LG, recently, has been in a pretty uncertain place in the smartphone world. It’s been a long while since it had a relevant high end Android device, especially in the US market. The low end Optimus T and it’s stateside variants have succeeded in delivering a solid entry level Android experience, but in terms of headlining devices, they’ve been a little short. The Optimus 2X and G2x made a decent splash, and the G2x was probably LG’s last true hit in the US market. Since then, the Optimus 3D hit the US market as the Thrill to a relatively lukewarm reception, and LTE devices like the Revolution, Spectrum, and Nitro have been similarly neglected by the market. Mostly, the problem has been twofold: mediocre hardware design, and rather poor software builds, both in terms of UI as well as stability. LG’s Froyo and Gingerbread skins were ugly, clunky, and generally among the worst I saw from a major handset manufacturer at the time, and many devices (including the Revolution and, surprisingly, the G2x, even though it ran a nearly stock Android UI) were plagued by unstable software builds and infrequent update intervals. 

So with all that in mind, this release cycle is very important for LG to re-establish itself as a maker of high-end Android phones, competing on the razor-edge of market share and mindshare with the HTCs and Samsungs of the world. Thus arrives the Optimus 4X HD, the flagship of LG’s new lineup, a device expected to go head to head with the international versions of the HTC One X and Samsung Galaxy S III.  It comes with high expectations and a spec list to match - 1.5GHz Tegra 3 quad-core, 4.7” 720p display with an IPS LCD panel, 1GB of LPDDR2 RAM, 16GB of NAND storage (expandable via microSD), an 8MP camera with 1080p video recording, and a massive 2150mAh, 3.8V battery (8.2 Wh, or 8.17 if you do the math yourself.) 

Physical Comparison
  LG Optimus 4X HD Samsung Galaxy Nexus HSPA+ Samsung Galaxy S3 HTC One X
Height 132.4 mm (5.21") 135.5 mm (5.33") 136.6 mm (5.38") 134.8 mm (5.31")
Width 68.1 mm (2.68") 67.94 mm (2.67") 70.6 mm (2.78") 69.9 mm (2.75")
Depth 8.9 mm (0.35") 8.94 mm (0.35") 8.6 mm (0.34") 8.9 mm (0.35")
Weight 133 g (4.7 oz) 135 g (4.8 oz) 133 g (4.7 oz) 129 g (4.6 oz)
CPU 1.5 GHz Tegra 3 Quad-Core Cortex A9 1.2 GHz TI OMAP 4460 Dual-Core Cortex A9 1.5 GHz Exynos 4412 Quad-Core Cortex A9 1.5 GHz Tegra 3 Quad-Core Cortex A9
GPU Nvidia GeForce ULP PowerVR SGX 540 ARM Mali400MP4 Nvidia GeForce ULP
RAM 1 GB LPDDR2 1 GB LPDDR2 1 GB LPDDR2 1 GB LPDDR2
NAND 16 GB NAND with up to 32 GB microSD 16 GB NAND 16/32/64 GB NAND with up to 32 GB microSD 32 GB NAND
Camera 8 MP with AF/LED Flash, 1.3 MP front facing 5 MP with AF/LED Flash, 1.3 MP front facing 8 MP with AF/LED Flash, 1.9 MP front facing 8 MP with AF/LED Flash, 1.3 MP front facing
Screen 4.7" 1280 x 720 IPS LCD-TFT 4.65" 1280x720 SAMOLED HD 4.8" 1280x720 SAMOLED HD 4.7" 1280 x 720 LCD-TFT
Battery Removable 8.17 Whr Removable 6.48 Whr Removable 7.77 Whr Internal 6.66 Whr

