If you’ve been a fan of LG’s Phablet line then the LG G 2 Pro should be greeted with open arms, if you’re unfamiliar with what LG has been up to, well…you’re in for a treat. I took the LG G 2 Pro on the road with me to Taitung, Taiwan to see how it would hold up when on vacation!
If you’ve been looking for a new phablet and have been perusing the new offerings that have recently made it on to the market, then incremental design updates should be no surprise, since it seems to be the name of the game right now. Regarding the LG G Pro 2, the biggest change from its predecessor is that the rear positioned power button from the LG G2 has been adopted, pushing it in line with LG’s G series of devices.
It’s faster, feels nicer, has an improved camera and a bigger display it’s even running the latest version of Android. Although LG has done everything to stay in the game is it enough to open up our wallets? Let’s take a close look at the features.
LG G Pro 2 Spec Sheet
- 5.9 inch True IPS+ LCD capacitive touchscreen
- 1920 x 1080, 373ppi
- Qualcomm MSM8974 Snapdragon 800 @ 2.26 GHz
- 3GB or RAM
- 16/32GB with Micro SD card
- 13MP enhanced optical image stabilization (OIS+)
- 4K & 120fps Slow Motion Video Capability
- 2.1MP Front Facing Camera
- Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, DLNA, Wifi Direct
- A-GPS, S-GPS support and GLONASS
- Active noise cancellation with dedicated mic
- USB On the Go
- Li-Ion 3200 mAh battery
- Android OS, v4.4.2
- 157.9 x 81.9 x 8.3 mm
- 172 g
Design-wise we have a big device, with it’s 5.9 inch display it is actually 6.2 inches tall, which includes the bezel, it’s also 3.2 inches wide and just 0.3 inches or just 8.2mm thin. It comes in 3 different colors white, silver and titan, or as we would prefer, black. What makes this phone special is that is has physical control buttons on the back, which puts the controls right under your index finger if your right handed or left. But if you have small hands you’ll have to use two to get around it, whereas if you have big hands you’ll probably barely be able to use it with one hand.
Despite the larger screen, the G Pro 2 isn’t significantly larger than its predecessor which had a 5.5 inch display. However, if you are after something with a huge 5.9 inch display then it’s the smallest around. Compare it to the HTC One Max, Oppo N1 or even the Lumia 1520, it is physically smaller. Part of the reason for this is that LG decided to use on-screen buttons, and of course it has that very thin bezel.
The 5.9-inch display has a 1080 x 1920 resolution with IPS LCD technology. Surrounded by a tiny 3.3mm bezel, this device feels like you’re holding a screen with just a bit of bezel. It has great viewing angles and brilliant color accuracy. It’s also both sharp and bright in essentially any environment,
Big phones mean big batteries; the G Pro 2 has a 3,200mAh beast which is very close to the top of the pile in this segment. It can handle all day moderate to heavy usage, and it’s also removable if you wanted to buy an extra one, which is a definite bonus.
When you’re dashing around for the day relying on your phone to get you around and be a means to document your day, it’s important to know that it’s going to last. I’m not going to lie, I had to carry around an external battery pack, which was needed toward the end of the day to get me through an the evening bout of drinking and food photos!
On a normal day of moderate to heavy use I’d be able to go for after work drinks, forget to charge my phone and wake up with a few percent to spare. However, I don’t think any phone can survive being used for navigation and 70 photos in a day with out needing a top up!
In our run down test (app provided to us by our friends over at Laptop Magazine) we saw 10 hours and 11 minutes. A pretty impressive score.
LG is looking to clear a spot in the flagship arena for themselves, and they are hoping this camera will help them do that. This 13MP shooter has a significantly improved optical image stabilization system in the lens. The G Pro 2 can take good, detailed photos, but many of them lack the punch and wow factor of photos from an iPhone or a Samsung.
One other issue that is common with phones that have optical image stabilization is that the shutter stays open too long, which makes it harder to get a sharp picture of kids, pets or people moving around. The dancing girl at Carnegie’s eventually started looking straight at me in a sexy way because I was literally standing there for 3-4 minutes trying to get a clear photo of her dancing. This was the best I could do, and with the Instagram filter I think it turned out quite well.
LG has also included a UFocus feature, which to be honest, doesn’t work as well as what is offered on the Xperia Z2 or the HTC One M8. It’s hard to use, and it doesn’t work that well. Here is an example photo…and it took me a few tries to get it to look that good. It’s certainly not as dramatic or faux DSLR quality compared to what Sony & HTC have achieved.
