LG Optimus 4X HD Android phone
A well designed, fast and functional high-end Android phone from LG. Finally.
- Good build quality
- Impressive UI skin
- Excellent performance
- Below average battery life
- Poor video recording performance
- Awkwardly positioned speaker
The Optimus 4X HD is the first LG smartphone that effectively competes with the best Android phones on the market. It may not offer anything above and beyond its rivals, but in most cases it performs just as well. LG's UI skin also adds some impressive features without completely ruining the interface.
LG traditionally hasn't fared well in the top-end smartphone market, with most of its popular models sitting in the low-to-mid range. The Optimus 4X HD, however, is the first LG smartphone that effectively competes with the best Android phones on the market.
Thin, light and white
The LG Optimus 4X HD doesn't leave a hugely positive first impression, but it's a phone that will quickly grow on you the more you use it. The Optimus 4X HD is a large device but at 8.89mm thin it is certainly not chunky. The device is constructed largely from solid feeling plastic and the design is very rectangular, unlike the curved, rounded shape of the Samsung Galaxy S III, for example.
LG has added some nice design touches to the Optimus 4X HD, including two chrome strips that run all along the edges, an etched LG logo on the back and a back cover with raised ridges. The surface of this back plastic feels rather like thick leather and it makes the phone easy to grip. Build quality feels solid, with no creaks or rattles when the casing is pressed. However, the back cover requires barely any force to remove and if pressure is applied to the rear of the phone it does feel a little hollow. This is especially strange since the cover houses the NFC (Near Field Communications) chip.
Below the Optimus 4X HD's screen are three capacitive buttons (back, home and menu) that are hidden when the backlight is off. The keys are responsive when pressed and the soft white backlight looks excellent, particularly on the all-white model we reviewed. We like the well positioned power button on top of the phone, but LG's volume control keys on the left side aren't the most comfortable. They aren't raised enough from the edge of the phone and are poorly placed for single-handed use with your right hand. On a positive note, the volume buttons aren't easy to accidentally press like many other Android phones.
Perhaps the worst design decision on the LG Optimus 4X HD is the position of the speaker. The two small grills on the back, in the bottom left hand corner, are simply too easy to cover with your hands when holding the phone. When this occurs the sound from the speaker is muffled and the volume is significantly lowered.
The LG Optimus 4X HD has a 4.7in IPS display with a resolution of 1280x720 and it's one of the best features of this phone. This is the same resolution as most of its rivals that have already hit the market, including the Galaxy S III and the HTC One X. The impressive pixel density of 312 ppi (pixels per inch) means text is crisp and clear, while excellent brightness levels, good colour and outstanding viewing angles are also notable. The Optimus 4X HD's screen isn't as bright or vivid as the One X, though no other phone on the market is, either. It also lacks the vibrant colours of the Super AMOLED panel of the Galaxy S III, though some users may prefer its more natural look.
Our only real complaint with the Optimus 4X HD's screen is that the display panel itself appears as though it's set lower into the phone's body than many other smartphones. There's also a noticeable black border around the screen which further gives the impression that the panel could have been moved up closer to the surface. Neither of these issues will affect or have an impact on most users, though those with an eye for detail will definitely notice.
A smart and functional LG UI skin
The LG Optimus 4X HD runs the 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich version of Google's Android platform, but is skinned with a new LG user interface. The good news is that this interface overlay adds plenty of new features, many of which actually add to the overall user experience.
Swipe down the notification bar on the Optimus 4X HD, for example, and you will get quick access to four completely customisable toggles called quick settings. You can add and edit a range of toggles here including Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC, sound profiles and screen brightness. LG includes a vast number of settings for the home screen. There's the ability to change the theme, choose a different swipe animation and backup and restore your home screen configuration. The latter is a really worthwhile feature in case you ever need to restore your phone to its factory settings and want to keep your home screen layout.
If you don't like an app icon on the Optimus 4X HD's home screen, you can long press on it to edit the icon. LG preloads four sets of icons on the phone. None of them took our fancy, in fact most of them are plain hideous, but the option is there if you want to tweak it. We also like the app drawer, which LG sorts into three panels, apps, downloads and widgets. There are some good options in here, including the ability to fit five icons across the screen instead of the usual four.
We also love LG's lockscreen. When you put your finger on the screen to swipe and unlock it, a circle appears and gradually gets larger as you swipe. The circle is translucent and reveals the screen you're swiping into. It doesn't add any real functionality, but it certainly looks impressive. You can also choose one of five different clock and calendar widgets to display on the lock screen and assign any four shortcuts to immediately swipe into.
Although LG's skin on the Optimus 4X HD adds plenty of functionality, we aren't a fan of its overall look and feel. It strays well away from Android's standard roboto font and dark, Tron-like colours. There's definitely evidence of the stock Ice Cream Sandwich user interface in some apps, like the contacts menu and the music player, but most are an assortment of lighter colours and cartoon-like icons which aren't particularly attractive.
LG has pre-loaded the Optimus 4X HD with a few extra apps, most of which are useless. Thankfully, the likes of LG's SmartWorld app store can easily be uninstalled. We do like LG's memo app though, which allows you to draw or write on the screen with your finger then save the image as a screenshot. If you use this feature often, you can add it to the quick settings panel on the notifications screen.
