Simply put, Samsung dominates the smartphone world in terms of sales. The company sold 10 million Galaxy S4′s within a month, and this could quite possibly have to deal with its seemingly endless marketing budget. On the other side, we have LG, a company who hasn’t seen nearly as much success with a single device. However, that doesn’t mean their devices don’t pose a challenge to Samsung’s unwavering flagship, the Galaxy S4.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 and LG Optimus G Pro are both great devices. Despite its size, the Optimus G Pro, in many respects, is on par with the Galaxy S4.
We’re pitting the two devices from South Korea against each other, and only one can come out on top. Join us for the full Samsung Galaxy S4 vs LG Optimus G Pro review or jump straight to the video.
Design and build quality
The first big difference you’ll notice between the Optimus G Pro and the Galaxy S4 is that the former is much larger than Samsung’s latest flagship offering. The Next Big Thing comes in at just 5.3-inches tall while the Optimus G Pro, taking on the likes of the Galaxy Note 2, measures in at 6-inches tall and is a third of an inch wider than the S4.
Once you get past the size differences, the Galaxy Note 2 and Optimus G Pro are both similar in nature. There’s no plastic versus glass dispute here folks, as both phones are built with the same material. It makes the two handsets feel a little less than premium, but not by much.
LG took some design pointers from Samsung, so the button layouts are very similar between the two devices. The only difference worth mentioning is the Q-button tucked above the volume rockers on the Optimus G Pro that serves as a user-defined shortcut.
As you might expect, the Optimus G Pro is harder to use with a single hand than the Galaxy S4 due to the large form factor. The Galaxy S4 is easy to operate in one hand, making it the best 5-inch device to handle right now. It’s obvious that the Optimus G Pro is meant to be used with two hands. Looking around the back of both devices, you’ll see a camera up top surrounded by a removable plastic cover.
Bottom line, the Galaxy S4 and Optimus G Pro are both well built devices, so it really depends on your preference. If you’d rather go for a comfortable single-handed operation, the Galaxy S4 is the perfect choice. If you’re looking for something larger and don’t mind two-handed operation, the Optimus G Pro is an obvious choice.
There’s about a half-inch difference between the screen, but both have nearly the same specifications. The Samsung Galaxy S4 has a Super AMOLED 1080p display rated at 441ppi. It’s a beautiful display with very saturated colors that compliments Samsung’s TouchWiz interface. However, it can be a turnoff for some people.
On the other side of the spectrum, we have a larger and less saturated 5.5-inch True IPS display on the LG Optimus G Pro. It also is capable of 1080p, but it’s rated at a lower 401 ppi. The pixel density isn’t much of a difference though. Text has the same sharpness and media consumption like videos, pictures, and games are enjoyable on whichever device you choose.
When you get down to it, the real difference, again, is the size of the displays. If you’re looking for something less saturated, but with a larger screen, the Optimus G Pro is no doubt the way to go, especially when it comes to media consumption. On the other hand, the Galaxy S4′s 5-inch Super AMOLED display is no slouch either, and is still great when it comes to videos, pictures, and games.
As we mentioned earlier, the Samsung Galaxy S4 and LG Optimus G Pro are very similar, and that holds true with the performance of the two devices. The western version of the Galaxy S4 is no slouch, sporting a Snapdragon 600 CPU clocked at 1.9GHz with an Adreno 320 GPU and 2GB of RAM. The device performs wonderfully and provides for a slick experience. Being a high-end phone, AnTuTU rates this bad boy at the top, around the 25,000 range.
As for its competitor, the Optimus G Pro, it was released a little before the Galaxy S4, making it one of the first devices to sport that wicked Snapdragon 600 processor. It’s clocked at 1.7GHz, and similar to the S4, it is backed by the Adreno 320 GPU and 2GB of RAM. So when it comes to performance, it’s very similar to the slickness of the Galaxy S4.
The Optimus G Pro measured in with a lower AnTuTu score, but it’s hard to deny that its performance isn’t matched by the Galaxy S4. So whether you choose the Samsung Galaxy S4 or the LG Optimus G Pro, you’ll get a slick experience without sacrificing performance.
There’s no doubt that a lot of work went into the Samsung Galaxy S4 and LG Optimus G Pro to make them the two top dogs on the market. The Samsung Galaxy S4 has a removable plastic cover allowing for battery replacement when power is low or when you just have a bad battery. There’s also a microSD card slot to expand the device’s storage by 16GB, 32GB, or 64GB. The S4 also features an IR Blaster to control a number of different devices, such as TVs or set top boxes. Finally, there’s a number of sensors used for navigation and unique applications.
Under the hood of the LG Optimus G Pro is a removable battery and a microSD slot in case you use the device’s entire 32GB of onboard memory. Similar to its competitor, it sports an IR Blaster for controlling TVs and a number of other devices. The Optimus G Pro really lacks when it comes to sensors — it doesn’t have nearly as many as the Galaxy S4. However, it does have the gyroscope and the accelerometer, and Eastern versions of the device have a long antenna for broadcasted television.
