Smartphone’s are all the same these days. Big screens, fast processors, skinned interface so that the manufacturers can “differentiate” and an app store with tens of thousands of apps. Hardware wise, there isn’t any major differences to speak of. Sure, some manufacturers push certain aspects to extremes (like Palm/HP did with the Pixi and Samsung now does with the Note II). But truth be told, the ~4:3/16:9 aspect ratios that all of our phones are built around don’t leave much wiggle room for manufacturers to play with.
And then there’s this thing – the LG Intuition. The freakish dimensions made us pause at first. What is this thing we wondered as we stood at gazed at the blank screen for a couple minutes, carefully and slowly running our fingers around it’s hard edges.
The display is the most striking feature of the Intuition is the 5-inch 768 x 1024 IPS-LCD display (256ppi). It’s huge! Also, decent to look at. The resolution and size means you won’t have iPhone 5/HTC One X like quality. But it is good nonetheless. Another perk – it’s bright (650nits), meaning you won’t have to squint (as hard) when you venture outdoors. But the display’s strength, in particular it’s size and unique shape, is also it’s undoing. It’s simply too big and too square-ish in design to allow any type of one-handed use. Seriously. Unless you’re some abnormally sized human, you won’t be multi-tasking with both hands when the Intuition is resting in one of them – because you’ll need both paws. Criticism of the display aside, it is an awesome form factor for two-handed operation. It’s small and has that 4:3 aspect ratio that we actually quite like for it makes normal usage of the device (web browser/navigating menus/reading) more enjoyable than a 16:9 display would. For movies and viewing pictures, though, the 4:3 aspect ratio returns to 2nd place beneath a more favorable 16:9 display.
Under the hood LG has managed to take a puzzling, disappointing approach, packing in a previous generation Qualcomm S3 processor instead of the newer, more efficient (and faster) S4. That said, you’re still getting a dual-core processor clocked at 1.5 GHz, 1 GB of RAM and plenty of wireless radios/connectivity to negate the need for any of the Intuition’s built-in 32 GB of storage (though it’s certainly appreciated). Still, at this stage in the game we’re pretty bummed that LG chose to take a unique device like the intuition and essentially make it a “has been” even at launch.
While LG went the more affordable route with previous-gen hardware mentioned above, one hardware feature we really wish they wouldn’t have skimped on is the battery. In 2012 (and for a ~5″ device such as the Intuition) there’s absolutely no reason to ship anything less than 2,500-2,800 mAh batteries inside. Motorola has been doing just fine cramming 3,000+ mAh batteries into ever thinner phones. So we don’t know what LG’s problem is. But one thing’s for certain. The 2,080 mAh battery inside the Intuition just isn’t enough. “Normal” usage (3 push gmail accounts, two twitter accounts, Facebook syncing, G+ syncing + other miscellaneous apps syncing) resulted in <10% battery life after 7-9 hours. If we stopped interacting with the Intuition we could push runtime to about 12 hours. Not "bad" considering everything the phone does and the screen size the battery must deal with. But again, it's not acceptable in our book especially when, again, Motorola is putting batteries 1.5x the size in a phone 1/3 smaller.
The final "nail in the coffin" if you will is the camera/video abilities of the Intuition. Above all else, if the Intuition could take decent pictures and/or video, we'd overlook some of the issues mentioned above. Sadly, it's more of the same - disappointment. Colors are pretty lifeless, unsaturated and washed out in anything but perfect lighting, and even then it isn't anything to write home about. Low-light performance is a toss, too, with plenty of noise to boot.
Verdict: Too Many Little Missteps Ruin The Overall Experience
We really wanted to like this freakish device from LG. (Honest, we swear.) But LG just didn’t deliver (on many fronts). That said, LG has managed to do something that few Android manufacturers do – differentiate their hardware in a meaningful way. The only drawback to this approach is that the method used is by employing a non-standard 4:3 screen into the Intuition’s body and then blowing it up into gargantuan proportions makes for an unwieldy device that really is more relegated to scenarios where one would reach for a tablet (two-handed scenarios in particular).
The real buzzkill for a lot of people will no doubt be the photo/video taking abilities, or more accurately, the lack thereof and lackluster battery life. Despite the decent camera/video specs on paper, the Intuition is one of the lesser performing devices we’ve used in recent memory when it comes time to preserve those short but important moments in life in digital form. Similarly, the battery is just too small for the hardware demands the Intuition places on it. Had LG equipped the Intuition with a 2,500+ mAh battery we’d look down on it with a much more positive view. Ditto for processor choice.
Still, despite the more limited ideal uses and outdated internal hardware, we quite liked the Intuition at least as a secondary device to carry around much like one would use a 7″+ tablet. A “mini” tablet if you will. The only problem is that other people being as equally bemused by the Intuition and its unique form factor (and able to overlook several glaring shortfalls in hardware) will comprise a relatively small niche we suspect. A one-off by the very definition of the word. For a secondary device it’s not a bad consideration. But to commit 2 years of your life to it as your primary communication device, we just can’t say most consumers would be all that pleased once the honeymoon effect wore off.