Verizon Wireless LG Intuition Review

One of LG’s latest smartphones is the Intuition, which is available now from Verizon Wireless for $200 with a two-year contract. If the Intuition looks familiar to you, its probably because the device started out internationally as the LG Optimus Vu and now has a home at Verizon, where it has the honor of being the carrier’s first phablet.

I have spent a few weeks getting to know the LG Intuition, and though it offers some distinct advantages over a normal smartphone, it definitely isn’t for everyone. You will either love it or hate it and most people will be able to tell which camp they are in the second they pick it up. This is a niche device if there ever was one. Those who can get used to the size, will find a decent device in the Intuition, but most will probably pass right on by once they see it in person and realize just how big it is.

Design & Hardware:

I literally laughed out loud when I opened the box and laid eyes on the Intuition for the first time. So it isn’t necessarily surprising that everyone I’ve shown it to has had a similar reaction. It really isn’t a good feeling to be laughed at by your friends whenever you pull your new phone out, but its something I became accustomed to while using my review unit.

Even my Samsung Galaxy Note using friend thought the Intuition was ridiculous looking. The problem isn’t the screen size, sure a 5-inch display is large, but the Note’s screen is even larger. The real problem with the Intuition is it’s 4:3 aspect ratio, which makes the device measure 3.56-inches wide, and simply impossible to use one-handed. In fact, just the act of holding the Intuition with one hand can be difficult for those with small hands.

Another inconvenience is the fact that it doesn’t fit most normal sized pant pockets. Even if you do manage to force it into a pant pocket, the result is very uncomfortable and its not something you would want to do often. A friend of mine put it well when he said “that phone should come with a fanny pack”.

 

After the initial shock wears off and you take a closer look, the Intuition isn’t a bad-looking phone. Actually, I think the design is fairly attractive.

All of the edges are black chrome and the sides are nicely curved, while both the top and bottom are flat. The back is roughly textured to provide a better grip and includes a 8mp rear camera with flash and a decent sounding speaker towards the bottom. The front is dominated by the massive display, just below it is four capacitive buttons, and there is a front facing camera up top.

 

On the top edge, you’ll find a 3.5mm headphone jack, a mic, the dedicated Quick Memo button, a micro USB charging port and finally, the power button. I love how LG put the charging port behind a sliding door and another nice touch is that the power button lights up when pressed.

 

   

The volume rocker is on the right side, and although the buttons are small, I never had a problem locating or using them. The micro SIM card slot is all by itself on the left side and requires a pin or small paper clip to open.

Not only is the Intuition attractive, its also very well-built and solid feeling. There is no give or flexing anywhere. It all leads me to believe that LG has spent a lot of time perfecting the Intuition’s design.

Screen:

The Intuition’s 5-inch display has a resolution of 1024 x 768 pixels and uses a In-Plane Switching (IPS) LCD panel. It isn’t the greatest screen I’ve ever seen put on a smartphone, but it isn’t bad either. Colors are reproduced well and look great, individual pixels are hard to pick out, and it has a wide viewing angle. While the screen is plenty bright for indoor use, outdoor view-ability is nearly non existent. It is very difficult to see anything on the screen once your under sunny skies.

Performance:

I have been using the Intuition for just shy of a month now. In that time, I’ve used it constantly each day and I am very pleased with how well it has performed. The Intuition comes with a 1.5 GHz dual-core Snapdragon S3 processor (not the often rumored S4), 1GB of RAM, and 16 GB of internal storage. Even though it doesn’t have the S4, the Intuition performs great and has easily handled every task I’ve thrown at it without any problems. It isn’t uncommon for Android devices to develop a lag over time, but it hasn’t happened with my Intuition yet.

   

All of the Benchmarking programs put the LG Intuition just slightly above the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, which isn’t bad at all. The Intuition isn’t top of the line, but it does perform better than most Android devices out there.

