LG G2 Review: One of The BEST Android's Money Can Buy
LG's 2013 flagship phone packs a powerful punch and boasts an unusual design, but is it better than the LG-made Nexus 5?
It must be a pretty odd undertaking being a handset manufacturer making your own flagship at the same time as creating Google's Nexus-branded flagship, but that's exactly what LG has done with the LG G2 and Google's Nexus 5. While the Nexus name is widely recognised and well-regarded, LG is undergoing a re-branding excercise, dropping the Optimus moniker and simply running with LG G2.
The LG G2 combines incredible power with a unique design and a wonderful screen to present one of the most appealing Android phones we’ve tested. Read on to find out all the details and discover why this handset is so impressive.
As is often the case with older –– but still VERY decent –– handsets, now that the LG G3 is widely available, you can pick up a LG G2 for a drastically reduced price, granting you access to excellent user experience, decent specs and a lot of functionality for a lot less than you’d pay for 2014’s latest model. Out of all the handsets launched in 2013, the LG sticks out to us as a clear front-runner –– it was an all-round, great handset that we loved testing. And as much as we like the G3, we have to admit we’re still pretty smitten with its predecessor.
It's been a few months since KYM reviewed the LG G2 and recently the handset has been back in the office. Paul, our resident reviews editor, has been using the device on-and-off for a little while now and we thought it'd be good to inject some of his thoughts on the handset. Throughout the following sections, Paul will add his own mini-review tagged with the prefix: "PB:".
LG G2 Review: Design
Like so many Android phones these days, the G2 is dominated by its touchscreen. The one here measures 5.2-inches from corner to corner, but LG has done a commendable job of keeping the device as compact as possible. It's thin enough to fit into your pocket without too much fuss.
The all-plastic design might not have the premium feel of the iPhone 5s, but it's solid enough and ensures the phone isn't too heavy. It's a totally sealed unit, so there's no way to access to the battery. There's also no MicroSD card slot, with the only entry point into the device being its Micro-SIM card tray, which can be popped open using a pin or paperclip.
The most striking aspect of the G2's design has to be the location of the physical buttons. The power key and volume controls are located on the back of the device, right next to the camera. The theory is that your fingers naturally come to rest in this position when you're using the phone, so you don't have to reach around to the sides. In practice, it’s not quite as clever as it sounds and it does takes a while to become comfortable with this placement. Still, it's nice to see a manufacturer coming up with fresh design ideas, and I think that some will definitely find favour with it.
I can totally understand that most people immediately think of Samsung's Galaxy S4 when they see the LG G2, in fact I'm sure some might even mistake it for a Samsung device at first as there are plenty of similarities.
But, when you look at it closer, pick it up and actually get a feel for the LG G2 it is, for me at least, a superior product.
The plastic is nicer and the fit and finish is just that bit tighter and more solid, leaving things with a really sharp and refined feel the Galaxy S4 is lacking.
The front panel also makes a big difference, in the sense that it's mostly screen. Samsung's got into the habit of fitting bigger displays into smaller bodyshells but LG has leapfrogged it here with what I would consider a true edge-to-edge screen and one of the narrowest bezels on the market. As well as giving you masses of screen real-estate it looks really smart too.
The speakers mounted in the base of the handset is an interesting move, but certainly prevents the usual problem of muffling them with your hand. They flank the always KYM-approved microUSB port in the bottom of the device, meaning it sits nicely in charging docks, as well as being very quick and easy to find.
I must confess I still find the combined power key and volume rocker on the rear of the handset and next to the camera port bizaare and gimmicky. I know LG's argument is that this is where your finger naturally sits but for me operating the phone this way was not at all intuitive. It is not debilitating, but I don't think it achieves the goal it set out to, aside from keeping the front and sides of the phone looking smooth and sleek.
LG G2 Review: Specifications
The G2 is no slouch when it comes to power - it's packing the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 chipset that resides in the Samsung Galaxy Note III. This chipset features a quad-core 2.26GHz CPU which delivers blistering performance and is backed by 2GB of RAM.
It almost goes without saying, but the G2 is insanely powerful. It doesn't stumble or stutter during intense tasks, and is even capable of running two apps side-by-side using LG's QSlide functionality.
LG G3 Arrives
LG's now launched the successor to the LG G2 and funnily enough it's called the LG G3.
As you might expect, it's a fairly all-round upgrade of the LG G2, and the improvements include a refined bodyshell, a Snapdragon 801 processor, and a 5.5-inch QHD resolution display.
The battery is removable and rated at 3,000mAh, which is nice. The handset builds on the LG G2's existing "Knock On" feature with the addition of "Kock Code", allowing users to specify a secret knock to unlock their phone by tapping points on the display.
You also get a 13-megapixel camera with optical stabilisation and a brand new UI over Android 4.4 KitKat.
We've now given the LG G3 a full review, where we described it as "A really excellent high-end Android smartphone with one of the best displays currently available and a rewarding user experience."
