LG G3 – Review

LG G3 - Review
LG G3 - Review

Introduction

Nowadays people buy phones based on look, size and brand, in that order, over basic utility and functionality. This attitude proves to be a problem for Companies like LG, whose brand name dont have a cult following like Apple or massive consumer market like Samsung. Because of this LG has been struggling to rejoin the big names in the industry.

When LG released the G3 high-end smartphone, it created quite a buzz in the market. The G2 was a monster that overshadowed its rivals in terms of specs, and unique design by putting the volume and power buttons in the back of the device. The LG G2 was well received by the critics and users, and it paved the way for something even bigger and better the G3.

In a market filled with Samsung Galaxy S5, HTC One M8 and Sony Xperia Z2 – LG knows it cannot achieve a similar success of G2 by releasing another high end phone. So they released something bigger with an impressive hardware Enter the G3.

LG G3 features the worlds first quad HD (2,560 x 1,440) screen and is also the first smartphone to use a laser focus system for its camera. Couple that with insane processing power, memory, wireless charging, removable battery, expandable storage, and an IR blaster to covert the phone into a TV remote control well we have a true beast ready to fight for the crown. But can it take down all its rivals? Is having a wild specs is enough to convince non tech savvy people to buy it? Lets find out in this review.

Design

LG G3 Front View

G3 borrows some of the aesthetic principles of its predecessor and improved them. Like G2, G3 sports the same round corner design and slim bezel along with similar button layouts of G2. The primary difference between G2 and G3 is the size.

Being a 5.5-inch smartphone, it is closer in ergonomics to the Samsungs phablet-line Galaxy Note 3. But unlike Samsung Phablets, G3 has softer corners and nicely curved rear that allows the device to be held in one hand. Despite being able to hold comfortably in one hand, the G3s sheer size requires two hands to operate safely. The slim design allows one to type with thumb, but it is not comfortable and be prepared for few drops on the floor. If you want to tweet with one hand without fear of dropping the phone, then G3 is not for you.

LG G3 Rear View

G3s back cover is mostly plastic to allow wireless charging. The polycarbonate used in the exterior is coated with an added layer of anti-scratch and fingerprint-resistant material that creates a metallic look and feel with a premium finish. The anti-scratch coating is not good enough to protect it from rough use, but the fingerprint-resistant material does its job very well. Even with an oily hand, G3 maintained an attractively clean appearance. As a whole, it does well in replicating the brush metal look of HTC One, while providing the warmth and non-slipperiness of plastic.

Like G2, the power button and volume button are all placed neatly on the back of the handset. The keys have textured pattern that differentiates them from the rear cover. It is also easier to reach the buttons when holding the phone in one hand, and that is a huge plus, considering the size of the phone. This strange design philosophy takes some getting used to, as it is different from other phones, but all in all they are not hard to use. The power key is fine, with a decent amount of click-feedback, but the volume rocker buttons are a bit too shallow.

The speaker is placed on the back side, similarly to the Galaxy S5. It doesn’t get muffled if you put the phone on a smooth and hard surface, but otherwise, it does. Right above the rear buttons is where the 13 MP camera resides, accompanied by a dual LED flash on the right and a laser beam on the left, that’s designed to aid it in its auto-focusing efforts. But more on that later.

Display

Lets admit it, the real show stealer in G3 is its display and the technology behind it. The 5.5-inch Quad HD IPS LCD screen, with a resolution of 2,560 x 1,440 and 538ppi pixel density makes everything on screen look extremely sharp, without a hint of pixelization. Text and photos are clear and full of detail, and colors look great. But dont be mistaken, a 2,560 by 1,440 resolution on a small screen is completely overkill, and the visual differences between the G3 and the 1080p Galaxy S5 are negligible and you have to be looking unreasonably hard to find individual pixels on either phone.

Now, we obviously have to answer the question of just how much of a benefit there is in having QHD resolution instead of 1080p in cell phone screens of such size. Well, lets just say that some difference in clarity might be there, but it is extremely hard to notice. Yes, things do look super-fine, but we cant honestly say that it looks clearer than 1080p in some way. At the same time, the higher resolution means a bigger load on the processor and the battery, so we arent really sure if this jump in resolution is justified.

The display isnt without problems either, tilt it left or right and the brightness drops off sharply, which makes sense when you consider how many pixels are packed in there. It is unfair to criticize as it is relatively new technology for a smartphone, and the way we see this may change over time. But as a headline spec, it doesnt add any huge value over other high-end smartphones and only serve as bragging rights for marketing.

Hardware

Our review unit is equipped with a 2.5 GHz quad-core Snapdragon 801 chip and 3GB of RAM, making for one of the most powerful Android devices to hit the market. Gaming on the G3 was great and navigating around Android 4.4.2 KitKat was only met with minor problems – some animations when hopping between apps were slow from time to time.

