Xiaomi Redmi 1S Review

A few months back, the name Xiaomi would have drawn blank stares from most Indian consumers. However, the ‘Apple of China’ has become the darling of India thanks to its superbly priced devices. The Redmi 1S was launched in India less than a month back, and has been selling out in a matter of seconds every week. On paper, the Redmi 1S appears to be a stunning bargain. A Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 powered smartphone with HD display and 8 mega-pixel camera at just ₹ 6000 is a steal. However, specs can often be deceptive. What matters in the end is its real life performance. Read on to find out if the Redmi 1S is as good as it seems.

Appearance, Display, and Battery

I normally don’t pay a lot of attention to the packaging, but Redmi deserves a special mention due to two things – both good and bad. On a positive note, the box is compact and well designed, is eco-friendly, and feels premium. However, unlike most other smartphones, the Redmi 1S doesn’t ship with an earphone. I don’t consider this to be a big deal, as most bundled earphones sound worse than something you can buy separately for less than ₹ 500. But, the omission of such a standard accessory can unpleasantly surprise some buyers.

Xiaomi Redmi 1S -  Box
Xiaomi Redmi 1S – Box

At this price point, functional design is what you should expect, and the Redmi 1S delivers on that front. It doesn’t have the sleek curves of the premium droids, but it is not ugly by any means. The plastic rear cover has a nice lustrous appearance, but is a smudge magnet. Smudge is a problem with the front too, which sports a 4.7’’ HD (720p) display with capacitive buttons accented in red. The LED indicator is placed just beneath the Home button. The Redmi has pretty wide bezels, which adds to its dimensions. At 137 x 69 x 9.9 mm it’s only slightly smaller than the Mi3 or the Mi4. It’s also fairly heavy, weighing in at 158 g. However, the overall build quality is pretty solid, and it avoids looking like a brick. In fact, the Redmi 1S looks quite better than a lot of the other phones in this price range.

Xiaomi Redmi 1S -  Front View
Xiaomi Redmi 1S – Front View

The 4.7-inch IPS display has a pixel density of 312 ppi, which is excellent for a low-end phone. Colour reproduction is on the saturated side, but contrast and brightness are good. However, the glass panel is highly reflective, and hampers outdoor visibility. Even at maximum brightness it can be challenging to read text under the sun.

Xiaomi Redmi 1S -  Back View
Xiaomi Redmi 1S – Back View
Xiaomi Redmi 1S -  Side View
Xiaomi Redmi 1S – Side View
Xiaomi Redmi 1S -  Battery
Xiaomi Redmi 1S – Battery

The Redmi’s back panel covers an eye-popping red coloured 2000 mAh battery, which is user replaceable. MiUi has a reputation of being a battery eater, but the Redmi still manages to last through the day with moderate usage.

Hardware

The hardware of a budget phone is always a delicate balancing act. The manufacturer has to make the right compromises to make sure that the end product still performs satisfactorily. The Redmi 1S is powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 400 MSM8228 chipset, which houses a Quad-core 1.6 GHz Cortex-A7 CPU and Adreno 305 GPU. This almost the same unit as in the more expensive Moto G (actually Redmi is clocked slightly higher). However, synthetic benchmarks suggest that the Redmi is actually slightly slower than the Moto G. This might be due to the older version of Android, as well as the custom MiUi skin. The Redmi 1S has 1 GB of RAM, which sounds decent enough, but MiUi is a memory hog, which eats up a major chunk of the available memory. In fact, the Redmi failed to execute the Vellamo multicore test due to insufficient memory.

Xiaomi Redmi 1S - Benchmark (AnTuTu)
Xiaomi Redmi 1S – Benchmark (AnTuTu)
Xiaomi Redmi 1S - Benchmark (Ice Storm)
Xiaomi Redmi 1S – Benchmark (Ice Storm)

There are also reports on MiUi forums that the Redmi can get uncomfortably hot. While the Redmi did become warm after ten to fifteen minutes of usage, it was not astoundingly hot. The plastic at the back doesn’t seem to be a very good insulator, which does amplify the issue a bit, but the front didn’t get any hotter than I’ve experienced an LG G3 or an Xperia Z2 get. Perhaps Xiaomi could have done a better job with the heat dissipation due to the larger housing available to it.

Xiaomi Redmi 1S - CPUZ
Xiaomi Redmi 1S – CPUZ

A budget smartphone is not expected to be a brilliant gaming device. However, it’s always nice if it can handle some casual gaming. I played Angry Bird Stella for extended periods of time, and the Redmi had no problems. However, things were a bit different with Gameloft’s Spiderman Unlimited. The Redmi started off smoothly, but after about fifteen to twenty minutes of gaming, began to stutter randomly, leading to a really frustrating experience. Once the Redmi gets hot, it throttles the CPU, and performance can suffer noticeably. This is something I didn’t experience with the Moto G. In spite of having slightly better specs than the Moto G, the Redmi 1S doesn’t perform as well in the real world. However, to be honest, if you ignore gaming, the overall experience is pretty smooth. You will experience an occasional lag, but it’s not frequent enough to become annoying. The device has 8 GB of internal memory, out of which only four and a half gigs is available to the user. That space can fill up pretty soon if you install a lot of apps, and that’s definitely going to have an impact on the performance. There is also no easy way to move apps to the SD card on MiUi.

Xiaomi Redmi 1S - Available Storage
Xiaomi Redmi 1S – Available Storage

There is no 4G or NFC, but the Redmi 1S supports Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Wi-Fi Direct, Bluetooth 4.0 (including low energy mode), and USB on the go. One surprising issue that I faced with the Redmi is with the GPS sensor. On several occasions, it had trouble accurately pin pointing my location.

Software

Software is undoubtedly the most unique aspect of Xiaomi phones. Redmi ships with MiUi 5, which is based on Android 4.3 (Jelly Bean). MiUi 6 (KitKat) has been announced, but Redmi users might not get it before next year (beta testing is slated to begin towards the end of this year). I’m not a big fan of the MiUi launcher, which gets rid of the app drawer, and instead puts all your apps on the home screen. But, I love most of the other stuff about the UI. In fact, even the home screen that I tend to quickly replace also has its redeeming aspects. Moving apps between screens is remarkably easy thanks to the ‘Move Apps’ feature which allows you to select multiple apps and then swipe to the screen you wish to place them in. You can even shake your phone to automatically organize your icons.

Xiaomi Redmi 1S - Home
Xiaomi Redmi 1S – Home

MiUi is vibrant and colourful, with nice subtle transitions and effects. There are tons of themes, which change everything from wallpaper and ringtones to lockscreen and notification bar. However, MiUI’s enhancements are not just skin deep. There are numerous additional features and apps that you’ll begin to appreciate as you spend time with the device. In fact, there are so many small enhancements littered across the user interface that it is impossible to over them all in this review. However, I’ll be quickly going through some of my favourite aspects.

Xiaomi Redmi 1S -  Permissions Manager
Xiaomi Redmi 1S – Permissions Manager
Xiaomi Redmi 1S -  Privacy
Xiaomi Redmi 1S – Privacy

Although Redmi was in the news last month due to allegations of data theft, MiUi actually offers excellent security features out of the box. Permission Manager lets you know when an App tries to request a potentially dangerous permission. Spam filter, antivirus, and firewall is also built in. There’s also a Blacklist to block people you want to avoid, a bandwidth monitor to keep track of your data usage, and a disk cleaner to reclaim free space.

Xiaomi Redmi 1S - Security
Xiaomi Redmi 1S – Security
Xiaomi Redmi 1S - Security Scan Results
Xiaomi Redmi 1S – Security Scan Results
Xiaomi Redmi 1S - Bandwidth Meter
Xiaomi Redmi 1S – Bandwidth Meter

The music app has several tricks up its sleeve, including automatically downloading and applying album arts, fetching synchronized lyrics, and playing songs from the Billboard Top 100. You can also tap on circle in the lockscreen icons to control the music (Play, Previous, Next) without unlocking the phone. While you are on the lockscreen, you can also long press the Home button to turn on the flashlight.

There are tons of customization options, and you can change tons of stuff like LED notifications and what long pressing each of the capacitive buttons does, without needing to root your phone.

Xiaomi Redmi 1S -  Quick Settings
Xiaomi Redmi 1S – Quick Settings

Xiaomi also provides a full-fledged backup option powered by Mi Cloud, which can sync everything including Contacts, SMS, pictures, Call Log, Notes, and Wi-Fi Settings.
The Redmi’s battery life is pretty decent, but you can give it a further boost with the Power Management app. This app features three pre-set modes – Default, Marathon, and Sleep. The Marathon mode disables data, which sleep mode disables pretty much everything other than the alarm clock. If that sounds too extreme, you can create your own configuration, and program it to be automatically applied when the battery falls below a certain threshold.

Xiaomi Redmi 1S - Power Options
Xiaomi Redmi 1S – Power Options

If you prefer to keep things simple, then there’s also a Lite mode, which gets rid of all the customizations and settings. Instead, you will get a page with big icons giving you access to the most important apps and contacts.

Multimedia

The Redmi 1S sports an 8 mega-pixel rear camera, and a 1.6 mega-pixel front camera. Under proper lighting, the Redmi 1S performs commendably when it comes to imaging. The auto-focus works well, and the images have good detail and colour balance. However, things go downhill under low light. Very little detail is preserved, and the amount of noise is simply too high. Even HDR doesn’t seem to be of much help. The LED flash almost always ends up overexposing the picture. Video is captured at 1080p, and once again, under proper conditions, the Redmi performs really well. I didn’t witness any frame rate drops, and the amount of detail rendered is impressive.

Uncompressed Redmi 1S Camera Samples

The camera app itself might seem simple at first. However, if you want to have more manual control, you can simply enable Advanced mode to get access to the various settings.

