Today we bring you an in-depth review of the latest smartphone offering from Korean manufacturer LG, and this time around the company has truly outdone itself, devising a top Android smartphone that in many respects kicks the competition into the dust. Want to know how they did it? Read on, and check out the full and detailed LG G3 review from Mobile Geeks.
We managed to get an early sample of the LG G3 from South Korea, such was our desire to get hands on with the device. The version we acquired was technically known as the LG U + F400L, it is the top-end model that supports up to 3GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage. The LG U + differs from the version that will land Europe and the US in two ways. Firstly, in terms of Bloatware – the LG U + offers several questionable pre-installed apps that we would almost certainly not need, especially as they were designed with Korean customers in mind. Secondly, the inclusion of a T-DMB TV receiver which includes an antenna optimized for use with Korean networks.
Since launch however, we have also acquired the final model that is prepped for Western markets, which has a more standard smartphone configuration of 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage. We first started using the LG G3 during Computex 2014, and right from the off, we were plenty impressed with LG’s new flagship offering. Of course there are a few shortcomings, which we will deal with later, but the general feeling was that this is top, top device that was going to compete with the very best.
Don’t forget to check out this full and detailed video review of the LG G3 from my buddy Roland:
With the LG G3 we are looking at high-end expensive components that set it aside as a top device. As we mentioned, there are two variants, each with different memory and storage capacities. The 3GB RAM size in the Korean model is the one we would like to call standard. For most users in everyday life it might not mean a great deal of difference, but for Geeks like us, if there is the option to have more RAM we are going to take it. Under the hood you are also getting the Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 MSM8974AC with his four 2.47GHz cores offering the best mobile processor performance on the market. It is the same processor used in several other flagship-class devices.
Despite the LG G3 being a larger device – a 5.5 inch display compared to 5.2 inches, the LG G3 is actually powered by the same 3,00mAh battery we saw on the LG G2. Which brings us to the area where the LG G3 really excels, the display, and the camera.
LG is amongst the first major manufacturers to employ a Quad HD (QHD) display with a resolution of 2560 × 1440 pixels. It looks stunning and frankly puts Full HD displays in the shade. The era of Full HD is over, long live the era of QHD.
The camera is also breaking new ground, building on what we had with the LG G2 – a good 13MP rear facing sensor, debuting laser auto-focus which ensures that the camera focuses faster than any other smartphone camera- even when focusing in the dark.
Two LG Models
When it comes down to the two models that LG are offering, it it depends on whether or not you feel you really need the extra RAM and storage, and whether you are willing to pay an additional 50 Euros for the pleasure. In terms of memory, there are less convincing arguments to be made – you will get a bump in performance, but nothing that most users will notice.
The choice of 32GB may attract many users, especially those who enjoy using their high-end smartphone for serious gaming. Modern games take up plenty of space and 16GB will not really do the job when one game like Anomaly 2 alone can take up well over 1GB. This is especially true now that Android 4.4.x Kit Kat which will not allow app installation on to the microSD card. Interestingly, the new Moto E manages to completely remove this issue – we had hoped others would follow suit.
Of the 14.93GB of actual memory installed on the 16GB device, only around 10GB are actually available to the user – Android and basic bundled apps commanding the rest. Even though the 32GB version we had from Korea was filled with unwanted bloatware, it still managed to offer 22GB of usable storage for the end user. I would certainly recommend the 32GB version of the LG G3, especially as the devices 13MP cam is capable of taking some very high resolution pics, plus there is also 4K video to deal with. For me a 32GB internal storage install should now be standard on devices that claim to be ‘flagship’.
The 5.5 inch 2560 x 1440 display on the LG G3 is a real stunner and utterly dominates the front face of the device. There is very little going on at the front of the device which is not screen, with 1.15mm bezels around the edge and minimal space wasted at the top and bottom. In fact these are some of the slimmest bezels we have ever seen.
One concern that may arise is whether or not these ultra thin bezels have any eventual effect on how the touchscreen behaves; is it possible for your hand to accidentally interfere along the edge of the touchscreen panel, say for example when you stretch across with your thumb? The answer is no. The LG responds only to your fingertips. The thin bezels do nothing to impair touchscreen performance.
