LG dropped a ton of new smartphones here at Mobile World Congress, but at least we were prepared: The company teased all but one of them in press releases earlier this week.
It's a full line-up, six devices in all, from the huge G Pro 2 through the brand new F70, all the way down to the teeny little L40. I spent some time with all of them.
The LG G Pro 2, LG's new flagship phablet, is impressive but lacks one of the standout features I loved about the G Pro: at 82mm wide (compared to the G Pro's 76mm and the Galaxy Note 3's 79mm), it isn't narrower than the competition anymore. The phone feels solid, and LG's textured plastics are a notch above Samsung's flimsy smooth shells, but we haven't approached crystalline Sony build quality here yet.
The G Pro 2's killer hardware feature is its 13-megapixel camera with optical image stabilisation, which records 4K video. That makes it the second phone after the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 to do 4K; of course, there aren't many devices you can play 4K video back on right now. The camera also shoots 1080p video at 60 frames per second, and lower resolution video at up to 120 fps.
I captured a video and took some still photos, and the camera was stable and smooth but showed a common smartphone video recording problem: If I moved the camera, there was a delay of a few seconds before it adjusted the focus. The 13-megapixel images looked sharp indoors, though.
Other intriguing features include turning the screen white to act as a "flash" when you're taking selfies in a dark room, and a filter that lets you adjust the depth of field in your photos in software (Sony and Nokia have those, too).
I tried out Knock Code, LG's new lock screen trick. It solves a real problem on the G2: With the power button on the back, you needed a way to turn the phone on without picking it up or flipping it over. Knock Code lets you enter a pattern of taps in quadrants of the screen which function as a lock code. (It's about the location of the taps, not the rhythm.) I set up a Knock Code and it worked five out of six times, but I'm sure I could get the hang of it.
Split-screen mode, first seen on the G Flex (and before that, on the Galaxy Note series) lets you divide the screen in half to browse two websites simultaneously. LG also made a big deal about the 1W speaker, but it's still ported out of two small holes in the back, and didn't impress like HTC's BoomSound front-facing speakers.
G2 Mini, F70... and more!
A few steps down from the G Pro 2 we find the G2 Mini and the F70.
The G2 Mini isn't just a scaled-down G2. It's powered-down as well, a higher mid-range phone with a couple of the G2's tricks, most notably the buttons on the back. Since it's much smaller than the G2 and fits easily in one hand, there's no real reason for the buttons to be on the back, but there they are. Without the G2's super-tight build quality, the G2 Mini just feels like the biggest brother in LG's midrange F-series – a decent Android phone to be sure, and one that will satisfy at a good price, but not flashy.
The G2 Mini's most striking feature is under the hood. It'll come in two models – both the "world model" and the "Latin America model" will have the same body, with the same 4.7in, 960 x 540 screen. But the Latin American version will be the first phone we've ever seen with Nvidia's Tegra 4i processor, running at 1.7GHz, and it'll have a 13-megapixel camera on the back. Alas, I played with the more pedestrian global version, with its 1.2GHz Qualcomm processor and 8-megapixel camera.
The F70 is likely to do well at the low-end, boasting a 1.2GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, 4.5in 800 x 480 screen, 4GB of storage with a MicroSD card slot, and a 5-megapixel main camera in a hand-friendly, 65mm-wide form. It's going to be the first of at least three new F-series phones, all with LTE; we're only hearing about the first one now…
Along with those two phones came three more – the L40, L70, and L90. These are LG's entry-level smartphone models, attacking devices like the Moto G, and the Xiaomi Redmi, and other low-cost-but-quality Android smartphones. The L70 will be the one most likely to approach a £150 sim-free price, with an 800 x 480 screen, 1.2GHz dual-core processor and a 5 or 8-megapixel camera. That puts it a little below the competing models' screen resolution. The three models all run Android 4.4 KitKat.
The F70 and new L-series have the old QSlide multitasking, along with the new Knock Code and Clip Tray, which lets you put multiple things on your clipboard. However, the real advantage here will be in getting a quality, smooth-running phone for the price of less reliable models from the likes of Alcatel and ZTE.
Release dates aren’t confirmed yet, but we’ll be keeping our ears open for them.