LG's latest?smartphone, the Intuition ($199.99 direct) is a behemoth. It's not for everyone?and that's by design. Verizon's first phablet-sized phone, the Intuition goes up against the upcoming?Samsung Galaxy Note II. It's?great for reading, Web browsing, and taking notes, and the oversize screen is a pleasure to use. But thanks to several flaws, the Intuition is tougher to recommend as a general purpose smartphone.
Design, Screen, and Stylus
Let's get the elephant in the room out of the way first, since the LG Intuition's size?is?the elephant. It?measures 5.5 by 3.56 by 0.33 inches (HWD)?more than an inch taller and wider than most smartphones, though quite thin by any standard. It feels really strange in a pant pocket, though; it makes it in, but just?barely. The phone weighs 5.9 ounces, but feels surprisingly lightweight given its size.
The Intuition is made entirely of plastic save for the glass front panel, with a soft touch textured coating on the back and smooth, rounded left and right edges. Smoked chrome plastic accents around the frame give it a little sparkle. Since we don't have broadcast mobile TV here in the U.S., it's missing the original LG Optimus Vu's extendable antenna, but is otherwise virtually identical to that unlocked phone.
The 5-inch display, which is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass, is the biggest reason to buy the LG Intuition. It offers XGA (1,024-by-768-pixel) resolution at a 4:3 aspect ratio, which is like the iPad, but highly unusual for a smartphone. It's super bright and colorful. Off-axis viewing is disappointing, though, as there's marked color shift, but you can still see the screen with the phone almost horizontal. The massive display is great for viewing Web pages, as well as reading with the preloaded Kindle app. With this size screen and aspect ratio, it's only an inch smaller than standard E Ink-based readers, so you can see plenty of text on each page.
For taking notes and drawing, LG includes a nice metal stylus with a plastic shirt clip and a little rubber nub that feels well-matched to the glass screen. Unfortunately, there's nowhere to store the stylus inside the phone, which is a big problem. The stylus isn't pressure sensitive, either, the way it is with the Galaxy Note II.
On the other hand, typing on the on-screen keyboard is easy, even in portrait mode, thanks to the massive touch panel. There's also a one-handed keyboard mode that scrunches the keys together, a nice touch on such a wide phone.
Connectivity and Call Quality
Compatible with Verizon's LTE and 3G networks, the Intuition also integrates 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi. The phone joined our lab network easily, although there's no 5GHz support. Outdoors, the Intuition did just okay on Verizon's increasingly crowded LTE network, averaging speeds of 7 to 8 Mbps down and 2 Mbps up. It also works as a mobile hotspot for up to 10 devices with the appropriate data plan.
Voice quality was good, but with a few caveats. Putting aside how silly you'll look holding this phone up to your ear, the Intuition is so large that it's tough to aim the earpiece speaker properly. Move the phone a millimeter to the left or right and you won't be able to hear the other person. In my tests, there wasn't enough gain for outdoor calls; I could barely hear the other party on an admittedly noisy Manhattan street. Otherwise, voices sounded warm and detailed, transmissions through the mic were clear?virtually identical to how a Verizon iPhone 4 sounded, in fact?and reception was also good.
Calls sounded fine through a?Jawbone Era Bluetooth headset, and I had no problem triggering voice dialing over Bluetooth. Given the Intuition's size, Bluetooth headset calls are the way to go. The speakerphone sounded weak and distorted, though; consider it for indoor use only. We're still testing the massive 2080mAh battery; check back soon for the results.
Hardware, OS, and Apps
The 1.5GHz dual-core processor and 1GB RAM are par for the course for today's high-end smartphones. The Intuition didn't test all that well in our benchmarks, though, lagging slightly behind the Samsung Galaxy S III ?and?Motorola Droid Razr M on most tests, and significantly behind them in graphics and frame rate results. The Intuition also felt pretty sluggish in day-to-day use; I saw a lot of stutters and hiccups, and most UI and menu animations looked choppy.