The lower chrome colored section of the front face contains a discreet embossed LG logo. The upper section contains a standard looking ear-piece speaker, sensors and front facing camera on a matte black surround that also encompasses the display’s bezel. The front face of the device looks very modern and attractive.
In terms of navigation the LG G3 uses exclusively on-screen buttons, lacking placement of hardware buttons either side of the logo. This is a trend that continues to grow, but I cannot help feeling that LG could be offering both. The recently reviewed OnePlus One manages to slickly flip from on-screen to hardware buttons without skipping a beat. It allows you to go for the maximum possible screen viewing area and enjoy the old fashioned hardware button usage that I still prefer to be honest. If it is physically possible to add the buttons, why not?
The LG G3 is similar in many way to the OnePlus One in that it squeezes a 5.5 inch display inside a frame that feels only a touch larger than the Nexus 5, which is a 5 inch device. Much of this is achieved with both devices sporting the thinnest bezels we have ever come across. This is evident when you first start to use the device, especially when reaching up for the notification bar at the top edge. The rounded sleek design means it’s actually still doable – a remarkable fact for a device that flirts with true phablet proportions.
The LG G3 feels good in the hand, employing a “floating curve” design that offers a gently sloping curve from center to edge. At its thickest in the center, the LG G3 is 9.1mm thick. While it might not win any awards for thinness (consider the Gionee Elife S5.5 at a mere 5.5 inches), the G3 does not feel at all thick with the curved back (which not as steep as with the more bullet-like HTC One M8) feeling very comfortable in the hand. The overall impression is one of really good ergonomics and class. No cheap plastic finish.
Unlike the HTC One M8, the G3 opts for plastic, not metal however. We had pondered if LG would follow a more recent emergence of uni-body design, but they opted instead for a plastic that has a brushed aluminum look that is pretty convincing until you get hands on. It appears that LG is using a plastic polymer that also contains fragments of metal. LG will also retail a selection of covers that include premium leather finish options in colors that include black, dark brown, light brown and orange.
The back panel is removable (as is the 3,00mAh battery) offering access to the microSD and SIM slot. It’s good to see the LG G3 also incorporates Qi-standard wireless charging, which is a great thing to see. Too many high-end smartphones skip this feature for my liking.
The LG G3 does not attract fingerprints, or least on the white and black versions that we have tested. The back is not glossy and feels more solid than many plastic housing we have seen on flagship devices from Samsung for example. Plastic also has advantages in that it is lightweight, allowing the G3 to weigh in at a mere 150 grams, an incredible feat for a 5.5 inch device. Take out the battery and you will soon realize that much of the devices’ weight is in fact the battery. The phone itself is as light as a feather.
The LG G3 continues the companies bold trend of using ‘rear keys’ for the standby button and volume rocker on the back of the handset, just below the camera. It kind of takes a bit of getting used to at first – you will inevitably and instinctively reach for the sides of the device – but in a matter of hours you will appreciate its advantages and appreciate also not having to stretch as you once did. It is a bold move from LG to continue with this design philosophy, but one that is ergonomically a winner on a device this size. The power button feels sturdier than on previous implementations from LG, but the overall longer stroke involved is better in terms of responsiveness and tactile feedback.
If you wanted to make a strong argument in the case of the LG G3 against the current crop of really high-end smartphone devices, you would undoubtedly head straight for the topic of display. The G3 packs a 5.5-inch panel with a screen resolution of 2560 × 1440. This works out at a pixel density of 538 PPI – way ahead of every other 5 inch smartphone currently available in Western markets. This level of pixel density has only been seen before on the Oppo Find 7, a phone that remains elusive and difficult to get hold of outside of China.
The high pixel-per-inch count certainly looks good, offering a natural sharpness that you really can detect with the naked eye. Fonts look perfectly smooth, icons looks more crisply outlined and high-res images jump out at you, such is the clarity on offer here. A side by side comparison with a 1080p resolution screen that we are used to certainly seeing reveals a clear difference.
The brightness of the display on the LG G3 according to our measurements comes in at more than 390 Lumens. A pretty decent value, but no world record – the HTC One M8 for example weighs in with 480 Lumens, while the Galaxy S5 in automatic mode outdoors reaches beyond the 600 Lumen mark. The early sample we had showed brightness dropping off around the edges of the screen, but never below 300 Lumens. Our second 16GB retail sample had a slightly lower overall brightness of around 385 Lumens. The display is coated with a non-reflective layer which also helps the device deal with bright outdoor conditions. In terms of brightness, the LG G3 performs very well.