Xiaomi Redmi 1S - Camera UI
Xiaomi Redmi 1S – Camera UI

On the whole, the Redmi’s camera performs quite well and is better than what you would expect from a budget phone.

Conclusion

The Xiaomi Redmi 1S doesn’t quite live up to its specifications. It tends to get heated quickly, which hurts the performance. MiUi also has its own disadvantages, including high memory usage, and an older Android version. However, the OS itself is updated every week, and brings with it tons of cool features. The camera is great for the budget segment, and the display is also better than what you would get in a lot of other similarly priced phones. Don’t expect too much from your Redmi, and you will be a happy buyer. The phone offers a pretty compelling package at just ₹ 6,000. As always, there are compromises. But, the compromises don’t get in the way of having an enjoyable experience with the device.

LG G3 Review

LG has come a long way since its initial clunky Optimus handsets. The first two flagships in the G series did a lot to improve consumer perception about LG smartphones. It didn’t hurt that Google also placed faith in LG and assigned it the responsibility of developing the Nexus devices. The Korean electronics giant is going all out with the new G3. Launched and promoted by Amitabh Bachchan, it certainly has the specs to turn heads. But, how does it perform in real life? Did LG bite off more than it can chew? Keep reading to find out.

Appearance, Display and Battery

LG G3 Front
LG G3 Front
LG G3 Back
LG G3 Back

The headline grabbing feature of the G3 is undoubtedly the quad-HD display. The 5.5’’ IPS display boasts of a resolution of 1440 x 2560 pixels, which equates to an insane 534 ppi pixel density. LG obviously doesn’t believe in Apple’s claim that it’s impossible for our eye to discern improvements in pixel density beyond 300 ppi. After, using the G3, I am inclined to agree with LG. Some of the preloaded content looks absolutely breath-taking. Even the YouTube videos at a 2K resolution looks splendid. Unfortunately, most of the content that you are going to come across will not be able to take advantage of the G3’s superior display. We expect apps and videos to catch up at 2K becomes more prevalent, but by then the G3 might already be old. Compared to the G2, both contrast and saturation seems to have suffered. LG has shifted from natural looking displays to dialling up the saturation to make the colours pop. Another area where LG has compromised with the display is outdoor visibility. It’s not as good as before, and is made worse by the fact that in order to prevent overheating, the phone automatically restricts the maximum brightness to 90% after a few minutes of usage.

LG G3 Brightness Limitation
LG G3 Brightness Limitation

The size of the display puts it firmly in the phablet category. In fact, the LG G3’s display is a couple of inches bigger than the first Samsung Note. However, the G3 is still appreciably smaller than the Note N700 in almost every way. The G2 has impressively thin bezels, but the G3 cuts down even further. The almost edge-to-edge display lends the G3 a majestic appearance that none of the other flagships manage to pull off. In spite of the heft, the G3 is the easiest to handle among similarly sized devices. This is largely due to the fact that the G3 is not as wide as many of the phablets, and has a curved back that is easy to grip. This is only a relative thing though. Like all current generation flagships, the G3 is simply too big to be comfortably used with one hand. The G3’s rear is plastic, but polished to give a metallic appearance. The plastic feels cheap, but also has the advantage of making the phone lighter.

Smartphone Size Comparison
Smartphone Size Comparison

The back cover is removable and the battery is user replaceable. The 3000 mAh battery offers enough juice to last through the day. I didn’t conduct any benchmarks, but the battery life seemed to be on par with other flagships. LG has done a few under the hood tinkering to make sure that the massive display doesn’t hurt the battery life, and the tweaks seem to have worked.

LG G3 Battery Options
LG G3 Battery Options

Hardware

The G3 is powered by a Snapdragon 801 chipset that includes a Quad-core 2.5 GHz Krait 400 CPU and Adreno 330. As you can expect from such mighty hardware, the performance is great. The G3 maxed out the 3D Mark – Ice Storm Extreme benchmark, and is certainly among the best performers you can buy right now. Heating can be a concern, as I mentioned earlier, but at least the G3 doesn’t completely disable critical functions (Camera) like the Z2 does when its gets heated.

LG G3 Geekench Score
LG G3 Geekench Score
LG G3 Basemark X Score
LG G3 Basemark X Score
LG G3 3D Mark Score
LG G3 3D Mark Score

The G3 comes with 16 or 32 gigs of internal storage. The latter has 3GB RAM while the former has only 2 GB. External memory cards up to 128 GB are also supported.

LG G3 Storage Availability Out of the Box
LG G3 Storage Availability Out of the Box

The G3 unit in India is 4G-enabled, and supports all common connectivity options including Bluetooth 4.0 LE, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/f/n/ac, and NFC. Wireless charging (Qi) is also supported.

LG G3 Network Settings
LG G3 Network Settings

Software

One of my pet peeves with LG has been its silly, childish icons. I’m glad to report that they are finally gone. In fact, LG has embraced the flat design concept, and tastefully reskinned its entire interface. Bright, primary colors have been replaced with more subdued tones. But, LG has ensured that the UI doesn’t become boring with the help of quick animations peppered through the interface. However, all is not rosy. The notifications pane still has way too many things going on. I like the scrollable, quick toggles section, but the audio control is pointless since that can easily be done through hardware keys. Also, in its attempt to simplify the Settings pane, LG has removed a lot of the neat options it had before. Important settings like switching between Network modes (2G/3G/LTE) seem to have disappeared. However, the G3 is still one of the most customizable Android devices out of the box. You can change your phone’s appearance by changing home screen themes, tweaking fonts, and switch animation effects. There are tons of free themes available for download in LG’s app store (SmartWorld).

LG G3 Home Screen
LG G3 Home Screen

There are also heaps of software enhancements. My favourite among them is Knock Code. One of the potential issues with having the power button at the rear of the phone is that it becomes impossible to unlock the phone without picking it up from your desk. To get around this problem, the G2 introduced Knock On, which allowed you to wake up the phone by simply tapping on the screen twice. Knock Code is a further enhancement of that. It allows you to define a custom pattern of taps (combination of Up, Down, Left, and Right). You can directly wake up and unlock your device by tapping your Knock Code. This is actually a faster and easier than pattern unlock. It’s also a lot harder for bystanders to figure out.

LG G3 Knock Code
LG G3 Knock Code

Another new inclusion is LG Health, which tracks your steps without requiring any additional hardware or using too much battery. However, like most such apps it’s likely to be more gimmicky than useful. The data it reported varied wildly with the data reported by Sony’s Smart Band, which itself doesn’t agree with the Fitbit.

LG G3 Smart Bulletin
LG G3 Smart Bulletin

LG also made a lot of fuss about its keyboard. I like that fact that you can adjust the height and there is a dedicated numpad. However, like all other OEM keyboards, it is no where near as good as Swype or Swiftkey.

LG G3 Keyboard
LG G3 Keyboard

Perhaps my least favourite new feature is Smart Notice, which is more annoying than useful. The only reasonable advice I received from it is to carry an umbrella based on the weather forecast. When you already have something as good as Google Now, it’s stupid to a similar but vastly inferior app.

LG Smart Notice
LG Smart Notice

LG’s note taking app QuickMemo is still there, but doesnt have a dedicated button like in some of the older models. Other typical LG features are also there including Smartseek (displays YouTube like thumbnail preview in the video player when you seek), QSlide (opens app in a floating mini-window with adjustable transparency), Guest Mode (restricts access to apps and data), and Cliptray (clip board manager providing access to data you have previously copied).

LG G3 Bundled Apps
LG G3 Bundled Apps
LG Smart Cleaner
LG Smart Cleaner
LG G3 Display Settings
LG G3 Display Settings
LG G3 Guest Mode
LG G3 Guest Mode

Multimedia

The G3 ships with a 13 mega-pixel camera with Optical Image Stabilization and Laser Autofocus. The latter is another LG innovation. As soon as you hit the capture button, the G3 emits a laser beam, which acts like a SONAR and helps it determine the distance of objects in the frame. LG claims that it allows the G3 to focus faster and more accurately in varied conditions. Although, the benefits weren’t as dramatic as advertised by LG, the G3 did manage to focus quickly and reliably even under poor lighting conditions.

The camera itself is excellent. Although, it looks inferior to the Sony Xperia Z2 on paper, in reality I struggled to find a difference. In fact, in some cases, the G3 returned better results. LG has dramatically simplified the camera interface. Manual mode as well as multiple scenes are now a thing of the past. There are three basic modes – Auto, Magic Focus, Panorama, and Dual. The Magic Focus mode snaps multiple pics at different focal lengths and allows you to change the focus of the picture later. The Dual mode fires both the front and rear cams together to make sure that you aren’t missing from all your photo. Photosphere (or VR Camera as LG used to call it) has been axed, presumably because it’s too complex to be used in most situations. The amount of detail in the images was good with low noise and vibrant colours. LG’ flagship is way ahead of HTC, and on-par with everyone else.

[ Download Uncompressed Images ]

The 2.1 mega pixel front-camera is capable of shooting full HD videos. There’s also a selfie mode, which allows you to trigger a 3-second countdown timer by clasping your palm. This is neat as having to tap the camera button while posing for and taking a selfie can be a bit tricky. There’s also an option to use the light from the display as a secondary light source. The overall quality of pics captured from the front cam, however, is nothing particularly impressive.

The G3 supports 4K video recording, but as in other devices it’s more of a gimmick. It’s usable for short periods of time, but generates way too much heat and takes way too much space to be usable for longer videos. However, the quality of recorded video is great for a smartphone, and the microphone does a good job at removing background noise.

