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LG has an ongoing smartphone problem: despite a couple of valiant efforts (the G2x comes to thoughts) the corporate continues to live in the shadow of rival Samsung. Most of this malaise will be attributed to hit-and-miss hardware combined with lackluster software program (we're looking at you, Spectrum). Final February, at Cell World Congress, LG spiced things up with a lovely collection of gadgets together with the Optimus L7, Optimus Vu and Optimus 4X HD -- the latter being one in all the first quad-core handsets announced. Now, six months later, we dwell in a world the place the worldwide versions of HTC's One X and Samsung's Galaxy S III dominate the superphone market and share the quad-core crown. With me-too features like a Tegra three processor, 4.7-inch HD display, 8-megapixel camera and Ice Cream Sandwich on board, the Optimus 4X HD seems ready to play in the massive leagues. Does it succeed or is it only a flash within the pan? Is all of it style over substance or does it bring one thing distinctive and significant to the desk? If Samsung's Galaxy S III occupies the curved, natural, pebble-like end of the design spectrum, LG's Optimus 4X HD is the polar opposite -- angular, manufactured, slab-like. With this handset, it's easy to assume that LG's skating the place the puck was once (the squarish Galaxy S II) till you discover the household resemblance -- the Optimus L7 and Optimus Vu share the identical aesthetic. As with the One X, there's one thing instantly likeable concerning the 4X HD's proportions. Where the Galaxy S III's graceful strains take some time to grow on you (the white one being our favourite), LG's quad-core Optimus grabs your attention from the onset. Our white evaluation unit (it's also accessible in black) is especially hanging -- this is a protected, but elegant design, the type of cellphone you'd anticipate James Bond to accessorize his tuxedo with. Construct quality is solid, with no flexing or creaks but the One X's machined, polycarbonate unibody still trumps the Korean competitors -- like the Galaxy S III, the 4X HD's plastics feel and look a bit of low cost for a flagship. It's the type of cellphone you'd anticipate James Bond to accessorize his tuxedo with. In entrance, the Optimus 4X HD is all Gorilla glass. A white bezel surrounds the 4.7-inch show, interrupted only by three backlit, capacitive buttons at the bottom and the proximity sensor, earpiece, LG brand and 1.2-megapixel front-facing shooter up prime. That silver LG brand appears to be like like an afterthought proper beneath the earpiece's tastefully recessed white mesh grille. It is price noting that those capacitive keys are invisible until backlit and troublesome to see in shiny sunlight so you may have to memorize the order: again, house and menu (from left to proper). Sure, like Samsung with the Galaxy S III, LG's clinging on to some vestigial menu button as an alternative of rightfully offering a current apps key. While a protracted press of the home button brings up the recent apps record, the 4X HD's key layout is the exact reverse of the Galaxy S III's. Why is it that, two Android variations past Gingerbread, manufacturers nonetheless can't agree on button placement? This is a hint Samsung and LG: Ice Cream Sandwich and Jelly Bean already provide a typical key structure -- use it. Flip the Optimus 4X HD over and you're greeted by a vast, white, textured and removable plastic again cover adorned with an 8-megapixel autofocus camera mounted in a flush, machined aluminum pod and flanked by a single LED flash (top left), another LG emblem (embossed and centered under) and two horizontal slits masking the mono speaker (bottom left). Like with the earpiece on the front, the attention to element and the match and finish are spectacular. The battery door's edges are beveled and contribute to about half of the handset's 8.9mm (0.35-inch) thickness, making the 4X HD extraordinarily comfortable to hold regardless of its chiseled build. Speaking of thickness, it's not the only measurement that's on par with the competitors -- at 141g (4.Ninety seven ounces) and 132 x 68mm (5.2 x 2.68 inches), weight and footprint are also comparable. Pop the again cover off and you'll find an NFC antenna embedded in the again of the door, with matching contacts on the cellphone subsequent to the usual SIM holder and microSD card slot above the removable 2,150mAh Li-Ion battery. The battery door's edges are beveled and contribute to half of the handset's thickness. What's left of the sides of the Optimus 4X HD -- the flat half that's not a part of the beveled back cowl -- is delimited by two chromed-plastic rims, one