If I told you now that this is a great phone, I don’t think it’d be much of a surprise. The specs alone was a dead giveaway, so I’m sure I’m not alone in setting the expectations high. But it was still able to surprise me a little more because I didn’t realize it’ll be seven levels of awesome!
I have to admit, though, that this is my first brush with a LG phone, and while I’ve heard some good things about their past products (even their firmware updates seemed to have improved from what I’ve heard), I still didn’t know what to expect. Last week, LG launched their latest generation flagship carrier, the LG G3. The phone does have some hefty competition, such as HTC’s M8 and their home court rival Samsung’s Galaxy S5, both of which came out earlier. While I can’t do a side-by-side comparison, I can safely say that I’m uber impressed with this phone on its own merits. Read more to see why.
LG G3 Specifications
- 5.5″ True HD-IPS + LCD capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors, Quad-HD (1440 x 2560 pixels, i.e. 2K) resolution (~534 ppi pixel density)
- Qualcomm MSM8975AC Snapdragon 801 Quad-core 2.5 GHz Krait 400 with Adreno 330 GPU
- 2GB/3GB RAM and 16GB/32GB ROM, expandable via microSD up to 128GB
- 13MP rear camera with phase detection/laser autofocus, optical image stabilization, dual-LED (dual tone) flash
- 2.1MP front camera
- 3G/4G, WiFi a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, IR, GPS + GLONASS
- Android 4.4.2
- 3000mAh removable battery
- SRP: PhP 31,990 (16GB) / PhP 35,990 (32GB)
Right off the bat, you can see that it’s some pretty hefty specs, poised to give its a competition a run for their money. And what’s not to like? You get a robust large screen with an above average resolution to take advantage of that screen real estate. It has a processor that can run circles on heavy number crunching, and a seemingly just-adequate battery. Boy, was I surprised.
Packaging and Accessories
I’ve never had a LG phone before, so I don’t have a frame for comparison. However, LG seems to have made sure that the box alone would show you what you’ll be in for. For one, the box looks like something that can be given at an award.
The “awards” look is accentuated by a logo and a note at the bottom indicating that LG was awarded as the “Most Innovative Device Manufacturer of the Year” for 2014 in the Global Mobile Awards. Kudos to LG, and if I’m basing it on this phone, they do deserve it.
It’s light on accessories, though, with only a cable, charger, and earphone in the package. The phone is capable of wireless charging, and I was hoping that it comes with a wireless charger as well. As it is, it’s all just standard fare, so ti’s adequate.
Design and Build
I have to say, this is one of the most beautiful and elegant phones I’ve seen. While it’s made of polycarbonate plastic, LG made sure that it won’t look and feel that way. Taking cues from Samsung, the body looks like it’s made of brushed metal. However, it does lack in the “feel” part, as it will remind you that it’s plastic once you pick it up. As such, you won’t feel as secure as, say picking up a Sony Z1 or HTC One. On the upside, though, it is delightfully light, and that may be more important to some people more than the premium-to-the-touch feel. Personally, I didn’t mind at all, although I’m consciously extra careful with it than my Sony Xperia Z Ultra. LG also deliberately didn’t go the weather/water resistant route like most competition. Instead, they’d rather invest the innovations on things that most consumers would appreciate (and use). I’m paraphrasing here, but it’s one of the points during launch.
While I do see where they’re coming from, and that they do have a point, I can still say that having a weather/water-proof sealing on a phone is very much appreciated. While I never use my phone in the rain, or while in a pool, I do like the added protection when unforeseen circumstances arise. Having said that, I don’t take points away from this phone for its lack of sealing, and neither will you. This is especially true since the phone looks immaculate!
The front of the G3 is all glass, with the screen taking up most of the real estate. It’s amazing to see the LG G3’s size despite having a 5.5″ screen. It doesn’t look and feel gargantuan at all! There are no buttons whatsoever, with the phone instead relying on on-screen buttons, which is a plus for me. The top bezel is just enough to house the front camera, the proximity and light sensors, and the receiver. With Gorilla Glass 3 covering the front, you at least know that the front is as robust as it can get, short of using silicon. However, I never leave things to chance and I had a screen protector installed ASAP. The bottom bezel (which looks good, by the way), houses just the LG logo.
In contrast, the rear of the LG G3 is much busier than the front, or with any phone for that matter. As with its daddy, the LG G2, the rear contains the power button and the volume rocker. Having used it, though, I’m not too hot with the idea. While it’s ok for the most part, it brought its own quirks. For one, it was more difficult for me take screenshots due to the placement of the buttons. On more than one occasion, the volume indicator will show up on the screen (denoting that I pressed the volume down first, instead of at the same time with the power button) just before the screenshot is taken. However, moving these buttons to the rear from the side (or top in the case of the power button) may also have contributed to the phone’s slimmer profile. If you’re not going to use the screenshots that much, then the setup is fine, and would also become second nature after a while. Aside from these buttons, the rear also houses the LG G3’s main 13MP camera with dual LED flash and an infrared mechanism used for laser focusing. The bottom left also has the loudspeaker. Manufacturers should learn to put that speaker in the front!
