Software, Camera, Conclusion
The European version of the LG Optimus 4X HD that I tested did not come with a lot of pre-loaded junk applications, though there were certainly a few LG-crafted apps that were of questionable worth. To its credit, though, LG allows users to uninstall a number of the pre-loaded apps, including LG SmartWorld, its live wallpapers, and a few widgets. Most of the rest of the apps can also be disabled and hidden from the app tray, which is a standard feature of Android 4.
Once you have finished cleaning things up, it's time to mess them up again by downloading new apps from the Google Play Market, which offers a few hundred thousand applications for the Optimus 4X HD user's pleasure.
LG's standard browser on the Optimus 4X HD is highly functional and offers a somewhat changed user experience from most stock Android browsers. I'm not sure that it is any better than the others, but the changes are at least something different. One such customization is the popup button bar on the bottom of the screen that can be called up with a tap. It offers quick access to forward and back buttons, tilt-zooming, and controls for opening a new window and accessing the bookmarks.
Pages render quickly and accurately in the browser, as well, and it supports both Adobe Flash content as well as HTML5 markup. As an Android 4 device, the Optimus 4X HD is also capable of running Google's Chrome for Android browser, which we are very fond of.
LG includes a fairly straightforward music player on the Optimus 4X HD. It won't win any awards for most bells and whistles, but it does offer a feature that I think will be of use to some people. In addition to allowing music to be organized by standard methods like playlists, album, and artist, the LG music app also lets users sort things by folders.
That might not sound like much, but it means that you can easily access the music you copy over to your device in the same organization that you had it elsewhere, such as on your PC. For some people it won't matter. For others, it will be very nice to have. An FM radio is also included on the phone, and Google's own Play Music app is also available for installation from the Google Play store.
The 8 megapixel camera in the LG Optimus 4X HD has caused me some pain during my tests. While it can focus on incredibly close subjects, and does so with great sharpness, it fails to focus on normal objects at times - especially when recording 1080p video.
Images captured with the phone often seem exposed incorrectly (often overexposed), and don't always have good color saturation. Additionally, the Optimus 4X HD's camera suffers from the annoying magenta spot in the center of the frame that we were used to seeing in older smartphones. Ignoring all that, though, and the camera is still capable of capturing really nice photos, which is what makes its inconsistency all the more annoying. It's a bit of a crap shoot, and those random flashes of brilliance encourage the Optimus 4X HD user to try again, hoping for the best, but not always getting it. The phone's forward-facing 1.3 megapixel camera, for its part, does adequately well for video chatting and self portraits. It can even record 720p HD video.
LG equipped the Optimus 4X HD with a 2150mAh battery. In spite of the potential for power consumption that results from the combination of a huge HD display and a quad-core processor, the Optimus 4X HD managed to do very well in my real world tests.
This phone offers insane standby battery life, in my experience. I can have the phone sit for two hours off the charger, pulling down Exchange and Gmail messages while syncing things like Google Voice, and it will still show 100 percent charge when I finally turn on the screen for the first time. Running apps in the foreground with the display on normally, though, causes power to be drained much faster.
Still, with judicious use of the screen brightness controls, I am easily able to get a full 24 hours out of the phone with the battery stats reporting the screen in use for anywhere from 2.5 to 3 hours. That's better than most phones, even my dual-core processor-equipped HTC One X - though not by much.
The question is, does the phone manage to outshine its Bruce Banner exterior to show off what it's Hulk-scale guts are capable of? In short: yes. It turns out that what the Optimus 4X HD lacks in external appeal is more than made up for by its good nature and brainy innards.
After using the phone for over a solid week, I can tell you that I really do like the Optimus 4X HD. It has a nice screen, great speed and fluidity, and the battery life is strong compared to most other Android smartphones. LG even did a nice job with software customizations.
So while the Optimus 4X HD isn't the best looking kid on the block, it certainly turns out to be one of the more brainy and personable kids. That's more than good enough for me to highly recommend the device to those looking for a powerhouse smartphone with a massive display and modern capabilities.
Pros: Super fast, nice display, good user experience, usable NFC capabilities, strong battery life.
Cons: Not the cutest phone in the block. A couple of small bugs, the camera needs more work.