Sure, the Optimus G is a great phone, but wouldn’t it be better with one of LG’s new 5-inch 1080p displays? Today, Japanese carrier NTT Docomo is unveiling the Optimus G Pro, a bigger, beefier device that aims to compete with the new crop of HD phones from the likes of Sony and HTC. And on the surface, it's an improvement. The bigger screen has a much higher pixel density (440 ppi) than the old 4.7-incher (312 ppi), and it's impressively bright and sharp. That said, the display is no longer the standout feature that it would have been just a month or two ago, and by the time the Optimus G Pro launches there will be plenty of other options on the market if huge, high-res screens are your thing.
The new phone also feels substantially bigger than the original Optimus G. It measures 10mm thick — only 1.5mm or so thicker — but the generously beveled edges make it feel even bulkier, especially compared with the sharp edges of its predecessor. It's also more than 2mm thicker than the otherwise identically-sized Xperia Z. The difference is mostly due to the bigger battery — 3,000mAh, up from 2,100mAh in the Optimus G — and it makes the new phone about 15 grams heavier than the original, as well. Open it up, and the Pro is powered by a 1.7GHz quad-core Snapdragon Pro processor, which, along with the alotted 2GB of RAM, makes Android 4.1 feel as smooth and responsive as you’d expect. It’s also worth noting that unlike the Xperia Z, the Optimus G Pro isn’t waterproof, a rarity for a phone on Docomo, and it adds a physical home button in lieu of the purely capacitive buttons on the original G.
Widget-like applications that persist on the top UI layer, above whatever main app is running
There are some interesting software tricks on the new device, as well. The first is something that LG calls Slide Apps, which are essentially the same thing as Sony’s Small Apps — widget-like applications like a calendar or calculator that persist on the top UI layer, above whatever main app is currently running. The apps function perfectly well, but we think the utility is going to be limited by the screen real estate — it’s a big phone, but it’s still a phone. The second standout software feature is a new video-recording mode called Dual Video, which lets you record a picture-in-picture view from the front and rear cameras simultaneously. The two videos can’t be saved off to separate files, although the smaller window can be positioned anywhere onscreen before or during shooting. Otherwise, the 13-megapixel camera feels a little sluggish compared to recent offerings from the likes of Apple and Samsung.
Like most of the phones we got to see today, the Optimus G Pro will be coming to NTT Docomo in April. So far there have been no plans announced for a wider release, but we wouldn’t be surprised to see it make an appearance at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona next month.
Update: LG has also confirmed that a 5.5-inch version of the Optimus G Pro exists, though it appears that the bigger model will be exclusive to LG's home market of Korea.