LG has also worked on the loudspeaker, which is often ignored in smartphones. The speaker is rated at 1 Watt (1.5W with Boost Amp), and is quite loud. Of course, if you keep the phone on a flat surface, the sound is going to get muffled. LG still can’t match up to the quality of the sound produced by HTC’s front-facing stereo speakers, but its loud speakers are no pushovers. In all likelihood, LG was forced to put the speaker in the rear as front-facing speakers would have added to the dimensions of the G3.

Conclusion

The G3 is a phenomenal device. It’s not perfect. It’s too big to be comfortable. The faux-metal back cover looks good, but doesn’t feel as great. And, the ultra-high resolution display comes with its own set of compromises. However, these are small grievances. LG gets most of the things right. It packs in a bigger display than others, while keeping the phone size in the same ballpark. The resolution is, of course, a generation ahead of everyone else. The camera is as good as others, if not better. And, some of its innovations like the Rear Key and Knock Code are simply brilliant. There’s little to separate the flagships from Samsung, HTC, Sony, and LG. The G3 is also priced competitively. It’s cheaper than the Z2, in the same range as the One M8, and a bit more expensive than the Galaxy S5. A lot depends on your personal preference. However, LG G3 is my favourite device of the season. This is a phone that’s really hard to not like.

Torch Browser: An All-In One Browser with Video Downloader and Torrent Client

Web browsers have come a long way over the past decade. They’ve morphed from being applications that displayed static content to being applications which enable other applications to run. Whether it is TweetDeck or Gmail or Aviary, the web apps of today are as powerful as many of its desktop counterparts. However, even as browsers have become more capable than ever before, they’ve also been trimmed down. In keeping with the trend of minimalism, web browsers have focused on becoming lighter and faster and cleaner than ever before. Even Opera, which once aimed to be the complete web productivity suite, changed tactics and killed of several features – IRC client, RSS client, Mail client, Torrent client Unite, and Widgets to name a few. Modern day browsers aim to include only what they believe is essential, and offer the rest through third-party extensions. However, if you want a browser, which does a little bit more out of the box, you’re not entirely out of options. Among the most promising new options is a little-known browser from Israel called Torch Browser.

Torch-Browser
Torch Browser

Torch Browser is based on Chromium, and looks and feels like pretty much Google Chrome. Once you login with your Google account, it will sync all of your Chrome settings, including your extensions. At the time of writing, the latest version of Torch is based on Chromium 29, while the latest stable channel release is Chromium 34. This difference might leave the Torch Browser vulnerable to security and performance issues that Google might have already patched. So, this is definitely something you should weight before opting for Torch.

Unlike Opera, Torch doesn’t try to cater to the power users by adding niche features like IRC clients and web servers. Instead, all of the stuff that it adds are stuff that almost everyone will find useful. Chances are, you already have a dedicated, third-party app or extension for doing the same.

Easy Sharing

Torch provides out of the box sharing through a button that allows you to push content to Facebook and Twitter. There’s also another less-obvious, but way more useful way to share links, images, text, or and other content on the page. Just grab hold of the object you want to share, and drag left. It will display buckets where you can just drop the object. If you drag to the right, something similar happens. However, instead of getting options to share, you’ll be provided options to search for the selected content on Wikipedia, Google, Google Images, and YouTube.

Torch-Browser-Sharing-Button
Torch Browser: Sharing Button
Torch-Browser-Drag-Drop-Share
Torch Browser: Drag and Drop Share
Torch-Browser-Drag-Drop-Search
Torch Browser: Drag and Drop Search

Media Grabber

The media grabber allows you to download embedded videos from YouTube, Dailymotion, and other websites. Torch also ships with an audio extractor, which can just extract the audio from a video.

Torch-Browser-Media-Grabber
Torch Browser: Media Grabber

Download Accelerator

The download manager in Torch seems to be exactly the same as that in Chrome, but it claims to speed up the download rate of your media files with a powerful download accelerator. I didn’t find any noticeable difference during my testing, but your mileage might vary.

Torrent Client

Torch comes with a fully featured torrent downloader, that’s tightly integrated with the browser. Explaining torrents to your grandparents is never easy, but having it integrated with the browser does help things.

Torch-Browser-Torrent-Downloader
Torch Browser: Torrent Dowloader

TorchMusic

Torch even has built a Spotify-like online music streaming service called TorchMusic. It seems to be using videos available on YouTube to power its service. All the basic features including music discovery, tending section, music library, and playlists are available. And, it works everywhere in the world.

Torch-Browser-Music-Client
Torch Browser: Music Client

Facelift

This tool basically allows you to apply user styles to Facebook. You can chose from several existing themes, or create your own yourself by changing colours, editing fonts, and adding a background image. The theme that you apply, will only be visible to you, and other people who visit your profile using Torch browser.

Torch-Browser-Facebook-Skin
Torch Browser: FaceLift

Hola for Torch

This is essentially the Hola Unblocker extension, which allows you to access region restricted websites like Hulu.

Torch Browser promises to respect your privacy, and has been certified as 100% safe by Softpedia. However, I did find it installing an extension called Torch Shopping without explicitly asking me. I’m not sure what it does, but I’d recommend removing it before using Torch Browser. There’s also a malware named Torch Toolbar, but Torch Browser seems to have no connection with it. The only other annoyance that I’ve discovered while using Torch is that the omnibar (the address bar), is not resizable. This means that most of the extensions I’ve are hidden behind a drop-down list.

Torch-Browser-Shopping-Extension
Torch Browser: Shopping Extention

On the whole, Torch is a pretty interesting package. It retains almost all of the benefits of Chrome, and cleverly packages a few neat goodies of its own. A power user will probably have dedicated utilities or third-party extensions that they prefer for a lot of the stuff that Torch offers. However, I’m sure there are plenty of folks who would appreciate having all the essentials integrated within the browser itself.

[ Download Torch Browser ]

LG G2 Review

After playing catch-up for several years, LG Mobiles is finally in a position to take charge. Samsung is still the market leader by a huge margin, but the Nexus 4 succeeded in instilling the belief among consumers that LG can also make good smartphones. Last week, LG Electronics India (LGEI) launched its latest flagship Android smartphone – the LG G2. The G2 has a lot riding in it. LGEI expects to pick up 10% of the Indian market share by the end of the year, and it’s targeting Rs. 200 crore in revenue from the G2. On paper the G2 is a monster; however, how does it stack in real life? Read on to find out.

Appearance, Display and Battery

LG-G2-Front

Unlike in the Nexus 4 or the Optimus G, the G2 is made entirely out of plastic. There’s no metal or glass to be found anywhere in the construction. Personally, I don’t mind the absence of glass. There’s no denying that the aluminium bodied Xperia Z1 exudes a more premium feel, but avoiding metal often helps in bringing down the cost and reducing weight, and glass is way too fragile to be practical in a device that you’re going to use day in and day out. However, what I’m disappointed about is the return to the cheap glossy exterior that LG had done so well to avoid in its 2012 line-up. The rear cover has a reflective pattern that’s mildly interesting, but the glossy finishing means that it’s a smudge magnet. The battery in the Indian version of the G2 isn’t user replaceable, but that has allowed LG to fit in a giant 3000 mAh battery in the relatively compact dimensions (138.5 x 70.9 x 8.9 mm) of the G2. However, even with a plastic body, the G2 is fairly heavy, weighing about 143g.

LG-G2-Rear

The most distinctive feature of the G2 is its button placement. All the buttons in the G2 are placed at the back, just underneath the camera. This seems counter-intuitive and definitely takes some getting used to. In fact, this is probably the single most debated aspect of G2. When I began using the G2, I wasn’t entirely convinced about the idea. In theory, the button placement made sense. Single handed operation isn’t exactly a joy in most recent top-of-the-line droids, and the reason for that is that reaching buttons placed on the top or on the sides is difficult for anyone with normal sized palms. The G2’s rear buttons should be a lot more convenient to use since they are placed just where your index finger should reside while normally gripping the phone. In practice, things didn’t start so well. For the first couple of days, I had to repeatedly turn my phone to see where the buttons were. However, things improved quickly as muscle memory kicked in. After just a week of regular usage, I instinctively knew exactly where the home and the volume buttons were . In fact, the rear-buttons are now among my favourite things about the G2. LG deserves to be applauded for coming up with the concept and being brave enough to use it in their flagship.

LG-G2-DIsplay

The gorgeous edge-to-edge full-HD display that we saw in the G Pro has gotten even better in the G2. The G2 features a 5.2’’ full-HD (1920×1080) IPS display with a 424 ppi pixel density. This is a good two inches more than the Sony Z1 and the Samsung Galaxy S4. However, the G2 is actually smaller than the Z1 and about the same size as the S4, thanks to its extremely slim bezels, which almost vanishes when the display is off. As far as quality is concerned, there isn’t a single thing that I could find to criticize. The colour reproduction is brilliant, viewing angles are great, and outdoor visibility is never an issue.

LG-G2-Another-View

As I mentioned earlier, the battery in the Indian version of G2 is non-user replaceable. However, this has allowed LG to use a special step design to pack in more power. I didn’t run any benchmarks, but the G2’s battery backup is among the best I’ve seen in high-end smartphones. It’ll easily last through a day and a half of normal usage on 3G, and will probably keep on ticking for well over two days on 2G. LG claims a talktime of 21 hours on 3G and 31 hours on 2G.

LG-G2-Battery-Backup

Hardware

The LG G2 is powered by the mighty Snapdragon 800 chipset, which includes a quad-core Krait 400 processor clocked at 2.26 GHz, and an Adreno 330 GPU. In terms of performance, the G2 is in the same league as the Note 3, Xperia Z1, and Xperia Z Ultra, and ahead of pretty much everything else. No matter what you do, performance is never an issue with this phone. It maxed out the normal 3D Mark benchmark, maxed out a few of the tests in the 3D Mark Extreme benchmark, and was in the top 3 in the 3D Mark Ultra benchmark. The G2 has crazy amounts of processing power, which allows it to do stuff like zoom into full-HD videos and play them in windowed mode with adjustable transparency.

