LG Optimus G for AT&T and Sprint review: Double impact
The AT&T LG Optimus G comes in a box, which carries the wireless provider's colors. Inside, you will find a charger, a USB cable, as well as a 16GB microSD card which has been preinstalled on the device.
The LG Optimus G for Sprint has nothing else but a charger and a microUSB cable.
At 130.8 x 71.6 x 8.4 mm the AT&T branded Optimus G is slightly shorter and thinner, as well as significantly wider than its Sprint relative, which measures 131.9 x 68.9 x 8.5 mm.
The Sprint version of the smartphone wins the weight battle with its 144.9 grams. Its AT&T sibling tips the scale at 147.1 grams.
Design and build quality
The LG Optimus G styling isn't exactly new - you can spot the Prada influence in both the AT&T and Sprint versions of the smartphone. The angular design is an emphatic departure from the organically curved Galaxy S III and HTC One X.
The design is free of embellishments and that's the right approach for devices of such size. Clean lines and straight angles make a simple but strong statement. Gone is the textured back of the Optimus 4X HD, which now may even be considered tacky when compared to the smooth glass covered rear of the Optimus G duo.
The finish has nothing to do with what Apple used on their iPhone 4 and 4S. It's actually more akin to Samsung's hyperglaze coating. What's different here is the underlying patterned layer called "Crystal Reflection". Because the glass is polarized, the pattern shifts depending on viewing angle and lighting adding for an impression of an ever changing surface.
Still, the LG Optimus G, just like its S III rival feels like an all plastic device, which may not be the best material for a flagship. If we didn't know it from the LG press materials, we'd have had a really hard time telling that the back panel is made of real glass. LG made it quite clear that with all the antennas the smartphone packs, plastic and glass were the only suitable materials, so you should think of this as the price that needs to be paid for having monstrous specs in such a slim body.
In the case of the design, we must tip our hat off to LG for managing to offer the Sprint Wireless version free of any carrier logos. Recently, only Apple has managed to pull this off with its iPhone.
The front of both handsets is occupied by the massive 4.7-inch True HD-IPS+ LCD display with 768 x 1280 resolution.
There is a very thin metal frame running all around the Sprint version's body where the screen glass and the rear cover meet. The front of the AT&T Optimus G is simply pitch black.
Above the display on both devices, you will find the earpiece, the usual set of hidden sensors, and the 1.3MP video-call camera. There is a small status LED right next to the LG logo on the Sprint version.
Below the 4.7-inch display we see the familiar layout of capacitive controls: Back, Home and Menu keys. All three of them are haptic-enabled and pleasantly backlit in white (with a dedicated setting for the backlight duration).
There is nothing but a volume rocker on the left side of the Sprint LG Optimus G. In the case of the AT&T version, the left side is also home to the microSD and microSIM card slots.
The power/lock key is on the right side of both devices. In the case of the AT&T version, there's also a cool looking notification light surrounding the key. Its ergonomics are questionable though, as you need to keep an eye on your phone's right side to spot missed events.
The 3.5mm audio jack along with the secondary mic are on top.
The bottom hosts the MHL-enabled microUSB port and the primary mic. There are a couple of screws that secure the back too.
On the top left corner of both devices' backs, you will find their camera units, accompanied by LED flashes. The AT&T version sports an 8MP snapper, which, due to its smaller size, does not protrude out of the handset's body. The Optimus G for Sprint on the other hand, comes with the already familiar 13MP unit.
There are now surprises at the bottom of the two devices' backs. Both are home to their respective loudspeakers.
The back pattern on both handsets is different. The back cover of the two devices is non-removable - that is to say, not designed to be user removable, but it can probably give in if you undo the screws. Under the cover there is a 2100mAh Li-Po battery, developed by LG, and promising increased lifespan of 800 charge cycles.
Given the similar hardware, it was not a surprise that both the AT&T and Sprint LG Optimus G offered similar battery performance. It was in line with the Korean version of the device, which achieved endurance rating of 45h in our in-house real-life test. This means that if you were to use the smartphone for an hour of talking, an hour of web browsing and an hour of video playback per day, you'd need to charge it once every 45 hours.
LG Optimus G battery test results