After weeks of teasing, LG has finally given its 5.5-inch Optimus G Pro a full unveiling in South Korea today. The model for LG's home country gains half an inch of screen size and a 1.7GHz Snapdragon 600 processor over the 5-inch variant we've seen in Japan, making it the first device announced with one of Qualcomm's new chips. LG says that this 5.5-inch version will come to North America at some point in Q2, too.
Like its predecessor, the 5.5-inch Optimus G Pro doesn't exactly break new ground in terms of industrial design — it's very much cut from the same cloth as many Samsung devices. That's not to say there aren't some flourishes here, though. The back of the phone features a similar reflective pattern to the Nexus 4 and original Optimus G, and there's a six-color light that makes the home button glow at notifications. The device's screen-to-bezel ratio is high, minimizing its footprint, and despite the plastic construction it doesn't feel particularly cheap. It's 9.4mm thick, matching Samsung's Galaxy Note II exactly.
The resolution advantage really makes itself felt at larger screen sizes
The standout feature here is the screen, of course. At 400 ppi, the new Optimus G Pro's display is far sharper than 720p screens even on much smaller phones. While we've seen a lot of devices with 5-inch, 1080p displays in the past few months, the resolution advantage really makes itself felt at larger screen sizes — the 5.5-inch, 720p Galaxy Note 2 felt like it was stretching its pixels a little thin. The Snapdragon 600 processor seems to be doing its job well, too: we found the phone to be more responsive than the previous Optimus G even with the extra pixels to render, though we'd have to spend more time with the device to ascertain the impact on battery life. That's an area where we found the 1080p HTC Droid DNA to fall short, though the Optimus G Pro's 3140mAh battery should mitigate things somewhat.
As we saw on the Japanese variant, this Optimus G Pro has some LG-specific customizations on top of Android 4.1, mostly in the camera. You can record video from both the front and back cameras at once; there's a "Virtual Reality Panorama" mode that doesn't seem too different to Photo Sphere, which Google added itself to Android 4.2; and LG is touting the camera's ability to track focus on moving subjects when recording video. There's also an updated version of Q Slide, LG's multitasking UI, which lets you resize and move around up to three apps in separate windows.
One of LG's more convincing efforts
Overall we were impressed with this version of the Optimus G Pro; it's one of the more convincing efforts in the company's drive to become respected as a high-end manufacturer. Hopefully we'll have more information on the company's global plans for this device by Mobile World Congress at the end of the month, but for now it's coming to South Korea's three major carriers on Wednesday.
Additional reporting by Hyunhu Jang.