Compared to some of the warmer displays we have seen, the LG G3 has a slightly blue-ish hue, but in terms of color pre-production, the G3 is accurate, certainly better than several competing devices we have seen. With such a high-pixel density and the use of IPS LCD technology, we also see a very high and impressive contrast ratio of 1:800. In terms of sheer brightness levels however, devices with AMOLED screens still rule the roost. The G3 will not outshine current Samsung or Nokia smartphones. Then again Super AMOLED remains largely at Full HD resolutions only, it remains to be seen how bright that technology will remain an QHD resolutions. Viewing angles are also good, with very little image degradation as you tilt the screen.
The panel of the LG G3 is an impressive piece of technology for sure, but you would have to weigh it up against the competition to gauge just how much better the higher resolution screen really is. Basically I would prefer this panel to an identical 5.5 inch in Full HD, simply because the image quality is much better. The only real disadvantage to having this many pixels, is that it could possibly impact battery life, especially if you spend a lot of time surfing the web. Indeed, jumping from 2.0 million pixels to around 3.7 million pixels could have a significant impact on power draw and battery life. More on that later.
How do apps deal with the additional on screen real estate? There are some apparent issues. The majority of the apps that we find in Android 4.2.2 have been optimized for a 1080p screen so occasionally we find that a QHD screen can end up making some apps seem a little pixelated when the app tries to scale up. One example was the thumbnails in the YouTube app. Other apps fail to scale at all, for example the Emoticons in Skype can seem incredibly small and under-sized. Having said all this however, the QHD screen is still a preferable experience in general. The Android OS itself looks incredibly sharp and crisp at this resolution. Google are clearly aware of the next step in display resolutions and have done their homework, some of the apps however will need to address these minor issues, but I’m sure this is just a matter of time before QHD is widely and full optimized.
With the G3, LG are offering one of the best smartphone cameras currently available on the market. Fact. It is not entirely flawless, perhaps a caveat we should expect from any camera installed on a phone, but it is without doubt industry-leading. With good lighting you can take some astounding photos, even at the default settings of 10 mega-pixels in 16:19 format, the images look very impressive. If you manually select a maximum resolution of 13MP, the aspect ratio will be changed to 4:3. LG’s software at times can try to improve picture quality, often resulting in supersaturated and somewhat unnatural images. Many users however may prefer these to the alternative ‘grey reality’. HDR mode provides really stunning images in the right circumstances with shadows and darker areas really coming to light.
When it comes to low light photography however, the G3 is somewhat similar to all other smartphone cameras. As light levels decrease, you will experience rapid reduction in the quality of the images produced. But the great news is that LG have a few tricks up their sleeve which greatly reduce the effects of low light; top of the list is laser auto-focus.
Most phones rely on contrast detection to help align auto-focusing, but the LG G3 is the first to use lasers to help detect contrast levels of several points in a very quick and effective way and is particularly effective in low light conditions. The laser transmitter is positioned just to the left of the camera sensor, with a more familiar looking dual LED on the right side.
The laser emits several laser beams to on multiple target areas to assess the contrast levels need for the shot, and the results speak for themselves with reasonably sharp photos possible in difficult conditions.
The LG software has also been tuned with some pretty aggressive noise suppression algorithms that does not always get it right. You can at times end up with slight “oil painting” effect, similar to what can happen in low lights conditions with the Samsung Galaxy S5. In bright environments the colors can look too strong while darker colors kind of feel a touch pale. The LG also has its problems with light sources and can be guilty of overexposure as the software tries to squeeze as much as it can from lousy light.
When it comes to the software app that LG have installed on the G3, we see their ‘Simple is Smart’ marketing has been implemented on a literal level. On previous LG G Flex and LG G Pro 2 phones the company decided to offer a broad and comprehensive selection of settings options and features. On the LG G3 the app is a much simpler affair with a basic and minimalistic interface that certainly make things easier to understand.
The are a choice of four modes; Auto focus, Magic focus, Panorama and Dual modes but unfortunately you have zero control over ISO, shutter speed and other basic settings that we are used to seeing on a high-end camera. The camera app can be simplified further if you desire by configuring the app to just show a viewfinder and snap button.
