LG shows off Optimus G, a powerful quad-core phone with LTE

In one final attempt to preempt the deluge of Apple and iPhone 5 coverage in a couple of days, LG announced its technically superior (but not ready for U.S. prime time) Optimus G, the first U.S. LTE smartphone with a quad-core processor.

Previous quad-core phones released in Europe and Asia, such as the HTC One X and the Samsung Galaxy S III, came to American shores in dual-core versions.

While the Optimus will go on sale in South Korea next week — and these photos are of the Korean version (which includes an antenna for digital mobile TV reception) — it's not expected to reach North American carriers until, vaguely put, the fourth quarter. Naturally, carriers and pricing weren't announced, either, but it will be 4G LTE. Whether it'll offer global LTE connectivity will be up to each carrier, according to LG officials.

The wait may be worth it. In the short hands-on play time I got, the functions were lightning fast, with many fascinating feature extras. But first, the specs:

  • Quad-core 1.5 GHz Snapdragon S4 Pro processor, listed as 40 percent more powerful and efficient than an unnamed competitor with three-times the graphics punch
  • 4.7-inch Quad HD (1280 x 768, the same as my 42-inch Panasonic HDTV) IPS AMOLED with a near-Retina 320 pixels per inch — tiny text looked just as smooth and crisp as on an iPhone
  • 13 MP rear camera (an edition with an 8 MP camera also will be available) and a front 1.3 MP imager
  • Zerogap touchscreen, a 27 percent thinner in-cell-like tech that removes a layer, improving touch sensitivity and smoothness — and the screen provided the kind of touch reaction you'd expect from an iPhone
  • 8.45mm thin
  • 2100 mAh battery providing 15 hours of talk time and almost two weeks of standby
  • 32 GB of built-in memory; I didn't see a microSD slot — if Optimus G has one (and I assume it does), it's inside the battery compartment

On the feature side, LG User eXperience (UX) provides features similar to the company's previously announced 5-inch Intuition, including dual-screen multitasking such as that found on Samsung's new Note II (but only with certain apps); QuickMemo — the ability to write on a captured screen then save or send it as a document — pinch-and-zoom video, and wireless mirroring to an HDTV equipped with Wi-Fi Direct.

Each one of these features include quad-core powered multitasking tweaks of their own. For instance, when you QuickMemo save a website with your jottings on it, the live URL is saved along with it, enabling the recipient to launch the page themselves sans your scribbling. While mirror-transmitting a movie to an HDTV, the phone user can perform other tasks without any video interruptions. When mirror-casting as presentation, the presenter can control an on-screen laser pointer, and view thumbnail slides and notes unseen by the audience.

There's also an odd transparency feature for stored video (not streaming) viewing. You can adjust the opaqueness of the background video while performing other tasks, such as looking up info about the movie and its players on IMDb. It's cool, kind of, but I couldn't grasp what the application would be since the transparency covers half the screen, rendering whatever is behind it nearly unreadable. Couldn't I just pause the movie and boot the browser?

Aside from these and other gimmicks, the quad-core processor sure speeds things up and is sure to set a new precedent and trigger a new wave of even more powerful handheld cellular computers.

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