The LG G3 is not a perfect device, however, here are some excerpts from our conclusion:
"The LG G3 is a really quite impressive device and I’ve enjoyed using it. It has one or two odd little quirks which hamper the experience a bit – for me these have been relatively minor gripes which I’ve been able to cope with, but I can imagine them being more irritating for some users."
"Despite some initial concerns during my first hands-on, I think the software experience is great, as I mentioned, there are parallels to be drawn with HTC devices and it’s really just a pleasant UI to look at and operate. A spoonful of customisation options never hurts, and some added functionality, such as the Dual Screen mode and built-in File Manager are most welcome indeed."
"I do think the Knock On feature is a bit of a stumbling block though, it just needs better implementation and may annoy more users than it pleases due to its tendency to activate the phone in your pocket. The LG G3 could benefit from more onboard storage, and while the battery life can be quite reasonable, if you’re not super-careful there’s quite a risk of getting caught short. The display, camera and general performance, however, are all superb, as is the design and build. A highly recommendable handset, with a few caveats."
Despite some foibles, the LG G3 earned a respectable 4/5 ranking, you can head here to read the full review.
On the connectivity front the G2 comes with 4G LTE, which means you can benefit from increased network speed, assuming your mobile contract supports it, of course. There's also Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi and NFC – the latter of which can be used to make contactless data transfers.
Storage consists of either 16GB or 32GB, depending on which model you pick up. Taking into account the aforementioned lack of a MicroSD card slot, you may wish to plump for the higher capacity version if you're keen on downloading loads of apps and games.
Google’s brand spanking new Nexus 5 is loosely based on the LG G2. There are slight differences with the overall design of the two handsets –– the Nexus is slightly lighter and smaller –– although the biggest is to do with the price they retail at; the Nexus costs £299, while LG’s G2 retails for £500 SIM-free.
With the Nexus 5 you get the latest version of Android –– that’s KitKat –– a pure Google UX experience and are free to move from network to network. You can do the same with the LG G2 providing you get an unlocked handset but you won’t get the latest version of Android. No, the G2 runs on Android Jelly Bean 4.2.2.
So what else is different?
Nexus 5 vs LG G2: Key Specs Compared
|DEVICE||LG G2||NEXUS 5|
|Dimensions||138.5 x 70.9 x 8.9 mm / 143g||137.9 x 69.2 x 8.6 mm / 130g|
|Display||1080 x 1920 pixels, 5.2 inches (~424 ppi pixel density)||1080 x 1920 pixels, 4.95 inches (~445 ppi pixel density)|
|Camera||13 MP, autofocus, optical image stabilization, LED flash||8 MP, 3264 x 2448 pixels, autofocus, optical image stabilization, LED flash|
|Storage||16/32GM / no SD-support||16/32GM / no SD-support|
|Processor, RAM, Graphics||2.3GHz Snapdragon 800 / 2GB of RAM / Adreno 330 GPU||2.3GHz Snapdragon 800 / 2GB of RAM / Adreno 330 GPU|
|Operating System||Android 4.2.2||Android 4.4 KitKat|
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, Wi-Fi Direct, DLNA, Wi-Fi hotspot, Bluetooth, NFC, IR Blaster||Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, Wi-Fi Direct, DLNA, Wi-Fi hotspot, Bluetooth, NFC|
PB: I'm in complete agreement with Rich on this one, the LG G2 simply does not leave you wanting when it comes to the hardware. It's fully stacked in terms of connectivity capabilities and the processor is just a powerhouse of Herculean proportions. The LG G2 delivers performance consistent with what I've seen of the Snapdragon 800 elswhere, it's an insanely fast chip and it simply doesn't miss a beat running Android and its ecosystem as it stands right now.
There's only one slight hiccup on the hardware front and that's the lack of microSD capability. For some this is no issue at all, while for others it's a deal breaker, but if you think you need a lot of space then the 32GB option would be the way to go.
LG G2 Review: Display
With a full HD resolution of 1080 x 1920 and a pixel density of 424 ppi, the IPS screen on the G2 is a real beauty. It's pin-sharp and pleasingly vibrant, avoiding the oversaturation pitfalls that usually impact Super AMOLED panels. The only downside is that darker areas aren't as convincing, appearing more grey than black.
With a size of 5.2-inches, the screen is something of a monster and that could present issues for those with small digits. Even if you do possess hands a Bigfoot would be proud of, you'll still need to use both to operate the phone with any degree of comfort. LG has kindly included a feature called "One Handed Operation" which allows you to reposition on-screen elements so they're easier to reach, but that doesn't overcome the fact that this is a beast of a handset.
PB: Again I am largely in agreement with our previous assessment of the LG G2's display. Undoubtedly, the display is one of the stars of the show for the LG G2 and really delivers a terrific experience in combination with those lightning fast processor speeds. The display is nothing short of stunning with incredible clarity, colour and brightness. Whites are particularly vivid and text is extremely clear, although overall the screen has a slight blue-grey tint and black depth is not as strong as OLED competetiors.