Having said that, perhaps LG are of the opinion that users would prefer to have a well tuned camera sensor that works optimally without needing access to the full array of possible settings. But I am inclined to think that the inclusion of the laser auto-focus and very effective image stabilization means that you are getting one of the best camera experiences we have seen. The laser measures the distance from the camera to the subject, allowing the camera to easily find its target, even in the dark.
LG G3: Camera Shot Gallery
Once you get used to using the camera on the LG G3, it becomes easy to see that laser auto-focus is not something you are going to want to miss out on in future. Wicked fast auto-focusing with clarity this good is something we could all get very used to. Likewise the Optical Image Stabilization is also crucial to the G3 camera’s success in terms of video, out performing most other competing efforts from top brands. The Sony Xperia Z2 was probably considered top dog in OIS terms, and I think that LG have something that competes on that level. One noticeable thing is that the G3 tends to get quite warm during 4K video recording, but it does also provide crisp, clear video. We have seen the Z2 and others also get very warm with prolonged 4K shooting, so its not an issues we level at LG alone.
LG has incorporated no dedicated hardware camera button into the G3 (a la Nokia/Sony), probably because this would interfere with their Rear-key concept. You can however use the volume keys on the back for a quick start into the camera app and as a snap trigger that can be used for continuous shooting.
Overall the camera of the LG G3 is one of the best we have ever used on a smartphone. Most of that is related to the excellent performance of the laser auto-focus which combines with great image stabilization, solid dual flash LEDs and a simple easy to use interface. What’s not to like?
The front camera also deserves a mention. The 2.1MP sensor is backed by a “pseudo-flash” in which the preview image is surrounded by a wide light frame to lighten the face of selfie shot. There is also gesture control which is triggered by a closing your hand into a fist which begins a short countdown to the release of the shutter. The selfie mode can also be activated by voice commands such cheese, kimchi… all useful so that you don’t have to reach around the back to the selfie trigger.
The LG G3 has single speaker located in the lower left area of the devices back panel, and can be identified by small gridded slit. Of course after taking off the back cover and taking one look at the speaker, it’s clear that you are not getting anything remotely close to the BoomSound speaker system that we have seen on HTC’s flagship One series. Having said that, the speakers on the LG G3 are significantly louder than most competing devices while also remaining clear and distortion free, even on full blast.
We not sure how accurate LG’s marketing is, but the company claim to have included a 1-watt speaker accompanied by a boost amp. Regardless, the audio playback via headphones is a cleaner audio experience than most offerings. Unlike so many competing devices the QuadBeat headphones that are included are also of a very decent quality and really bring out the best of the device. They offer a great balance of treble, mids and bass and do a great job for an in-ear headset. I would liked to have seen a bit more bass, but then again this is possible via the included equalizer app. Overall you are getting an exemplary audio experience.
It is only really when playing games that the LG G3 seems to under-perform somewhat, and this is most because of the location of the speaker which tends to get covered by your fingers way too easily when playing games in landscape mode. The device is loud, but as soon as the fingers close over the space on the back where the sound comes out, the volume drops off considerably to the detriment of the game experience as a whole. One other gripe is that although the music app is useful and offers custom equalization options, it lacks a set of per-defined settings. Album covers appear on your lock screen providing you have the right image files of course.
Overall the LG G3 offers an audio experience that sits very close to the top of what is available today in the high-end smartphone segment. There are a few small blemishes, but overall most users are going to be very impressed.
The current flagship processor of choice, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 is provided here in the LG G3, with all versions clocked at the same speed of 2.47GHz. The four Krait cores are complimented with an Adreno 330 graphics unit which means that in general you are getting a flawless and fluent user experience. To be fair however, performance is also seriously needed on this new breed of LG flagship, because you have many more pixels to manipulate.
Regardless of the 2560 x 1440 resolution there is very little stuttering within the GUI and the games we tested run almost invariably without stuttering, even if you notch up the resolution, graphics details and all other display settings to the absolute maximum. The Qualcomm quad-core is apparently able to deliver in all situations, despite the high resolution display. In our gaming test, it was only in one game where we encountered a little trouble in Grand Theft Auto 3 when densely developed areas of the screen saw slight lagginess when scrolling. A minor flaw in our eyes, and one that would not make the game unplayable.
