LG G3 – Ultra-thin, Metallic Skin and A Quad HD Screen

Design

Sporting the same rounded corners and slim bezel as the G2, the LG G3 keeps the same buttons on the rear as well. Instead of the glossy plastic found on the G2, though, LG has given the G3 a metallic-looking back.LG says the rear cover is mostly plastic (to allow wireless charging to work), but it added a metal film to give it that shiny, polished look. The result is a very premium finish, and Samsung should pay attention here. While the dimpled rear cover of the S5 was a marked improvement over the glossy finish of the S4, the G3’s back cover conveys a more luxurious feel that you normally get from metal phones such as the HTC One M8 or the Apple iPhone 5S. 

LG G3 - design

As mentioned earlier, the power button and volume rocker are all found on the back.The keys have a textured pattern that differentiates them from the rear cover. It’s also easy to reach the buttons when holding the phone with one hand. There’s no need to stretch your fingers to power off the device (especially if it’s on the top). The 13-megapixel camera is located right above the rear buttons, and on the left is the laser auto-focus feature, which uses an infrared laser beam to measure the distance between the camera and the intended subject of your picture. On the right is the dual-LED flash.The best part of the G3, however, has to be that there simply aren’t any buttons. Unlike the S5, which has a physical home button, the G3 uses onscreen keys instead. This means that the 5.5-inch, 2,560×1,440-pixel-resolution screen grabs all of your attention, and the super-thin bezel enhances that experience, making the phone appear to be “all screen.”

LG G3 - design 2

Display

LG has really splashed out when it comes to the G3’s screen with impressive results. The 2560 x 1440 QHD (Quad HD) display manages to provide a ludicrously sharp 534 pixels per inch (PPI). To put that into some context the ‘Retina’ display on the iPhone 5S ‘only’ manages 326 PPI while the Galaxy S5 offers 432 PPI.It’s not the first smartphone with a QHD display – the Oppo Find 7 has that honor – but it is the first to QHD phone to be widely available around the world.Just as a high megapixel count on a camera does not guarantee great pictures, so it is with screen resolution. Brightness, contrast ratios and black levels are arguably as important as resolution. And here the LG G3’s screen doesn’t quite excel. Top brightness is just about enough for a sunny day, but is noticeably dimmer than its rivals.The LG G3 uses an IPS LCD screen. This type of display fires light across the screen to illuminate the whole display. This means that to show a black screen it needs to attempt to block light rather than just illuminating only the areas that need light like the OLED or Plasma screen does. It’s impossible to do this with maximum efficiency so while the LG G3 is sharp its dynamic range doesn’t hit the levels of the Galaxy S5.This is nit-picking, though.

LG G3 - display

The LG G3’s screen in everyday use is nothing short of excellent. It is bright enough to view in full daylight, has decent viewing angles and colors appear natural.The LG G3’s screen is that the higher the resolution the more power it consumes. This means shorter battery life. LG has added a few tricks to the display to make it more efficient. One of these is that it uses less power when it notices that there is no activity or movement on screen. There is a claimed improvement of 20 per cent over other QHD screens, but at full brightness battery drain is significant.

 

Smart Keyboard

LG G3 - keyboardLG thought it would be a good idea to make the keyboard a little more user friendly due to the size of the LG G3’s screen. It is. You don’t need to move your hand to reach the input box if you’ve made a mistake any more. All you need to do is press and hold the space bar and then move your thumb left and right. The cursor will move to the position you want it to without you having to pick the right spot with surgical precision as you would on other phones. The keyboard also trys to learn your habits. If you’re a messy typist and regularly find yourself making mistakes the LG G3 can adapt and learn where you hit the keyboard and what you actually meant to type. In the days we’ve been using the phone we haven’t noticed a marked improvement, but this is the sort of feature that takes time to shine. LG claims typing accuracy can improve by as much as 75 per cent once the phone has fully learned your habits.

 

Knock On / Knock Code

LG’s proprietary way of unlocking the phone is back for a second round – and it’s as good as it was before.The notion is simple: you tap the screen twice when turned off to unlock the phone (if you’ve not got lockscreen security set up) and can then tap the notification bar twice in quick succession, or any empty area on the home screen, to shut it down again.It worked really well on the LG G2 to the point where, like the rear buttons, I often tried the same trick on other handsets.And that’s where the brand reached a little too far in my opinion by adding in Knock Code. It’s a clever system where you can simply tap the right quadrants of the screen with the screen turned off and it works the same as an unlock code or pattern.The issue I had was that it didn’t register 80% of the time. This was often down to the fact you pick the phone up holding a portion of the screen, which seems to register as an early tap to add into the code.This means the screen still lights up, but prompts you once again to enter the code. If you must have security then it’s OK, but tapping the display twice to wake it and entering the pattern is a little simpler.

