May 09, 2013, 6:17 AM — In the world of smartphones, you've got the rock stars -- the phones with all the flash and hype -- and then you've got the less glitzy, less heavily marketed alternatives. Here's a little secret: The phones in the second group are frequently the better devices.
That's certainly the case with LG's Optimus G Pro. The Optimus G Pro -- available this Friday on AT&T for $200 with a two-year contract -- is the latest gadget to enter the supersized smartphone market (what some folks regrettably refer to as a "phablet"). And while it may not have the same name recognition as the current category leader, Samsung's Galaxy Note II, it outshines that product in almost every way -- and it's a hundred bucks cheaper to boot.
So is the Optimus G Pro the right phone for you? Don't let ads and store placement sway your decision. I spent several days living with the device to see what it's actually like to use in the real world. Read on and see what you think.
Body and buttons
If the form alone doesn't clue you into the fact that the Optimus G Pro is made to compete with the Note II, the design language absolutely will. Plain and simple, the Optimus G Pro looks like the Note II -- no two ways about it (although it doesn't come with a stylus).
LG Optimus G Pro
In fact, when you first pick up the Optimus G Pro, you might actually mistake it for a Samsung device. The phone shares Samsung's plastic-centric construction, all the way down to the candy-shell-like removable back panel. Like with Samsung's phones, the plasticky construction makes the device look and feel less premium than some of its more strikingly constructed contemporaries, but within the realm of supersized phones, that style of build is presently par for the course.
The Optimus G Pro is 3.0 x 5.9 x 0.37 in. (that's a fifth of an inch narrower than the Note II, for anyone keeping track). Factor in its 6.1 oz. weight and this baby definitely ain't svelte: The sheer size of the phone makes it somewhat uncomfortable to carry and even more awkward to hold up to your ear. That's more of an issue with this category of product than with this device in particular, though; a phone this big just isn't going to work for everyone. I'd suggest spending some time holding it in a store and seeing how it feels in your hand to figure out if the form suits you.