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? 


It’s back! Here’s how to switch to Twitter’s reverse chronological feed

Twitter has finally brought back the reverse chronological feed, allowing you to see your feed based on the newest tweets, rather than using Twitter's algorithm that shows what it thinks you want to see. It's easy to switch.

Get $100 discount on the Razer Phone 2 for a limited time

The Razer Phone 2 is finally here, and it's got upgraded specs, that super-smooth 120Hz display, and an updated design. Here's absolutely everything you need to know about the Razer Phone 2.

Learn how to play YouTube in the background on iOS and Android

We show you how to play YouTube in the background with apps such as Opera, Chrome, and Firefox -- along with the premium offerings like YouTube Premium -- whether you have an Android or iOS device.

Is this the first image of a Galaxy S10 being used in real life?

It won't be long now; With 2019 underway, the Samsung Galaxy S10 is almost here. Before it arrives, here's absolutely everything you need to know about all three of Samsung's next flagships.

We tried all the latest and greatest smartphones to find the best of 2019

Smartphones are perhaps the most important and personal piece of tech on the planet. That’s why it’s important to pick the best phone for your individual needs. Here are the best smartphones you can buy.

Huawei in for a rough year as feds investigate alleged trade secrets theft

Huawei is also facing issues in the U.S., but it doesn't seem like that will end any time soon. According to a new report, the company is facing a federal investigation in the U.S. for allegedly stealing trade secrets.

Want more power, but faster? This new charging tech claims it can deliver

Chunky power bricks and slow charging could be a thing of the past with GaNFast technology from Navitas Semiconductors. By using an alternative to silicon, GaNFast reduces power consumption and boosts output.

Android Q: Everything we know so far about Google’s next mobile OS

Android Pie recently rolled out, but it's already time to look ahead to Android Q, the next version of Google's mobile OS. We've seen a number of rumors and leaks come out about the operating system -- here's everything we know so far.

Turn to these apps to help you in your next hunt for a job

Looking for a job can be a stressful experience, but these days, a simple mobile app can help you to find and apply for jobs all over the country -- here are some of the best job search apps for iOS and Android.

Sony is showing something off at MWC -- will it be the Xperia XZ4?

Sony may have released the Xperia XZ3 in the past few months, but already it's preparing to release a follow-up, the Xperia XZ4. We're learning plenty about the phone now some details have started to leak out, and it's getting exciting.

Do these Geekbench results accurately represent the Moto G7?

The Moto G6 range is still relatively new to the market, but rumors have already started about the Moto G7, which is expected some time in 2019. Apparently, a G7 Power version will be joining the G7, G7 Play, and G7 Plus.

Omron HeartGuide brings blood pressure monitoring to your wrist

High blood pressure leads to heart attacks, strokes, and many other health problems, so it's important to keep an eye on. Omron's HeartGuide is a fitness tracking watch that can also monitor your blood pressure from your wrist.

Android vs. iOS: Which smartphone platform is the best?

If you’re trying to choose a new phone and you’re not sure about the merits and pitfalls of the leading smartphone operating systems, then come on in for a detailed breakdown as we pit Android vs. iOS in various categories.

Verizon’s deal could get you a free iPhone XR — but there’s some fine print

Verizon launched a new deal for its smartphones aimed at encouraging customers to open a new line. If you're willing and you want two new phones, you could get a free Samsung Galaxy S9, iPhone XR, or Pixel 3.