 

Performance

LG G3 - performancePowered by a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor clocked at 2.5GHz, the G3 was blazing fast. I didn’t have any issues with the performance of the phone, even when playing 3D games.On the Quadrant benchmark test, the G3 scored 23,103, while the Linpack multi-threaded test gave it a score of 606.715MFLOPs in 0.28 seconds. The Quadrant score is very similar to what the Galaxy S5 and OnePlus One earned, which isn’t surprising, as all three phones use the same chipset.

Call and sound quality

During calls the LG G3’s earpiece is loud and clear and the microphone performs well. The LG G3 comes with a secondary mic for active noise cancelling and this helps when you’re in a noisy environment and trying to make yourself heard. Unfortunately the speaker is disappointing. It possesses neither the volume nor the depth of other phones in its category – audio is weak and thin. However, the LG G3 does come bundled with some reasonable earphones. These offer much better sound quality and noise isolation than Apple’s EarPods, but, being in-ear, they are a little more invasive.

 

Camera

LG G3 - cameraThe camera on the LG G3 is a pretty good affair, despite being largely similar in spec to the LG G2. This means the same 13MP sensor, enhanced optical image stabilization (OIS+) and the same efforts to overly-disguise noisy photos by smoothing them with software algorithms.If you want to just take speedy snaps, this is a great method and the camera is activated by holding the down volume button in standby mode, and can be used as a shutter button too.If you want a few more options then intriguingly the G3 doesn’t have much more to play with. You can toggle the HDR mode on or off , enter dual capture, panorama or ‘Magic Focus’ which is the same re-focus feature that’s become popular with all high-end phones.There’s no way to change the ISO settings, exposure or contrast… it’s a camera with minimal interaction.Nokia, Samsung and even HTC have done a great job in starting the education process of how to get great snaps by playing with settings, but it seems LG is more interested in doing the same as Apple and not getting in the way of your pictures.The actual picture quality is pretty good, with well-lit scenes giving really clear, sharp and well-defined snaps. In lower light the G3 is good.The auto-focus needs a mention here again – the laser shooting out a conical beam to check out the room leads to blistering auto-focus, and does notably out-do the Samsung Galaxy S5 in terms of going from a standing start and snapping the picture.The other big change is the front facing camera by increasing the angle of the snap, so 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.The beauty slider is present too, meaning the photo is smoothed out to make a weird soft-focus on your face.

LG G3 - camera 2

 

Battery life

With a large 3,000mAh removable battery to power it you’d expect the LG G3 to last a while on a single charge. After all only the Sony Xperia Z2 comes with a larger battery – the Galaxy S5 and HTC One M8 both pack smaller ones.This is not quite the case, however. It is not that the LG G3’s battery life is bad, it’s just average. The only thing we can blame is that thirsty QHD screen. At full brightness you can almost see the battery draining in real time, knock the brightness down a few notches and things get noticeably better, though.The LG G3’s battery life is what we’ve come to expect from most top-spec phones these days – you’ll probably need to charge it daily. However, the battery is remarkable in one way, it charges very quickly. You get 35 per cent from empty in just a 30 minute charge, and a full battery in around two hours. There is, of course, a battery saving mode. This kicks in automatically at 5 per cent battery life but you can change it to start at 30 per cent in the settings. To conserve energy it turns off Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and tap vibrations and sets the screen brightness to just 20 per cent. Used sparingly we found that the battery saving mode helped the LG G3 survive a whole day starting at just 30 per cent battery life, although you will struggle to make out the dim screen outdoors.

 

Conclusion

With so much going for it, the LG G3 is the best LG phone on the market and should hold its place as one of the top phones of the year. The battery life, though, does take a hit due to the higher-resolution display, which is a trade-off I don’t quite like. Yet that’s really the only downside of this otherwise superb handset.Against the Samsung Galaxy S5, the G3’s design shines and it has what I feel is a clearly better UI. The software features make the G3 more fun and convenient to use, while LG has added features to the G3, such as a microSD slot and a removable battery, that the G2 lacked and that Samsung had in its phones already. Against the metal HTC One M8, the G3’s faux-metal rear may not feel as impressive, but it is enough that the M8 doesn’t feel like it’s too far ahead. While both phones have UIs with a modern and flat look, the G3 still comes out ahead with a camera that has a higher megapixel count, which gives you a lot more detail.Generally though, the G3 is the perfect new gadget for “early adopter” types who want the latest and greatest. Sure, those looking for a workhorse phone may want to get the S5 instead , which doesn’t have the battery-sapping high-resolution display of the G3. But if you’re looking for a powerful handset that’s beautiful to boot, you won’t be disappointed with LG’s latest marquee venture.