LG Optimus Vu impressions: It’s just too wide

LG Optimus Vu at MWC

Samsung may have pioneered the concept of the big-ass phone with the Galaxy Note, but LG is already aiming to take it to a new extreme. This week, at the Mobile World Congress show in Barcelona, the phone maker is showing off the Optimus Vu, which takes the nickname ‘fablet’ (phone + tablet) to heart. With a 5-inch screen and a 4:3 aspect ratio, it’s one  wide phone. My full written and video impressions are below. 

Wide without reason

Though I’m a noted skeptic of the Galaxy Note, I don’t mind the core idea of a phone trying to incorporate some tablet-like features. The problem so far has been the implementation. The Galaxy Note is just too big for anyone without colossal-sized hands. It’s usable if you cradle it with both hands and thumb type, but as a one-handed phone (and all phones need to be able to be used with one hand), it’s just inadequate and looks downright goofy if you hold it up to your face. The Optimus Vu, however, is even more of a face pancake. Holding it up to your face feels quite awkward. 

Social stigmas aside, the Vu is also difficult to use one-handed, but unlike the Note, it doesn’t really take advantage of its added screen real estate in any meaningful way. Samsung added an extra row of icons on the Note homescreens, but LG has chosen to just stretch out Android’s four rows, which makes for an airy experience. Strangely, a fifth row has been added to the apps list screen. 

LG Optimus Vu back

No slot for the stylus

There is also no slot to hold a stylus. You can definitely use a stylus, and there is some memo-taking software included on the Vu to take advantage of one. LG may even include it in the box, but without a place to store it in the phone, you’re going to forget it when you need it most or lose it after a few days. The whole point of having a ‘fablet’ is to combine the benefits of both device types into one. If LG can’t find room in this massive design to shove a thin stylus, then it should consider going back to the drawing board. Either that or don’t push the stylus at all. I have yet to see a strong sign that there is pent up demand for it anyway. 

LG Optimus Vu stylus software

New phone, old Android

Though LG unveiled the Optimus 4X HD, a fully-functioning quad-core handset with Android 4.0, the Vu is running on last year’s hardware, for the most part. The 5-inch screen is unique with a 1024 x 768 pixel resolution, but there isn’t a good reason why this device should be running Android 2.3 (Gingerbread). Gingerbread is not built for large-screened devices. LG and Samsung may have designed some interesting custom software for the Vu and Note, but the phones’ strange resolutions and screen sizes may cause more headaches than they’re worth as apps just don’t quite fit or look right. LG says that the Vu will get an update to Android 4.0, but when exactly that is, we don’t know.

As for other specs, it runs on a 1.5GHz dual-core processor, has 32GB of internal storage, and is only 8.5mm thick, which could make it the thinnest LTE-capable phone on the market. 

Judge for yourself

I got a lot of hate for criticizing the big-ness of the Galaxy Note, which went on sale about a week ago, but you be the judge. Try out the Note and the Vu when it hits shelves. If you want a really wide phone, give it a go. The market will decide whether this new category of devices ultimately sticks around. I’m not so sure it isn’t a fad. What do you think? 

Product Review

Want to see how powerful the Snapdragon 855 chip is? Just rev up the Xiaomi Mi 9

How fast do you want to go? If the answer to this is “as fast as possible,” then take a long look at the Xiaomi Mi 9. It’s one of the highest performance smartphones you can buy. It’s a real monster, and we’ve been using it.

Huawei P30 Pro vs. Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus: 2019’s biggest flagships clash

Huawei launched the powerful P30 Pro. It's a beautiful phone with tons of power and some extremely capable cameras. But you could also describe the Galaxy S10 Plus that way — so which is better?
Product Review

The new iPad Mini isn’t a beauty, but it performs like a beast

Apple’s new iPad Mini has beastly performance, fluid iOS 12 software, and good battery life. It also looks like it came straight out of 2015, because the design hasn’t been changed. Here's our review of Apple’s 7.9-inch tablet.
Product Review

There’s almost nothing bad to say about the Mi Mix 3, but you still shouldn’t buy it

The Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 is good-looking, really well made, packed with features, and is a powerful, modern, desirable smartphone. But you probably shouldn’t buy it. Why? Nothing wrong with the device itself, but Xiaomi itself is mostly to…

Tag Heuer’s Golf Edition smartwatch is a lot more than just a flash of new color

Tag Heuer's Golf Edition Connected Modular 45 smartwatch has a lot more going for it than just a flashy new color scheme. From the titanium body and black PVD coating to the new Golf app, this is a true special edition.

The best Sony Xperia 10 Plus cases to keep your smartphone safe

It's always a smart play to safeguard your smartphone with a decent case or cover. We've identified the best Sony Xperia 10 Plus cases here, so take your pick from rugged protection to slim style.
Product Review

4 Lenses, 40 megapixels, and 400k ISO. Huawei’s P30 Pro is a photography freak

Huawei’s P-series phones place an emphasis on the camera. That’s why the company partnered with Leica on the camera tuning. The latest phone is the Huawei P30 Pro, and it must fill the big shoes of last year’s stunning P20 Pro. Is it…

More than a screenshot: How to record the screen on an Android device

If you've ever want to record video of your Android screen, there are plenty of apps that can help. Here's an easy guide on how to record the screen on an Android device with the right settings and apps.

Want to watch Netflix in bed or browse the web? We have a tablet for everyone

There’s so much choice when shopping for a new tablet that it can be hard to pick the right one. From iPads to Android, these are our picks for the best tablets you can buy right now whatever your budget.

Yes, you can use Android apps on your Chromebook. Here's how

You can now get Android apps on your Chromebook! Google has enabled the Google Play Store app support on its Chrome OS and Chromebook hardware, so to get you started, here's our guide on how to get Android apps on a Chromebook.

Samsung Galaxy Fold pre-orders will start April 26, with shipment on May 3

The Samsung Galaxy Fold has arrived, and it goes on sale soon. Folding out from a 4.6-inch display to a tablet-sized 7.3-inch display, this unique device has six cameras, two batteries, and special software to help you use multiple apps.

Huawei P30 Pro is a gorgeous-looking smartphone packed with camera ingenuity

Huawei has kicked off the new year by launching the new Huawei P30 Pro and P30. With upgraded hardware, new software tricks, and some absolutely stunning cameras, Huawei's new phones are serious contenders.
Product Review

Compared to the P30 Pro, Huawei may have stripped too much out of the P30 phone

Has Huawei pulled all the best parts out of the P30 Pro to make the P30, its cheaper, smaller sister phone? Yes, but the answer is more complicated than that. Here’s our look at the 6.1-inch P30.

Huawei P30 Pro vs. Mate 20 Pro vs. P20 Pro: Which Huawei flagship is best for you?

If you're after a Huawei smartphone, but can't pick between this year's flagship and the previous two, or maybe you're looking to upgrade, we're here to explain what makes the P30 Pro, P20 Pro, and Mate 20 Pro different.