LG made its first foray into the high-end phablet market with the Optimus G Pro, which was literally a blown-up version of everything that made the Optimus G great. This year, the company hopes to continue the momentum, this time borrowing heavily on the design, and hoping to replicate the success, of the LG G2. How does it fare? We find out in this in-depth LG G Pro 2 review!
At a Glance
Beautiful, color popping high resolution 5.9-inch display
Impressive 13 MP rear shooter with OIS+
Feature-packed software, such as Knock Code
Difficult to grip
Inconsistent battery performance
Still slow camera focusing
Software might be too ‘in your face’ with its long feature list
While Mini is a pretty self-explanatory term, LG has decided to use the Pro moniker to describe a much larger offering of an already established device. That is exactly what you get with the LG G Pro 2, a blown up version of the LG G2 with a few minor changes. Once again, you get a “distraction-free” black slate front and sides, with LG once again opting for its unique button layout at the back of the smartphone, a design element that was first introduced with the G2. The power button and volume rocker moved to the back also allows for a thin and sleek design, for what is otherwise a very large smartphone. The buttons are quite large, matching the scale of the overall size of the device, and have a short, yet meaty, press to them.
A difference from the design of the LG G2 is the move of the headphone jack to the top of the device, while the microUSB charging port can be found at the bottom. What is most striking about the design of the G Pro 2 is its back cover. Not only is it now removable, but is made from a mesh-like textured plastic that looks very nice, and solves the fingerprint magnet problem that the G2, with its glossy plastic back, suffered. You get access to the replaceable battery, SIM tray, and microSD card slot by removing the back cover.
It has to be said though that despite how nice the new material might be, the plastic doesn’t provide much grip when in contact with the skin and might slip about quite easily in the hand. This is definitely a glaring issue, especially with larger devices that are more prone to accidental spills anyway. You’ll definitely need to get a good, strong grip on the phone or you may have trouble keeping it from falling. The large 5.9-inch display of the G Pro 2 is perhaps its most polarizing feature, and while plenty of people love large screen sizes, it is simply a must to have as easy a handling experience as possible with such big phones, something that the G Pro 2 unfortunately does not provide.
If ultra-large, high-quality displays are what you’re in the market for, you’ll have look no further than the LG G Pro 2. LG continues to prove its display prowess with this 5.9-inch screen with a 1080p resolution. With 373 pixels per inch, there’s no problem reading just about anything on this display, and all media looks fantastic.
Even the bright and colorful Optimus UI shines through this IPS screen, and does quite well even in direct sunlight. A very respectable bezel around the screen carries on the tradition started with the great LG G2 display, and you’ll definitely have a great time no matter what you throw at it, even if the larger size makes it a little difficult to handle at times.
While there were no problems with the performance of the G Pro 2, one aspect of the about the processing package that is worth mentioning is the fact that it might get outdated rather quickly. Featuring a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor clocked at 2.26 GHz, coupled with the Adreno 330 GPU, the currently top-end processing package is further bolstered with 3 GB of RAM that handles multi-tasking very well.
That being said, this processing package, minus an extra gig of RAM, is the same as what is found with the LG G2, and is sure to be eclipsed in the coming months with the updated Snapdragon 805 processor making its way to the market. Performance is great overall though, without any hiccups while getting through the elements of the Optimus UI, and most multi-tasking. Any stutters that are experienced are likely due to the very feature packed user interface, and not a shortcoming of the powerful processing package.
In this case, the Pro term also seems to mean the inclusion of everything you didn’t get with the original. With G Pro 2, you not an extra gigabyte of RAM, but also microSD expansion to augment the 16 GB or 32 GB of available built-in storage. You also get every form of connection, with the Korean version used for this review also coming with an antenna for watching Korean broadcast television. The speaker on the bottom back portion of the phone gets properly loud, with prominent highs and actually quite decent mids and lows, making this an above average smartphone speaker. Call quality is as good as it should be, with no problems on either end of the line, and using the loudspeaker for calls was also reliable.