Other notable options on the Optimus 4X HD include the excellent quiet time feature that enables you to set times to turn off all sounds, and a range of gesture options like flipping over the phone to snooze or stop the alarm, mute incoming calls and pause video playback. Annoyingly, LG has replaced the default ICS keyboard with its own. It's a better effort than most manufacturer keyboards we've reviewed, but we would have preferred the option to switch to Google's stock keyboard.
Excellent performance, not so excellent battery life
Many of LG's previous flagship smartphones suffered from software and performance issues. The Optimus 4X HD is the first top-end LG phone we've reviewed that offers outstanding performance. There is no evidence of lag during day to day use of this handset, aside from Android's common caveats like being slow to rotate the screen and zooming in on Web pages in the browser. LG's launcher is fast to scroll through home screens, apps open almost instantly, and the Optimus 4X HD handles most games, including graphically intense titles like GTA III, with ease.
The LG Optimus 4X HD has an NFC chip and is therefore compatible with LG's NFC + tags. Two of these tags are included in the box and allow you to touch your phone against a tag can enable it to activate various settings. The tags include activate preset settings for "office mode" and "car mode" though you can customise these as you like using the preloaded LG Tag+ app. The tags are a handy, if not groundbreaking feature and are a good example of infant NFC technology being put to real world use.
The Optimus 4X HD has 16GB of internal memory but there's a microSD card slot behind the back cover for extra storage. The phone has an 8-megapixel camera with a backside illumination sensor and a 1.3-megapixel front facing camera for video calls. Both are serviceable, but images captured do suffer from excess image noise and aren't quite as sharp or detailed as some other camera phones on the market, particularly the excellent One X, the iPhone 4S and the Galaxy S III. We also found video recording frustrating due to a very erratic autofocus system.
LG says that the Nvidia Tegra 3 processor used in the Optimus 4X HD utilises a low-powered fifth core to preserve battery life, but the Optimus 4X HD often struggled to last a full day during our testing. The best we managed was about 14 hours, which is fair but far from outstanding. You may achieve more if you tweak the power saving settings but the Optimus 4X HD does use plenty of juice.
LG hasn't officially launched the Optimus 4X HD in Australia, but you can purchase it outright and unlocked through online store MobiCity.
Join the PC World newsletter!
Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop
Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive
UE Boom 2 Bluetooth speaker
Samsung portable 1TB T3 drive
Linksys AC5400 MU-MIMO Gigabit router
Smart LED Bulb LB130
Everki ContemPRO Roll Top Laptop Backpack
Lexar® Portable SSD
Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive
Google Daydream VR headset
3SIXT Ultra HD Sports Action Camera
Huawei Mate 9
Acer Swift 7
Logitech G403 Prodigy mouse
Belkin MIXIT Metallic Lightning to USB Cable
Blade 28 backpack by Arc’teryx
HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450
Dell Inspiron 5000 series 2-in-1
Garmin Fenix Chronos smartwatch
Dell XPS 13 laptop
Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards
Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive
Surface Pro 4
HP Pavilion x360 13”
Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Huawei Mate 9 full in-depth smartphone review
- 2 ZTE Axon 7 review: Is ZTE dumping old stock on Australia?
- 3 Oppo R9s smartphone full review
- 4 Finally! LG OLED TV 2016 range review
- 5 Huawei Nova Plus smartphone review
Latest News Articles
- 5G progress at Ericsson could help enterprises work worldwide
- Apple smartphones outsold Samsung's in Q4
- Apple joins Wireless Power Consortium, charging up iPhone 8 rumor
- Google might be gearing up to remove millions of Play Store apps next month
- Now you can control your smart devices from your Pixel, no Google Home required
GGG Evaluation Team
I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.
First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.
For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.
The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.
The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.
- How to quit Pokemon Go (or to start enjoying it again)
- Huawei Mate 9 full in-depth smartphone review
- Time to ditch Foxtel and the iQ3: How to replace Foxtel packages with cheaper alternatives
- What's the difference between an Intel Core i3, i5 and i7?
- Laser vs. inkjet printers: which is better?
- CCFront End DeveloperNSW
- CCTelecommunication Operations SpecialistTAS
- TPBusiness AnalystVIC
- TPTechnical Support Resource-Skype for BusinessVIC
- TPProject Coordinator/Junior Project ManagerVIC
- CCDevops EngineerNSW
- FTRegional Sales ManagerACT
- CCSenior Solution ArchitectQLD
- FTClient Delivery ManagerSA
- FTStorage Solution ArchitectVIC
- FTService Desk AnalystNSW
- TP.Net DeveloperSA
- CCInfrastructure EngineerACT
- CCSQL Database Administrator (DBA)NSW
- TPFunctional AnalystVIC
- CCMarketing SpecialistNSW
- TPInstructional Designer | DETQLD
- CCBPM Technical AnalystVIC
- FTTechnical Consultant - SQL Server programming skillsACT
- CCIT Business AnalystNSW
- FTProject / Implementation Coordinator (Junior-Mid Level) Sunshine Coast LocationQLD
- FTDynamics AX Functional Consultant (Supply Chain Modules)QLD
- TPInformation Management SpecialistVIC
- CCSenior Mobile Application DeveloperNSW
- FTOnline Solutions AnalystNSW