Battery:

The Intuition is powered by a 2,080mAh battery that is not user replaceable. It will last you a work day without problems, but don’t expect much more from it. On most days, I was needing a charger before 9 hours of use. Keeping the screen dimmed allowed me to make it to just over 13 hours of what I consider my normal amount of use.  Streaming videos over 4G LTE can drain the battery in less than 3 hours. Basically, you will be charging the Intuition at least once every day, if not more.

Signal, Call quality and data:

As far as reception goes, the LG Intuition performed as well or slightly better than the other Verizon Wireless devices I’ve tested. Verizon’s 4G LTE network is pretty new in my area, but I’ve found the coverage to be quite good, and the Intuition never had any trouble finding and staying on 4G throughout my testing period. Even when I had just 1 bar left on the signal indicator, I never ran into a situation where I couldn’t make/receive phone calls or surf the internet. Not a single dropped call.

Call quality, on the other hand, left something to be desired. I experienced metallic sounding voices, echos, static and screeching sounds. Even worse, the person on the other end had trouble hearing me whenever I used the speakerphone. That was a major problem for me, because it made the feature useless and meant I actually had to hold the Intuition to my ear to make calls. I finally went to using a old Bluetooth headset I had laying around the house, the result was still dealing with the same routinely poor quality, but people were able to hear what I said without me having to hold a giant square to my head.  If you buy a Intuition, consider a Bluetooth headset as a required accessory.

Another problem I have noticed is that the LG Intuition seems to have Wi-Fi issues. Simply put, it doesn’t like to reconnect to Wi-Fi once it has lost signal. Everyday, I go out to the mailbox and the distance is more than enough to cause any device to loose connection with my router. But every other phone I use automatically reconnects as soon as I get back in range. The Intuition will see my network and attempt to reconnect to it, but it freezes at the “Obtaining IP address…” stage and it wont connect until I have manually intervened. The fix is simple enough – all I have to do is toggle Wi-Fi off and back on and the Intuition connects instantly – but it’s one extra step I don’t have to take with any other device.

 

Software:

The Intuition runs Google’s Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) operating system with some customization by LG. We all know what Android 4.0 offers by now, so I wont go into much detail about it, instead I will focus this part of the review on the things LG have added or modified. Starting with the lock screen, which now offers five, user-customizable shortcuts. Out of the box, the Intuition is set up with Phone, Messaging, Email, Camera, and Notebook as it’s lock screen shortcuts, but any of these can be changed to whatever you want.

   

LG loves their themes and the Intuition has four of them on board, each of which features it’s own predetermined wallpapers and slightly modified icons. The differences between each theme isn’t nearly as obvious as some of LG’s other devices. Like for example, the LG Lucid’s themes were heavily modified, each theme had major changes to the icons and each theme looked different. The Intuition themes offer very little differences besides the wallpaper.

   

LG’s modifications are perhaps most evident in the main app drawer, which now lets you see icons in two different sizes. The default size allows up to five icons to fit across and down, for a total of 25 app icons per screen. Switching to the smaller size allows six icons across and six down, increasing the number to a total of 36 visible apps per screen instead of usual the 25. This means you can make better use of the Intuition’s massive display and reduce the number of swipes needed to find your apps. By default, icons are listed in alphabetical order, but the user is free to organize the apps how they choose.

Preloaded apps include SmartShare, which allows wireless transferring and viewing of files between devices that use DLNA technology and LG’s Tag+ app. There’s also all of the Verizon Wireless apps you’ve grown to expect. They include Verizon’s own app store, My Verizon, VZ Navigator, NFL, Tones, and Viewdini. On top of those, you’ll also get the Amazon Store. Just in case Google Play and Verizon’s app store don’t have you covered. Not only do you get three stores, but you’ll also have two task management apps. I’m not sure why anyone would need that many redundant apps, but I guess it’s the way LG and Verizon wanted it.

 

LG Intuition Keyboard

One area where the LG Intuition really shines is the on-screen keyboard. This is one of the best typing experiences I have ever had with a touch screen phone. The Intuition’s massive width makes it the perfect size for dual thumb typing while in portrait mode, and the spacious keys made typos a very rare occurrence.

