The more I think about LG's 2013 phone line-up, the more I like it. In the half-dozen new and newish phones it's showing at Mobile World Congress, LG is focusing on long battery life, bright screens, and multitasking – all features we can really get behind. Combine that with the company’s solid reputation for build quality, and this could just be a breakout year for LG…
If LG is going to break out on the high-end, it's going to do so with the Optimus G Pro (pictured above). This 5.5in phablet is the first phablet I've been really enthusiastic about, because it's not so wide. The G Pro is 3in wide compared to the Samsung Galaxy Note 2's 3.2in, and for me that little change makes all the difference; this phone is significantly more comfortable to hold in one hand.
The specs are epic, of course: A super-bright 1080p Super IPS LCD screen, a 1.7GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 processor, a 13-megapixel camera, and a removable 3140mAh battery.
Those all outpace the Galaxy Note 2, although we can expect the Galaxy Note 3 will up the ante again, of course; time marches on.
The Optimus G Pro I played with also had a ridiculous extendable TV antenna, all the better for watching Korean digital TV with. It was missing a stylus, though.
LG's approach to multitasking lets you run three apps at once: It's called "QSlide," and it opens a limited set of apps in small windows you can drag around the screen, floating above your main app (see the above pic). Whether you like that more than Samsung's split-screen approach to multitasking, well, that's obviously going to be a matter of personal preference.
The Optimus G Pro runs like a dream. Videos look gorgeous and there's tons of room for web pages, yet it still fits even in my cramped little claws.
LG was also showing off the new Optimus F5 and F7, shown above on the left and right respectively. The F7 in particular could be a success story. It's a midrange LTE phone with a smooth but well-crafted plastic body, a sharp 4.7in 720p IPS LCD screen, and a 1.5GHz dual-core processor – nothing out of place in today's midrange phones. But it has two things that set it apart: An unusually capacious 2540mAh battery and the QSlide multitasking ability. Depending on pricing, this handset could really shine; the long battery life plus multitasking (and LTE) could equal a great Android experience.
Then we have the Optimus F5, and now we're descending into a realm of decently built midrange phones. The F5 has a 4.3in, 800 x 480 IPS LCD screen, a 1.2GHz dual-core processor, along with a 5-megapixel camera. It also has an unusually large 2150mAh battery and QSlide to set it apart, though.
It's a blurring array of devices, but the key is that they all have similar software setting them apart (like QSlide), similar white plastic bodies, bright IPS screens, and well-built appeal. It's an impressively solid and friendly line-up at every price bracket.
LG says it wants to be known as a premium smartphone manufacturer. With the Optimus G Pro, Nexus 4, and F7, LG has extremely appealing phones in the phablet, high-end and mid-to-high tiers. It just needs a strong, unified marketing campaign to tie it all together.