following the sting of the front glass, the other assembly the seam of the battery door. This white plastic area is host to numerous connectors and buttons: a regular 3.5mm headphone jack, secondary mic and energy/lock key on prime; a micro-USB / MHL port, main mic at the bottom; a quantity rocker on the left; and nothing on the suitable. Here once more, LG reveals impeccable craftsmanship, with a subtle, recessed, pyramid-like sample adorning the white plastic left and right sides, and the quantity rocker protruding just enough to be positioned by feel. Sadly, the Optimus 4X HD's "True HD IPS" capacitive touchscreen falls wanting the One X's phenomenal Super LCD 2 and the Galaxy S III's brilliant Tremendous AMOLED displays. It is definitely a positive 4.7-inch, 1,280x720-pixel panel in its own right -- non-PenTile and shiny, with deep blacks, pure colours and respectable viewing angles. The issue is glare, particularly in direct sunlight and when trying on the display from vertical angles better than 30 levels. We suspect that this is the results of the show not being bonded to the front glass -- a glaring omission (pun meant). This deficiency can somewhat be overcome by boosting the display brightness, but at the expense of battery life, in fact. The issue with the display is glare, particularly in direct sunlight. Spec-wise, the Optimus 4X HD ticks just about each superphone checkbox other than LTE -- but hey, that is what LG's Optimus LTE II is for, proper? 21Mbps (850 / 900 / 1900 / 2100MHz) plus quadband EDGE (850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900MHz) unlocked radios, WiFi b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0 LE, GPS / AGPS and NFC. Virtually speaking, this implies you'll enjoy the 4X HD almost anywhere in the world except on AWS 3G networks like T-Mobile in the US and Wind in Canada (we used an AT&T SIM with none issues). While the microSD card slot will be mounted as a USB mass storage system, the one technique to access the 16GB of inner flash is by way of MTP or PTP. The same old array of sensors tops off the features record, including ambient light, proximity, compass, accelerometer and gyroscope. Sadly, there is no notification LED. The 4X HD feels snappy across the board. From the second we put our mitts on the Optimus 4X HD, it was clear that this handset isn't any slouch. That is to be expected, contemplating the athletic Tegra three chip hiding inside. Still, LG has a historical past of riddling its top-notch hardware with sub-par software program. Thankfully, the corporate's mild Ice Cream Sandwich customizations have kept the stock performance (and experience) principally intact. The 4X HD feels snappy throughout the board, as confirmed by our suite of benchmarks. Radio performance matched our expectations, with no issues to report. Calls sounded loud and clear in our exams, and noise cancellation labored significantly effectively. The constructed-in speaker is considerably tinny sounding, however will get the job carried out. US' largest GSM provider. Battery life, however, is much less stellar. In our normal rundown check, the place we begin with a full charge and play a video in a loop with the show brightness and quantity set to half, a seventy five % or higher 3G signal, WiFi and GPS enabled but disconnected, and Bluetooth disabled, the Optimus 4X HD's 2,150mAh battery lasted six hours and 21 minutes. That's on the decrease end of the spectrum when in comparison with the current crop of high-finish Android phones. Additionally, while this result's just like what we observed with the Tegra 3-geared up One X, HTC's flagship solely packs a 1,800mAh cell. We managed to get about 14 hours of reasonable use from the 4X HD -- that's checking email and social networks, occasional calling and texting, taking just a few pictures and light net surfing. This means most folks will likely be ready to use LG's quad-core Optimus for a whole day on a full cost but energy customers will possible need to deliver a charger. Getting the digital camera to give attention to something however the middle of the body is an exercise in frustration. The Optimus 4X HD digicam is a mixed bag. While there's nothing incorrect with the hardware -- a fashionable 8-megapixel backside-illuminated sensor and autofocus lens paired with a single LED flash and capable of recording HD video at 1080p -- the software is flawed. There's really no downside with the person interface, which is comprehensive and intuitive. Our gripe comes from an autofocus technique which supplies zero flexibility. The shooter is regularly re-focusing but there's completely no approach to forestall this. There isn't any devoted two-stage camera