Browsing the internet on the Intuition is a great experience. The 4:3 aspect ratio makes websites look more like they would on your PC, and having such a large screen gives you plenty of room to navigate sites or write a long forum post. The intuition ships with the factory Android 4.0 browser, but chrome can be installed for free from the Google Play Store.

 

QuickMemo:

LG Intuition Rubberdium Stylus

Like the Samsung Galaxy Note, the LG Intuition comes with both a stylus and a note taking/drawing app. In LG’s case, we have QuickMemo and Notebook for software and a Rubberdium stylus for scribbling.

Pushing the QuickMemo button allows you to instantly capture a screenshot of whatever you’re doing. The picture is then displayed in the Notebook app, which lets you scribble on the screenshot using various pen styles and colors. The modifications you make are applied on top of the image, so you can erase any changes you have made without modifying the original screen shot. The Notebook app also allows you to attach additional content, such as typed text, pictures or videos. Once you have finished editing the picture, you can save it or send it out via email, SMS, Picasa, Twitter and so on.

 

   

I’m not sure what “Rubberdium” is, I don’t particularly like the word and everyone that I’ve shown the Intuition to asked me what it meant. I still don’t know, I never bothered to try to find out, I just know the stylus itself works great and its comfortable to use.

There is one major problem though, LG didn’t give us any slot to store the stylus inside the Intuition. There isn’t even a lanyard for attaching it by cable. Meaning, if you want to use the Rubberdium stylus, you have to carry it with you separately, either in a pocket, purse or maybe, even a fanny pack.

I don’t know how others are about keeping track of a pen, but I’m horrible at it. I loose pens all the time. The last thing I want to do is loose a “Rubberdium” stylus, so mine has spent most of it’s time in the box. I can imagine a lot of these styli sharing the same fate. Once you have to worry about where the stylus is, it looses most of its usefulness. Also, I became pretty accurate at writing with just my finger tip any way.

 

Conclusion:

LG Intuition

LG’s first attempt at making a phablet is definitely interesting. It grabs attention where ever you take it and it is a fun toy to mess around with, but at the end of the day, it just isn’t practical as a phone.

Samsung’s Galaxy Note works because it is a fair compromise between phone and tablet. The Note has a large screen like a tablet, but most people have no problems using it as a phone. That’s because the Note actually handles its size pretty well. While it is big, it doesn’t feel bulky. I can even use the Note one handed for most tasks. The Note is a really big phone, while the Intuition is more like a small tablet with voice calling and text messaging sprinkled on top, the difference is huge.

The one thing that makes the Intuition unique is the only thing that makes it a bad choice for a phone. Basically, every issue I have with the Intuition is a direct result of the 4:3 aspect ratio display, which was LG’s attempt to differentiate their phablet from the Galaxy Note. I can honestly appreciate and respect LG trying to do something different, but in this case, it simply doesn’t work.

The Intuition’s display renders a lot of content wrong. Images can end up being stretched out or squished together and it makes the device far too wide for use as a phone. The Intuition would have made a much better phablet If LG had just used the more traditional 16:9 aspect ratio, but then it would have been very similar to the Note. When its all said and done, I’m not sure if being different was worth it.

Despite how harsh the above paragraphs may sound, I actually don’t hate the Intuition. I just don’t like it as a phone. I do however think it is great as a small tablet. I love typing on it and browsing the internet with it’s massive screen is a joy. As an ultra-portable tablet it is fantastic. But a tablet should require both hands to use, a phone shouldn’t. A tablet can be left at home and just picked up as needed for work and entertainment throughout the day, while a phone needs to be taken with you at all times. It is like LG never once stopped to think if the Intuition was practical to use as a phone or not.

If you are on Verizon Wireless and want a phone with a big screen and Android 4.0,  then go get yourself the Samsung Galaxy S3. You will be glad you did, but if you absolutely have your heart set on getting something bigger, then I recommend going to your local carrier store and trying the Intuition out in person first. The size is the determining factor, if you are comfortable with how freakishly wide it is, then you will probably be very happy with the LG Intuition,  as the device itself is great.