When Samsung released its 5.3-inch Galaxy Note in February 2012, it started a whole new ballgame in the U.S. phone market. Though not everyone was a fan of its unprecedented size, it presented consumers with two options that were considered taboo: a stylus and an extra-large screen.
Luckily for Samsung, over 10 million people welcomed these features that were once thought of as unacceptable, and now LG is knocking on the phone/tablet hybrid's door with its own "phablet": The LG Intuition.
Previously released overseas as the LG Optimus Vu, the Intuition differs from its international counterpart in two major ways: the U.S. version ships natively with the more recent Android 4.0, and it lacks the throwback TV antenna that the Vu had. It does, however, retain the same ginormous 5-inch screen, Rubberdium stylus, and 8-megapixel camera.
The 4G LTE device is available to Verizon customers for $200 after contract.
Editors' note: Because they are the same device, sections of this review have been lifted from our review of the LG Optimus Vu.
At 5.5 inches tall, 3.56 inches wide, 0.33 inch thick, and weighing 6.08 ounces, the LG Intuition is huge for a smartphone. But for its size, it's quite lightweight and slender in the hand. Though it does fit in my palm, most of the time I needed two hands to operate it. For example, dialing the number pad while holding it with one hand and using my thumb was nearly impossible. In fact, I dropped the handset a couple of times while trying to make a call.
You can fit the device in a front or back pocket, but it won't be comfortable at all. I found that about 2 inches of the Intuition would remain above the seam, and it felt bulky when I was carrying it around. Also, speaking with it pinned between my face and shoulder weighed down pretty heavily.
On top are a 3.5mm headphone jack, a shortcut key called QuickClip for QuickMemo (more on that in a while), a Micro-USB port that can be covered with a slick little sliding door, and a sleep/power button. To the right is a volume rocker.
The plastic back is textured with a grainy design. Though I'm sure this material keeps the phone light, it gives it a cheap sort of feel, and it's definitely less luxurious-feeling than the Note. On its left corner is an LED-flash-supported 8-megapixel camera. To the right is a covered slot for Verizon's 4G LTE card. Below that are two small slits for the output speaker. Unlike other devices, it doesn't have a slot for prying the back off with your fingernail. Instead, two screws at the bottom keep the back plate secure.
The handset sports a 5-inch IPS LCD display with a resolution of 1,024x768 pixels. Though it's not as great as the LG Optimus 4X HD's, the Gorilla Glass screen is still very impressive. Menu icons were crisp and images were vibrant and richly saturated. A few default wallpapers, however, looked a bit grainy. Because it has 650 nits of brightness, videos played vividly. The viewing angle is wide, even while outdoors in the sun, which is usual for IPS displays.
The display also worked great with the stylus or what LG calls the "Rubberdium" pen (don't ask me why). Though I like the fact that it feels sturdy like a real pen, it's inconvenient that there's no slot within the handset for storage. While using the stylus, I noticed that the screen was sensitive when tapping on apps and pulling down menus. It picked up strokes fairly quickly when it came to writing, though I did notice a very slight drag when writing as quickly as possible. Note, however, that LG's Rubberdium pen does not have the same pressure-sensitive functions as the Samsung's S Pen.
One odd thing about the screen is that it has a 4:3 aspect ratio, which LG claims is the most "common aspect ratio for print materials in real life." The company also says it makes browsing the Web more comfortable, which I found to be true. I also appreciated the extra real estate when browsing through news and e-commerce sites. For other content, the Intuition automatically optimizes third-party apps to fit the ratio. Sometimes it worked -- when I played Temple Run it looked fine on the bigger display -- but other times it didn't. In order to retain video ratio, YouTube clips played with a lot of letterboxing space. If an app doesn't render correctly, you can enable "aspect ratio correction" when you hold down the home button. This will change the display setting of the app to make it slimmer.
Above the display in the left is a 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera. Below are four hot keys (back, home, recent apps, and menu) that light up when in use.
The phone runs on a 1.5GHz dual-core processor. Again, it doesn't hold a candle to the 4X HD's quad-core processor. There is some short, but noticeable lag time for switching from landscape to portrait mode and opening up the camera, but other simple undertakings like swiping through its seven home screen pages and opening apps were done quite snappily. Games launched and closed without a problem and transitioning back to home was a breeze.
Unlike its international counterpart, it's great to see that the U.S. Intuition ships with the more recent Android 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich, and it comes with the slew of Google apps you expect like Gmail, Plus, Messenger, Latitude, Maps with Navigation, Places, Play Books, Movies, Music, and Store, Search, Talk, and YouTube.
Amazon preloaded its apps too, such as: Amazon Kindle, Shop, and Music, as well as IMDb, Zappos, and the audiobook app, Audible. Other goodies include two multimedia sharing apps (Color and FileShare); NFL Mobile; the mobile office suite known as Polaris Office; Slacker Radio; two games (Real Racing 2 and Shark Dash); and SmartShare, a content distribution app.
Included Verizon-centric apps are its Mobile Hotspot app; My Verizon Mobile for customer account information; its app store portal; the video portal, Viewdini; and its native navigation app, VZ Navigator.
Basic features present are text messaging, e-mail, Bluetooth 3.0, a Web browser, a finance app for stocks, a calendar, news and weather apps, a to-do list, a clock with alarm settings, a memo pad, a calculator, and a voice recorder.
It's equipped with QuickMemo, a feature you can access by clicking the QuickClip hot key on top. It lets you jot down, with your finger or with the Rubberdium pen, quick notes or sketches directly over screen images, which you can then save and share. You can customize the color and style of your pen tip.
The device is also overlaid with LG's user interface, the Optimus UI 3.0, which isn't as stylishly simplistic as the vanilla Ice Cream Sandwich skin. Though I like how the icons are customizable, some widgets look clunky (especially the unattractive weather widget), and even though I like that it's sporting the Roboto font, the keypad and app drawer still look a little outdated. There are a few welcome changes, however, like the fact that you can access up to five apps of your choosing from the lock screen by simply swiping over its icon. Personally, I prefer Android's minimalistic interface, but it's refreshing to see LG actively changing and taking chances with its products' UIs.