One thing that I did find rather disappointing is that there is no longer a dedicated ‘Night mode’, you have to put it into auto, which works ok, but it’s not great. We do have a few more options for low-light shots with Natural Flash, a technology based on Qualcomm’s Chroma-Flash technology. When you take a photo using an LED flash it’s usually over exposed, Natural Flash takes 2 photos, one with flash, one with out, then the software merges the two together so it looks more balanced.
The G Pro 2 runs Android 4.4.2 KitKat and the camera software has been updated with a few new features like including a “flash” mode for the front-facing camera. “Flash for Selfies” which is turning a large portion of the screen white. The biggest miss step (which I hope can be fixed with an update) is the position of the of the screen – if they placed it closer to the front facing camera, you could appear to be looking at the camera, instead of slightly away. It’s something small, but when you’ve put so much thought into a feature, it would be nice to see it be done properly.
Slow Motion is another area where the camera does an amazing job, check out my fire hand video!! Another cool feature is the directional-audio feature that makes it possible for the user to pick and choose from which direction they want to pick up sound. The only thing I’d like to see improved is its ability to maintain focus on specific objects for a longer period of time. Check out our detailed comparison click here for the article, or if you just want to see the video, it’s embedded below.
LG has added in quite a few extras with 1W Hi-Fi sound, which offers “studio quality sound” so the original audio quality is maintained. Adding clarity to high notes, the end result is not bad, but I won’t be using it to share music at a party anytime soon…even if it actually does a pretty good job.
LG’s also added in a couple new tools in its Smart Music Player, the ability to change the pitch and speed in real time is cool, though I’m not sure how useful it really is.
I have always liked LG’s software implementation, it’s clean with simple additions like the slider in the notification bar. But that’s doesn’t mean that LG hasn’t packed in a bunch of features that for the most part I have chosen not to use…but I guess it’s still cool that I have them.
Since this is a Phablet it’s nice that they have made the effort to implement multitasking. Split screen is one of the more useful features, though I would be reluctant to implement it into my daily usage pattern, since it pairs apps whenever launched. This means that if I’ve opened youtube and a webpage in the browser, with split view it will automatically split screen them, and I don’t always want it to be split screen.
I first saw Mini View on a Vivo handset in China, since then it has popped up on many flagship phablet devices. If you, like many people, don’t have gorilla size hands then a 5.9 inch phone might just be too big. Mini View creates a 4 inch version of your 5.9 inch display that allows one handed navigation. To activate it you just swipe left-to-right or right-to-left swipe along the virtual keys at the bottom of the screen. I wish that it would sit lower, below the virtual keys so that the notification bar would be easier to reach. It still a little awkward, but if you’re determined to use it with one hand, it will do.
LG’s Knock On, a double-tap-to-wake debuted on the G2 and has been taken one step further on the G Pro 2. Knock Code allows you to unlock your phone with a series of taps on the display which is divided into 4 quadrants. Since the button is on the back, it was essential for LG to come up with new ways to access your phone with out actually picking it up.
I have been using the LG G Pro 2 for a month now, I am impressed with the display and the durability of the handset. I have dropped it more times than is good for a phone, yet its battle scars are fairly minor (I’m positive had a done the same to the LG G2, I would have cracked the display). The question for a moderate to heavy user is, “If I’m going out tonight, will I have to top up my phone?” The answer is, likely not, but if you’re out until 4am and constantly on social media, you’ll need to start your evening at 55-60% to make sure you’ll be able to take a snapshot of the sunrise.
If you’re just looking at this device without comparing it to the previous generation, then you’d be impressed with the great design and build of this phablet. If you are putting it up against its predecessor, it’s easy to overlook improvements when replication is pretty much the name of the game. Over the last few years however, LG have improved. This model has a better design. the battery lasts longer, the display is bigger, but the device remains roughly the same size.
My only real complaint is the camera, it takes photos that are pretty damn good, but if I want to put it up against the Samsung Galaxy S5 or the Sony Xperia Z2, it’s washed out and doesn’t offer really punchy colors. If you don’t have it side by side in a detailed shoot off, you’ll be reasonably happy with your snaps…though you’ll be thankful it takes quick photos since you might have to take a few if your object is moving.
The LG G Pro 2 shows the gradual evolution of LG’s product line, hitting all the boxes on the checklist for an all around better experience over last year’s device.
P.S – Photos from Taitung, Taiwan
Since I did this review from Taitung at Xiao Lour & Paul’s Guest House (two great friends of ours), I thought I would include some photos of my trip in the gallery below. If you’re visiting Taitung & looking for a place to stay here is a link to Setanta House Facebook.