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LG Optimus G Pro review

A worthy rival for those suffering from Galaxy fatigue

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LG Optimus G Pro review

The LG Optimus G Pro is a carrier-branded device, so a certain amount of preinstalled bloatware is to be expected. AT&T's selection of 10 apps may be more useful than not, but it still makes us sad to see Android apps we can't uninstall in the year 2013.

On the throwaway end of the spectrum is AT&T Navigator, the carrier's $9.99 per month subscription-based service with 30-day free trial. However, Google's excellent – and free – Maps and Navigation apps are also on hand, so it's hard to imagine who would want to pay this monthly fee when the free service is so far superior.

AT&T DriveMode is a more useful addition, limiting what the user can do with the phone when driving faster than 25MPH. This is something Google and other device makers should start including at the OS level, especially when AT&T's app features some chunky, low-resolution graphics clearly not designed for the G Pro's luscious display.

LG Optimus G Pro review

When the G Pro first launches, users are given the option to use AT&T Ready2Go, which rolls back the clock at least a year or two by attempting to make it easier to set up your smartphone using… a computer. We couldn't hit the Cancel button fast enough, folks.

In addition to the usual variety of Google apps, the G Pro also bundles Polaris Office 4 for viewing or editing Microsoft Office documents, AT&T-owned YP Mobile for finding nearby businesses and File Manager for managing local or online storage, although the latter is limited to Dropbox only for now.

While the LG Optimus G Pro includes a near-field communication (NFC) chip, popular apps such as Google Wallet can't yet be installed on it. AT&T's Isis Mobile Wallet is a suitable substitute, but you'll need a special SIM card only available in test markets like Austin, Texas or Salt Lake City, Utah.

The G Pro does support Android Beam file transfer, and can use NFC tags to change various aspects of the device with just a tap. The included LG Tag+ app allows users to create and write such customized tags, which can be used for convenience features like turning on Bluetooth hands-free when you get in the car. It's a neat trick, but this kind of technology hasn't found much practical use in the U.S. as yet.

LG also complements the QuickMemo feature with a Notebook app. We're happy to see LG hasn't followed Samsung down the stylus rabbit hole, and the ability to scribble a quick handwritten note right on the display actually came in handy on more than one occasion. Notebook is also a great way to entertain impatient toddlers during a road trip, assuming you put the handset into airplane mode before handing it over.