LG Optimus 4X HD impressions: 4 core, but only 3G

LG Optimus 4X HD

Check out our full review of the LG Optimus 4X HD smartphone.

Mobile World Congress has seen a big coming out for Nvidia’s new Tegra 3 quad-core processor with appearances in a number of phones, including LG’s new powerhouse, the Optimus 4X HD. As you might guess from its name, the Optimus 4X HD has four processor cores and an HD 720p screen. Still, despite packing in more cores, the Optimus 4X won’t have a feature that almost all phone fanatics should be looking for: 4G LTE connectivity. 

Big screen super phone

LG is attacking the top-tier market with the Optimus 4X. The new phone will go head to head with expensive devices like the Galaxy Nexus, iPhone 4S, Motorola Droid Razr, Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket, and Samsung Galaxy Note. With a 4.7-inch screen, it’s certainly large enough to compete with the biggest of them (except maybe the LG Optimus Vu), and will likely be a bit too big for some users. We’re hitting the comfort limit of smartphones like these. Still, despite it’s big screen, the Optimus does feel a bit smaller than other 4.7-inch devices like the Galaxy Nexus, due mostly to its thin design and shorter length. The Optimus has more screen and less bezel, which is a feature that helps make its huge screen a bit more manageable.

LG Optimus 4X HD

LG Optimus 4X HDDesign-wise, LG is mostly sticking with the same boxy, brushed silver look that has dominated its smartphone line for the last year or so, but representatives were quick to point out a silver triangle cut-out texture that lines the side of the phone. It has no practical purpose, but does give the Optimus a bit of personality — a bit. Not that it needs to scream out its presence. Performance is more important than flash.

Android ICS

The Optimus 4X follows in line with the other new quad-core phones at the show — like the HTC One X, Huawei Ascend D Quad, etc – and attempts to differentiate itself by actually supporting the newest version of Android. It’s sad that there are still new devices debuting without Android 4.0, including many from LG, but those opting for quad-core needn’t worry.

Despite Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) looking pretty good on its own, LG has decided to modify the new OS and slap on its own user interface modifications. The changes are mostly tame icon changes, but do make ICS look a bit more like older versions of Android. Enhancements like folder creation, a better organized settings menu, and screen customization are all mostly intact, but all tweaked ever so slightly. Without any truly innovative ideas to differentiate its handsets, LG, like many other manufacturers, continues to rely on slightly altering the design of Android just for the sake of it. Luckily, the changes don’t seem to impede the new OS.

LG Optimus 4X HD

LG Optimus 4X HD

LG Optimus 4X HD

Tegra 3 performance

In our limited testing, the Tegra 3 seems to perform quite well. We plan to ask Nvidia some questions about the new chipset tomorrow, but we played through some complex games and demos and had much less slowdown than on most dual-core phones. And though the Tegra 3 is marked as a quad-core phone, its design heavily relies upon an additional fifth core, which performs common, easy tasks on its own – saving battery life. We didn’t notice any lag between the time when we imagine the additional companion core was handling things and when the rest of the processors boot up either.

Overall, the Tegra 3 was great. There’s just one problem: it isn’t yet compatible with LTE antennas. We’re guessing a fix will be on the way, but currently, every quad-core Tegra 3 phone is incapable of 4G LTE connectivity. So, essentially, you’ve got yourself a choice coming up. Do you want to have the most powerful phone, or do you want a phone that can connect to high-speed networks? It’s not a fun choice because to really take advantage of either technology, it really helps to have the other.