LG’s G series of smartphones have included some pretty impressive specs, but this year the LG G3 offers the first smartphone with a 5.5-inch display with 2,560 x 1,440 resolution. It offers a 538ppi, making it the highest available on any smartphone to date. The phone continues with high tier specs including Qualcomms Snapdragon 801 chipset with quad-core Krait 400 CPU clocked at 2.5Ghz and Adreno 330 GPU. A 13MP camera with OIS+ and laser focus. LG have also included a 3,000mAh Battery and wireless charging built-in. Like always let’s begin with the full specs and then take a closer look at the device.
- Chipset: Qualcomm Snapdragon™ 801 (up to 2.5GHz Quad-Core)
- Display: 5.5-inch Quad HD IPS (2560 x 1440, 538ppi)
- Memory: 16/32GB eMMC ROM, 2/3GB DDR3 RAM / microSD slot (128GB max)
- Camera: Rear 13.0MP with OIS+ and Laser Auto Focus / Front 2.1MP
- Battery: 3,000mAh (removable)
- Operating System: Android 4.4.2 KitKat
- Size: 146.3 x 74.6 x 8.9mm
- Weight: 149g
- Network: 4G / LTE / HSPA+ 21 Mbps (3G)
- Connectivity: Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth Smart Ready (Apt-X), NFC, SlimPort, A-GPS/Glonass, USB 2.0
- Color: Metallic Black, Silk White, Shine Gold, Moon Violet, Burgundy Red
- Other: Smart Keyboard, Smart Notice, Knock Code™ , Guest Mode, etc.
This is no doubt a flagship smartphone, with LG including some impressive specs. Again, we can see Qualcomms Snapdragon 801 chipset take the helm and bring along either 2GB or 3GB of RAM, depending on if you go for the 16GB version or the 32GB. The model we are reviewing is the 16GB, so we will be dealing with 2GB’s of RAM.
The 5.5-inch HD IPS display with 2,560 x 1,440 resolution no doubt stands out a lot and a large device typically always includes a large battery and that’s the case with the LG G3 with a removable 3,00mAh battery. So now let’s take a closer look at LG’s latest flagship smartphone.
The LG G3
The G3 includes a fairly narrow bezel, making the display stand out even more. Being a 5.5-inch display, it already does that itself, but the narrow bezels make the display all that more impressive. Like the G2 the volume and power buttons are located on the back of the device, directly under the camera. While not ideal with most people now use to them on the sides or top, but considering everyone will have a finger at the back of the device when holding it, it’s actually not that bad. However, accidental pressing and camera smudges are a concern here.
The device thickness is at its biggest in the middle of the device, with a slight curve ending at the edges of the device. This makes it more comfortable to hold and being a rather large smartphone, It’s definitely a plus. The 3.5mm headphone hack and MicroUSB are located on the bottom of device with the MicroSim and MicroSD slot located behind the back cover and under the battery.
UI, Knockcode, Dual Window
The LG G3 is running Android 4.4.2 with LG’s OptimusUI skin. We put together some screenshots to detail some of the UI and it’s features.
The UI very much like stock android with the few features added on to better suit the specific phones features. The home screen and app drawer are straight forward and stock like. Widgets and search are available from the app drawer. There is also the usual customizable short cuts attached to the pull down notification menu. The included Knock Code allows you to use a tapping pattern to unlock the device. Basically you have 4 squares and you use each of them to tap out a pattern. This is pretty handy as it can be done even when the device is asleep and is actually pretty secure and quick at unlocking the device.
The dialpad includes a single hand mode, along with the keyboard. The settings menu is organized by Network, Sound, Display, and General. Navigation is pretty easy with everything reading out like any Android device.
The G3 includes some multi-tasking features, much like what we have seen before. Included is dual Window, which allows select apps to run at the same time next to each other with sizing user changeable. Nearly identical to how the Galaxy Note series implemented it, but with the G3, you can go back to dual window after putting an app into full screen, a handy feature.
The floating window allows you to display the dialpad, but still navigate the rest of the device, it also includes transparency control. Lastly we have the customizable home touch buttons, which you can add specific functions and tasks to the main on screen buttons and not just have multi-tasking, home, and the back button, or whichever configuration you decide on.
We are pretty impressed with the camera app on the LG G3, and not because it has a lot of features, but more the opposite. It’s a rather subtle and easy to use camera app with the modes and settings easy to navigate. Although it would have been nice to be able to turn off burst mode and be able to force focusing from a long press. Instead we have to tap on the screen to focus and then again on the shutter button. This makes taking certain images a slower process.