Speaking of component placements that I’m not too hot with, I also never liked headphone jacks that aren’t placed at the phone’s top. In this case, it’s located at the bottom, along with the microUSB port (I’m guessing it may have something to do with using the phone with an arm band). Instead, the top is clean except for another infrared port (you’ll find out why later on). The sides are expectedly clean.
Overall, LG give you aphone that’s elegant and premium to look at, but at a low weight and added connectivity benefits of plastic. It won’t win any robustness award, but you can always remedy that with good cases, especially if you use those smart cases that LG offer.
Display and Touchscreen
Such a big screen (to most people, anyway) deserves a large resolution, and we get that in spades. LG G3 is one of the first phones (at least the first for major manufacturers) to sport Quad HD resolution, more widely known as 2K (1440 x 2560 pixels) resolution. While I personally see no practical reason for screens this small to have such a high resolution, I can’t say that I wasn’t wowed by it. Watching movies and playing games is pure pleasure on this phone, and even reading publications and web pages is all good. LG was able to implement font sizes well despite the high resolution. It was one of my caveats with my Z Ultra. The phone’s fonts weren’t large enough for the most part, giving me eye strains until I set the system font to large. I never got that problem with the G3, and its font is still set to the default setting (medium sized font).
Touchscreen controls are smooth and responsive, and should you want to play games on this device, you won’t encounter any problems. And given the hefty specs, you can throw any high-profile games out there in the play Store, and this baby can run it no sweat. Case in point: it’s able to run Injustice: Gods Among Us much more smoothly than my Z Ultra can. It’s also accurate enough that you won’t have problems typing. Another thing is it’s comfortable to use the phone one-handed, much better than I did with my previous phone, the Galaxy Note 2. It’s definitely more ergonomic than my Z Ultra, that’s for sure.
The premium quality isn’t skin deep, as the aesthetic is complemented by a beast of an internal. The generous amount of RAM and speedy processor (the best that you can get at the moment) ensures a lag-free experience. If you get the 32GB version, you get 1GB more RAM, which is frigging sweet, especially since it’s running on Android Kitkat!
But what really surprised me with this phone is its stellar battery life. You might say that I throw that complement around like the way Miley Cyrus throws around her dignity, but it’s the truth! When I saw that a gargantuan 3000mAh battery would be powering it up, I said, it’s kind of ok, but once I used it, I was blown away! I torture-tested this baby’s juice, and I was the one that gave up.
I was able to take a COUPLE OF DAY’s worth of heavy use out of the LG G3, consisting of my standard always-on WiFi and NFC, heavy web surfing and YouTube watching, occasional high-profile and casual games, offline reading, heavy downloads and updates, An hour’s worth of data transfer via BlueTooth, and ample amount of texts and calls (Unlimited, so you get the picture). I started at 6:30AM, and with the aforementioned heavy use, the battery was at 15% 12AM the next day. I was forced to charge it, so I wasn’t able to torture test it as I would have hoped. Even now, I can still feel how great battery life is. It’s a combination of hardware and software, it seems, but regardless, this phone is a marathon runner.
Storage space is good enough when compared to its contemporaries. Of the 16GB internal storage space, you get a little under 11GB to do with as you please for your apps and games. That would get filled up pretty quick, though, so having microSD support (up to 128GB) is highly appreciated. Honestly, though, I feel that 32GB should have been the minimum storage space by now. It’s been 2 generations since 16GB has become the standard, so it’s high time that it’s upped to the next level.
This is where the LG G3 truly shines. It comes with Android 4.4.2 Jellybean out of the box, and like the exterior, it exemplifies the phone’s new mantra of “Simple is the New Smart”. LG’s Andoid skin is as close to the one the Stock Jellybean uses. For one, you’re given just three home screens in the launcher, with the center one being the main one, and the right one being the extra home screen that you can do as you please. The left one is reserved for the OS. In the stock Jellybean, it’s for the revamped Google Now. In the G3, it’s for the LG Health (which acts ans a pedometer, among other health-related things) and Smart Tips.
However, that’s as far as similarities with the stock OS goes. Everything else has LG written all over it. They’ve incorporated a lot of bells and whistles, and unlike those from the competition, *coughSamsungcough*, most are useful. It’s not to say that they’re original. In fact, there are a lot that were yanked out of TouchWiz, chief among them the much-missed Multi-Window feature. But, instead of simply copying these features, most of them were improved.
For one, activating it is much more intuitive. Instead of long pressing the back button, you can activate it via the multi-window instead. However, like Samsung’s, it’s limited by the amount of apps that support such feature. Thankfully, most of the important ones are there, so I reckon you’ll find yourself using it often. I did.
