Review Price £399.95
LG Optimus 4X HD Performance
Powered by Google's mobile operating system, the LG Optimus 4X HD runs Android V4.03, or Ice Cream Sandwich as it's also known. Of course, LG has added its own launcher over the top. This has a few neat features. For example, when you press the lock screen a circle appears around your finger and gradually increase in size as you swipe to unlock the phone. There are also quick launch buttons at the bottom of the lock screen for the dialler, messaging facilities, email client and camera and pressing and swiping on these takes you directly to the relevant application.
The homescreen is divided up into seven screens that you can add shortcuts and widgets to. There are also control buttons for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth in the notifications menu, along with a quick memo feature and the ability to quickly change the phone's sound profile. The app launcher menu has been split into three areas for apps, downloads and widgets, to make managing items you've got installed a little bit easier and you can now resize a lot of icons on the homescreen so they show more information. For example, resizing the calendar allows it to display upcoming appointments.
LG has added a number of apps to the Optimus 4X HD and on the whole these are quite useful. For example, there's Polaris Office for creating or editing work documents and LG's Smart Share app that lets you stream digital content from computers and NAS drives to the phone. It works well, and happily played 720p HD MKV files from our Iomega NAS drive to the phone without stuttering. The video looked stunning on the 4X HD's high resolution display too.
LG Optimus 4X HD Camera
In fact, this phone is a multimedia powerhouse, as long with playing back HD video files, you can also shoot in 1080p Full HD using the phone's camera. When shooting a HD video you can also have it fire off stills at the same time. Another neat trick is the Time Catch mode. When you enable this, the camera keeps buffering images to memory so when you press the shutter buttons it capture a series of images before and after you've pressed the button allowing you to choose the best ones.
However, the camera is far from perfect. The biggest issue is the autofocus. It's a bit on the slow side and sometimes just gets locked with blurred focus. When this happens you have to touch the screen to get it to refocus. This is more annoying than it sounds and makes it more troublesome to use than the iPhone 4S or S3 cameras. Video footage suffers the same problem, as the autofocus often hunts to find the right focus, ruining your video in the process. Also images aren’t quite as sharp as the shooters on the 4S or the S3, although its low light performance is probably as good as both of these.
The phone also has NFC onboard and LG includes a few spare NFC tags in the box which you can use to get the phone to automatically switch sound profiles when it's near to them. For example, you could put one on your bedside table so when the phone is sitting on the item of furniture it goes into silent mode automatically.
LG Optimus 4X HD Processor
Rather obviously, the 4X nature of the LG Optimus 4X HD's name refers to its quad-core processor. However, the phone's chip actually has five cores, which is surely the silicon equivalent of cranking it up to 11. The fifth core is actually primarily designed for battery saving duties and is clocked down to 400Mhz, as it's what the phone runs on when it's idling along. The other four cores are the power houses with each clocked at 1.5GHz. Whether you really need four cores on a phone is a moot point as at present most software isn’t written to take advantage of them and they do have a hit on battery life. Nevertheless, the Optimus is for the most part brutally fast, as its benchmark figures show.
In Sunspider it clocked up a score of 2090.ms, while in Browsermark it turned in a result of 92548. It's GPU isn’t as fast as that in the Samsung Galaxy S2 follow-on, but it still managed 51 fps in the GLbenchmark Egyptian Standard test, while on the Linpack multi-thread test it cranked out a result of 94.597.
It's very quick at rendering even more complicated sites that other phones dawdled on and apps and most other functions feel lightning quick to use. However, as with all Android phones there are maddening moments of unresponsiveness, which seems to mostly be down to the way Android is actually designed. This is an Android issue and happens on the S3 too, so we can’t make too much of a deal out of it on the 4X HD.
You'll be able to store plenty of HD videos on this phone to take advantage of that big, lush screen as there's 16GB of memory built-in, and the microSD card under the battery cover can accept cards of up to 64GB in size.
Unfortunately the huge display and mammoth processing power of the quad-core CPU have a negative impact on battery life. You'll get a day's usage out of it but not much more unless you keep the screen brightness turned down and make use of the power saving mode that LG has added into the Settings menu. The power saving mode acts a bit like the Battery Saver option on Windows Phone handsets. It lets you stop the phone from automatically syncing and turns off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth when they're not in use. However, the fact remains that it's bested by most other high-end phones when it comes to battery life.
Call quality was pretty middling too, as when it's struggling for a signal callers tend to take on a bit more of a Dalek-like quality than they do on some other phones. In stronger signal areas it's fine though.
Overall, the LG Optimus 4X HD is a very impressive phone. It's slim and light, has an excellent HD screen, super fast performance and aggressive price tag. In short there's an awful lot here to like. However, it's still far from perfect as its camera software needs work to improve the autofocus and it's battery life lags behind it's main rivals.
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