Unfortunately when we get to the battery, it simply did not live up to the standards expected from such larger phone offerings. While a 3,200 mAh battery should have provided quite a bit of longevity to the LG G Pro 2, it just didn’t translate in my real world usage. With proper frugal usage, it is possible to eke out a day, or even a day and a half, worth of battery life, especially with the power saving features turned on. Standby time is also quite impressive, as you can leave the phone unplugged and in standby all night without losing more than around ten percent of charge.
But, it’s when you get into power user territory is when the battery drains really quickly. One instance involved just playing around with the camera, followed by a few Google searches shortly thereafter, resulting in the phone dying by 5 PM after being taken off the charger at 10 AM that morning. Other days were around the same, with the charge reaching single digit percentages by bedtime. You usually get the promise of a long battery life with such big smartphones, but unfortunately with the LG Pro 2, it is an inconsistent performer.
What might be the best enhancement introduced with the G Pro 2 is its updated camera, a 13 MP shooter with software optimized optical image stabilization, called OIS+. The LG G2 camera was on the higher side on the list of best Android cameras last year, and much of what you remember of it makes a return here. The camera app is packed with more features this time around, and even includes its own version of focus selection in your pictures.
With the good returns the bad. What plagued the LG G2 was a slow focusing speed, which is also an issue with its larger sibling. When you tap to focus on a particular area, it takes at least a second or two until it finally finds the spot. After that though, you can take as many pictures as you want as the shutter runs pretty quickly. Optical stabilization also helps with video recording, which also includes UHD 4K recording. Even if you have steady hands, the additional stabilization is always welcome.
We were already really impressed with the camera of the LG G Pro 2 when we first got our hands on this device at MWC 2014 in Barcelona, and that continues here. Details are very well captured and the level of sharpness is quite impressive. Once you are able to get the focus right, you’re able to get good quality pictures from this camera very consistently.
If you’ve used an LG smartphone before, there’s a good chance you know what to expect from the G Pro 2 when it comes to software. The Optimus UI returns with many of its in-your-face tendencies, with its different features taking up quite a bit of space all around. Colorful icons and bright wallpapers on a pretty monochromatic backdrop, but to get a glimpse at everything the device is capable of, all you need to do is take a look at the options available in the drop down notifications menu. Everything from the small Qslide Apps to QMemo, and all of the different features in the power widget are right there, barely leaving any space for notifications in the notifications menu.
Included in the current LG flagship however are a couple of key features that we’ve looked at in-depth already, such as Knock Code, an updated and improved version of Knock On, that not only allows you to wake the device, but unlock it directly, by tapping out a preset four grid pattern on the screen. Even the softkeys are highly customizable and can be added to or rearranged on a white or black bar as you see fit; and as far as multi-tasking goes, the large screen allows for nice dual window capabilities, on top of the LG created Slide Aside feature.
Ultimately, the Optimus UI is one of the most full featured user interfaces currently available, and while that may or may not be your cup of tea, it’s features do add to the overall user experience and set the G Pro 2 apart.
Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, DLNA, Wi-Fi Direct, Wi-Fi hotspot, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, Infrared, USB 2.0
Android 4.4 Kitkat
157.9 x 81.9 x 8.3 mm, 172 grams
Price and Final Thoughts
The information on the final price point of the LG G Pro 2 isn’t available yet, it wouldn’t be surprising to see a price tag akin to its high-end stature, at possibly around the $700 mark at launch. There’s no word on what carriers will have it at this point – but stay tuned! While the LG G Pro 2 is definitely a big jump from the Optimus G Pro, we do have to question how much of an upgrade it is from the G2. It does sport a bigger screen, an arguably better material choice which isn’t without its disadvantages though, and an enhanced camera with OIS+. But with software features such as Knock Code set to come to the LG G2 anyway and an identical processing package, it mostly comes down to how adamant you are about getting the device with a larger display.