LG G Pro 2 hands-on: 5.9-inches of premium phablety goodness
About a year ago, LG introduced its first true phablet to the world, namely the LG Optimus G Pro. It was based on the Optimus G, which was the company's flagship device at the time, but it was bigger and better in a number of ways. So now, here at MWC 2014, we were given the privilege to take the even larger LG G Pro 2 for a spin. Can you guess which LG model the handset has been inspired by? Those of you who answered "LG G2", you're absolutely correct.
So yeah, the LG G Pro 2 is, more or less, the LG G2's larger "cousin", if you will. As such, it has adopted a number of design features from the LG G2, including the unorthodox placement of the power and volume keys. These are placed on the back of the LG G Pro 2, which, theoretically, should make them easier to operate. Judging by our experience with the LG G2, the scope of this design trait is far from universal since some people just can't stand them, while others do get used to them eventually.
Buttons aside, the LG G Pro 2 is a plastic-made device with a solid, reassuring feel. The back plate sports a fine texture that feels like a very fine mesh to the touch. It doesn't scream "premium" at us, but we still like it for it provides lots of grip and keeps fingerprints away. Taking a look around its sides, the phone's 3.5-millimeter headphone jack and noise cancellation mike are on the top, along with the built-in IR blaster and a retractable TV antenna (we're pretty confident that the latter will be present solely on the South Korean model of the device).
As a whole, the LG G Pro 2 is wieldable, but operating it with a single hand is rather difficult, if not impossible. Thankfully, LG has this neat feature built into the interface – basically, it shrinks the entire display image down to a more manageable size.
LG has equipped the G Pro 2 with a gorgeous IPS LCD panel, the resolution of which is 1080 by 1920 pixels. We had just several minutes to feast our eyes upon it, but we were definitely impressed only after a few seconds spent with it. Graphics are detailed, colors are intense and eye-pleasing, brightness output seems pretty high, so overall, there's nothing for us to complain about.
Interface and functionality
Kudos to LG for shipping the G Pro 2 with the latest version of Android that is available – 4.4 KitKat. We also appreciate the ton of features that Android has been sprinkled with, courtesy of LG. Really, LG's interface is loaded to the brim with goodies, most of which we already know from the LG G2. One thing that's new, however, is the KnockCode feature, which allows one to set their own tapping pattern for unlocking the device. Basically, the phone takes into account the exact spot of your tap – that's how you build your own pattern. Patterns of up to 8 taps can be enrolled, which means that there are over 86 000 available combinations. That is why LG claims that KnockCode is more secure than Apple's Touch ID.
Another feature that feels almost mandatory in today's phablet league is the ability to multitask in real time. LG, realizing that, hasn't skimped on the functionality, and it works very well indeed -- you simply press and hold the 'Back' navigation button and a menu with supported apps will pop up. You can then drag several of those onto the screen in order to carry out several tasks at once if you have to. Another celebrated by PhoneArena feature is the fabled IR blasted, which allows you to take control of your TV, air conditioner, DVD player, and more. Lastly, swiping sideways on the software navigation bar minimizes your entire UI, and nudges it in the bottom left corner. This is extremely handy if, for whatever reason, you need to be using the 5.9-incher with just one hand.
Processor and memory
A 2.3GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800, and 3 gigs of RAM -- that's how the important part of the performance equation as to pertains to the G Pro 2 looks like. We won't beat around the bush here -- this configuration is wanting for nothing, and not even the heaviest piece of code can make it sweat. Gaming even the most exacting titles has, in the past, proved to be nothing of concern for Qualcomm's current flagship chipset, and the LG G Pro 2 didn't strike us an exception to that rule. Another area where the processor excels is browsing -- the chase is now on the desktop computer from just a few years ago, or that's at least how well the Snapdragon 800's scores in synthetic benchmarks read.
Internal storage, at 32GB with the model we handled, is spacious enough for most use case scenarios, and we even found a microSD card slot at the back, under the removable shell. It's worth pointing out, however, that we handled the Korean version of the handset, meaning that neither of these two perks will necessarily end up in the international version. That's at least how things played out with the LG G2.
It's good to see that LG isn't content sitting on top of past laurels, for it definitely could -- the camera found on the G2 was, and still is, excellent. Instead, the South Korean giant has worked even harder with the G Pro 2, and the end result is an even more impressive hardware sheet, along with a bunch of handy software goodies.
For starters, the 13-megapixel unit now touts LG's improved OIS+ technology that will hopefully get us even closer to shake-free photography than before. What's more, the snapper can now shoot in 4K resolution, for some seriously crisp footage, not to mention that LG has now joined the slow-mo bunch -- 120 FPS video capture is officially on the table. Another pretty cool-sounding feature is Natural Flash, which essentially takes two snaps in nighttime scenarios -- one with flash, and one without -- and then the software stitches parts of the two images together for a more realistic end result. We're also pretty interested in testing another cool trick -- Magic Focus -- down the line. You basically snap a picture, and then the software allows you to dynamically change the focus. Neat!
Predicting how handset will do is among the abilities one could say should number in our arsenal, seeing as we're so close to the newest in tech all the time at PhoneArea. Unfortunately, it's pretty hard to properly call how the market will react to a new handset, as the variables are just too many.
In the LG G Pro 2 we see the LG G2 perfected, and that's saying something. But the truth is that despite our positive experience with the LG G2, it didn't quite manage the sales we expected. Whether that's because LG's brand cache is still rather empty, or because the company wasn't aggressive enough with marketing the device, is hard to call. We feel that the same kind of scenario could play out with the G Pro 2 -- an ultimately great device, but one that doesn't neccessarily translate into a smashing commercial success.