Optimus G primed for success

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Optimus G primed for success

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LG Electronics rolled out its Optimus G yesterday, a smartphone that several of its affiliates have spent a year developing, as it moves to bolster its arsenal in the smartphone war.

Less than a week after Apple unveiled its long-awaited iPhone 5 in San Francisco, the electronics arm of the Korean conglomerate presented its high-end Android-powered handset, which it proudly bills as having an “extremely minimalist, impeccable design” and “unprecedentedly unique user experience [UX].”

“We have been developing this device in the past year as we were determined to come up with a world-best product,” said Park Jong-seok, president and CEO of LG Electronics’ mobile communications division, at a press conference in Seoul.

“The developers have tried to put themselves in customers’ shoes and think of what they really need when designing the UX. The Optimus G is also armed with Qualcomm’s quad-core application processor, meaning it has the best-ever brain, as well as an outstanding battery, design and camera.”

The 4.7-inch smartphone, which is 0.1 inch smaller than Samsung’s Galaxy S3, will be sold here from Monday by all three mobile carriers - SK Telecom, KT and LG U+ - for 999,900 won ($894).

It will support the fourth-generation long-term evolution (LTE) cellular network and no third-generation counterpart. In overseas markets, Japan will see it arrive for the first time in October and sales in other parts of the world, including the United States, will begin in November.

The handset has been nicknamed the “Koo Bon-moo phone” in reference to the LG chairman, owing to the collaborative R&D efforts its affiliates have made under the LG umbrella. Koo was a no-show at the launch event.

LG Display developed the phone’s cutting-edge “True HD IPS+” screen, LG Chem devised the longer-lasting battery, and LG Innotek designed its 13-megapixel camera, giving it the highest definition among local handsets. The Galaxy S3 and iPhone 5 both have eight-megapixel snappers.

LG has been promoting the Optimus G for several weeks with a rare show of confidence regarding its new UX elements. Of these, the Q Slide, which enables two functions such as video and text messaging to overlap, lets users multi-task. They can adjust the level of transparency of either of the two functions running simultaneously on the screen by moving the horizontally sliding bar. This means users can, for example, send text messages while watching live baseball broadcasts over the digital mobile broadcasting network.

With the smartphone trend increasingly converging with smart TVs, LG has invented a so-called “Dual Screen Dual Play” feature for the new handset. Whereas existing smartphones can mirror the handset screen on the TV counterpart, the Optimus G has succeeded in dividing the screens into two. It can transmit a video saved on its hard disk over the Wi-Fi network to a smart TV nearby, while the user can mobilize any function on the handset’s screen, such as Web surfing and text messaging.

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Meanwhile, a live zooming function lets users zoom in or out while watching a video clip. Design-wise, the screen has slightly rounder edges compared to its predecessors, including the Optimus LTE. LG smartphones have typically adopted near-rectangular shapes.

“The launch of the Optimus G is expected to help improve the brand recognition of LG smartphones,” said Park Gang-ho, an analyst with Daishin Securities. “Should its sales surpass one million in the fourth quarter, the profitability of its mobile handset division may get a huge boost next year.”

LG’s mobile communications division posted a 56.7 billion won loss in the second quarter amid sluggish sales of its smartphones. The company cited hefty spending on marketing as the reason.

By Seo Ji-eun [spring@joongang.co.kr]

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