Dimensions 146.3 x 74.6 x 8.9mm (curved)
Weight 5.26 oz. (149g)
Screen size 5.5 inches
Screen resolution 2,560 x 1,440 (534 ppi)
Screen type IPS LCD
Battery 3,000mAh Li-Ion (removable)
Internal storage 32GB
External storage Up to SDXC standard/2TB theoretical
Rear camera 13MP with OIS
Front-facing cam 2.1
Video capture 3,840 x 2,160 (4K)/30 fps
NFC Yes
Radios

GSM/GPRS/EDGE (850/900/1800/1900)
UMTS/HSPA+ up to 21 Mbps (850/900/1900/2100)

LTE (800/1800/2600)

Bluetooth v4.0
SoC Qualcomm Snapdragon 801
CPU 2.5GHz quad-core
GPU Adreno 330
RAM 3GB
Multimedia SlimPort/DLNA
WiFi Dual-band, 802.11a/b/g/n/ac
Wireless Charging Yes
Operating system Android 4.4.2 (near stock)

User Interface

The G3 comes with a redesigned Android 4.4 user interface that looks clean and modern. According to LG, the G3’s UI has been tweaked to keep things simple; instead of adding more features with each iteration, LG has decided to pare it down somewhat. The result is a big improvement over the G2s cluttered UI.

LG has definitely taken touches from HTC, Samsung and Apple with the new interface. The home screen features a separate section for the pedometer and tips, the colours are very similar to HTCs on the M8 and the flatter design owes more than a tip of the hat to Apple.

To enhance the user experience, LG has added a Smart Notice box that gives advice on what’s happening around you as well as reminders to return calls.

Like the Galaxy S5, the G3 offers a large number of additions to Android, but they aren’t nearly as gimmicky in LG’s case. There isn’t anything fancy like a fingerprint scanner or a heart rate sensor, but there is the intuitive KnockCode, which lets you unlock the device using a customized pattern of taps; LG Health, a lightweight activity tracker; and Smart Notice, a notification card system that isn’t nearly as useful as Google Now. To make use of the larger display, the G3 can also split the screen between two apps, or open up windowed apps with Q Slide, although the selection of programs that work with these features is very limited.

Camera

LG G3s selling point apart from the screen is its 13MP camera with laser focus. The G3s camera is boasted as having the fastest autofocus of any smartphone with the help of its infrared laser, which can actually be seen lighting up when the camera app is open. The laser is used to assist with identifying the depth and position of objects in your photo, which is said to decrease the time it takes to focus. In reality, the differences between the focusing time of the G3 and other high-end Android phones isn’t noticeable – we’re talking a matter a milliseconds here.

The camera app of the LG G3 is surprisingly similar to that of the Samsung Galaxy S5, at least in terms of graphical user interface. It’s not the most straightforward layout possible, with numerous settings scattered across a number of different menus. It’s nothing that you can’t get used to, though.

The good news, however, is that the LG G3 allows you to take great photographs without having to tweak any of the settings. You can just take the handset out, fire the camera up, and take the shot. In most cases, you’ll end up having a rather good-looking image. Overall quality of the G3’s camera is up there with the best propositions at the moment.

The other big change is the front facing camera, by increasing the angle of the snap, you can fit more in. You can also open and close your hand to start the countdown, which means if you’ve framed the photo well you won’t knock it out of shot by tapping the screen.

Another change is the addition of the ‘flash’ on the front. This allows you to use the front camera even in darker scenes.

Battery

Battery technology is not advancing as fast as other mobile technologies. While we have some impressive battery storage, the processors, screen and other components in a mobile device are also advancing so fast, they drain the battery in no time.

In theory the LG G3 has an impressive battery with 3000 mAh. But in reality the G3 will last you through a day of moderate usage, but don’t expect wonders from it. Whether this is because of the large panel with high resolution, or something else, the LG G3’s 3000 mAh battery delivers a sub-par performance.

This puts G3 behind handsets like the Galaxy S5, Xperia Z2, and One (M8) pretty much every 2014 flagship thus far.

Of course, one should keep in mind that there are quite a lot of factors in play when it comes to battery life, so it’ll be normal for the handset to last slightly longer for some users, and slightly less for others. Meanwhile, the statistics provided by LG itself paint a mostly positive picture, with 3G talk-time listed at 21 hours, and 3G stand-by time at 23 days. A nice touch by LG here is that the G3 has built-in wireless charging, but in order to take advantage of this, you’ll have to purchase a wireless charging dock separately.

Conclusion

The LG G3 is one of the best smartphone ever made. Equipped with a stunning display, top-of-the-line specs, a premium build with a sleek design, useful hardware features like a removable battery and microSD card support, and a quality camera with high-tech focusing capabilities and advanced optical image stabilization, the G3 succeeds where other smartphones have fallen short.

Pros

  • Solid Call quality
  • Camera
  • Great Screen
  • Improved Interface

Cons

  • QHD display is quite a power hog and doesnt wow
  • Low Battery Life

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