The LG Optimus G Pro is a smartphone with much to prove

Chase Bonar
 from  Winter Springs, FL
| Published: April 11, 2013

LG is that other Korean smartphone manufacturer that usually gets the short end of the stick in terms of brand loyalty and sales. The company may share the same origin as Samsung, but that's where the similarities end. But if you factor together LG's entire Optimus smartphone line, you'd have a difficult time figuring out why they've managed to play second fiddle for so long. They've got all the bases covered with low, mid and high end devices, and honestly, they do a respectable job. Our own Alex Wagner reported yesterday that they'll soon be giving AT&T a taste of their highest of high end phablets, the Optimus G Pro in the coming months.

According to a source speaking with Android Central, the LG Optimus G Pro could make an appearance on AT&T's airwaves as soon as May 10. There are two variants of the Optimus G Pro, but the 5.5-inch International model is the primary candidate for an AT&T launch.

LG's most recent flagship on AT&T, the Optimus G, was not as much of a hit as the Korean manufacturer may have hoped. It was a one-off AT&T variant built to order which may, or may not have hurt its chances of selling millions. But where the Optimus G Pro may be able to make something of its return to the carrier is in its appeal to phablet lovers.

The device has specifications that aim it squarely against the Galaxy Note II, and even manage to make it look more appealing on paper than Samsung's phablet. As a refresher, the Optimus G Pro features a 5.5-inch 1920x1080 IPS display, 1.7GHz quad-core Snapdragon 600 CPU, 13-megapixel rear and 2.1-megapixel front camera, NFC, 32GB storage, MicroSD card slot and Android 4.1 Jelly bean beneath LG's own UI. AT&T customers are in for a treat if they dig bezel-less, 1080p, quad-core phablets. That is, if LG markets it as a phablet, and not a traditional smartphone.

LG has a few things going for them by bringing a phablet to Big Blue in Q2 of 2013. A possible advantage of LG's could be timing. Samsung's Galaxy Note II has held station as AT&T's primary phablet since it was announced Q3 of 2012, and no one has questioned the throne. The Optimus G Pro is so very similar, but offers a next-gen hardware experience that should appeal to consumers looking for the newest, biggest smartphone. LG also has software features which take advantage of the 5.5-inch display, like Samsung's TouchWiz UI does for their Galaxy line. To top it off, the Note II is getting a bit dated with rumors circulating of a Note III due later this year, so, if you want the latest phablet, LG is the logical option.

But LG's marketing team has its work cut out for them in differentiating the Optimus G Pro for a May launch. As much as I want to be optimistic and believe that consumers will vie for the latest quad-core, 1080p-toting phablet, I believe LG's main rival won't even be another phablet. This has the potential to help or hurt LG.

The HTC One and Samsung's Galaxy S 4 will soon be making appearances on AT&T. Since each of these smartphones were announced, the mobile market has been focused on them entirely.

Two things could happen if LG launches the Optimus G alongside the One and Galaxy S 4. The first scenario is LG steals the thunder, so to speak, and takes the crown as AT&T's newest phablet with positive reviews and specifications to back it up. As compared to the One and S 4, LG offers the bigger display, and unique software features that make it more of a phablet than a smartphone.

However, the other possibility is that HTC and Samsung steal the show despite launching two smartphones with smaller displays. The Optimus G Pro is no doubt making LG look like a world-class manufacturer…when the Galaxy Note II isn't center-stage. But now that new devices from HTC and Samsung are in the picture, LG's image is going to have its work cut out in attracting attention while HTC and Samsung's marketing team are at full force. And if you want a phablet that is tried and tested, what real reason is there to look away from the Note II on AT&T?

Without getting too ahead of myself, the Optimus G Pro has many things going for it that have the potential to give LG the success it desires. For as long as we've known about LG's Galaxy Note II-esque Optimus G Pro, it has looked nearly identical to its number one phablet competitor, and that's not a bad thing, because the Galaxy Note II is a proven success. The Note II has made it a point to sell software features that optimize its hardware in ways you'd never thought a smartphone could be used. LG's custom UI promises to do the same.

But there's no doubt LG's most difficult hurdle yet will be differentiating its Optimus G Pro from the competition, whether traditional smartphone, or phablet form factor, on AT&T in the coming months. Where LG has managed to pack an honest phablet with competitive specifications, its success could very well come down to its launch timing. The consumer unaware of LG's latest creation will have to be sold on its features more than the One or S 4's features. Part of it comes down to how new the Optimus G Pro is to the phablet market, with the other part resting solely in LG's ability to market a quality product.

I'm interested to hear your thoughts on LG's chances with the Optimus G Pro's impending launch on AT&T. Are they onto something with the Optimus G Pro phablet? Should they focus on marketing their software or hardware features to differentiate itself against competitors? Is there anything they can do to make sure the Optimus G Pro doesn't get stuck in a smorgasbord of high end smartphones?

Image via The Verge.