Preview: LG Optimus Vu

The LG Optimus Vu has a huge 5in screen and could be considered a small tablet rather than a smartphone.

LG Optimus Vu

LG Optimus Vu

The LG Optimus Vu has a huge 5in screen and could be considered a small tablet rather than a smartphone.

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LG says the Optimus Vu "offers a unique combination of tablet-like viewing with smartphone portability". In other words, the company doesn't really know if people will use this primarily as a phone or a tablet. This is a similar view Samsung took when it unveiled the 5.3in Galaxy Note, saying it was an all-in-one device and not just a smartphone or a tablet. The Optimus Vu certainly comes at an interesting time: Samsung has just announced it has sold over 2 million Galaxy Note devices worldwide and is aiming to sell 10 million by the end of this year. Not bad for what most would consider a niche device.

The LG Optimus Vu will naturally draw comparisons with the Galaxy Note, but this is a very different device for one particular reason: the 5in screen has an odd 4:3 aspect ratio. This means it is extremely wide. In fact, its the widest Android phone that has ever been released. LG says it chose this aspect ratio because it makes viewing documents, books, Internet and multimedia content easier and "more comfortable." We're not so sure this is the truth: in our view the Galaxy Note is a great device for reading despite having a far more conventional aspect ratio.

Measuring a whopping 90.4mm wide the Optimus Vu may be far too wide to use comfortably, though we can only wait until we get our hands on it to judge. LG does deserve some credit for its design — the Optimus Vu is just 8.5mm thick, which is a great achievement when you consider the odd-screen size and the sheer footprint.

One of the key features of the Galaxy Note is Samsung's "S-Pen" stylus, which allows users to write notes on the screen. The Optimus Vu's does have a stylus but from the images LG has released, there doesn't appear to be a spot in the phone to store it. Further, the stylus (or "Rubberdium pen" as LG officially calls it) is just a regular, capacitive stylus, whereas Samsung's effort on the Galaxy Note utilises specially developed Wacom technology. Most of the video demos LG has released have shown users drawing on the screen with their finger rather than the stylus.

The LG Optimus Vu is powered by a 1.5GHz dual-core processor, has 1GB of RAM, 32GB of internal memory and a microSD card slot for extra storage. Despite an odd aspect ratio, the IPS display has a resolution of 1024x768, which should make for crisp text. Other features include an 8-megapixel rear camera, a 1.3-megapixel front camera and a large 2080mAh battery.

Disappointingly, the Optimus Vu will initially launch running Android 2.3 Gingerbread, though LG insists that an update to Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich is "already in the works." The software on the Optimus Vu will include a number of LG exclusive features including a "QuickClip hotkey" at the top of the device that will bring up a menu to capture screenshots, draw on them and share through multiple sources.

The Optimus Vu will initially launch in Korea in March as an LTE (4G) device, though LG is expected to eventually release a worldwide model in the near future.

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