LG G3 review

 LG G3 review V3

The LG G3's simple to use, but effective camera, top-end super-sharp display and innovative security services make it one of the best bring your own device options currently available to businesses.
Pros:
Sharp display, good performance, simple but powerful camera, upgraded security features
Cons:
Below-average battery, some pointless software additions
Overall Rating:
4 Star Rating: Recommended
Price: £500
Manufacturer: LG
Processor: Quad-core 2.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 801
Display: 5.5in, 1440x2560, 534ppi True HD-IPS+ (in-plane switching) LCD capacitive touchscreen
Storage: 16GB upgradable via micro SD, 2GB RAM
Camera: 13MP rear, 2.1MP front
Connectivity: Bluetooth, WiFi, 3G, 4G
Operating system: Android 4.4 KitKat
Dimensions: 146x75x8.9mm
Weight: 149g


REVIEW

Until recently Korean tech firm LG was at best a minor player in the top-end western smartphone market. This was a shame as many of LG's Korea-only smartphones were full of innovative software and hardware solutions.

Because of this we were delighted last year when LG finally decided to bring some of its best hardware to our side of the pond, releasing its 2013 flagship Android smartphone the G2. Featuring, at the time, top-end internal components and an innovative design that placed the phone's physical home and volume buttons on the handset's back, the G2 was one of 2013's most interesting smartphones.

One year on LG has returned to the smartphone battlefield, releasing a new upgraded G3 flagship it hopes will solidify its place as a key player in the top-end European smartphone market. But with more established firms – including its local rival Samsung – having already released their own wave of top-end handsets, it's clear the G3's got some pretty stiff competition to deal with.

Design and build

Visually the G3 is fairly similar to its predecessor the G2 and features a removable polycarbonate, faux-metal backplate that wraps round its metal sides. The G3 also retains the same rear button placement as the G2, placing the phone's volume and power controls on its back.

While this may sound odd, with most smartphones placing the controls on either the handset's top or right-hand sides, we found the G3's configuration is a serious bonus. LG has been very canny with the G3's design and has placed the buttons directly where our index finger naturally sits when holding the phone with one hand. The intelligent placement means, despite being larger than the average smartphone, measuring in at a sizeable 146x75x8.9mm, the G3 is still comfortable to use one handed.LG G3 review back plate
We were also very impressed with the G3's build quality. Unlike many smartphones with removable backplates, the G3 feels solidly built. Pressing down on the backplate with our thumbs the G3's plate offered no give – unlike other handsets with similar designs, such as the Samsung Galaxy models. Drop-testing the phone we also found the G3's plate is solidly connected to the rest of the device and never once snapped off or unclipped. The G3 is fairly scratch and dirt resistant, and survived its encounter with a wooden floor unscathed.

The one consequence of the G3's robust design is that its backplate is significantly thicker than those seen on competing devices, such as the Galaxy S5. The plate's thickness is likely a big reason the G3 is slightly heavier than average smartphones, weighing 149g. However, while this is heavier than many other devices in the same size bracket, it's still far from back-breaking and we never once found the G3 felt unwieldy in hand.

Display
LG G3 review home

LG listed the G3's 5.5in, 1440x2560, 534ppi True HD-IPS+ (in-plane switching) LCD capacitive touchscreen as a key selling point, claiming it is the first smartphone in the world to break the 500ppi count. LG claims to have increased the G3's screen's pixel-per-inch count past the 500 mark by reducing the size of displayed pixels by 40 percent, making it the crispest and most vibrant display currently available.

LG's focus on increasing the G3's ppi count is interesting as in the past some people have questioned whether the human eye can actually spot differences in quality past 300ppi – Apple founder Steve Jobs famously claimed it couldn't when unveiling the firm's Retina display tech.

There is some truth to LG's claim. The G3's display is one of the sharpest we've ever used and is one of the only phones we've ever experienced where displayed text is sharp enough to read websites in desktop mode and full-sized Word documents without squinting or having to zoom in. The G3 also features great brightness levels and wonderfully wide viewing angles.

Thanks to the use of True HD-IPS technology colours displayed on the G3 look rich and lively. The IPS technology works to make colours and whites look richer and more vibrant by organising liquid crystals on a fixed plate that's charged at a consistent rate. The one negative consequence of this is that, despite LG's claims to the contrary, the display does put a heavy drain on the G3's battery, but more on this later.
Putting aside battery issues for now, when it comes to quality the combination of advanced LG screen technologies make the G3's display the best we've experienced on any smartphone.


Operating system and software

The G3 runs a heavily customised version of Google Android 4.4.2 KitKat. Normally we're not big fans of custom Android skins, because most detract from the user experience by adding a sea of needless and often unwanted apps and widgets. Because of this we were pleased when LG said it had designed the G3's skin with simplicity in mind.

LG has done positive work in its bid to ensure the G3's user interface [UI] is simple and doesn't veer too far away from Android's native UI. At first glance the only major differences we noticed were a set of new shortcut icons for applications and tab menu layout for the phone's settings. Interestingly, while the G3 pushes the reworked icons and settings menu to you, both changes can easily be undone and restored to their native Android equivalents

.LG G3 review health and tips
This is a positive sign that LG's been listening to feedback from its customers and – while it's still determined to leave its own stamp on the G3's software – it's aware many people prefer the simpler experience offered by unskinned versions of the OS.

Diving deeper into the G3's software, however, we found LG has loaded the phone with a number of custom software features. These are a mixed bag, with some proving useful and others less so.

The biggest positive additions are the G3's Knock Code, Content Lock and Kill Switch security services. Knock Code is an anti-theft feature that unlocks the phone only when the owner taps a certain sequence into the screen. Content Lock lets users encrypt files stored on the G3 and set them to not appear until the phone is connected to a computer, while the Kill Switch can remotely wipe, lock and disable the G3 if it is lost or stolen.

For us the security services are a massive selling point. This is because Android is known to be the most targeted mobile ecosystem with vendors, such as Cisco, listing it as being the target of 99 percent of the world's mobile malware. Despite this up until now, outside of the notable exception of Samsung, vendors haven't seemed too interested in dealing with the problem. As a result we're pleased LG has taken notice and can't help but hope its example spurs other Android handset makers to start addressing the platform's security issues.

We were also impressed with LG's Health service. LG Health is fairly similar to the S Health service seen on Samsung smartphones, and it lets you create tailored workouts and set fitness goals. Once set the feature offers you feedback and statistics about how you're doing. We were impressed by how good it was and its key features such as step counter and ability to log exercise sessions were far more accurate than we expected.

On the less positive side there are items such as LG Smart Notice and Smart Tips. Smart Notice is a dynamic widget that offers similar services to Google Now, but using data stored on the G3. It alerts you about friends' birthdays or the local weather, but the widget was at best hit and miss with its updates and we soon removed it from the UI.

Smart Tips offers quick how-to guides on a number of G3 features, including how to set up Knock Code or use the handset's camera app. The service would be useful were it not for its poor execution. Rather than featuring embedded videos or written guides, each how-to section pulls you to a YouTube video and explains the features in a fairly basic and mostly unhelpful way.

Next: Performance and camera

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About Doru Somcutean

Hello, my name is Somcutean Doru and I'm from Romania.

I really like to read reviews and see what's new about technology, on D-BLOG I share with you articles/reviews that I find interesting. I also write some reviews in romanian...

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