Last week we reviewed LG’s bendy proof-of-concept smartphone, the G Flex but there was another phone launched at the same event, a new mid-range phablet called the LG G Pro Lite.
The G Pro Lite is aimed directly at the youth market with LG hoping that it will carry favour with students too strapped for cash to afford a flagship smartphone but still hankering for something fantastic for their money. At R4 799 it certainly fits the bill as a mid-range smartphone, the question we ask is whether it manages to be fantastic.
When I first saw the press images of the G Pro Lite I was unimpressed. It looked like so many Android phones that have come before it with a liberal use of plastic in order to save on the costs.
However (and to my surprise) the G Pro Lite, while uninspiring to look at, feels incredible in hand. While there is certainly liberal use of plastic, it doesn’t make the phone feel cheap. There is no flex in the, admittedly rather thin, plastic back cover which fits so snugly against the battery that it gives it a confidence-inspiring level of rigidity.
The front of the G Pro Lite is dominated by its 5.5-inch display with a set of touch enabled ‘Back’ and ‘Menu’ buttons flanking a physical ‘Home’ button at the bottom. Along the bottom edge are the microUSB charging port as well as a set of surprisingly loud and crisp stereo speakers with a headphone jack along the top. An unexpected addition was a small stylus found hidden in a recess on the top right of the G Pro Lite.
Unlike the last two phones we had from LG, the G Flex and the G2, the power and volume buttons are found in their conventional places on the left and right sides of the G Pro Lite. A rather nifty customisable convenience button, the ‘QuickButton’, sits just above the volume rocker on the left hand side and can be set to launch any app with a single press.
While the great build quality was indeed a surprise, sacrifices on the hardware front would always have to be made to keep costs down.
The 5.5-inch display bears the brunt of the cost-cutting with a decidedly below average 540X960 resolution. It does however carry the benefit of the same IPS technology used in the flagship G2. Speaking of the G2, the G Pro Lite has a larger and infinitely more removable battery than the flagship at 3140mAh and the same resolution 8 megapixel camera, minus the fancy optical image stabilisation.
Powering the whole operation is a dual-core 1GHz Mediatek processor along with 1GB of RAM and 8GB of internal storage which is expandable with a microSD card. WiFi duties are carried out on the 802.11n standard with Bluetooth and an FM radio joining good old 7.2Mbps HSDPA along as the maximum connection speed.
The LG G Pro Lite runs on the now 18 month old version 4.1.2 of Google’s Android OS with LG’s familiar looking skin and features installed.
There are some brilliant features like KnockOn which lets you double tap the display to turn it on and then again to turn it off. KnockOn first appeared on the LG G2 which has a power button on its back necessitating the feature, however even with an accessible power button on the G Pro Lite it saved us time.
The G Pro Lite is also the first LG phone to come preinstalled with BBM which will be installed on every future LG Android phone according to Deon Prinsloo, LG’s mobile general manager for South Africa.
As with the first LG phablet we ever reviewed, the Optimus G Pro, the G Pro Lite has a multitasking app called QSlide which allows certain native apps like the calendar and calculator to be minimised into a movable window on top of another app. While it performs as advertised we found that it was quicker to just jump back and forth between open apps with Android’s traditional multitasking.
The 5.5-inch display in the LG G Pro Lite is infuriating in its duality. On one hand the qHD, 540X960 resolution is the most disappointing aspect of the LG G Pro Lite. In the current generation of smartphones the bare minimum resolution should be 720X1280 (720p), especially for a phablet with a display this large. Text and video are often noticeably grainy and even the app icons and their titles tend to have jagged edges.
However, even with all of that being said it’s a great looking display. Colours are vibrant and the IPS technology means superb viewing angles. If you’ve never used a smartphone with a higher resolution display then the problems with the G Pro Lite will all melt away leaving you with a great experience.
One major gripe with the display is the lack of an ambient light sensor which automatically adjusts the brightness of the display depending on the brightness of the environment. Forgetting to increase the brightness before stepping out into the bright summer sun will see your display rendered instantly illegible, while leaving the brightness set too high will impact battery life negatively.
At 8 megapixels the LG G Pro Lite has the same pixel count as the similarly priced Huawei Ascend P6 however the picture quality was just not as good. It’s still one of the best camera available at the price point and doesn’t do the G Pro Lite’s reputation any harm.
The real feather in the LG G Pro Lite’s cap is its battery life. With a lower resolution display and a battery that, at 3140mAh, is larger than the battery in the G2, the G Pro Lite is a champion in the battery stakes.
Even the social media obsessed teens that the device is being marketed to will have a tough time erasing a full charge in a single day.
If you’re looking for a phablet in the sub R5 000 price range then the LG G Pro Lite makes a strong case for your money. The battery life is a major perk that does enough to outweigh the problems we found with the G Pro Lite.
Battery life: 5/5
Value for Money: 4/5
Price: R4 799
Display: 5.5-inch, 540X960 resolution IPS LCD display (200ppi)
Processor: Dual core 1GHz Mediatek
Storage: 8GB, expandable with microSD
Camera: 8 megapixel rear, 1.3 megapixel front facing
Networking: 802.11n WiFi, Bluetooth 3.0, 7.2Mbps HSUPA, FM Radio
Other: Stylus, 3140mAh removable battery