I personally found the LG G2 quite manageable, but my hands are quite large and certainly smaller phones can prove even easier to use. But as always, the trade off is that you get a fantastic cinematic experience for viewing films and games on that huge panel. If you're obsessive about multimedia this is likely to prove pleasing in spite of the slight unweildiness.
LG G2 Review: Camera
The G2 comes equipped with a 13-megapixel camera and the usual selection of different shooting modes, including auto-shot and HDR. The results are impressive, with the camera able to pick out detail and colour with uncanny accuracy. It also performs well in dimly lit locations. The only complaint is that the auto-focus isn't quite quick enough for my liking.
Video recording comes in at 1080p HD, with 60 frames per second capture. Again, the phone performs very well indeed, perhaps not as well as your dedicated handycam, but good enough to capture those tender family moments when you've nothing but your phone to hand.
LG G2 Review: Gaming
The Snapdragon 800 chipset provides striking gaming performance, handling 3D games with practically no slowdown. Graphics benchmark 3DMark shows just how fearsome this device is, with its Ice Storm and Ice Storm Extreme tests refusing to run on the phone as they are considered too lightweight to tax the hardware. Ice Storm Unlimited – the only benchmark in 3DMark that runs on the G2 – gives a score of 14951, which places it above devices like the Galaxy Note 3 and Galaxy Note 10.1.
Android's compatibility with Bluetooth controllers means you can easily hook up a proper pad and enjoy games like Dead Trigger with physical controls, but for those games that use the touchscreen, LG's device is incredibly well-suited. The large display means games look astonishing and the vast screen real estate prevents your digits from obscuring too much of the action.
LG G2 Review: The Good
The G2's biggest selling point is the power it supplies. The Snapdragon 800 chipset provides more grunt that most laptops, and I can pretty much assure you now that it will handle anything you can throw at it.
The sharp and bright IPS screen is another highlight, offering image quality that is as good - if not better - than any other Android device on the market right now.
Battery life is also amazing for a phone with such a powerful processor. The 3,000mAh power cell has enough stamina to last well over a day even with robust usage. Manage your use effectively, however, and you can make it last much longer.
PB: Pretty much all spot on, the LG G2 hits the holy trinity of processing power, display quality and battery life which makes an excellent smartphone.
The bonus is that the camera is easily as good as, if not slightly better than, the Galaxy Note 3's setup. Which despite not producing the best pictures on the market alongside the likes of the the Lumia 1020, was easily one of my favourite cameras from 2013 simply for its consistently good, easily achievable point-and-shoot results.
LG G2 Review: The Bad
Despite LG's assurances that the unique placement of the G2's physical controls should lead to more comfortable everyday use, I imagine that many users will struggle with them, at least in the beginning.
Although Google has long since removed MicroSD card slots from its Nexus line of devices, Samsung continues to include such expandability in its phones, and by removing the option on the G2, LG has disadvantaged itself slightly.
The final issue is with timing. LG is also making the Nexus 5, and that will surely attract the lion's share of interest when it launches in the next few weeks. The G2 is therefore in danger of getting ignored, as it ships with Android 4.2.2, and not Android 4.4, the latest version of Google's OS, which will make its debut aboard the Nexus 5 (so the story goes) later this month.
LG G2 Review: Conclusion
LG has had to play second fiddle to many other Android hardware makers in recent years, but by working with Google on the popular Nexus 4, the company is clearly on the rise. The G2 is an accomplished and likeable handset that is well specced, provides great battery life and possesses an amazing screen.
It's not totally perfect, however, and the design could be better, then there’s the fact it is running Android 4.2.2, which places it behind the likes of Samsung’s Galaxy Note 3 and the soon to be launched Google Nexus 5.
PB: To be honest if the only criticisms I can level at a phone are "the buttons are in a weird place" and "the UI is a bit garish, but can easily be changed" then I'd consider it a pretty solid win for whatever the phone is in question.
Well done LG.
Review handset kindly provided by Mobile Fun. Click over to the next page for some more up-to-the-minute LG G2 news...
Then There's The Video Review
We liked the LG G2 so much we decided to plonk it down in front of a spotlight and give you a full video introduction to the handset. Marvel at the Know Your Mobile hands take control of the LG G2 as we take you through the different features of the handset including the back power button, volume rockers and a stunning display.
If you enjoy the video be sure to head over to the YouTube link directly so you can like, comment and subscribe.
|Screen Size||1080x1920 pixel IPS LCD, 5.2 inches|
|Camera Resolution||13 megapixel|
|Operating System||Android 4.2.2|
|Processor||Qualcomm Snapdragon 800|
|Connectivity||WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0|
|Built-in Memory||16GB or 32GB|