Remember when mobile phones looked like military-grade tools and required satchel-sized battery cases? It’s easy to scoff at them now, but Android handset makers seem hellbent on returning us to those days, or at least the updated equivalent. The giant phones on the market may not also require the massive briefcase, but clearly Samsung, LG and others think bigger is better.
One of the newest of these gargantuan phones comes from LG, which has released the 5.5-inch Optimus G Pro, the company’s answer to the very nearly equally gargantuan Samsung Galaxy Note II. In fact, the Optimus G Pro looks so much like the Note II, it’s difficult to tell them apart when they’re side by side. LG has even copied hardware features like the single home button, which pulses with light whenever you have a new message.
There’s much to love about the Optimus G Pro, including a gorgeous hi-res IPS screen, impressive, all-day battery life and some genuinely nice tweaks to stock Android. But in order to love this phone you’re going to have to first make peace with the sheer, pocket-hogging size of the thing. It does, for the record, fit in most pants pockets, but leaves little room to spare. You’re never going to forget that you’re carrying it.
The other significant downside to the size of the G Pro is that it’s nearly impossible to use one-handed, unless you have very large hands. It’s not too hard to hold one-handed, but stretching your thumb all the way across the screen is awkward at best and will be, for many users, just plain impossible. LG has a couple of features designed to help — like the ability to dock a down-sized version of the dialpad to one side of the screen — but for the most part, this is a two-handed phone.
My initial reaction when I unboxed the G Pro was to guffaw, and I still felt self-conscious holding it to my ear in public, even after a couple months of testing. But in the end, the over-sized screen is just so damn useful that I’m a convert. For me, the upsides of a big phone outweigh the downsides and, so long as you feel the same, the Optimus G Pro is a great phone that’s well worth the totally reasonable $100 price tag.