LG-G2-Quadrant-Benchmark-Score

Quadrant Benchmark Score

LG-G2-3DMark-Ultra-Benchmark-Score

3D Mark Ultra Benchmark Results

My review unit has 16 GB internal storage; however, a 32 GB model is also available. I’d recommend going for the latter since it’s only a couple of thousand rupees more expensive and the absence of any expandable memory support makes the extra storage crucial. The LG G2 has all sorts of connectivity options that you can imagine. Some of them are Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, Wi-Fi direct, DLNA, Bluetooth 4.0 with Low Energy mode support, and USB on-the-go. The chipset that LG is using is LTE enabled; however, the units being sold in India are 3G only. I suspect that LG might have disabled the LTE chip to conserve power. LG didn’t elaborate if it’s possible to later enable the LTE functionality through an update.

Software

I’m not an Android puritan, and don’t by default hate all software customizations. With that being said, it’s worth nothing that my main complaints with the G2 are all software related. There are a bunch of unique features in the G2. The first one that you’re going to encounter is the Knock-on feature. One of the disadvantages of having the power button at the back is that you’ve to lift up to phone to unlock it. Knock-on attempts to alleviate this issue by allowing you to unlock the G2 by simply tapping on the screen twice. The concept is deceptively simple and brilliant. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work. It works most of the time, but it also fails enough times to make me prefer the physical button over Knock-on.

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The G2’s built-in launcher is among the better ones, and is capable enough to not make me miss any of the third-party launchers. It has all the essential features including folders and dock, and even throws in a few fancy features like multiple transition effects.
The G2 runs on Android 4.2.2, which is recent enough, but is still a version older than what Samsung Note 3 ships with. This isn’t as big a deal as it used to be, since Google has decoupled a lot of functionality from Android updates. Sure, I’d love to have Android 4.3 on-board, but I don’t feel like missing out on anything significant even with Android 4.2.

Somewhat disappointingly, LG hasn’t opted to leverage the Quick Settings feature introduced in Android 4.2. Instead, it has retained its old Notification pane with scrollable power buttons, Q-slide apps, brightness control, and volume control. With the exception of the volume control, all of these are handy additions that you’d find yourself using every now and then. However, packing all of them into a single screen is a bad idea, as it makes the notification pane look horribly cluttered. In the G2 only about half of the notification pane is actually available for displaying notifications.

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Some of the other unique features in the G2 are:
– Guest Mode: You can protect your privacy by setting up a limited environment for your friends or kids while lending the phone. In guest mode only pre-configured apps are accessible.
– Clip Tray: Just like the Microsoft Office Clipboard, the Clip Tray provides you access to stuff you have copied in the past. The Clip Tray in G2 can store as many as 20 texts or images.
– Text Link: This is another really neat productivity enhancer. The G2 is capable of understanding certain phrases and sentences in your message. If it detects an address in an SMS, it’ll offer to open up maps. If it detects an appointment, then it’ll offer to add the event to your calendar or to your Memo.
– Audio Zoom: This feature was first introduced in the G Pro, but is featured more prominently in the G2. While recording in landscape mode you can tap on a particular subject and the G2 will attempt to amplify the sound from only that subject in the recording.
– Slide Aside: A three-finger swipe from right to left dismisses the currently open app and saves it in a container. A three-finger swipe from left to right restores it. You can save up to three apps using Slide Aside and quickly switch between them. LG claims that it radically improves multi-tasking, but it seemed more like a gimmick to me. The default Android Task Switcher can be used to do the same thing with a lot more ease.
– Shot and Clear: This is similar to the context aware fill feature in Photoshop. In theory this allows you to fix photo bombs, and get rid of other artefacts in an image. However, this feature obviously has limitations, and doesn’t always work.
– Life Square: Life Square is an automated journal that logs pretty much everything you do. This includes events in your calendar, updates you post on Facebook, links you share on Twitter, pictures you take on the camera, and people you text and talk with on the phone.
– QuickRemote: Like most of its competitors, the G2 features an IR blaster, which allows it to act like a customizable universal remote.
– QuickMemo: The trusty old QuickMemo feature is retained in the G2. Quick Memo is the quickest way to capture, annotate, and share a screenshot.
– QSlide: QSlide is like the Pop out feature in Samsung, which allows apps to run in a part of the screen, while freeing up the rest of the space for other tasks. So, you can run the YouTube app in a corner of the screen, while working away on your email. LG has also thrown in the ability to adjust the transparency of apps in QSlide mode. There are a bunch of QSlide enabled apps including the Video player, SMS app, and Calendar.
– Capture Plus: Capture Plus option in the Browser takes full page screenshots of websites.
– Answer Me: To receive a call, simply hold up the phone next to your ear.
– Voice Mate: Voice Mate is LG’s own attempt at creating a voice assistant. The app has pretty decent speech detection, but can’t really do much. Google Now is miles ahead of Voice Mate, and I don’t understand why Samsung and LG are even trying to compete with Google in this arena.
– Smart Screen and Smart Video: These are two more gimmicky features, which were undoubtedly inspired by the Samsung Galaxy S4. Smart Screen allows the G2’s display to stay on when the phone detects your face, and Smart Video automatically pauses the video when the phone cannot detect your face. LG obviously realizes that both of these features are far too inaccurate to be of significant use, and hence has disabled them by default.

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There are a bunch of other features including a Translator, and a Task Manager. Traditionally, one of the strong points of the LG Optimus UI has been its customizability, and G2 continues that tradition. There are a massive number of things you can change without ever having to install custom ROMs. This includes customizing the touch navigation buttons, changing the lock-screen swipe effect, changing font type and size, and tweaking notification LED behaviour.

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Multimedia

Cameras are back in the spotlight, and the Nokia’s Lumia series has really set the cat among the pigeons. Everyone including Apple and Sony are trying to beef up their camera. LG has fitted the G2 with a 13-megapixel camera that’s at least mighty on paper thanks to its optical image stabilization and muti-focus capability. The good news is that the camera is truly among the best we have seen in a smartphone, and delivers on its promises. The Xperia Z1 will probably outdo the G2’s shooting capability, but that’s nothing to be ashamed of. The G2 features manual focus, which allows it to take some stunning macro pics. In fact, the automatic Macro focusing mode is also among the best I’ve seen in a phone camera. The G2 supports ISO levels up to 800, and beats the S4 as well as the HTC One hands down, as far as low-light photography is concerned. The optical stabilization mode also makes its effect felt while recording from a bus or an auto. The G2 captures full-HD (1080p) videos at 60 fps with stereo sound. HDR mode has also been thrown in for good measure. However, when it came to audio zooming, that feature just didn’t work for me. For now, I’m chalking it up as a gimmick rather a real enhancement.

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Low light shot with Manual Focus

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Outdoor photo in Night mode

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Outdoor photo in Normal mode with high ISO

I’ve always been a fan of LG’s Video player, and it has retained its strengths in the G2. You can pinch to zoom into any part of the video, or zoom and track a particular subject. With YouTube like seek preview, you can preview exactly where you’re about to jump to in the video. And with Q-slide you can continue to playback the video while doing your work.

Like the Note 3, the LG G2 can output 24 bit 192 KHz Hi-Fidelity audio. LG has paired its flagship with the new Quadbeat 2 earphones, which are surprisingly good. They’re not as bass heavy as Sony’s stunning MH 1c, but the soundstage is equally wide, and the IEMs sound really balanced. In fact, if you are looking for a budget IEM, the Quadbeat 2 is something you should definitely look at. Although, LG has done a great job with the bundled earphones, the phone’s speaker is bit of a disappointment. The speaker isn’t bad by any means, but it sticks out as a sore point because pretty much every other aspect of the G2 is superb.

Conclusion

LG has gotten a lot of things right with the G2, including the display, the SoC, the physical button placement, and the camera. As a result, the G2 is an absolute joy to use. The downers are the lack of expandable storage, the average speaker quality, the slightly old Android version, and some poor design choices in the Optimus UI. The 16 GB model of G2 is selling for about Rs. 40,000. The 32 GB model costs a couple of thousand bucks more. This makes it about ten percent cheaper than the Note 3, which is also significantly bigger than the G2. In my opinion, the biggest competition to the G2 is the Xperia Z1, which has the advantage of a better build quality, dust and water resistance, superior camera, and slightly better benchmark scores. Where the G2 outshines the Z1 is display quality and ergonomics. The G2 is a better phone than the Samsung Galaxy S4 and the HTC One. However, the Galaxy S4 is now available for about Rs. 36,000. I suspect that within a couple of months the G2’s price will also come down to similar levels. However, until then the price difference also makes the Galaxy SIV an alternative worth considering.

LG’s biggest achievement is that it has gone from competing solely on price to competing on performance and quality. Until a year or two back, you brought LG phones because they offered good value for money, not because they were the best phones in the market. With the G2, LG has succeeded in raising the bar and changing the game.

LG Optimus G Pro E988 Review

A short while back, LG launched it’s new flagship, the Optimus G Pro, in India. Coming mere months after the Optimus G, which in itself was an excellent smartphone, the Pro attempts to take things to the next level. But, does it succeed? Read on for our full review.

