If you like your phones on the big side (we don’t want to say ‘phablets’, but you know what we’re talking about…) then your choices are somewhat limited. The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 has been the one to have up to now, with commendable efforts by HTC in the form of the HTC One Max and Sony with the Xperia Z Ultra. After the good but not exceptional original G Pro, LG is back with another shot at the format with the G Pro 2. Is it the new king of the hill?
At 5.9 inches, the new device has a larger screen than the Note 3, matching HTC’s One Max. All of the devices have a full HD 1920 x 1080 resolution, which is common to all flagship devices at the moment – the forthcoming G3 will likely be the first device from a major manufacturer to make the push to Quad HD (aka QHD – 2560 x 1440). A Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 CPU is paired with 3GB RAM, again matching the Note 3 while besting the Snapdragon 600 found in the One Max, which is starting to look a little ‘last generation’ now. 16GB or 32GB of storage is onboard, expandable via micro SD, wireless connectivity is as exhaustive as you’d expect with dual-band Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC and LTE support. Imaging comes courtesy of a 13-megapixel rear camera with Optical Image Stabilisation and a 2.1-megapixel front camera.
From a design perspective, LG has very much opted for a common design language when the G Pro 2 is compared to its smaller G2 sibling. The two key elements of the design – the expansive screen with tiny bezels on the front and the innovative button placement – are immediately apparent and the former comes courtesy of the latter. By moving the buttons to the back, LG reduces the space needed around the screen allowing for an ultimately smaller device with a screen that really ‘pops’ as you use it.
Following the G2’s release, it’s safe to say that the button placement was controversial. The front has no buttons at all, but in real use, using the repositioned buttons quickly becomes second nature. Turning on the device is generally accomplished with a double-tap gesture (or using the innovative Knock Code) and in the same way, the device can be put to sleep by double-tapping the home screen background or the status bar. Both work very well, to the extent you’ll likely only use the back buttons for adjusting volume.
The materials used in the G Pro 2 feel high quality and the device feels well built. The move to a matte finish on the back (also seen on the red and gold variants of the G2) really makes a big difference. Both LG and Samsung have been experimenting with this technique and it does help make a plastic device feel a lot more premium.
In the past, the software on LG devices has been a perceived weak spot. While the software build does still feel ‘typically LG’, it has been toned down somewhat for KitKat and with the growing number of Google apps that are available via the Play store, the experience overall is good. The G2 has recently been updated to KitKat within a reasonable timescale so if LG can continue that trend on its devices, it will go a long way to silencing its critics. As you’d expect given the specifications, performance is exceptional throughout. The camera software is packed with features and the impressive camera itself – which is exceptional in ideal conditions and very good otherwise – is a rarity in the land of the bigger devices.