As days go by and the differentiating factors between smartphones hardware continue to blur, there is a need to be different. This is the battle that saw Samsung outsell all other smartphone manufacturers before the iPhone 5 went on sale. That was followed closely with updates to existing mobile devices that were hardware capable with the same awesome features that were packed in the successful 2012 product lineup from Samsung. In a move that will surely remind us of the Premium Suite upgrade treatment that Samsung gave its high end devices, LG has today announced a Value Pack update for its flagship, the Optimus G Pro.
LG knows too well that the game will be won in the software. HTC went ahead to stand out with its new Sense offering in the HTC One and with the Galaxy S IV launch being a few hours away, all fingers point to the software being the differentiating factor.
What does the Value Pack bring?
- Taking cue from the interest the “eye scroll” feature that the upcoming Galaxy S IV is rumoured to be having (recent rumours counter this saying there won’t be such a feature), it seems LG was also working on something to do with our eyes (Not you, Project Glass). The Value Pack update will include “Eye Recognition” that will tie-in with another new feature, Smart Video. Smart Video is a new multimedia UX feature that will render the need to always check your Optimus G Pro’s screen periodically as you play video unnecessary. Smart Video employs advanced eye recognition technology to recognize the position of your eyes on the screen and based on this, it will play and stop the video automatically depending on whether you’re watching or not. The front camera will be checking on you as you watch the video. If your eyes are no longer fixated/focused on the phone’s screen then the video is paused immediately and when you gaze back to the screen again, video playback resumes. This is like Smart Stay that is limited to video playback in my opinion. Whereas I had issues getting Smart Stay to recognize my eye positioning on the Galaxy Note II while using it in low lighting conditions, I am not sure if lighting will be an issue with this feature or not.
- Another feature debuting with the Value Pack is the Dual Camera feature. The LG Optimus G Pro already has the Dual Recording feature and the said Dual Camera feature is to build on this. It uses both the front and rear cameras for a “picture-in-picture comparison”.
- Magic Remote pad and Text Keypad via QRemote function. If you have invested in other LG consumer electronics like LG Smart TVs then this feature is for you.
- Here’s where it gets interesting. I’ve been using several Android apps to tweak my smartphones to change the LED indicator colour and thought that was the ultimate crown. Seems I was wrong. The Value Pack will bring with it Smart LED Lighting will allow users to customize the device so that the LED flashlight will correspond with their favourite contacts. This means that by just checking your Optimus G Pro’s blinking LED indicator you not only know that it is a missed call but also who that missed call is from, who that text message is from and whether the office guys are still bothering you with emails as you enjoy your afterhours. Pretty interesting.
- When recording video clips with your smartphone, you can always pause your recording and resume after a while. However once you hit STOP, it is all done, and it cannot be undone. LG begs to differ. With a feature called Video Pause/Resume in the Value Pack, you’ll be able to continue recording the same clip even after stopping previously. I’m interested in hearing from owners of the device how this will work once the update rolls out but if it will work out as promised then this is a big plus.
- LG also touts the Value Pack to be bringing “the first Color Emoticons in an Android smartphone for more personalized text messages.” I find that statement going overboard in its claims but what you should get from it is that another feature bundled in the Value Pack update is Color Emoticons.
The Value Pack update will be released exclusively to the Optimus G Pro but LG does not rule out the possibility of the same features also appearing in their other high end devices soon (Of course the Optimus G2 must be invited to this party). It will be rolled out to the Korean market in April (next month). There is no word on when this update will hit other markets but it should be not long after that.
I’ve been very critical of LG’s fluffy software in the past but if it gets it right with the Value Pack update and concentrate on supporting its usually great hardware with outstanding software and on-time updates then we’re in for a year in which rivalry in the mobile scene will only get fierce and in the long run we’ll have more polished devices with not just the greatest specs as Android devices are known for (large high resolution displays, multi-core processors, bigger batteries, more RAM) but also the most intuitive software the world is yet to see.