Check out our LG G3 Gaming Test video below:
In our benchmark testing, the LG G3 was tested in both its 2GB and 3GB configurations with the 3GB version showing a slight lead in almost all benchmarks. Although the there is a clear (if marginal) advantage with 3GB, in general both LG G3 models offer what we would expect of a flagship device in terms of raw performance. AnTuTu revealed scores of around the 36,000 point mark; Quadrant scored around 24,000 points. Other benchmarks include 3DMark, GFXBench, Geekbench, SunSpider 1.0.2 Octane 2.0. You can catch the side by side 2GB vs 3GB comparison video below as well as a full table which shows the scores. Compared to the Galaxy S5 and the HTC One M8, the G3 showed some very competitive scores, at times coming up with almost identical values – such as we expected because they’re using the same Qualcomm platform.
But all this raw performance does leave its mark where heat is concerned, with a noticeable peak in chassis and general handset temperatures when playing games, running benchmarks, and as we mentioned earlier, 4K video camera mode. The rear mounted buttons are clearly made of some kind of metal alloy and do indeed prove to be very effective conductors of heat, getting very warm during the intensive tasks mentioned above. We measured peak values of 48° C under load, which is pretty high and not at all comfortable, although we must re-iterate that the area affected is limited to the general camera and buttons area on the rear. The temperature does fall rapidly once the device is returned to idle.
Here you watch a side by side comparison video, running several benchmarks on both the 2GB and 3GB memory versions of the LG G3:
Of course heat is the enemy of performance and we did notice that the Snapdragon 801 processor would in fact throttle during intensive benchmark sessions. In high temperature environments, we do live in Taipei so temps beyond 30° C are standard from May until September, the LG will actually throttle the QHD display’s back-light in an apparent attempt to protect the device from damage and also to reduce power draw. All those pixels will draw a lot of power and could become an issue for battery life as we describe below.
The LG G3 follows its predecessor with an identical 3,00mAh removable battery, or at least that is what the spec sheet will tell you. The battery life of the LG G2 was pretty good so we would welcome the same here on the G3. The possible snag would be that we would expect the larger 5.5 inch display to consume more power, especially since the exceptionally high resolution 2560 x 1440 panel is packing considerably more pixels than the standard Full HD display on the G2. More pixels should mean more power draw. What we see however, is something very close to the impressive G2 battery life, this is in part of the fantastic work LG and Qualcomm have done to make sure the processor can reach down to some really low power draw idle states without affecting responsiveness.
It is also possible because the dynamic back-light LED driver is capable of automatically adjusting the display’s brightness levels to maximize power efficiency. The driver has been configured to intuitively reduce screen brightness to levels which positively impact battery life without being too noticeable to the naked eye.
A high intensity battery life test that includes almost full brightness display settings playing video games and running several benchmarks continuously, the G3 was capable of just over 4 hours. This is pretty impressive for a device that has a comparatively large 2K resolution display. Our more everyday testing includes three hours of ‘display-on-time’, a few phone calls totaling one hour, an hour use of apps with 3G web connectivity including the browser, Facebook, Skype and Google Maps with some sporadic Wi-Fi connectivity. Even though I used automatic brightness controls, I also have a tendency to brighten things up a bit. I also leave email, message and notification synced, but Bluetooth and NFC off. We found that under these circumstances the LG G3 would have you covered a whole day, or about 14 hours.
The LaptopMag Battery Test 2.3 with the brightness cranked up to maximum settings revealed around 5 hours of running time – a fairly low run time that doubtless indicates just how much drain the 5.5 inch QHD display can have when set to full brightness.
The only real battery life issues you are likely to face are from situations that really max out the four Krait cores of the Snapdragon 801 processor, which can really suck down some juice. The camera app when 4K video recording and of course 3D gaming are the ancestral enemies of the battery life, these tasks take a lot of system memory and can run down a battery in no time. However, left on standby mode with just 3G/2G/WLAN connectivity, the G3 will retain power for over a week. Moderate use including just a few hours of activity, the G3 should last around two days.
One interesting thing was that we found the battery really benefited from some training. After two regular charging cycles (complete drain, followed by a full charge), the device really seemed to reach its full potential.
