LG launches its first Full HD smartphone, the Optimus G Pro

Just announced in Korea is the latest model in LG's Optimus smartphone range, the Optimus G Pro – and the company's banking on big sales for this upmarket model.

It will be shown in Europe at the Mobile World Congress, opening next week in Barcelona, where LG will also launch its Optimus L Series II smartphones.

And it looks like LG needs to concentrate its efforts on premium smartphones such as this, with reports suggesting its other major technology leader, OLED TV, is failing to capture the imagination of the Korean public.

The Optimus G Pro follows on the success of the standard Optimus G, already a strong seller in the markets where it's available, and recently confirmed to be on the way to the UK.

The new model adds the largest display yet seen on an LG smartphone – a 5.5in 1920x1080-pixel Full HD IPS panel – along with an enhanced 13MP rear camera for Full HD shooting.

The 4G LTE phone, which runs Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean on a 1.7GHz Quad-Core Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 processor, also has what's claimed to be the largest battery capacity in its class, at 3140mAh, and this battery is both user-swappable and able to be charged wirelessly.

Onboard memory runs to 2GB of RAM and 32GB of storage, with the ability to add up to 32GB using a microSD card.

In addition to that 13MP rear camera, complete with LED flash, there's also a 2.1MP front camera, with features including Dual Recording – allowing picture-in-picture effects by recording from both cameras simultaneously – and Virtual Reality Panorama to allow 360-degree views to be taken.

The phone is on sale in Korea this week at KRW968,000 (around £575) without contract – more than KRW100,000 (£60) less than other Full HD smartphones – , and will be launched in Japan in April, along with other markets.

An LG spokesman told the launch event that he expected the Optimus G to take off faster than other smartphones available in the Korean market.

Meanwhile head of LG's phone division Dr Jong-seok Park (left) pledged that the company will continue to expand its position in the premium LTE smartphone segment.

It's all part of LG's strategy to regain market share in what is sometimes referred to as the 'second tier' of phone manufacturers – i.e. those behind Samsung and Apple.

Once the world's third-biggest maker of phones, it's currently in fifth position, behind Samsung, Nokia, Apple and ZTE.

The Optimus G Pro launch comes as reports suggest another big LG roll-out – its launch of OLED (or OEL) TVs – isn't quite going to plan.

The company's TV division, in which Dr Park worked for 17 years before moving into its mobile phone operations, started taking pre-orders for its 55in OLED TV in Korea at the beginning of January, and is due to start shipping the TVs this month.

But the company says only a little over 100 of the KRW11m (£6500) TVs, which are more than three times the price of equivalent LED-lit LCD models, were ordered in the first six weeks of the year.

The TVs are due to go on sale in the US and Europe next month, and in other markets later in the Spring.

Stay tuned to whathifi.com for all the news from Mobile World Congress 2013, starting next Monday.

See also: LG Optimus 4X HD review

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Andrew has written about audio and video products for the past 20+ years, and been a consumer journalist for more than 30 years, starting his career on camera magazines. Andrew has contributed to titles including What Hi-Fi?, GramophoneJazzwise and Hi-Fi CriticHi-Fi News & Record Review and Hi-Fi Choice. I’ve also written for a number of non-specialist and overseas magazines.