The Optimus 4X HD, One X, and Galaxy S III all have quad-core A9 SoCs, large 720p displays, and sit at the very top of each manufacturer's respective Android 4.0 lineup. It’s also interesting to note that at present, none of these three are available in the US in their quad-core international forms. Both HTC and Samsung have gone with 28nm Qualcomm dual-core CPUs and LTE/DC-HSPA+ modems with the American versions of the One X and SGS3, and it’s not currently clear when or in what form the Optimus 4X HD will reach the US. So let’s focus on the international version that we have here. LG dropped off the O4X HD at my house four days before I flew to India for a month-long vacation. I left my trusty Galaxy Nexus at home (a decision I regretted later because it deprived me of the chance to play with Jelly Bean) and brought along the Optimus to see how it fared as a standalone travel companion. My biggest question going in was whether or not LG had finally turned around their history of software woes, and if the included software build could keep up with the admittedly stellar hardware on tap. I ended up being pleasantly surprised, but we'll get there in time. First up - the design.

Hardware
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  • lowlymarine - Wednesday, August 29, 2012 - link

    The chart on the first page says the Galaxy Nexus has an "ARM Mali-400" for the GPU, but I'm fairly certain it actually uses a PowerVR SGX540. Reply
  • lowlymarine - Wednesday, August 29, 2012 - link

    Also, no version of the Galaxy Nexus has a MicroSD slot, to my knowledge. And on page 7:
    "from an optical standpoint it comes with what I believe is a 4P (4 plastic elements) system with a focal length of <focal>mm."
    Not sure what's going on there.

    Excellent review overall though. I have to agree on the button layout, it's a shame they didn't use the ICS default buttons ans instead chose to stick to a legacy menu button.
    Reply
  • VivekGowri - Wednesday, August 29, 2012 - link

    Missed a couple of things when I was switching it from SGS2 to the Galaxy Nexus. The focal length is 3.2mm - I just put in a placeholder when I was writing and simply forgot to put in the value when the review went live. Reply
  • Skidmarks - Wednesday, August 29, 2012 - link

    It seems to have very capable hardware but is truly a dreadful looking thing IMO. Reply
  • Belard - Wednesday, August 29, 2012 - link

    Agreed... then again, look at it this way. When a touch-screen device, such as a phone is made - everything is made around the screen. Right? That doesn't leave much room for much of anything else. Other than the size, thickness, materials, placement of buttons. If you GO BACK in time in the days of candy-bar, sliders, flip-phones - someone like SONY alone had about 60 different phones on the market at once time. Now SONY has about a dozen active smart phone designs (almost all are rectangle with curved corners) - some are quite attractive. But few are available - or they are at the SONY STORE at full price. at&t only sells 1 SONY phone. (I don't consider SONY because their track record with Android is sub-par at this time and their love for those rubber covers over the USB port which I have to fight to remove)

    You had different colors, different shape of buttons, different size screens. Remember the days of the LG Chocolate?

    The required touch-screen kill design ideas. But looking at MC/ Samsung / SONY and NOKIA - there are style DNA that can still be applied to the shape. SONY's style tends to make the phone bulkier than it should be.
    Reply
  • Mike0 - Wednesday, August 29, 2012 - link

    Also, the International One X has 32GB NAND, not 16GB unless you're referring to the Snapdragon S4 variety which would be useless in this comparison :P Reply
  • Mike0 - Wednesday, August 29, 2012 - link

    And it's screen is Super LCD2, if you're including technical terms like SAMOLED. Reply
  • Mike0 - Wednesday, August 29, 2012 - link

    Also also, (last one I promise :P) the latest 4.0.4 update for the One X International dramatically improves it's scores in BrowserMark (Some people are getting 125000+) and Vellamo (Over 2000 now) and probably more benchmarks so it may be worth updating your results. Reply
  • VivekGowri - Wednesday, August 29, 2012 - link

    Yeah, I copied the table over from another review and missed a few things when I was changing them. Missed the GPU/SD card thing when I changed from SGS2 to SGN, and the NAND when I changed from One X (AT&T) to One X (Intl.) Should be fixed now though. Reply
  • arnoudw - Thursday, August 30, 2012 - link

    The update to 4.0.4 also drastically improved battery life. Here are some tests: http://tweakers.net/nieuws/83464/update-htc-one-x-... Reply

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