key, no means of touching and holding the on-screen shutter button to lock focus and publicity then releasing it to take the shot. Even touch-to-focus is broken, focusing solely briefly the place you level but then returning to that continuous focus leitmotif earlier than you even have an opportunity to snap the image. Needless to say, getting the digicam to give attention to something however the center of the body is an exercise in persistence and frustration. It is too unhealthy, actually, because the resulting shots are quite lovely. Colours are maybe a bit of delicate however white balance and exposure are fairly correct. Low gentle performance is decent sufficient -- noise solely rears its ugly head in the most excessive of circumstances. The Optimus 4X HD options HDR, panorama and burst modes, the latter capturing about 4 to 5 frames per second but limited to VGA resolution. In the case of moving footage, the 4X HD records 1080p HD video at 30fps with continuous autofocus and mono audio. Image and sound high quality are certainly tremendous for content encoded at 10Mbps -- there's some excess sharpening and more autofocus hunting than we're snug with, however nothing that can't be remedied with a software program replace. Because it at the moment stands, LG's quad-core Optimus falls in need of the Galaxy S III and One X in the digicam division, however there's nonetheless some untapped potential. This UI is forward of anything we have ever sampled from LG. We have been pleasantly stunned with LG's UI 3.Zero skin working on top of Ice Cream Sandwich when we reviewed the Optimus L7 not too long ago and we're completely happy to report that the Optimus 4X HD follows suit. Billing itself as "unobtrusive and simple", this latest UI is leaps and bounds ahead of something we've ever sampled from LG earlier than -- each in terms of experience and efficiency. What you're getting then is mostly stock Android 4.0.Three with just a few embellishments -- some really helpful, others purely cosmetic. The quick settings menu within the notifications tray is definitely a worthy function. By default it helps you to access the QuickMemo app (used to annotate what's on the screen and save the outcome as a picture, Galaxy Word fashion), change sound profiles, enable / disable WiFi and turn Bluetooth on / off. In fact it's fully configurable with several different settings to select from, reminiscent of airplane mode, GPS, NFC and hotspot. Additionally useful are the four customizable fast-entry apps on the lock screen. The launcher provides a number of tweaks, together with some paying homage to CyanogenMod (the 5x6 app grid option) and our favorite -- the power to create folders in the app tray by merely dragging and dropping apps. Oh, and five apps can be packed within the dock, up from the default 4. On the more cosmetic finish of issues, you are able to pick out completely different transition results for the home display and considered one of five clock widgets for the lock screen. In the case of pre-put in apps, LG's kept litter to a minimum. Remember the fact that our overview unit is being bought unsubsidized -- provider versions will seemingly feature further bundled apps. Yahoo!'s Finance, Information and Weather apps additionally come pre-loaded, along with Polaris Office. Solely a few of these apps might be uninstalled, however all of them will be disabled. You'll find even more info about UI 3.Zero in our Optimus L7 review. It's clear that with the Optimus 4X HD LG's trying to step things up a notch and break away from an embarrassing string of forgettable smartphones. From a design standpoint it's a hit -- the 4X HD is refined and well-crafted, with great attention to element. At this worth point (€490 / $590) we might prefer fancier supplies, however this additionally applies to Samsung's Galaxy S III. Spec-clever it fits the invoice, at the least on paper. The show, while higher than most, misses the mark when in comparison with the display on HTC's One X, mostly as a consequence of excess glare. Battery life is a bit underwhelming as effectively, regardless of the generous 2,150mAh cell. Lastly, we'd prefer to see a software replace to unleash the digital camera's full potential, particularly in the case of the autofocus. Regardless of these limitations, the Optimus 4X HD packs a critical punch by way of performance -- it runs one of many fastest and least offensive Ice Cream Sandwich skins we've encountered to this point. In the end, LG's flagship might not have toppled Samsung's Galaxy S III and HTC's One X from the quad-core throne, but it's positively made it to the royal court docket. 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