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Appearance and Display

Although LG hasn’t been using the word phablet for the Optimus G Pro, in reality, it is more of a competitor to the Samsung Note II than the Galaxy SIV. The Optimus G Pro features slimmer bezel than the Note, and as a result is slightly more compact. However, it’s still too large for one handed operation, and for a lot of users the size will definitely be a cause for concern. Thankfully, LG has attempted to make things slightly easier by placing the power and volume buttons on the side instead of on the top. There are two capacitive buttons along with a physical home button that also doubles up as the notification LED. Unlike it’s predecessor, the G Pro features a shiny all plastic body. It definitely doesn’t feel as good in the hand as the Optimus G. However, the plastic back offers quite a few advantages. The most obvious benefit is increased durability. I couldn’t muster up the courage to drop test the review unit, but the plastic back definitely increases the odds of the handset surviving a fall. The plastic back has also enabled LG to make the battery user replaceable. To LG’s credit, it has tried to infuse some character into the back cover by imprinting a Optimus G like pattern on the back which shines under light. The effect is not as spectacular as it’s in the Nexus 4; however, it still looks pretty cool.

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The Optimus G Pro features a full HD (1080p) 5.5 inch IPS Plus LCD display, which boasts of a pixel density of 400 ppi. The display is quite simply spectacular. It’s crisp, vibrant, yet well balanced. LG’s display is definitely among the best, if not the best, that you’d find in the current breed of smartphones. It has extremely wide viewing angles, and is bright enough to be legible even under direct sunlight. HD videos are a joy to watch on the giant display, and made me willing to accept the inconveniences caused by the size.

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Hardware and Software

The LG Optimus G Pro features a Qualcomm APQ8064T Snapdragon 600 chipset that houses a Quad-core 1.7 GHz Krait 300 processor and an Adreno 320 GPU. The top notch SoC is well complemented by 2 gigabytes of RAM. Although I didn’t get around to running any benchmarks, the phone was consistently fast. Whether I was zooming into a full-HD video, or switching between a dozen tabs in Chrome, or playing Asphalt 7, the G Pro never missed a beat. You’re unlikely to be complaining about the performance of this device for quite some time to come. The review unit I received had 16 gigs of internal storage (slightly more than 10 GB is available to the user); however, I believe that a 32 GB edition might also be released in the market. The storage can be augmented by up to 64 GB of external memory (microSD).

On the connectivity front, Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac, Wi-Fi Direct, DLNA, Wi-Fi hotspot, Miracast, Bluetooth 4.0, MHL, and NFC are supported. It also sports an IR blaster that can be used for controlling your television. The Optimus G is an LTE enabled handset; however, this is of little benefit in India. The G Pro features a powerful 3140 mAh battery, which ensures that even with a gigantic display and a bleeding edge chipset, the handset can keep on chugging along for a full day (or more) on moderate usage on 3G. The Note II features a similar battery; however, thanks to its last-gen chipset and a lower resolution display, it will probably last a bit longer than LG.

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LG doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to Android updates. It’s launching the G Pro with Android 4.2.1, even as Samsung managed to ship the Galaxy SIV with Android 4.2.2 just months after the update was released by Google. There are rumors that LG is testing Android 4.2.2 on the Optimus G Pro; however, so far there hasn’t been any official confirmation. The G Pro runs LG’s Optimus UX, and comes with the usual suit of LG specific apps. Some of the most notable software enhancements include:
QuickMemo: QuickMemo can be triggered anywhere anytime through the dedicated hardware button. It captures the current content on the screen, and allows you to annotate and draw on top of it. Notes saved through QuickMemo are sharable through email, Facebook and other networks.
QSlide: QSlide enhances multitasking by running supported apps in a windowed mode. So you can continue surfing the web while watching a movie. Qslide supported apps include the web browser, video player, Memo, Calendar, and Calculator. You can also adjust the opacity of these apps so that they don’t get in the way of your workflow.
MediaPlex: Most the fancy new features in the video player that were introduced with the Optimus 4X have been retained in the Optimus G Pro. So, you can pinch to zoom into a video, get a neat preview while seeking, and increase or decrease playback speed. All of these work flawlessly even on full HD videos, and are perhaps the best demonstration of the power of the Snapdragon 600.
Smart Screen and Smart Video: These two features are exactly the same as the Galaxy SIV’s Smart Stay. The Optimus G Pro can detect when you are looking at the phone and accordingly prevent the screen from timing out. Similarly, it can also detect when you aren’t looking at the phone and automatically pause videos. Both of these features are disabled by default, which suggests that LG isn’t too confident about their accuracy.
Quiet Time: You can pre-define a time range during which your phone will automatically go into silent mode, and disable all sounds expect that of multimedia and alarms.

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There are a bunch of other neat stuff including Vu Talk, configurable notification toggle buttons, video editor, and music video creator. The SMS notification implementation is particularly cool and deserves a shout out. When you get a new message, you get a neat popup near the top-left, which lets you to immediately reply to the SMS without having to open up the Messages app.The Optimus UX doesn’t exactly go overboard with features like TouchWiz; however, it offers supports extensive customization options which will please the power users. My favourite setting is the ability to map the QuickMemo button to any custom app, including the camera app. The Optimus UX is not without issues though. LG still uses the unified volume control option, which can be frustrating. The notification menu appears a bit cluttered with the inclusion of power control widgets, QSlide apps, and a brightness control slider.

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Camera

The LG Optimus G Pro sports a 13 megapixel rear-camera and a 2.1 megapixel font camera. While many of the early reviews criticized the camera quality, I found the G Pro to be an excellent snapper giving great performance both indoors and outdoors. LG has been continuously refining the Camera app over the past few generations, and as a result its a joy to use. All the usual stuff including preset scenes, exposure adjustment, white balance settings, ISO settings, panorama and HDR mode are there. Additionally, LG has thrown in manual focus, color modes, time catch shot, dual shot, and VR Panorama. Time catch shot is a nifty feature whereby the camera automatically preserves shots from moments before and after you pressed the shutter, and allows you to keep the best shot. VR Panorama is essentially Google Photo Sphere, which allows you to stitch together multiple pics to create a 360 degree view of any point. Dual shot, as the name suggests, uses the front and rear cam simultaneously to take a pic of the photographer as well as the subject. This works for both stills and videos.

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LG-Optimus-G-Pro-Camera-Sample-Macro

The G Pro is capable of recording full HD (1080p) videos with continuous auto-focus at 30fps. HDR mode is supported; however, it yielded disappointing results for me. Due to some reason, HDR videos seem to be desaturated and devoid of details. The video player supports Live Effects that can track faces to add silly effects as you shoot the video. It can also replace the background provided the camera frame remains still.

Verdict

The Optimus G Pro is a fabulous device and a worthy successor to the Optimus G, which was LG’s first truly great smartphone. It’s most obvious feature is the huge display, which is absolutely fantastic. You’ll find yourself wanting to use the phone simply because of the display. However, at the same time, the large size will also make you want to pick up an HTC One or even an Samsung Galaxy SIV. They are so much easier to hold and use that many will be willing to forgo the advantages of a large screen. Do you want a phone that can be used with one hand, or do you want a phone that can shoulder some of the responsibilities of a tablet? That’s the single biggest question you’d have to answer. If you want a phablet, and don’t plan on doing any drawing or sketching, the G Pro will serve you well. It’s a generation ahead of the Note II and is a better performer in every way. The Optimus G Pro delivers in terms of performance, display clarity, camera quality, and battery life. It’s a true winner.

LG Optimus L3 II Dual E435 Review

In all the hullabaloo surrounding the launch of flagships boasting of the latest and greatest technology, it can be easy to forget about devices like the Galaxy Ace and the Xperia Tipo. However, it’s these low-margin bargain devices that have helped Android zoom ahead of the iPhone. In fact, according to Opera’s State of the Mobile Web report all of the top nine handsets used by Opera Mini users were priced under Rs. 10,000 (about $165). LG’s new entrant in the budget smartphone category is the LG Optimus L3 II Dual E435. After using it for a week, here’s my quick review.

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Appearance and Display

The Optimus L3 II won’t win awards for its design; however, it definitely doesn’t look bad. Like most other second generation L-series devices, the latest iteration of the L3 has dropped the bold rectangular design and gone back to the traditional rounded edges. The phone is small, but solidly built and feels wonderful to hold. The plastic body feels well-constructed and doesn’t creak, while the buttons offer good feedback. My biggest complaint with the body is that the front buttons aren’t backlit. This makes them difficult to spot in the dark.

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The 3.2’’ display is small by today’s standards, but considering the price, you can’t really complain about the size. However, what’s shocking is the resolution. Thanks to a meagre resolution of 240 x 320 pixels, even the tiny display can manage only a 125 ppi pixel density. This is far lower than that of similarly priced Sony Xperia Tipo Dual (180 ppi) and Samsung Galaxy Ace Duos (165 ppi). As a result, everything on the screen appears pixelated. Reading small text is nothing short of a nightmare on this display. The viewing angles and outdoor visibility are pretty decent; however, none of the other positives can make up for the horrific resolution. The L3 II has the worst display that I’ve seen in an Android phone so far.

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Hardware and Software

The LG Optimus L3 II is powered by a Qualcomm MSM7225A Snapdragon chipset which comes with a 1 GHz processor and Adreno 200 GPU. It has 512 MB RAM, and 4 GB of internal memory. Quite obviously, you can’t expect the L3 II to be able to run all of the games and apps; however, it is capable enough to tackle the likes of Temple Run and Cut the Ropes satisfactorily. In fact, as far as CPU power is concerned, the L3 II is ahead of the Ace Duos and Tipo. The lower resolution further reduces the computing load on its chipset. There were a couple of seconds of wait while opening apps or switching between tasks, but I didn’t encounter significant freeze ups. General operation is reasonably smooth, and LG’s budget smartphone feels a lot more responsive than its competitors like Tipo.