Other notables are a myriad of gesture-based and touch-based controls, chief among them is the “knock” feature. Simply put, tapping on the screen. So for example, by default, you can wake up the screen by tapping on it twice in quick succession. It also works in reverse when you’re on the home screen, tapping on it will shut the screen off. Alternatively, you can use this knock as a security feature either to complement or replace any of the standard security setting to unlock the lock screen. For example, you can set the phone to wake up and unlock the screen at the same time when five taps are registered. It may simple, but I honestly love the tapping feature, so much so that I would inadvertently double tap my Z Ultra at times to wake it up (and I’d feel stupid afterwards).
Another notable is that Google Now is always on in the main home screen, meaning I can use the voice activation without going to the Google Now interface.
Modifying your home screen is also uber simple, and the skin gives you tons of options for personalization, yet at a very easy and intuitive way. Take creating folder in the home screen for example. All you need to do is to click and hold on an icon, drag it on top of another icon, and once released, a folder is automatically created. You can then hold and press on the folder to change its icon and name. Really simple, really smart, and similar approach permeates all throughout.
As a phone, the G3 does very well. Audio clarity is great, provided you have good reception. Microphone also does well. I’ve also hadn’t encountered any difficulty sending text messages. I also like the default messaging app and the way it implements its pop-up window. It’s less intrusive than the competition (3rd party apps, like Go SMS Pro included).
As an entertainment device, it’s all levels of win. The large screen and resolution makes it a joy to play high-def videos, whether it be you’re watching video files offline, or when watching streaming media via YouTube, etc. However, the most high def that I’m able to watch is 1080p, albeit it still scales nicely despite the 2K resolution. To tell you the truth, though, you won’t appreciate high resolutions on a screen such as this. IMHO, 2K resolutions start to be appreciated on 55″ screens. Furthermore, you’ll rarely find 2K and 4K videos, and even if you did, the file size would be a killer. Having said that, waitching lower resolution videos is still a pleasure on the LG G3.
Gaming is as good as it gets on a high-profile device, with graphics being crisp and clear. Touchscreen sensitivity is tight, and I never encountered any problem whether it be in casual games or the high profile ones. In fact, it ran a resource-hungry game (Injustice: Gods Among Us) much more smoothly than my other smartphones.
On a purely personal note, though, I found myself wanting more than “just” a 5.5″ screen, especially on such a high resolution. Yes, I’m not at a point where the average phablet screen size is no longer enough, but that’s just a personal taste and it didn’t even detract anything from this phone.
LG have touted much about the phone’s camera performance, and it does deliver for the most part. It’s not the best camera phone I’ve used (that distinction still belongs to the Nokia Lumia 1020, but saying that its performance is a sloucher is like saying that Jasmin Curtis is hideous just because she doesn’t look like Megan Fox. So far, it’s the best camera I’ve used on an Android platform (I haven’t used a Galaxy Note 3 or Galaxy S5 yet, so I don’t have a frame of comparison against the current generation of phones). Low light performance is better than anything I’ve used though, at least I can say that much. I also found it easier to get a focus, thanks to the built-in infrared mechanism.
A DSLR replacement it definitely is not, but using the camera isn’t a disappointment, either. LG G3 was still able to take admirable shots, event at night. Noise is controlled relatively well. The only caveat I have is that the camera app doesn’t do the hardware justice. It’s so basic for my taste. Thankfully, there are a lot of third party apps that there that can give you more options (such as manual controls).
Laser focusing isn’t the only feature that uses infrared, however. It seems infrared is making a comeback in the current generation phones by making them act like a universal remote control. The LG G3 is no exception, and setting it up is uber intuitive as well. It seems you can set it up on any appliance that uses IR. I’ve set it up on two of our TV sets (one LCD and one CRT) and both worked flawlessly.
As a navigation device, it’s no slouch either. Thanks to its GPS + GLONASS combo, I’m able to consistently get navigation signals (take that, Nokia X!)
With all that’s said and done, you should be expecting a powerful device, and AnTuTu Benchmark verifies that. With 31,855 points, it’s a powerhouse of a phone. Curiously, though, my phone performed better in the benchmark test. In fact, it performed lower than the competition. But it’s no slouch, however. Its performance is buttery smooth, and I never encountered anything unsavory.
Overall, it’s an excellent phone. Its daddy, the LG G2, was considered to be one of the best phones in its generation, and I see no reason why this phone can’t fill in those shoes. As a daily driver, it’ll give you stellar performance, both in battery stamina (I can’t stress this enough) and smartphone functions. You’ll appreciate this phone in both function and form. It packs quite a punch feature-wise and yet you won’t feel that it’s complicated to use.
However, at SRP between Php29,990 – Php31,990 for the 16GB model and Php33,990 – Php35,990 for the 32GB model, it’s far from being budget friendly, especially considering that it lacks weather sealing. However, it is a worthy purchase and you won’t regret buying it. In fact, if not for the screen size, I would have made this as my main phone, especially since its battery performance trumps my main phone by a wide margin (and it’s removable, something that I wish my main phone had as well).