The camera app includes a few different modes including Auto, Magic Focus, Panorama, and Dual. The Auto and Panorama mode are pretty straight forward, but the Magic focus takes data at multiple focus lengths and allows users the focus of images taken after they were taken. Similar to what we saw on the HTC One M8 and exactly like on the Galaxy S5 . Dual mode takes picture with both the front and rear facing cameras together. Again, something we have see on Galaxy phones from Samsung before. The settings and options are pretty short and includes Photo and Video resolutions, Timer, Voice Control, Grid display, and HDR mode.
The LG G3 includes a nice 13MP camera with OIS+ and laser focusing. Another trend we are seeing now is HDR getting a front seat and for good reason. HDR combines multiple shots taken at different exposures to give a better quality and more balanced photo. The drawback is that typically the camera needs to stay steady for each shot or there may be some blurriness. We have included some shots taken with and without HDR and you can check them out below.
Keep in mind that the images above are resized for the site, but we have put together a download link below for all the above photos in full.
We took some videos on the LG G3 to give you an idea of the quality it provides. The camera supports up to 4K recording, but we kept are samples to 1080p for consistency and viewing purposes.
Benchmarks and Gameplay
The included Snapdragon 801 chipset is doing what we expected and provides pretty impressive numbers. While they aren’t as high as other Snapdragon 801 smartphones we have reviewed, we can’t imagine any real world performance difference between the devices.
Below is some gameplay videos from the LG G3. The games tested are Dead Trigger 2, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, and Modern Combat 5. A quick note regarding GTA performance issues at high settings. This is actually related to the Android version and not the performance capability itself. We saw the same issue with the HTC One M8 and not the S5, even with the same chipsets.
The LG G3 includes a 3,000mAh battery, which is normal considering the size of the device. The only real concern is the extra pixels the devices has will put extra strain on the battery. Our battery tests consists of medium to heavy usage and that includes task we assume the average user will do during most days. Adjustments here and there can greatly affect your battery levels, but below is what we do to cover a wide area of usage.
|Throughout the day(checking) and 20-30 sent
|Throughout the day(around 30-40 minutes total)
|WiFi and 3G; mostly 3G
The above usage is what we did in a single day. We consider this a more accurate for gauging the performance of the battery inside a smartphone. Keep in mind that this test is broad and includes lots of different tasks. Doing more or less of any specific task above can have a negative or positive effect on the battery life.
The LG G3 did make it to the end of the day, but did only have 3-percent battery life left. While the all day usage with the above tasks is pretty solid performance considering the amount of pixels it’s pushing, LG do implement some behind the scenes battery saving techniques in effort to deal with the extra pixel count, including limited the screens refresh rate on static pages and limiting the processors when using non-intensive tasks. Some users doing screen intensive tasks may find the battery will drain pretty quickly and not reach the end of the day before needing a charger.
It’s now time to wrap up our review of LG’s latest flagship device. On paper the LG G3 provides some outstanding specs and is a world first with a 2,560 x 1,440 resolution display. Like always, we will break down our conclusion into a few sections including, Design, Screen, Camera, Performance, and Overall.
The LG G3 is large device, but LG do a lot to mitigate the large display size by reducing the bezel size and including a curved back. The large display and small bezel really work well together and give a great user experience when using the phone. The curve on the back of the device is spot on and makes holding it with one hand an ease. The one hand operation is also not negated by its weight with the G3 only weighing 149g. That’s just 4 grams heavier than the smaller S5 and even lighter than the HTC One M8. A marvel on its own considering the overall size of the device and included battery.
It’s not easy to offer the specs the LG G3 offers and still keep the size of the device down. The included display with 2,560 x 1,440 simply isn’t yet possible on a smaller screens, but LG managed to fit the 5.5-inch display and still make the LG G3 feel smaller in your hand and as easy to use. While some will complain with the lack of a metal housing. We feel LG went the right direction and adding metal to a device of this size would have simply added too much weight and possibly bulk. Not to forget the possibility of loosing the removable back cover, battery and possibly wireless charging. The only drawback on its design is the volume and power button locations on the back of the device. We did happen to hit the wrong button a good few times and even managed to smudge the camera as well. Not a big deal after some time as we got use to it, but still something to caution about.
Design wise, the LG G3 is epic. It’s a brilliant balance between giant display and ease of use/comfortability. It also looks pretty damn good.