As far as the hardware is concerned, the best thing about the L3 II is its battery. The L3 II 1540 mAh battery, which is quite a bit more powerful than the one found in the Galaxy Ace. Thanks to the tiny screen and the low-end single core processor, the battery isn’t really pushed too hard. As a result, even with reasonable amount of usage on 3G you should be able to make it through the day without requiring a recharge. This is significantly better than what most flagships have managed to offer.

The L3 II Dual packs a 3.15 megapixel rear camera capable of snapping images at 2048×1536 pixels and recording VGA resolution videos at 30 fps. The picture quality is exactly what you would expect. It’s good enough for Facebook and Instagram updates, but not something you’d be happy carrying on a vacation. The absence of even an LED flash means that the camera is useless in low light scenarios. The Camera app offers five different preset scenes and supports white balance, ISO, and exposure adjustment.

As the name suggests the L3 II is a dual SIM phone. It has a dedicated button, which allows you to toggle between two SIM cards. The switching happens quite quickly without requiring a reboot. However, you cannot use two SIMs at once.

On the software front, LG has launched the L3 II Dual with Android v4.1.2 (Jelly Bean), which is once again better than its closest competitors. Like all LG smartphones, the new L3 also comes with the Optimus UX. However, the only fancy feature that has made it into the L3 II is Quick Memo. QuickMemo is a sharable, system-wide notebook where you can jot down stuff quickly or annotate and comment on documents. Almost all of the other goodies that we saw in the flagship Optimus G have been dropped. Thankfully, even the stripped down Optimus UX has lots of configuration options and nifty tricks up its sleeve. You can change themes, use any of the half a dozen preloaded screen swipe effects, enable Quiet time, edit the lock screen shortcuts and more.

Verdict

Budgets phones are all about compromises. It’s often difficult to pick the best phone in this category, as the best really depends on the user. The LG Optimus L3 II has its fair share of flaws, as does all of its competitors. The L3 II Dual costs just Rs. 7,500 and LG has had to make plenty of trade-offs to get there. The real question is can you live with the decisions LG has made? The L3 has a horrible display; however, the same low resolution display probably helps in boosting its performance. The L3 has a newer version of Android than most phones in its class, and feels smoother than many of the other low end devices that I’ve used. If performance is important to you and you are willing to overlook the display, the LG II Dual might be a good fit for you. However, if you are looking for a decent display, you need to look elsewhere. Similarly, if you want a decent camera, the old Samsung Galaxy Ace S5830 with a LED flash might be a better buy. Alternatively, if Android isn’t a must for you, you can even take a look at the Lumia 520. It doesn’t have as many apps as the Android smartphones; however, offers a better camera and significantly better performance.

Carbonite Review – An Excellent And Affordable Online Backup Service

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There are number of companies which offer online data backup. However, most of them do not offer their services as advertised. Today, we are going to review the popular Carbonite online backup service. Before talking about Carbonite, let’s check out the advantages of online backups. Most of us still prefer to back up our data using conventional backup methods such as DVD or external hard disk. However, online backups have a number of advantages compared to conventional backup methods.

Online backups are automatically performed on a daily basis or on a frequency set by you. It runs quietly in the background so there is absolutely no need to worry about it. Moreover, it is less expensive and saves your valuable time. Conventional backup methods have a risk of losing all your data due to natural disaster or if your device is lost or stolen. On the other hand, online backup services allow you to easily get your data back with the click of a button in the event of data loss. Restoring your files is incredibly simple and it does not require any technical knowledge.

Carbonite Logo

Recently, I was looking for a reliable online backup service which can back up most of my important files, images and videos at reasonable rates and finally zeroed down on Carbonite. First of all, Carbonite is one of the most trusted brands in cloud backup. Carbonite has already helped its customers to back up more than 300 billion files and recover nearly 20 billion files. The backup and restore process is extremely simple.

It allows you to back up pictures, documents and all your important files automatically to the cloud. Once you are connected to the internet, Carbonite will automatically start the backup process. Your files are encrypted before they leave your computer and are stored safely offsite at one of their data centers. Carbonite’s Home plans start at $59 per year, while the business plans start at $229 per year. Before purchasing the yearly plans, you can even try out Carbonite for freewithout spending a dime.

Setup:

To get started, all you have to do is just visit the Carbonite’s website and sign up for a 15 days free trial. You won’t be charged anything for the first 15 days, however the service will cost you $59 per year for a single PC after the trial period. Once you have created an account, you will be asked to download and install the application on your Windows PC or Mac. After installing the application, you’ll need to name your computer or laptop. After that, you will be asked to select the automatic backup process or the manual backup process.

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The automatic process will back up all your pictures and important files from desktop, document and media directories. On the other hand, you can select the manual option and add files and folders to store on the cloud. If you own a small business and need to comply with certain industry regulations – like HIPAA – Carbonite can assist with your compliance requirements. You can choose to manage your own encryption key for any Windows computer, NAS device or server. It is not recommended to set your own key unless you are experienced at managing encryption keys or have a special need to do so.

User Interface:

After completing the setup process, you will be greeted with the Carbonite Info Center. The application will prompt you to start the backup process immediately. Carbonite will back up all your photos, documents, e-mail, settings and everything on your desktop. However, it will not back up any videos, executable files and other files larger than 4 GB automatically. You will need to manually upload them by right-clicking the file in Windows Explorer or in the Mac OS X Finder.

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You can activate the Carbonite Info Center from the desktop or click on the tray icon. Right-clicking the tray icon allows you to open the Info Center, freeze your backup or pause the backup process for a predefined set of time. Carbonite has a great marking system for the files and folders. You can easily know the status of backed up data on your hard disk. It will mark the backed up files and folders with green dot, awaiting backup with yellow dot and partly backed up folders with green donut.

Scheduling and Restoring Backups:

Carbonite will back up all your content by default. However, you can set the application to back up once a day or even exclude certain hours. Carbonite does not allow you to specify a file type for backup, which can be a major drawback for its customers. You can manage and access your backed up files from the Carbonite Backup Drive on your computer or directly from Carbonite’s website.

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You can restore your files from the desktop application as well as from their website. To restore your files from your computer, open the Carbonite application and select the Restore tab. The restore tab has 3 options – search & restore, browse & restore and restore all files. To restore your files and folders from their website, just log in to your Carbonite account and select the restore files. From there you can select individual files and folders or you can select the complete restore option to get back all of your files and folders.

Final Verdict:

Carbonite is without a doubt an excellent service to back up your data online. Their plans are quite affordable,. Unlimited backup space is just $59 a year. However it comes with some limitations. You can switch to a premium plan which allows you to back up an external hard drive and uploads videos automatically. Carbonite also provides free mobile and tablet apps for devices running on Android, BlackBerry and iOS Operating Systems. These apps can be extremely useful to access all your files on the go. With unlimited backup space, affordable plans and extremely simple backup and restoration process, Carbonite is definitely one of the best online backup services that you can’t afford to miss!

Start your free trial (no credit card required) at Carbonite.com. Use offer code SUNNY13 and you’ll get two months free if you decide to buy.

Lenovo ThinkCenter Edge 92z AIO Review

Introduction

The Lenovo ThinkCenter Edge 92z AIO (All In One) is a sleek machine which is small in size but packs in a lot of power. The product is targeted towards enterprise use, designing, studies and even for day to day use.

Lenovo’s AIO features an inbuilt processor, WiFi direct, USB ports, VOIP optimized hardware, Bluetooth and HDMI in/out ports. It also comes with an integrated camera, microphone, internal speakers, card reader, optical drive, Ethernet port and a cable lock slot. The entire unit is powered through a single power cord. The compact build of the AIO makes it very easy to move and mount and saves up to 70% of the desk space.

The multi touch LED screen display interface and wireless keyboard and mouse also make It more easy to use with either touch or through the included peripherals. The AIO also can be easily mounted on screens and can be used as interactive monitors for advertisements. It is also very easy to clean and disinfect.

 

Lenovo ThinkCenter Edge 92z Specifications

Processor      : Intel(R) Core i5 – 3470S CPU @ 2.90GHZ

Main Memory / RAM         : 4.00GB

Hard Drive size            : 500GB

OS              : 64 bit Windows 8

Touch              : Multi Touch with 10 touch points

Graphics Card      : 2GB Discrete AMD Radeon HD7650A

Screen Size      : 21.5 inch Touch

Weight      : 8.4 kg

Display             : LED High definition display 1080p Wide Viewing Angle

Sound             : Dolby advance audio v2

WebCam      : 1.3 M full HD

Packaging, Looks, Build Quality , Weight

The packaging is decent enough and comes with the following

  • The AIO Desktop
  • Wireless mouse
  • Wireless keyboard
  • Power cord
  • User guide

     

The desktop looks pretty sleek with the space saving design .Lenovo has also provided with a hook at the back to make it easy to move around.

Setting up the AIO Lenovo Edge 92z is very simple. Pull the stand, plugin the power cord, press the start button and you are good to go. The stand behind the monitor is adjustable from 10 to 40 degree as per your comfort. The stand is easily removable and can be easily mounted on the ThinkCenter Extented Arm (57Y4352) which makes it versatile and swing effortless in whichever direction you wish to move.

The flat screen frameless monitor is shiny black in color which gives an elegant look for the business use.

The weight of the AIO desktop is around 8.9kg. However, this is a desktop and not a laptop so the weight is understandable.

The touch screen is very reflexive and smooth. The touch and zoom feature is very impressive and you can easily zoom in and out when you want to take a closer look at something. If you don’t want to use the touch it provides wireless mouse and keyboard which is very useful when just want to operate the machine lying down on couch. I personally used it to watch movies while sitting away from the desktop and found the experience enjoyable.

The keyboard is spill proof so you do need not worry if you drop coffee over it by mistake. It can easily slide under the monitor when not required an add-on to space saving design.

