all, but the SIM tray might feel easy to remove at times.
The LG Optimus Vu features a 5 inch IPS LCD display with a resolution of 768×1024. Size aside, the display is breathtaking. It’s one of the best displays in terms of quality. Viewing angles were beyond acceptable, colors looked vibrant, text was extremely sharp and the screen was nothing less than responsive.
There’s one small problem however; there are black lines the surround the display (similar to the 4X HD) which makes the display feel like it’s pushed down.
The thing that differentiates this device from everything else out there is the 4:3 aspect ratio. We could not emphasize this hard enough, but the display’s size makes the device really cumbersome to hold.
I, myself, have really large hands and I still can’t operate the device with one hand.
OS, Apps and UI
Long before this review, there was a very strong hate for LG’s custom UI. Today, I can safely say that LG did a pretty good job with their skin for Android 4.0.4. Every element feels polished and smooth.
LG added their own apps such as Notebook and some other media-centric apps. Some other apps feel like bloatware when actually they’re not; you’ll just not find yourself using them. Thankfully, LG added a feature that enables you to organize your app drawer through folders.
The skin feels more like an asset than a liability. However, we can’t help but feel at times that LG took some pages from Samsung’s own UI, TouchWiz – especially with all the cartoon-like elements and functionality.
The widgets, wallpapers and all will surely make you feel at home. Not once did we think of using a home replacement app during our testing. Love it or hate it, it’s a very good skin.
Multimedia and Camera
The phone is a multimedia beast, but not without its flaws. Speakers were very loud and sound quality was above average.
The display’s aspect ratio, 4:3, can be used to several advantages and disadvantages. For example, viewing images & PowerPoint presentations along with web browsing was absolutely fulfilling. The thing feels like it can replace your tablet when it came to those.
On the other hand, video playback was quite a mess. The 5 inch display wasn’t utilized as black bars appeared everywhere while watching video.
The 8 megapixel camera on the back is quite nice. It may not rival the best cameraphones out there, but we ended up using it when we had chances.It performs very well with ample light and it generates few noise in low light conditions.
Focusing was very well too as we didn’t experience much hassle while taking shots.
Video recording was very pleasant as well. It recorded things very smoothly along with the audio. When lighting condition rapidly changes, it didn’t take much time for the camera to handle the exposure.
Performance and Benchmarks
The LG Optimus Vu raged through the benchmarks with an 11,005 for Antutu, a 4,723 for Quadrant and 47.9 for Nenamark 2. The device is powered by a Tegra 3 quad-core processor and everything went smoothly.
1 GB of RAM was sufficient for the phone, and we ended up doing a lot of tasks on this device – tasks that even high-end tablets would do.
The 5 inch phone includes a button on the top of the device to launch the quick memo feature. The button’s functionality is very much welcome and we ended up liking its convenience.
The stylus, on the other hand, is barely comfortable to hold, but it can definitely do its job. There is no other functionality offered with this device – maybe that is where the Galaxy Note can swoop in for the kill.
Another downside is that, we barely use the stylus for the main reason that the device doesn’t have a placement for the stylus. We fear that we may lose it or some sort. Without a place for the stylus, would you keep it on your pocket or your bag? That’s very inconvenient.
Connectivity and Battery
The device utilizes a micro SIM card and it never failed in connectivity as it managed to stay connected to whatever network that we connected it in. We received strong signals and it was able to connect easily too.
Battery life was quite tricky. There were times where battery could stay up for the whole day, but at instances, battery just drained so easily without even using it much.
We noticed that the probable cause for this could be the management of running applications. Every time we check the task manager, some apps happen to be left open even when you think you’ve closed it already.
The display also drains the battery most, along with heavy gaming. Battery life will greatly depend on how you use your device; it’s definitely not the best out there.
The Optimus Vu has its fair share of shortcomings, the 4:3 aspect ratio is among them. Also, the stylus was supposed to make the device unique and special — but it didn’t really turn out that way (we’re really hoping it will add value when you need to use it for sketching/drawing).
It’s a great phone with great hardware –the CPU, memory, the camera and everything else, including the design, makes the device a very strong and capable phone. However, the battery life and the odd form factor is a bit of a letdown.
Taking the Optimus Vu could be a hit or a miss, depending on the case use. The handset is available in stores for a suggested retail price of Php27,990.
LG Optimus Vu specs:
5-inch IPS display @ 768×1024, 4:3 aspect ratio
Nvidia Tegra 3 1.5GHz quad-core processor
32GB internal storage
WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, dual-band
Bluetooth 3.0 A2DP
FM radio tuner
GPS with aGPS support
8MP rear camera, LED flash
1080p video recording
1.3MP front-facing camera
2,080mAh battery (non-removable)
Android 4.0.4 ICS
90.4 x 139.6 x 8.5 mm
What we liked about it:
- Great camera and speakers
- Fast performance
- Wonderful Display
- Classy and premium construction
- Clean and functional UI
What we didn’t like about it:
- The awkward dimensions
- Not-so-functional stylus
- So-so battery life