Okay, so the first to market with a 2,560 x 1,440 display. This is something we’ve seen coming for awhile now, but is it really everything we want?. The answer is sadly, no. While the detail on the display is pretty amazing, there really isn’t any high quality content readily available for the LG G3 to take advantage of that would excuse the poor overall quality. Take for instance the Galaxy Note 3 which includes a similar size display @ 1080p. We feel the colours on the Note 3 are far superior and go for a better experience.
Sadly again the G3 even suffers from some serious pink tint on whites any any slight viewing angles. When looking at the same high resolution content, we still feel the overall quality is better on the Note 3 and doesn’t even come close to the quality the Galaxy S5 provides or other 1080p displays we have seen.
Above are shots taken of the LG G3 and Galaxy Note 3 at full brightness and displaying the exact same white image. As you can see the G3 suffers some serious tint at even slight angles and the white image becomes very dark with a pink tint. Not something we expected from this level of device.
We feel LG traded overall quality for more pixels and to be honest, the extra pixels aren’t really needed. We’re not saying the display is terrible, it’s just not as good as we would have liked since the extra pixels will put extra strain on the battery for no real benefit. While we don’t think anyone will be disappointed with the display, but we also don’t think anyone will be all that impressed either.
LG have touted their 13MP camera with Laser Focus is the fastest at focusing on the market. We couldn’t count the difference in milliseconds to accurately tell, but the G3 is damn quick at focusing. It’s probably the fastest, but we are talking milliseconds here, and it just isn’t possible to gauge the difference in the real world.
The auto focus speed aside, the quality is really what matters and while in most cases the LG G3 will provide a decent quality photo. It’s not on the same level we have seen from other devices on the market, but still provides great looking photos with a lot of detail and color. The low light performance is also impressive and does actually go beyond some of the other high end cameras we have seen. The HDR mode is somewhat distressing and can result in blurry photos rather easily, but not something we haven’t seen before, just not in awhile at least.
Video quality is on the nominal side of things. The lack of HDR video can also result in poor balance and it’s a shame since the focusing on video is extremely accurate and quick. The OIS+ does thankfully work very well and slight camera shake is simply not seen on most videos.
To sum up the camera. It works fast and can provide great look photos. However, it really isn’t at the same level of quality as the competition and if having the best camera on your phone is important, then sadly it’s not the G3.However, if your looking for a decent camera for most photos and videos, than the LG G3 is a solid performer and will ultimately not disappoint and we think people will be impressed by low light if given the chance.
The LG G3 does have to push out nearly double the amount of pixels as previous devices with the same Snapdragon 801 chipset. It does this beautifully and everything from UI to video playback was completely buttery smooth. Gaming was also pretty straight forward with the same hiccup in GTA that was saw on the HTC One M8, and again this is due to an issue with the game/android version itself and not the device. Both Dead Trigger 2 and Modern Combat 5 performed perfectly.
Even with the extra pixels, the included Snapdragon 801 chipset can handle it. Bottom line performance won’t be an issue on the LG G3.
Sadly the LG G3 simply isn’t living up to the specs we saw on paper. The 2,560 x 1,440 display is disappointing, with the extra pixels not warranting the loss of overall quality compared to a better 1080p display. Even worse the extra pixel count will dampen battery life considerably and sadly that’s just not something we expect from a flagship device. The camera is still using technology from last year and doesn’t really bring anything new to the game. It does have its good points with regards to fast focusing, low light performance, and OIS+. It still feels like LG missed an important step up over last years G2.
Performance is exactly like the competition and as expected since they all use the same Snapdragon 801 chipset. We didn’t experience any jitter or lag throughout testing and gameplay performance was spot on.
The only really impressive part about the LG G3 is the design. We are impressed with how good the device feels in hand and how light LG managed to make it, but still fairly balanced. The real surprise for the G3 is having a 5.5-inch display on a device, but make feel like a 5-inch in hand. They didn’t sacrifice a removable battery, microSD slot, but did add wireless charging. It’s definitely a plus, but the buttons on the back of the device are simply weird and like us, some may find it difficult to get use to at first and even then, accidental presses are still a possibility.
Due to the lacklustre display and less then stellar camera, we simply can’t award it Gold. Its overall design does warrant it, ultimately we have to take everything into consideration and the LG G3 arrives at Silver. We do still recommend it to anyone looking for a large device with great specs and beautiful design. Sadly, overall the LG G3 doesn’t offer much over the previous G2 and doesn’t match the competition or provide anything outstanding for us to marvel over.