The last LG phone I owned was the LG Shine in 2008 and I never thought I would want an LG phone after that. Since then I’ve owned mostly Samsung devices, but after using LG’s new flagship phone for about a week, I’m ready to switch back.
- Display: 5.5-inch Quad HD IPS (2560 x 1440, 538ppi)
- Chipset: Qualcomm Snapdragon™ 801 Quad-Core processor up to 2.5 GHz
- Connectivity: Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.0 LE (APT-x), NFC,
- Memory: 32GB eMMC ROM (up to 24GB usable)/ 3GB DDR3 RAM / microSD support up to 2TB
- Price: $598 off contract
See the full specifications here.
- Gorgeous display
- Great camera
- Good battery life
- Slippery back
With its ultra thin bezels and gorgeous 5.5-inch display, you’ll find yourself staring at the large display for long periods of time. The phone looks better than its successor with its curved back and slightly rounded edges. The brushed-metal design on the back adds to the phone’s design, but it is still plastic (polycarbonate to be technical).
The phone is big, but 5.5-inch phones are becoming a dime a dozen these days, so it’s not surprising to see LG releasing a phone of this size. The G3, weighing at 149.8 grams, fits comfortably in my hand (bear in mind that I have large hands) mostly because of the curved back, but it will definitely be too big for a lot of people. The size of the phone and the texture on the back makes it feel rather slippery and I had a few close calls where the phone slid out of my grasp.
One design feature recognizable from the G2 that I’ve grown to like is the volume and power buttons on the back of the phone. It took me a day or two to get used to the button placement, which won’t work well for everyone. I still mistakenly hit the volume up button instead of the power button sometimes, but I think continued use of the phone would fix that.
The phone comes in five different colors: Metallic Black, Shine Gold, Silk White, Moon Violet and Burgundy Red.
You would think the Quad HD screen would sacrifice performance on the G3 but apart from some minor lag when opening and closing apps or returning to the home screen, the 2.5GHz Snapdragon 801 processor and 3GB of RAM keeps the phone running just as well as other flagship phones on the market.
The phone does tend to overheat when using it excessively, but most of the time this was moving through apps and playing multiple games for a while. Few others have also reported issues of overheating, but it’s unclear if it is an issue specific to certain models. Running less-intensive apps such as Gmail and Chrome didn’t affect the phone’s temperature at all.
The G3 has a 13MP Optical Image Stabilizer Plus camera with a clean user interface — following LG’s motto that “Simple is the New Smart.” The camera uses Laser Auto Focus technology that shoots out an infrared sensor that helps it find the focus point quicker, which in turn helps take faster photos.
The photos are pretty impressive and pick up a lot of detail, but they sometimes do look a little washed out, depending on the lighting. The low-light shots came out surprisingly well with little noise. You can shoot up to 4K video, but it’s pointless if you have nothing to view it on.
The 2.1MP front-facing camera, or the “selfie” camera as LG calls it, greets you with a beauty filter that tries to make your face look smooth and clear, but It ends up giving your face a glowing and glossy look, which can look strange. LG has a neat feature where, if you’re taking a selfie, you can bring your hand into the shot and make a fist, which will snap a picture.
After living through TouchWiz for about four years, I can say I’m a fan of stock Android. But on the G3, the skin is decent and lightweight. Some sections such as the Settings page still look ugly, as is the case on most Android skins, and is a pretty poor way to navigate settings. LG’s keyboard also doesn’t look the greatest, but allowing users to adjust the keyboard’s height will be appealing to some.
While the G3’s theme is “Simple is the New Smart,” there are still a lot of features LG has packed in and some of them are actually quite useful. My favorite, which was also available on the G2, is the clip tray. This feature lets you save multiple texts or images that you copy so that when you go to paste it, you can open up the clip tray and pick up to 20 saved entries. It’s helpful when you need to copy and paste from different texts and it’s strange this hasn’t been implemented in most smartphones.
If you dislike the power button’s placement on the back of the phone, double tapping the display brings you to the lock screen. I’ve been using this to get to the lock screen for a while and now I find myself double tapping my Nexus 7‘s screen to my disappointment. The G3 also has a feature called Knock Code where you don’t have to use the rear power button. You set up certain points to “knock” to unlock the phone after you double tap it to get to the lock screen, but make sure no one’s peeking so that they can’t memorize it.
There’s also Smart Notice, a feature that mimics Google Now, but it’s more tailored to what you do on your phone. It analyzes the time, location and phone status and learns your habits to give you relevant tips and reminders. So if you create a grocery list with LG’s Memo Reminders app at home and tag your favorite grocery store, the list will pop up when you are near the store.
When you swipe to the right from the home screen, you reach a page that is occupied by LG Health and Smart Tips. LG Health measures how many calories you burn by counting the number of steps you take when you walk with your phone. It’s not limited to walking, as you can change it to track running and bicycling, among others. It’s not as powerful as other fitness tracking apps but for a built-in app it’s pretty neat and easy to use.
The bottom part of this screen is shared with Smart Tips. Tapping it gets you to a list of features the G3 can perform, such as Voice Shutter, where you can say key words to snap a photo with the camera. I would rather have the option to customize what apps I want in this screen, as I find Smart Tips to be pointless once you figure everything out, but at least you have the option to disable it completely.
You can’t really go wrong with choosing any smartphone these days and so design and other factors become a key influence in a customer’s decision to purchase a phone. The G3’s key factor that distinguishes it from its competition is the Quad HD LCD display. The 2,560 x 1,440 (534 pixels per inch) resolution is beautiful, but you won’t really notice the difference to other high-end displays unless you put them next to each other. The screen can look a little washed out when you look it from different angles. Some apps aren’t optimized for the G3’s resolution so they will look a little stretched, but as the G3’s popularity soars, you can be sure that developers will be updating them.
I used the G3 extensively this week by playing games, messaging, browsing the web and the battery dipped below 20 percent after around 8 or 9 hours. The 3000mAh cell should last you an average day without having to plug it in for a recharge. You don’t have to worry too much here.
With the only prior experience of owning an LG phone being the LG Shine, I wasn’t sure what to expect. But the G3 is a pleasant surprise and has a lot going for it with very few weaknesses. It has a great camera, a stunning display and the ultra thin bezels make it look attractive. The G3 is definitely my favorite Android phone this year so far and you won’t be disappointed in moving to LG if you’re coming from a new manufacturer. If you’re coming from the G2, there’s still a lot to appreciate in design and software.