The Optimus 4X represents a thorough overhaul in LG’s design language. Gone are the melted-by-microwave contours, replaced by a sparse, geometric design focused on flat surfaces and radiused chrome edges. The overall effect is actually very reminiscent of the international and AT&T versions of the much-loved Galaxy S II because of the chrome ring around the bezel as well as the general flatness of the design. It’s different, with tighter radiuses making the rectangularity of the device that much more apparent, as well as an interesting brushed pattern to the plastic battery cover, but similar enough to make the comparison. As a huge fan of the Galaxy S II I-9100, I find it to be a very pleasing design. It doesn’t feel as ultramodern as the SGS3 and the One X, maybe a little bit last generation even, but there are some benefits to that.

The rectangular shape helps give the O4X very compact dimensions, with minimal overhang from the 4.7” display. As display sizes grow, the amount of wasted space around the display becomes a much larger concern to maintain pocketability and in-hand usability. While HTC and Samsung went with contoured design languages to combat this issue, LG stuck to basic geometric shapes and was very fastidious about keeping the footprint as small as possible. And for the most part, they’ve succeeded.  It’s smaller than both the One X and SGS3, and comes very close to matching the Galaxy Nexus (4.65” display). 

The styling is very, very clean, with minimal extraneous details. The front is entirely clean, other than the chrome LG logo, front facing camera, earpiece, and proximity sensor. There are three capacitive touch buttons (back, home, menu) that light up when touched but otherwise disappear to make it look like an unblemished piece of plastic. Having buttons appear only after they’re touched sounds counterintuitive, but you learn quickly to just stab in the general area of the button you’re going for. If you’ve ever used an Android device before, it comes pretty naturally. I do take issue with LG’s inclusion of a menu button instead of a task switcher, as I do with Samsung and the Galaxy S III. I much prefer the button layout of the GNex and HTC’s One series, with a dedicated task switching key in place of the menu button. My other problem with the O4X button layout is that the buttons are all placed very close to the screen, so it’s easy to accidentally press one of them while typing. A common one for me is hitting the space bar and the home key at the same time, which can get annoying pretty quickly. Ideally, LG would have included an extra millimeter or so, in order to give a bit more buffer room between the screen and the capacitive buttons.  

The sides of the O4X HD are basically made up of two chrome rings separated by a contoured plastic center. The volume toggle protrudes from the plastic on the left side and is very easy to find by touch. The hardware button layout is dead set perfect; the power button and headphone jack are at the top and the micro-USB port is centered at the bottom, just as God intended them. I’ve gotten used to Samsung and Nokia’s fascination with putting power buttons on the right side, but it’s always a relief to get my hands on a device with everything in the right place. 

The battery cover is white plastic, but not nearly as cheap feeling as the plastic used in the Galaxy S2’s battery door. It has beveled edges all the way around, giving it a bit of visual interest as well as making it easier to hold. The brushed texture also gives it an interesting feel, but contrasts weirdly with the triangular texture used on the sides and volume buttons. Removing the battery cover doesn’t really inspire much confidence in its construction, but it is at least better than what Samsung usually does, and I’ve dealt with enough of LG and Samsung devices to know that even if they don’t feel particularly solid, it’ll take more than standard operation to break the plastic. It’s reassuring to see removable batteries in the SGS3 and the O4X HD, with so many manufacturers switching to sealed batteries and unopenable devices in recent times. The Apple effect is catching on, but apparently the Koreans haven't gotten the memo, thankfully. 

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  • SpaceRanger - Wednesday, August 29, 2012 - link

    Same here.. Fellow G2X owner and I will NEVER get another LG product again.
  • VivekGowri - Wednesday, August 29, 2012 - link

    Yeah, I had a G2x for a long while. Gave it to my brother, so no longer my headache. The software on that phone was literally never finished. That's what the problem was, and that's why it was so ridiculously buggy. I think the O4XHD will get the 4.1 update at some point, but definitely nothing after that.
  • Myrandex - Wednesday, August 29, 2012 - link

    Hey there windows Phones were / are pretty well supported! Their launch Quantum is supopsed to be getting the 7.8 upgrade, its just a shame that they have been pretty quiet on that front too. I knew a bunch of people that bought the Quantum here in the U.S.
  • Myrandex - Wednesday, August 29, 2012 - link

  • VivekGowri - Wednesday, August 29, 2012 - link

    That's because Microsoft is doing the updating, not LG's software engineers.
  • Lepton87 - Wednesday, August 29, 2012 - link

    Aren't you a little contradicting yourself? First you say "Now with all that out of the way, I think my flagship phone recommendation for most consumers is still the One X." and then "
    In real life, I prefer the O4X HD - the elegance of LG’s software package, in my book at least, has a bigger impact on my day to day usage of the phone than the hardware polish of the One X or the GPU horsepower of the S3. In my personal rankings, the O4X HD and One X are almost even, with the O4X coming out just ahead, and the S3 is a definite third."

    So you actually prefer LG but think than you are unlike most consumers and thus ONE X will be better for them?
  • VivekGowri - Wednesday, August 29, 2012 - link

    Essentially. The HTC is without question a better phone - better design, better screen, better camera. But honestly, I enjoy using the LG more, simply due to the software. It's essentially the same rationale behind me sticking to a Galaxy Nexus when the hardware has been outstripped on T-Mobile by the One S and S3. It's a purely personal preference, and if you don't have an issue with Sense 4, then there's no real reason to not get the One X.
  • MDme - Wednesday, August 29, 2012 - link

    it is a rectangle with rounded corners!
  • Spunjji - Thursday, August 30, 2012 - link

  • Spunjji - Thursday, August 30, 2012 - link

    (But seriously, it's OK, the radius of the corners is wrong. Because that is somehow relevant and can totally be patented.)

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