Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Which is better: Samsung's Galaxy S4 or LG's Optimus G Pro?


Samsung and LG continue their rivalry with the Galaxy S4 and Optimus G Pro, but which carries more clout? We find out.

Samsung Galaxy S4: Key specs and features

The main strengths of the Samsung Galaxy S4 are its huge, Full HD display and its earth-shattering processing power.
The display is a 5-inch Super AMOLED touchscreen with a 1920x1080 pixel Full HD resolution at 440 pixels-per-inch (ppi). Visuals are crisp and colourful with excellent contrast, while the sheer size of the display panel makes it ideal for media consumption whether you’re watching back-to-back feature films on a long trip, playing games or browsing the web.
The issue of the processor is a little turbulent at this specific point in time. As we’re writing this, news is just breaking that the UK version of the Galaxy S4 will ship with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon S4 600 quad-core chip clocked at 1.9GHz with an Adreno 320 graphics processing unit (GPU) and 2GB of RAM.
Nothing wrong with that, of course, but the controversy is everyone thought we were getting Samsung’s Exynos 5 Octa eight-core powerhouse, with two quad-core clusters clocked at 1.6GHz and 1.2GHz and promising a finely honed balance of optimised power and battery efficiency. This setup would’ve also come with 2GB of RAM and a shiny new PowerVR SGX544MP3 triple-core GPU.
Either way it’s an absolute monster with more power than you can shake a stick at.
Other strong points include a diverse selection of storage options with 16GB, 32GB or 64GB onboard, plus microSD support for cards up to 64GB.
The camera has been improved from the Galaxy S3’s 8-megapixel back-illuminated sensor (BSI) to a 13-megapixel unit with an LED flash and 1080p HD video capture. What’s really significant, however, is the additional functionality Samsung has built into the phone.
It has a unique dual-camera capability allowing you to capture stills and video footage from both front and rear-facing cameras at the same time. The multishot mode has made  return, except this time it’ll take 100 snaps in four seconds and can stitch them together into a time-lapse with ‘Drama Shot’.
Android 4.2 is great to have with its Butter UI, Google Now app and generally improved performance, but aside from the camera tweaks we mentioned Samsung’s TouchWiz UI is neither a particular highlight nor a hindrance – it’s just sort of...there.

LG Optimus G Pro: Key specs and features

If the latest official rumblings do stick and we do see the Galaxy S4 sporting a Qualcomm 600 chip then that’ll be something it has in common with LG’s Optimus G Pro (not the only thing, by any means, but we’ll come back to that).
However, the Optimus G Pro has a lower clock-speed of 1.7GHz for its implementation of Qualcomm’s top-of-the-line quad-core processor. There’s still an Adreno 320 GPU and 2GB of RAM propping things up too.
LG’s display is slightly larger at 5.5-inches and it’s an IPS LCD rather than OLED. It has the same 1920x1080 pixel Full HD resolution, resulting in a slightly lower pixel density than its rival at around 400ppi.
Other specs make a similar tit-for-tat comparison. The camera is rated at 13-megapixels with an LED flash and 1080p video ccapture.
Storage space is limited to one option of 32GB onboard but it does come with microSD support for up to 64GB, so you’re unlikely to be left wanting.
The Android version is 4.1 Jelly Bean, which is still feature-rich and up-to-date enough to get a pass, it’s layered with LG’s own UI but we’ll cover this further in the next section.

Points to consider: Practical use

It’s impossible not to draw some fairly close comparisons between these two phones.
They’re both large form-factor 5-inch plus devices with high-end Qualcomm quad-core chips, plastic bodyshell construction and premium display panels. And, they both also run Android Jelly Bean with quite similar-looking custom UIs on top.
Samsung’s exterior build is the usual stuff we’ve seen before from the manufacturer with rounded corners and a physical home button, the plastic has a tacky quality to it which doesn’t suggest a £500+ price tag and therefore can’t help but disappoint somewhat.
Visually the design is exactly like an inflated Galaxy S3, although to be fair the bezel on the longer edges barely exists, lending a sleek look to things.
LG’s design is very similar indeed, it has virtually saved itself from Samsung’s wrath by making the handset a wee bit squarer, thicker and chunkier, with broad, flat edges somewhat reminiscent of the Sony Xperia S, except not as sharp. The home button is smaller too.
The material is much the same as Samsung’s though – robust enough in reality but not at all premium feeling in the hand. It also sports the same wafer-thin bezel around the display.
Other differences are a bit more subtle and ultimately quite inconsequential. Both phones have 13-megapixel camera setups, the LG simply lacks Samsung’s fancy feature jiggery-pokery such as dual-camera capture which, while nice to have, isn’t exactly a deal-maker or deal-breaker in either direction.
Similarly, the processor setup is identical aside from the clock-speed being 200MHz faster on the Samsung Galaxy S4 – at this end of the spectrum that’s really not a big deal and performance is likely going to be in the same ballpark.
The display quality on both phones is equally great, the Galaxy S4 has a 40ppi lead which will barely register unless you have Superman’s vision.
Probably our main gripe would fall on the LG Optimus G Pro having a highly fluffy UI for very little benefit in terms of added features. Samsung’s UI is also quite thick but at least it has a clear intent and purpose.
We’d rather not have either though, and this can easily be solved with a quick app download, so again, in reality both are on a fairly even keel here.

Conclusion

Take your pick, really, you’re getting a very similar package either way.
We could lean towards the Samsung based on the usability of the default UI and the added camera features, but there’s not a lot in it.

Direct spec comparison: Shootout

Device Samsung Galaxy S4
LG Optimus G Pro
Dimensions 136.6x69.8x7.9mm, 130g 150.2x76.1x9.4mm, 172g
Display 5-inch Super AMOLED,1920x1080 pixels,440ppi 5.5-inch IPS LCD,1920x1080 pixels,400ppi
Camera 13-megapixel,LED flash,1080p video 13-megapixel,LED flash,1080p video
Storage 16GB/32GB/64GB, microSD up to 64GB 32GB, microSD up to 64GB
Processor, RAM, Graphics 1.9GHz quad-core Qualcomm 600,2GB RAM, Adreno 320 GPU 1.7GHz quad-core Qualcomm 600,2GB RAM,Adreno 320 GPU
Operating System, Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean Android 4.1 Jelly Bean
UI  TouchWiz LG UI
Connectivity microUSB,Bluetooth,NFC,Wi-Fi,Wi-Fi Direct,Wi-Fi Hotspot,DLNA,4G,GPS,MHL Bluetooth,microUSB,NFC,Wi-Fi,Wi-Fi Direct,Wi-Fi Hotspot,DLNA,GPS,4G,MHL
Battery 2,600mAh 3,140mAh