Android handsets might be selling like hot cakes, but it is still rough to be an Android handset manufacturer. Android devices are a dime a dozen, with new ones being introduced almost every week. The competition is fierce, and the impact is being felt in the bottom line of Android OEMs. Apart from Samsung, pretty much every other Android manufacturer is struggling to make profits. The biggest challenge for any Android smartphone is to set itself apart from the crowd. Baring Sony and Motorola, all other big name manufacturers have jumped aboard the quad-core bandwagon (Motorola is likely to follow soon with the Atrix 3). All of the new flagships come with high definition displays having a stunning DPI. All of them have Ice Cream Sandwich. In such a situation, it is no longer sufficient to cram your flagship with the best-in-class hardware and ship with the newest edition of Android. Manufacturers are being forced to come up with innovative new features to attract consumers. While Samsung focused on augmenting its phone’s senses to help the Galaxy S3 stand out from the crowd, HTC banked on Beats Audio and ImageSense. LG also is trying to entice potential buyers by offering a few nifty enhancements to the stock experience.
The first feature worth noting in the Optimus 4X HD is QuickMemo. As the name suggests, QuickMemo is LG’s take on an instant note taking app. QuickMemo permeates throughout the interface, and is accessible pretty much everywhere. All you have to do is tap the QuickMemo button present in the notification area, and whatever you were doing will be frozen to allow you to scribble notes. Whether you are watching a video, reviewing a presentation, or surfing the web, QuickMemo can be used to annotate whatever is on the screen. Notes saved using QuickMemo are sharable over email, social networks, or MMS.
The second distinctive feature is Smart Mail, which offers a desktop-client like two-pane view in landscape mode that can come in handy when you want to go through a large number of mails quickly. In portrait mode, its UI is similar to traditional mobile apps, but it has a smart email sorting option with history view. You can dive into all past conversations with a contact with a single tap.
One app where LG is truly harnessing the power of its quad core processor is the video player. It not only supports playback of full HD (1080p) videos, but it also features pinch-to-zoom gesture for zooming into any portion of the video. On top of it, LG’s media app is also capable of slowing down or speeding up videos on the fly, and has a split-screen mode for quickly browsing through your video library. However, the handiest feature of LG’s video player is the fingertip seek feature, which displays YouTube like preview of the frame you are about to jump to.
LG has augmented the stock camera app also. Besides features like Panorama and HDR, which pretty much all of its competitors have, the Optimus 4X HD has something called Time Catch shot. When in this mode, you not only have access to the pic that you clicked, but also to 5 shots from 2-3 seconds before you snapped the picture. The idea is that you don’t have to miss out on the perfect moment just because you were a bit late to click the picture. LG is branding its unique multimedia enhancements as Media Plex.
LG is also taking a page out of Sony’s book and introducing NFC smart tags. They are calling this LG Tag+. The NFC tags can be used for changing profiles, launching apps, altering phone settings and more with a tap. The Optimus 4X will ship with two tags that can be used for switching between various profiles like Car mode and Office mode. Of course, the tags are customizable, so users can program them as they wish.
LG is also offering a host of connectivity options other than NFC. The Optimus 4x HD supports MHL (Mobile HD Link), DLNA, Wi-Fi Direct, and Bluetooth 4.0. However, the most distinctive feature is On-Screen Phone (OSP), which allows the user to access and control his phone from a PC. It works over USB, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi, and enables the user to see his phone’s screen on the PC, and to also access its full functionality. So, if you want to play the latest TegraHD game on a bigger screen, you may easily do so. You can also use this to be notified of phone calls, alarms, and SMS, while you are working on your desktop.
Other potential draws of the LG Optimus 4X are its icon customizer (use any image from the gallery as an app icon), Dolby Sound, and Gesture Zooming.
All in all, LG has put in quite some effort to offer a package that has enough nifty tricks to allow the Optimus 4X to stand out from the crowd. In the end, everything will depend on how well everything is executed, and how smartly the 4X is priced. I will follow-up with a detailed review later, but from the first hands-on the Optimus 4X appeared to be a smartphone that is at the very least capable of competing with the likes of the Galaxy S3 and One X.