LG Optimus G Pro review

A worthy rival for those suffering from Galaxy fatigue

TODO alt text

LG Optimus G Pro review

As you might imagine, a 5.5-inch display makes for one serious dialer, and the G Pro's Phone app is among the biggest and best we've seen. Light gray buttons are easy to hit with accuracy, and if you hold the device just right, this can almost be done comfortably with one hand.

Start punching in a number, and the dialer automatically presents the first contact with matching data. A number appears at right when multiple matches are found; tap the downward-facing triangle to display them all. Tapping a contact places that number in the dialer, but you'll need to hit the big green Call button to actually connect.

Across the top are shortcuts for Dial, Call Logs, Contacts, Favorites and Groups – all pretty straightforward stuff, but a tap of the Menu button pulls up additional options including Speed Dial, Send Message, Add 2-Second Pause, Add Wait or the ability to switch to One-Handed Operation, which collapses the dialer by adding space to the left or right of the screen to make it easier to dial with one hand. We found this unnecessary for those with larger hands, however.

LG Optimus G Pro review

On the Contacts tab, users can also select entries to call, which can include other G Pro users via VuTalk, which allows voice callers to share handwritten QuickMemo notes between devices. Sadly, none of our contacts own an Optimus G Pro, so we were unable to try out this feature, which seems like it could be handy for business users to collaborate.

Otherwise, we have little to complain about: The LG Optimus G Pro produced clear, noise-free voice calls on AT&T's network, and the rear speaker volume was exceptionally loud and clear even while driving, which is a good thing since the handset's girth is quite large for longer conversations.

Internet and messaging

LG Optimus G Pro review

LG hasn't done much with the stock Android browser here, aside from making AT&T's Yahoo! portal the default homepage. We've always found its anemic feature set no match for Google Chrome, which can thankfully be installed via Google Play.

However, we discovered one surprising exception on the Optimus G Pro: In what's a first, at least from our personal experience, the stock browser was actually faster than Chrome by a wide enough margin to make us run the tests twice to be sure it wasn't a mistake.

With the latest version of Chrome for Android, the SunSpider 0.9.1 JavaScript benchmark produced a respectable 1091.9ms compared to the stock browser's 1224.3ms. However, the opposite was true with Peacekeeper, where Chrome ranked just behind the Galaxy S3 with a score of 615. Curiously, the stock browser scored slightly ahead of Samsung's handset with a score of 691, placing it narrowly behind the iPhone 5.

LG Optimus G Pro review

That's not quite enough of a lead to make us switch from Chrome, but regardless of which browser you choose, the G Pro offers desktop-class speed from a mobile device.

For those who decide to stick with the default Browser app, the pop-up Browser Bar at the bottom of the screen is ready to assist with your social networking needs. In addition to Facebook and Twitter buttons, users can jump between three panes with hotlinks to AT&T Yahoo! sections for Popular, News, Sports, Entertainment and Offers or even customize it with your own selections.

The built-in Messaging app is a fairly straightforward affair for sending text or multimedia missives. LG has included six different "conversation skins" for changing the look and feel of your chats, with the ability to schedule a future time for messages to be sent.

Rather than head to the notifications window to read incoming messages, a nifty pop-up balloon appears at the top of the screen, easily dismissed by tapping the X. This came in quite handy for entering verification codes sent from apps like Facebook, since the balloon remains onscreen until dismissed.

If you're the type who prefers to live in AT&T's world, the carrier has also preinstalled (as in, you can't remove) its own cloud-based Messages app, which saves texts, voice calls and voicemail messages in a central location on their servers. The app is free and handy if you have more than one Android device, but we still prefer Google Voice for this kind of thing.