Connectivity Options

The edge provides a lot of connectivity interfaces within the monitor. It has 6 Slots of USB 2.0 or 3.0 connector. If you have more than 6 USB devices you can connect a USB hub and connect to additional devices. It also has an HDMI in and out slot and a shortcut key to switch between the display screens. It has an Ethernet connector to attach to Ethernet cable or LAN.

In addition to the microphone and headphone connector it also has an integrated SD card reader. It also provides a cable lock slot for security reasons.

There is a system stand which is adjustable as per your comfort. You can remove the stand and the monitor and it can be wall mounted as well which allows for more user friendly interaction when mounted for interactive advertising.

It comes with integrated camera with 1.3 MP with IPS wide viewing angle and full infinity screen. Along with all the above this Lenovo edge comes with a Wi-Fi direct and Bluetooth features which really makes users to do with lot more things.

Touchscreen, Display and Audio Quality

The touch screen comes with attractive glossy screen with the 10-point multi touch feature.

It comes with 21.5” wide HD LED display screen which give a very clear picture quality with a well usage while watching movies or playing games or doing some graphics or presentation. Scroll , tap, touch, drag , slide becomes quite easy with the multi touch support . Also the IPS wide viewing screen feature gives the amazing closer view to look at something specific. However with the glossy screen will tend to reflect the light from tube light lit overhead and cause unnecessary disturbance.

The Lenovo edge 92z have not made any compromise on the size of the screen and it can be connected very easily with the other display screens with HDMI in/out thus increases the productivity. The short cut button for HDMI on the desktop monitor makes it even faster to connect to larger display. It also comes with multi display support and view management utility to open multiple applications at a time.

The audio quality is really good with the in-build Dolby speakers which gives a very clear voice quality. It also provides separate jack for connecting external headphone and microphone which also gives a very clear voice quality. The 1.3MP webcam and integrated microphone just adjacent to the web cam allows you to do video conferencing anywhere in the world. This classy Lenovo PC is optimised for Microsoft Lync qualified VoIP features.

Performance

Lenovo ThinkCenter Edge 92z performance is pretty good. Powered with Intel 3rd Generation Core i5 Processor – 3470s and 2GB Discrete AMD Radeon HD7650A allows to play games, render graphics and carry of task in just double click time. Multiple display allows you to view multiple apps on a screen and the simple tap makes it fast to switch between the apps.The system boot up really fast in just a few seconds.


It also provide superior web conferencing with high quality webcam and key stroke noise separation.

It also comes with the Lenovo program name Lenovo Solution Center wherein you see more information of your system’s health like HDD, memory, backups, recoveries, devices. It also allows to run a test to check the condition of hardware.

Conclusion

Lenovo Edge 92z is sleek and stylish compared to all the other AIO desktops. The shiny black 21.5inch screen with HD infinity LED display gives it an elegant look while using in an enterprise or the business organizations. It is quite compact to make the workspace look well organized.

Also the machine is just great in performance and boots up into the OS in a few seconds. The ability to be able to open multiple apps simultaneously and with the ease to collaborate to external devices using HDMI in/out or WIFI Direct /Bluetooth allows users to do work with great efficiency. The touchscreen is very responsive and allows to quickly switch between the apps and makes it really fast to move from checking emails to open excel sheet or to browse the research work.

The estimate cost of the machine goes to 80,000Rs which is quite a bit high for the desktops.

Overall the performance, touch and simplicity is amazing. Useful for business and enterprise use but a little expensive to use as home desktop.

 


Dell Inspiron 15z Ultrabook Review

Dell inspiron 15z is the latest touch based notebook in the Inspiron series. The new Ultrabook comes with good specifications at a very reasonable price. The laptop has a large 15 inch touchscreen which makes it user friendly while working on the Windows 8 operating system. Being an ultrabook with touchscreen it supports all the basic features of a regular notebook. The notebook though weighs 2.17kgs which is almost double the weight of the normal 13 inch Ultrabooks available.

Compared to other Inspiron notebooks, Inspiron 15z looks quite hefty. However with a 15 inch large touchscreen and with connectivity ports available like 4 USB 3.0 ports, a full HDMI slot, ethernet, card reader, a secure lock slot and jack for a headset, it is made quite compact. Inspiron 15z also comes with an optical read write drive which is not available in other ultrabooks in the market.

Specification

ProcessorIntel® Core™ i7
OSWindows8 64-bit
Memory8GB 2 DIMM (4GB x 2) DDR3 1600MHz
Hard Drive500GB 5400 RPM SATA HDD, 32 mSATA SDD
Display15.6 inch LED Display with touch,
HD(1366 x 768)
Graphic CardNvidia GeForce GT630M 2GB
Optical DeviceTray load DVD Drive (Reads and Writes DVD)
Sound CardStereo Speakers with Waves MaxxAudio® 4.0
Battery6-Cell 44 WHr Battery (built-in)
KeyboardDell™ Chiclet Backlit Keyboard with Multi-touch Touchpad (English)
Adaptor65W AC Adapter
Card Reader8-in-1 Memory Card Reader: SD, SDXC, SDHC, MS, MS-Pro, MSXC, MMC, MMC+
Web CamIntegrated 1.0mp widescreen HD (1280 x 720)
BluetoothBluetooth v4.0
Controller CardIntel® Centrino® Wireless-N 2230, 802.11b/g/n + Bluetooth v4.0
SpeakersSkull Candy speakers integrated
Slots/Ports HDMI 1.4,USB 3.0 x 3,USB 3.0  PowerShare x 1,RJ45 x 1,Microphone/Headphone Jack x 1,Kinsington Lock

Looks, Build Quality, Connectivity Slots

Dell inspiron 15z comes with a matt silver aluminium lid and light grey plastic border and similar to the other notebooks in the Inspiron series. On opening the lid the display screen is cornered with a glossy glass border. The frame with plastic borders definitely cuts down the cost but does not look of great build quality.

The ultrabook comes with a backlit keyboard. If you do not want to use the backlit keys you can manually turn it of using Fn + F6 key. The keyboard is spill resistant and comfortable enough to type on even for a longer duration. The backlit keyboard is helpful while you are sitting in a room with dull lighting.

There is also a large touch pad which is pretty smooth to use and comes with a couple of mouse button on it. Further below, the base has rubber support which give a better grip to the laptop.

The ultrabook looks a little huge (dimensions 15 x 9.8 x 0.9 inch) and is not that stylish. However, it is very simple and mainly for those who want to buy a simple looking low cost model with high specications and touch technology. It also has an integrated 1MP webcam and a microphone adjacent to it for video conferencing.

Connectivity slots provided are HDMI 1.4, three USB 3.0,one USB 3.0 which provides transfer of data at faster speed, common jack for Microphone/Headphone, a secure lock, a card read and also a CD/DVD optical drive.

Display, Touchscreen

15z ultrabook display border is made of a scratch resistant gorilla glass, thus giving it a little glossy effect. The 15.6 inch LED display touch with high definition resolution (HD 1366 x 768) is not good enough for a 15 incher screens. The resolution should have been a minimum of 1400 x 800 to suit the larger screen.

There is no multi touch support with this system. It comes with normal touch, however, touch based laptops is soon going to a basic feature with the Windows 8 operating system. It is very easy to swipe and switch between docs or interfaces. The touch feature also makes browsing menus, interaction with Windows 8 tiles and the Charms menu faster and easier to access.

The Windows 8 UI is created in such a way that the touchscreen becomes addictive and the lack of it makes it harder to navigate. The downside is that the screen might get dirty quickly with fingerprint marks.

Performance

The performance is of the Inspiron 15z Ultrabook is good. It takes about 16sec to boot with SSD caching. The skully speakers located at the base just at the chassis are quite large and outputs a good sound quality. The web cam with 1MP outputs a good quality image and adjusts with the surrounding lighting to offer a clear image.

The Inspiron 15z is not a gaming notebook but comes with Nvidia GeForce GT630M 2GB graphics card. It consumes less power and does not overheat. However, it is not convineint to use this for hardcore gaming.

The battery used is 44Whr which is a little disappointing because it only lasts for 3 hours which is not that feasible for an Ultrabook.

Conclusion

Overall it’s a budget ultrabook with all the latest specifications. There is no limitation on the basic features and ports provided in the regular notebooks. The screen is pretty huge and comfortable to work on with the touch feature. It also supports DVD/CD optical drive which is usually not found in many of the ultrabooks. It also comes with skully speakers which are good enough for the laptops.

The best thing is with the 3rd generation intel core i7 processor and memory of 8 GB, 500GB HDD, a pretty good 15 inch touchscreen with Windows 8, Dell Inspiron 15z costs only Rs. 74,990 which is quite reasonable compared to other same spec ultrabook available in the market.

The bad is its very heavy to carry and looks hefty. The display resolution could be much better. Poor battery life might also limit the amount of time you can use the device without using the AC adapter.

LG Optimus G E975 Review

India is still waiting for the official launch of the Nexus 4. However, LG’s Optimus G, which is the phone on which the Google Nexus 4 is based upon, was launched in India last month. The launch went practically unnoticed, with most of the hype centered on upcoming handsets like the Samsung Galaxy SIV, Sony Xperia Z, and the HTC One. The reason for that might be that the Optimus G is actually a six month old phone, whose successor LG Optimus G Pro has already been launched in Japan and Korea. However, while the Optimus G isn’t the latest and greatest, its specifications suggest that it’s no pushover. I used it as my primary device for a week, and was pleasantly surprised by it.

Appearance

Unlike the Optimus 4X, the Optimus G doesn’t feel plasticky. It’s a solidly built premium smartphone that continues with the rectangular design ethos introduced in the previous generation LG devices. When the display is off, the screen blends with the bezel and appears to be a pristine black slab which oozes a lot of oomph. Much like the Nexus 4, the Optimus G also has a Gorilla Glass 2 back, with shiny metal bits embedded below the back cover. Under light, these metal pieces light up by reflecting the light hitting them at different angles. The effect is less pronounced and less magical than in a Nexus 4, but is still cool to look at.

