We got to spend a few minutes with LG’s new Optimus G at NTT Docomo’s understated launch event in Tokyo, and at first blush the "president phone" looks to be quite an impressive piece of hardware. The quad-core Snapdragon S4 Pro is a serious chip, and in the Optimus G it feels every bit as snappy as early benchmarks indicate. Perhaps partly to show it off, LG is including a new video playback app that allows users to pinch-to-zoom and scroll across HD videos while they’re playing, a task the processor had no problem dealing with — we didn't notice so much as a dropped frame. It’s an impressive technical feat, and provides some real value as well.
By the same token, the 4.7-inch 1280 x 768 LCD is impressively bright and crisp — without a doubt one of the best displays we’ve seen on any device. As for the size, at 8.45 millimeters the G is a thin phone (made thinner by some new touchscreen tech making its first appearance in the device), but the boxy construction and large bezels make it feel a little chunkier than other similarly-sized phones like the Galaxy S III. The 13-megapixel camera was quick to acquire focus, with a solid refresh speed between frames. Elsewhere, the Optimus G follows LG's best phone to date, the 4X HD: it has capacitive buttons rather than onscreen ones, and features the Optimus UI 3.0 skin — a noticeable improvement from LG's earlier software efforts.
Although the Optimus G will be arriving first in Korea in September and not in Japan until October or November, Docomo’s handset is the first model to be officially announced, and it differs from international variants in a few respects. Most importantly, Docomo's version will be waterproof, while other international variants of the Optimus G will not. A rep from Docomo explained that waterproofing is a particularly highly-requested feature in Japan — presumably people in other countries are more likely to shield their phones from the likes of rain and swimming pools.
During the Q&A period at today’s event, Docomo acknowledged that while there have been some supply chain problems with Qualcomm’s processors, Docomo has secured a commitment to the first lot of new handsets, adding (in somewhat of a non sequitur) that "the demand is simply awesome." Typically, Japanese providers release their new phones all at once at spring and winter events, but Docomo acknowledged today that the fast development pace of both chip vendors and the OS itself lead the company to announce the Optimus G out-of-cycle. Perhaps this is the beginning of the end for Japan's blockbuster biannual releases.