Unlike headline offerings from Samsung, HTC and Sony, LG have not implemented an advanced power saving mode. We have seen several improvements with modes that either offer more sophisticated ways to extend overall battery life, or implement extreme power saving with very little remaining battery life. In the latter category, we found the Samsung Galaxy S5 really excelled. LG instead have Battery Saver, a feature which kicks in once the G3 is below 30% charge. It reduces brightness and caps radio connections. Power saver can also be switched on via the quick settings menu.
The LG G3 runs an in-house developed custom version of Android Kit Kat 4.4.2 that looks very modern and well designed. Like most recent UIs from Samsung and HTC for example, the option from LG to go with ‘Flat’ icons and widgets instead of the more life-like, skeuomorphic design they previously used. I personally believe that there will always be a degree of ‘fashion’ involved when it comes to GUI design, and I certainly don’t have strong feelings towards either round or flat icons. However, the interface from LG looks attractive, with a very simplified approach that includes basic looking geometric shapes instead of detailed icons. Many of the pre-installed apps also look very simple with mono colors schemes that are also used in the status bar above. LG should applauded for making a very harmonious and consistent user experience.
The G3’s large display means the device can also offer some unprecedented customization options that not only let you modify the order and the color of the standard Android buttons, but also allow you to integrate additional buttons in the toolbar. The notification bar can have extra buttons too with a choice of QSlide, QuickMemo, multi-window mode, and more with a total of five button slots available. One handed use of the G3 is also enhanced by the fact that you can dock the onscreen keyboard on one side of the screen, making it easier for thumb use.
The keyboard LG have implemented by default is also impressive in a number of ways. You can change the overall height of keyboard for better access when needed. The user can decide to move the keyboard to the left or right of the screen. You can also customize space bar keys as well as frequently used characters such as commas, parentheses, or other. There are options to select quick buttons for character recognition and voice input, plus up to three customizable quick buttons.
Another important point to mention is the intelligent way that the LG keyboard learns which mistakes and miss hits you are making most. This allows the keyboard to intuit better corrections. I have a habit of hitting ‘V’ instead of space bar – after a while the LG keyboard had figured this out and was able to make better corrections. Impressive. It’s also useful to see the typed words displayed above the keyboard, so that you don’t have to keep looking up the actual field you typing in.
Overall the keyboard experience from LG is second to none, and a solid alternative to the standard Android keyboard. Other manufacturers take note.
In other respects LG have done an excellent of creating a clean, uncluttered user interface. One that is superior to many Android UI implementations. The design ethos is implemented consistently throughout the UI. It’s also great to see that LG has implemented a series of tabs for the full settings menu list with a very sensible layout and distinctive icons for each. You can of course also access a more familiar long list of options on the far right tab. The menu system feels very well thought out and is very easy to use.
There are a few other useful features that I would also care to mention, including the addition of floating windows which are used when receiving messages for example. A small windows or icon will appear in the app you currently have open, floating above it so you can quickly switch to the messaging without having to return to the home screen and open manually. In everyday life I found this to be a useful way to present messaging notifications. But if you do feel that it simply interferes you can also disable it along with many of LG’s other special implementations.
In the case of QSlide however, I am less enthusiastic, this is one feature that I did indeed end up disabling. The notification center can also be customized. The quick settings too can be extended to include a choice of many other settings and options, or indeed to can reduced to more bare minimum flavor if you prefer. As for the apps that LG bundles with the device, one has to wonder once again just how useful many of them really are. The fitness software may well be useful to some users, those who want to measure step and assess calories burned using the gyroscope sensors built in to the device – I personally have not tried it however.
There are also smart tips and a guide to Google Now, which are not too dissimilar to new system hints and tips. Most of these simply show obvious operating instructions and perhaps cause more trouble than they are worth. Perhaps new users to LG phones, or people who want to explore all possible functions of every app will find these useful, but I kind of felt them to be overbearing and even a pest at times. One useful, functional app however was the system cleaner which allows for easy deletion of temporary data that has been accumulated over time.
As with many other smartphones recently, the LG G3 has implemented so-called knock codes that allow the phone to be opened by tapping a self selected pattern on the off screen. However, I found that in practice even a simple double tap can be replicated by a contact with my thigh while resided in my pocket, something that happened several times. I think I prefer the traditional lock pattern or PIN code.