Of course, glass back has its own disadvantages. The Optimus G is a device that is meant to be handled with care. My SIII has suffered numerous harsh falls, but has survived largely unscathed. With the Optimus G, however, I will almost surely end up with a cracked back. In fact, the metal rim can also add to your woes. The review unit I received had slightly chipped edges, which tended to agitate my skin while talking. In fact, the glossy back doesn’t feel as secure or comfortable to hold as the Optimus 4X with matte finish did. All these weaknesses are inherent in using a glass and metal body, and are present in similarly constructed devices from competitors like Sony.

LG Optimus G - Front View
LG Optimus G – Front View
LG Optimus G - Rear View
LG Optimus G – Rear View

One of my major complaints with the previous generation LG handsets was accidental home button presses. It was extremely easy to accidentally press the home
button while trying to press the Space key. Thankfully, LG has fixed that issue in Optimus G by adding a slight buffer space below the screen.

Display

The Optimus G has a 4.7-inch IPS display with a resolution of 768 x 1280 pixels, which is protected by a Gorilla Glass 2 screen. I wasn’t a big fan of the previous generation LG displays, which seemed to appear washed out. Thankfully, the Optimus G marks a major step forward for LG displays. While not being as saturated as Samsung displays, color reproduction is rich and natural. In fact, when compared side by side, LG’s display seems more while remaining sharp and vibrant. Sunlight visibility and viewing angles are also good enough to be not an issue. LG’s Optimus G also boasts of something called ZeroGap touch, which reduces diffused reflection by integrating the touch sensors into the glass itself. While I am not sure exactly how much this has helped, I can state with confidence that the Optimus G’s display is definitely among the best that I have seen.

LG Optimus G - Display
LG Optimus G – Display

Hardware

The LG Optimus G was the first phone powered by the Snapdragon quad-core S4 Pro chipset. Thanks to the powerful CPU and GPU, the phone is screaming fast. I am yet to encounter any lags or hiccups while using the Optimus G. Whether you are flinging through long lists, scrolling through your Gallery, or going on a rampage in GTA III, the Optimus G doesn’t miss a beat. The Optimus G boasts of 2 gigs of RAM and 32 gigs of internal storage. There is no provision for memory cards.

I ran a couple of synthetic benchmarks. As expected, the Optimus G fared very well. Unfortunately for the Optimus G, its lead won’t last for long, as next gen devices from Samsung, and HTC will hit India within the next couple of months.

LG Optimus G Compared with Samsung Galaxy SIII and HTC One X
LG Optimus G Compared with Samsung Galaxy SIII and HTC One X

The downside of the Snapdragon S4 Pro is that it gets hot. I mean really, really hot. Even after only surfing the web for half an hour, the phone begins to feel uncomfortably hot. And this is in spite of having a glass back, which should be cooler than an all metal back.

LG Optimus G - Side View
LG Optimus G – Side View

Software

LG Optimus G currently runs on Android 4.1.2 Jellybean with a custom Optimus UX layer on top. LG has announced the launch of Android 4.2.2 powered Optimus G handsets in Europe; however, it’s not known when it will roll out the update to the rest of the world.

The Optimus UX is actually quite subtle and baring some unnecessary skeumorphisms (especially in buttons and icons) and brightly colored icons, it doesn’t look too bad. However, as is the case with most manufacturers, the original Android UI is still more appealing than the custom skin. In addition to retaining QuickMemo, SmartShare, and SmartWorld, that we have seen in previous LG handsets, LG has thrown in some more new goodies for Optimus G users. The major ones are:
Q-Slide: Q-Slide is similar to Samsung’s Popup Play, which allows users to watch a video while working on something else. The video player floats on a screen and can be freely resized and repositioned. Q-slide, however, goes a step further, and can be overlaid on top of existing apps. You can continue watching a video full-screen, while working on other apps by simply controlling their opacity. For example, if you want to compose an email while watching a video, Q-Slide will simply make your email app translucent so that you can still see the video, while writing your email. And yes, you can still pinch to zoom into videos. Check out the video below for a demonstration.

LG has also added a Q-Slide section to the notification screen, which acts as a quick launcher for Q-slide compatible apps. These apps are Video, Internet, Memo, Calendar, and Calculator apps. This is a nice idea, but would have been truly useful, if I could add my own apps to the list, instead of being limited to the five system apps.

Quick Translator: Quick translator app can translate text from images that you capture between a number of languages. This feature was actually introduced with the Optimus L9 and wasn’t present in the Optimus 4X. The translator can translate words, lines, or blocks of sentences. The app also supports offline translation, but for that you will need to purchase dictionaries from the Play store.
Smart Screen: This feature is obviously inspired by Samsung’s Smart Stay, which prevents the display from timing out when it detects that you are looking at the screen.
Wise Ringtone: This is something that I haven’t seen elsewhere, is actually a very neat idea. Optimus G uses the microphone to judge if you are in a loud environment and accordingly increases your ringtone volume.
Quiet Time: This is another really smart feature, which allows you to define a time range during which everything except alarms and notifications will automatically be muted.
Safety Care: This is a feature that a lot of Indian users will appreciate. It allows you to define emergency contacts, and in case of an emergency, your location and other information will automatically be sent to them. You can also simply set a number, which when dialed will trigger a location alert to your selected contacts. LG also claims to automatically know when you are calling a emergency, so that it can alert your emergency contacts. However, I am not sure if it is configured to recognize Indian emergency numbers.

The Optimus UX retains its previous strongpoints, which includes easy access to frequently used power options from the notification bar, a very cool unlock animation, and massive amount of customizability. When I say massive amount of customizability, I really mean it. Everything including the lock screen, home screen, and the general UI is customizable. You can change themes, animations, font, font size, lock screen apps, and a whole lot more. Unfortunately, some of the existing annoyances with the Optimus UX have also been retained. The app drawer refuses to remember your sorting preferences, and you have to reselect your sorting preference every time you install a new app. The volume control button still only gives an unified volume control options. Additionally, LG has also decided to stupidly copy the water droplet sound effect from Galaxy SIII, which makes little sense.

Multimedia

The Optimus G boasts of a 13 megapixel rear camera with full HD video recording support. As you might expect from such a hefty camera, the picture quality is excellent, whether you are capturing stills or videos. Details are well preserved, noise is limited in outdoor photos, and color reproduction is good. The only issue is that the focusing can be a bit finicky and sometimes requires two or three attempts to get things right. In addition to the standard burst mode, panorama, and HDR mode, there is also LG’s Time Catch shot. In this mode, the camera actually snaps pics from a few seconds before you pressed the shoot button to a few seconds after. You can later choose which picture you want to keep. This is meant to ensure that you don’t miss the shot you wanted. LG has also improved its low light capture, and now can compete with the likes of SIII comfortably. In fact, on whole, the L3 is among the best, if not the best Android shooter. For video calling there is also a 1.3 megapixel front camera, which gets the job done. One thing that’s often ignored while reviewing a smartphone is its speakers. However, the Optimus G’s speakers are actually loud enough to deserve a special mention.

LG Optimus G - Macro
LG Optimus G – Macro
LG Optimus G - Low Light
LG Optimus G – Low Light
LG Optimus G - Diffused Light
LG Optimus G – Diffused Light
LG Optimus G - Outdoor
LG Optimus G – Outdoor

Others

Thanks to the glass back, LG had to make another compromise with the Optimus G. The rear portion is completely locked down, which means that the battery isn’t user replaceable. This isn’t something I am a big fan of. It rules out the possibility of carrying a spare battery, or even upgrading to a high performance 3rd party battery. The good news here is that the Optimus G’s battery life isn’t bad. The 2100 mAh battery lasts a day in 2G mode, and will survive for about 10-12 hours in 3G mode, which is enough to get back from your office and charge the phone. You can squeeze a couple of additional hours by enabling Eco mode for the processor, and turning on the Power Saver mode when battery is below 50%.

Connectivity options include all standard features along with Wi-Fi Direct, DLNA, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, and MHL.

Conclusion

The LG Optimus G is perhaps the first LG smartphone that I can term as a great phone, without any ifs and buts. It sports a blazing fast chipset, a sharp camera, brilliant display, and some nice software bells and whistles. My biggest reservation with the device is the glass back. However, judging by the growing trend of glass backs, and how well the older iPhones sold, and how much in demand the Nexus 4 is, it’s obvious that a lot of people don’t share the same concern. The non-user replaceable battery, and the lack of support for microSD are also downers, but they aren’t big enough issues to come in the way of the Optimus G achieving greatness.

The biggest problem LG India will have is that the Optimus G will be sandwiched between the best of the previous generation like the SIII and the One X, and the best of the current generation like the SIV, Xperia Z, and the One. If Optimus G had been launched in October or November, it would have simply been the most powerful phone in the market. However, by the end of this month, that will no longer be true. LG will also have to withstand the marketing blitzkrieg of Samsung and Sony. Priced at about Rs. 31,000 it’s the best phone you can buy for that price. It’s a fair bit cheaper than the similarly specced Sony Xperia Z, which is currently selling at about Rs. 35,000. However, the Xperia Z has a bigger screen, more powerful and user replaceable battery, and is water resistant. If you spend a bit more, you will soon be able to get the newest powerhouses from Samsung and HTC. On the other hand, if you compromise a bit on the performance, the SIII and other previous generation handsets are available for Rs. 27,000 or less. I hope that the Optimus G manages to carve out its own identity. It’s just too good a phone to be a failure.