[MWC 2012] With the LG Optimus Vu, LG is entering deep into Galaxy Note territory, and while many consider these big smartphones to be a nice market (we haven’t heard actual sales numbers), both LG and Samsung seem to think that it’s more than that. I personally like the idea of a bigger smartphone – because I tend to use it more as a computer than as a phone, but obviously not everyone is of this opinion and it’s fine, because there are definitely other form factors to address a more “classic” smartphone market.
Pretty much everyone notices right away that the LG Optimus Vu looks a little (too) wide, if not “fat-ish”. To shed some context on this, I’ve asked LG why they chose a 4/3 format that makes the phone look wider than conventional designs. LG said that they went for this because it lets people read magazines and other documents in a more compelling/comfortable way. I’m not totally convinced by the argument, but at least I can see where they come from. Too be honest, it does feel a bit odd in the hand as it is a few millimeters too wide: the Galaxy Note feels much better.
The LG Optimus Vu runs with Android 4.0 which has to be credited for the extra smoothness in my opinion, although I have to admit that LG (almost) always had fairly responsive high-end phones (especially the Optimus 3D). The most important aspect of the phone is that it has been tuned around the notion that it would be used with a pen. At any moment, you can press the “quick clip” button at the top of the phone, and the Optimus Vu will capture what’s on the screen and let you add hand-writing annotations right away. You can then share –or save- the note.
In many ways, this is the same spirit as the one behind the Galaxy Note, but the implementation is a bit more efficient, and saves a few precious taps.
What got me excited about the LG Optimus Vu is the perceived performance. We’ll get back to the “measured performance” part later, but right away, I have noticed that the LG Optimus Vu was much more responsive than my Samsung Galaxy Note – this is the one thing that had bugged me in the Note, and I have documented it in a complete review, so this is well documented.
The LG Optimus Vu is responsive, and very fast from a user’s perspective. Swiping from one screen to the next is super-fluid, and going back and forth between apps or to the home screen was equally fast. Even better: the keyboard was very responsive. Not really at the “Windows Phone”, but definitely close to “iPhone level” or “Galaxy Nexus” level.
When compared to the Galaxy Note, the extra speed makes a world of difference for someone like me who does not like to wait for the device.
With a score of 6000+ on Antutu*, the LG Optimus Vu isn’t the fastest smartphone of the show – not even close (Tegra 3 handset get 10000+), however, the LG Optimus Vu is faster than most smartphones on the market that get a score of 5000 or less. *Antutu is a system-wide benchmark that tries to measure overall system performance (cpu, gpu, memory, storage).
The LG Optimus Vu has been a “hit or miss” with people around me, and given the unusual format, I can understand that it may be a polarizing device. I think that LG could have done better, and that the bezels are too thick, which reinforces the “fat” aspect of the phone. However, while I find it a bit odd, I don’t think that this is unattractive, and its functional aspect is great. It’s great for everyday tasks like emails, photos, reading and multimedia. The only weakness of the LG Optimus Vu is time: can they roll it out into the market before the more attractive Galaxy Note gets the Android 4.0 update? That – is the question.