One feature that I cannot praise LG enough for, is the ability to hide the on screen buttons in certain apps where they are redundant, allowing the every pixel of the 5.5 inch QHD screen to utilized. This is great for games for example, which look stunning on this display, but even more so if you remove the button strip from the edge. Swiping from the edge, will bring back the buttons, should you wish to close the app. I think this is a fantastic feature that the Koreans should be praised for.
Overall LG should indeed receive praise for the entire UI, even if there are still plenty of us out there who would prefer a simple Google Play Edition or Nexus experience. The software offers a wide range of meaningful and sometimes even innovative customization options. It runs largely smooth as silk, looks appealing and feels really slick. LG customers in Korea may not be as fortunate as us Europeans as the Korean retail version we have suffered more in terms of bloatware, similar stuff to what many service providers typically serve up. The European version we have here is fairly lightweight in terms of annoying, unnecessary apps, with the overall base install taking more room on the Korean device and also creating a larger memory footprint. Perhaps that is why the larger 3GB RAM/32GB storage version has been released there first.
In terms of additional and less relevant functions the LG G3 fares quite well, but we don’t get any heart rate monitoring, fingerprint readers or other more gimmicky features that Samsung have been guilty of recently for example. LG has made minor additions that make meaningful improvements in key areas. The TV receiver on the Korean model is absent however, seeing DBM-T broadcasting is largely restricted to Korea only. At the upper end of the device we do however get an IR blaster which, as with other smartphones that include this feature, gets most use from being used as a TV controller. Unfortunately the performance of the IR Blaster tends to be inconsistent and even trying to changing channels can become a chore. This may be due to the insufficient power of the IR blaster, a problem previously found with the previous G2 also.
Check out our unboxing of the full LG G3 retail package in the video below:
In terms of call quality, and reception capabilities, the LG G3 performs well enough but nothing spectacular. The earpiece delivers decent quality audio, but it can be rather loud at times, even to the point where you could dispense with the speakerphone. But the good news is you can make clear calls in almost any environment, even extremely loud ones. In terms of reception, we encountered no issues due to the receiver placement or the plastic chassis.
The appeal of features like water and dust resistance and USB 3.0 compatibility will of course simply come down to the personal tastes of the customer. Water-proof metal housing would have been cool, but we won’t get upset with LG for not providing it. The feature set and overall appeal of the hardware included in this device is certainly comparable to flagship devices from Sony and Samsung.
The LG G3 is a damn good smartphone, one in which the manufacturer has made significant leaps, which for example has not been the case with for example, with Samsung. Sure, the G2 was also a really good phone, but the successor is a substantial improvement. The display is indeed not as bright as many competitors, but the resolution actually provides more focus and does not appear to negatively affect battery life in any way. The panel is in fact a huge credit to LG’s engineers. The design of the device is astounding, and despite the use of plastic for the back panel, it feels really pleasant to the touch. One thing to mention however is the back panel is not in fact scratch proof and could be improved with the same self-healing coating as the G Flex.
Also, maximizing the efficiency of the 5.5 inch display with very thin bezels also adds a lot to the appeal of the device. Likewise the laser auto-focus is for me a killer feature as are the various customization options and really smart menu and toolbar layouts. In terms of pure performance the G3 does not disappoint, but the QHD display does get a little warm at times compared to regular Full HD alternatives.
Overall the new flagship from LG is a damn good smartphone is almost all respects, and is therefore my choice for the current No.1 smartphone on the market right now. This is despite the massive certainty that it will never sell as well as Samsung’s equivalent offerings in Europe, a fact borne out by the massive disparity in the two company’s marketing muscle.
LG does however have one more very convincing argument to make in its favor and that is in the area of price. If we stick to Euros for a second, the LG G3 in its basic 2GB/16GB configuration can be had for €549, which is decent value, even standing next to the recently reduced Galaxy S5. Arguably, devices like the G3 are in fact part of the reason for Samsung’s recent price revisions. An extra €50 gets you a 3GB/32GB which puts it in real flagship territory, but I think anyone who enjoyed the G2 will be prepared to stump up the extra for what I believe is the best smartphone on the market right now.
If you are looking for the best, we believe we have found it. We therefore heartily recommend the LG G3.
Written by Roland Quandt, translated and edited by Stewart Haston