When it comes to hardware, the Galaxy S4 has a lot more to offer than the Optimus G Pro. However, that may not be a bad thing, as you may or may not put all of the Galaxy S4′s features to use. If you like the extra bells and whistles, the Galaxy S4 is without doubt the route to follow. Otherwise, the Optimus G Pro is your standard smartphone, just bigger.
Battery and cameras
Naturally, the Optimus G Pro has a larger battery than the Galaxy S4 to power the larger screen and body. It’s actually quite a difference too — 3,140 milliamps compared to the Galaxy S4′s 2,600mAh battery. Despite the larger battery, in some ways the Optimus G Pro still runs out of juice faster than the S4.
Like all Galaxy S devices, the S4 has a lot of built-in power saving features. During battery tests, the power saving features in the Galaxy S4 helped it outlast the Optimus G Pro, even during media consumption. Of course, that might be an okay tradeoff, as a spare battery and charging dock come with the Optimus G Pro.
As for the cameras, the Galaxy S4 sports a 13-megapixel rear facing shooter. The picture quality is very good. Details are reproduced quite well, and the color accuracy is another great strength of the camera. As per the norm with Samsung, most of the camera’s strengths lie in the application itself. It’s rich with features — there’s an arsenal of different modes to make your photo pop in a unique way. You’ll find Drama and Eraser modes to be some of the most useful, as they add or remove objects from your photos. There’s also a cool dual recording mode, which was first shown in the Optimus G Pro.
LG’s offering isn’t far behind. Similarly, you’ll notice good picture quality, but the depth of field that the Galaxy S4 offers just isn’t there. Details are reproduced just as well, and so is the color accuracy. As you might imagine, the Optimus G Pro doesn’t have nearly as many camera features as the Galaxy S4. However, it does provide HDR, dual recording, and even its own version of PhotoSphere, which was introduced to Android with version 4.2.
When it comes down to it, the Optimus G Pro’s camera is pretty standard, but it does what it’s expected to do very well. The Samsung Galaxy S4 certainly has some unique features, but whatever phone you choose to get you’ll have a great point-and-shoot camera on hand.
As for the software, Samsung has included some new navigation features in TouchWiz. Gestured based sensors now allow you to navigate through your phone with a simple wave of your hand and hovering your finger over an item, such as a text message, will give you a preview of said message. The Samsung’s Galaxy S4 tagline is “Life Companion”, so Samsung has included new applications that will make your life easier, such as S Health and S Translator among others.
The Optimus UI isn’t as colorful or bloated as TouchWiz, but it still packs a ton of features. As we mentioned earlier, the LG Optimus G Pro doesn’t have the necessary sensors that the S4 has for navigation. Albeit disappointing, LG makes up for this by providing a few nifty tools that will help with multitasking. QApps are small applications, like QVoice and QMemo, that can be put on the screen to accomplish small tasks. Then we have QSlide, which is very similar to a nifty feature called Multi Window in the Galaxy S4.
It will allow you to have two windows open at the same time. So for example, you could have your browser opened up in one window and Google Maps in another to efficiently search for directions. Again, similar to Multi Window, but helpful to have nonetheless.
As we mentioned earlier, there’s a QButton on the top left of the Optimus G Pro above the volume rocker. This is one of the Optimus G Pro’s most unique features, as it will let you program the button as a shortcut for opening an app like Google+ or just general QApps.
While the G Pro lacks navigation sensors, it makes up for it with the QButton and QApps. On the other hand, the Galaxy S4′s motion navigation is a cool feature to have. So when it comes down to it, you’re either giving up a ton of multitasking features or some of the cool new ways of navigating the Galaxy S4. It all depends on what interests you more.
Hands-on video review
Price and final thoughts
The unlocked Optimus G Pro runs at $ 800 USD. The Galaxy S4 runs for $ 100 cheaper unlocked at $ 700. If you’re looking to get either phone on contract, and we’ll use AT&T as our measure, both devices will run you $ 199 on a new two-year agreement with the carrier. So unlocked, there’s quite a significant difference, which also may affect your buying decision.
Both the LG Optimus G Pro and the Samsung Galaxy S4 are great devices. In many respects they’re similar, but when it comes down to it, you’re going to have to decide if you like the Galaxy S4′s 5-inch screen or the Optimus G Pro’s larger 5.5-inch screen. If you’re someone who isn’t fond of often using two-handed operation for your device, the LG Optimus G Pro probably isn’t for you. On the other hand, the Galaxy S4 has some downsides too, such as the Super AMOLED display with the saturated colors.
Regardless of your choice, either way you’re getting a really powerful device. What phone do you prefer? Vote in our poll and let us know in the comments!
Joshua Vergara contributed to this review.