Bucking the trend by going wide.
Hot on the heels of the Samsung Galaxy Note 2LTE is the LG Optimus Vu, another phablet-style smartphone with a ridiculously large screen. We fi rst had a good look at the Vu at MWC in back in February last year, and since then, nothing much has really changed.
To recap, looks-wise, the Vu sports a rather unassuming plastic black build, one that’s quite like another fl agship LG device, the Optimus 4X HD. Like the latter, the Vu comes with a grooved back that allows for a good grip and keeps fi ngerprint smudges at bay. Of course, the main attraction is its large and wide 5.0-inch IPS screen, though in a rather unusual screen aspect ratio of 4:3. In comparison, the Note 2 LTE has a screen aspect ratio of 16:9. As such, the Vu’s display comes across as almost squarish, and at fi rst glance, doesn’t look very pocket-friendly. Of course, the 4:3 aspect ratio does work to its advantage for those looking to the Vu as a device for reading, web-surfi ng or even note-taking, as the wider screen lets more content be displayed without having to keep on scrolling downwards.
While the 4X HD came with LG’s Quick Memo function, the software is baked further into the Vu’s core – there’s a physical button to launch the function. On the Vu, the software feels more refi ned, working hand-in-hand with the pre-installed Notebook app. To further take advantage of this feature, LG includes a stylus in the box. Unfortunately though, there’s no slot on the Vu in which one could stick the stylus into for storage; you’ll have to tote it around separately.
In terms of actual use, the Vu doesn’t disappoint for the most part. The 1.5GHz Tegra 3 quad-core processor, combined with 1GB of RAM performed admirably in both applications and games, while the Android 4.0-powered interface was snappy throughout. If anything, battery life was the Vu’s one weak point. At 245 minutes of run-time, the Vu lasts far less than the Note 2, which tops the charts at a whopping 769 minutes of use. We suspect that the large 5-inch display on the Vu contributes signifi cantly to its battery drain (as it was on the LG Optimus 4X HD). Nevertheless, the display performs splendidly, showcasing crisp details, as well as excellent color and clarity.
As far as large-screen smartphones go, the Vu is the only viable competitor to the Note 2, but unfortunately, doesn’t perform well enough to give us a reason to recommend the former over the latter, especially since the Vu doesn’t come with LTE support as well. Also at a suggested retail price of $768 (without contract), LG needs to try a little harder.
NETWORK: GSM / GPRS /EDGE (850/900/1800/1900), HSPA+ 21 (900/2100)
OPERATING SYSTEM: Android 4.0
DISPLAY: 5-inch IPS display / 1024 x 768 pixels
PROCESSOR: 1.5GHz Tegra 3 quad-core processor
CAMERA: 8 megapixels / Autofocus / LED Flash
VIDEO SUPPORT: MPEG4 / H.263 / H.264
AUDIO SUPPORT: MP3/ WMA/AAC/AAC+/WAV/AC3/AAC-LC, AMR-NB, WMA, WAV
CONNECTIVITY: 3.5mm headset jack / NFC / Bluetooth 4.0 / microUSB / A-GPS / Wi-Fi Direct / Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n
STORAGE TYPE: 32GB
STANDBY / TALK TIME: Up to 500 hrs / Up to 7 hours
DIMENSIONS: 139.6 x 90.4 x 8.5 mm