Like Man United and Man City, there's an intense rivalry between Samsung and LG. They both dominate in their native homeland of South Korea, but when it comes to smartphones all the attention has been focused on the Samsung Galaxy S3 of late, with high-end offerings from LG seemingly nowhere to be seen. Now, however, LG is looking to change all of that with the LG Optimus 4X HD. This handset seems to tick all the boxes for those after a high-end Android handset as it packs in not just a quad-core processor and large HD screen, but also has a fast 8-megapixel camera, NFC support and comes loaded with Google Android 4.0 OS, Ice Cream Sandwich.
Of course, pricing is key and its good to see that the LG Optimus 4X HD comes in a little bit lower than the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S3 and Apple iPhone 4S. You can buy it on PAYG from Carphone Warehouse (who supplied our review handset) for £399.95 or pick it up for free on a £26 a month contract, compared with the £519.95 PAYG price for the S3 or the £28 a month lowest contract option.
LG Optimus 4X HD Design
Here at TR we like premium phones to feel, well, premium and unfortunately the LG Optimus 4X HD is a few spoonfuls of caviar short of out-and-out luxury. It's quite pretty when viewed from the front as essentially all you're looking at is a big slab of glossy black with a screen in the middle. LG has sensibly kept the logo quite small and you'll find it perched just under the tiny grill for the ear piece. Beneath the screen there are the three standard Android touch buttons for back, home and menu access, all of which only light up when touched. They remain lit for a while after, but then go dark again, which is slightly annoying as with the backlighting off you can hardly see them because their outline is so faint.
Flip the phone over and you'll find that LG has used the same material on the back as it has on the LG Optimus L3 and the LG Optimus L7 handset that we've looked at previous. It's essentially plastic, but it has a slightly roughened texture that feels a bit like corrugated cardboard. On the plus side it feels quite grippy and isn't as sticky as the rubberised plastic that many manufacturers use on their battery covers. However, it looks a bit cheap and just doesn’t feel very classy, which is a shame as the twin lines of chrome beading running around the outer edge the phone do look quite bling.
There are only two physical buttons on this phone – the power/lock switch at the top, which is a bit narrow for our liking, and a longer volume rocker button on the left hand side. Thankfully the headphone jack is also top mounted and there's a micro USB port at the bottom. The phone lacks a HDMI output, but the micro USB port does support Mobile High Definition Link (MHL) so you can hook it up to an external display using the right lead, although none is supplied in the box so we couldn’t test this.
LG Optimus 4X HD Screen
The LG Optimus 4X HD is quite a large phone, mainly because it has to accommodate the big 4.7-inch screen, although to be fair it is slim at just 8.9mm thick and its feels a little bit smaller in the hand than the Samsung Galaxy S3 with its marginally larger 4.8-inch screen.
The display uses standard LCD technology rather than the AMOLED technology that Samsung has opted for on the S3. There are debates as to which is better, but for our money you currently get more accurate colours on LCD screens versus deeper black levels on AMOLED. That's by the by, because this screen looks excellent. It's got a 720p HD resolution of 1,280 × 720 pixels leading to a pixel density of 312 pixels per inch, which is actually slightly higher than Samsung's latest flagship model. As you'd expect it looks pin sharp for everything from text on websites to HD videos, and colours are beautifully rich and natural looking. It's bright too, but thanks to its quite deep black levels it never looks washed out.