LG G3 Review: LG’s best Android phone to date

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I received my review unit of the Korean LG G3 about 2 weeks ago and spent quite some time with it using it as my daily driver.

Following a pretty good success of the LG G2, LG wanted to make sure to keep the momentum going with the G3, and then added more. I believe that they’re one of the few Android OEMs that actually listens to what us, Android enthusiasts, are asking for. Did they deliver? Is the LG G3 the best Android phone yet?

Display

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LG somehow found a way to fit a 5.5-inch IPS display into a 5-inch body, thanks to the near bezel-less design. The resolution is set at 2560 x 1440 with a ridiculous pixel density of 534 ppi. It is higher than the 432 ppi found in the Galaxy S5 or the 441 ppi density in the HTC One M8.

You’d have to actually hold the phone to appreciate how crisp and gorgeous the display is. However, when put next to the HTC One M8 or the GS5, I wasn’t really able to tell the difference. One of my biggest pet peeves is having a hard time reading my phone while I am outdoors. It was a no issue with the LG G3. Its display adapts quickly and adjusts the brightness to make it easy to stare at.

Sadly, one of the drawbacks of having a 1440p screen is battery drain and unavailability of apps that support it. The brightness can be set to automatic just like any other phone but will not go over 90% when the phone gets hot. I only got this message a couple of times while using the phone in a hot day..

Hardware & Specs

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  • Operating System: Android 4.4.2 KitKat
  • Processor: 2.5GHz Qualcomm® Snapdragon 801 quad-core
  • Memory: 2GB or 3GB RAM
  • Display: 5.5 inches with 2560×1440; 538ppi
  • Camera: 13 megapixel with OIS plus, laser autofocus; front facing 2.1MP
  • Internal Storage: 16GB / 32 GB
  • Expandable Storage: microSD up to 128GB
  • Connectivity: HSPA/4G LTE, Wifi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, A-GPS, GLONASS, Bluetooth 4.0 LE + APT-x, NFC, USB 2.0
  • Dimensions: 146.3 x 74.6 x 8.9mm
  • Weight: 149 grams
  • Battery: 3,000mAh removable

There is no hiding that LG did not skimp when it comes to including the best specs possible within the LG G3. Design wise, when you hold the phone, you will appreciate the “metallic polish” applied on the plastic back cover. LG says that it reduces fingerprint smudges and offers a better grip.

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The LG G3 measures 8.9mm thin (2.7mm thinnest point), pretty much the same as the LG G2. Starting from the top, you will find a noise-canceling mic and IR Blaster. There are no buttons on the sides of the phones because LG kept the volume/power button combo on the back the phone, right under the camera. On the bottom, there is the 3.5mm audio jack, mic and micro-USB port. In the back, the 13MP camera is nicely situated in the middle along with the flash and infrared laser focus.

Software

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During the LG G3 announcement, LG kept mentioning “Simple is the New Smart.” They toned down their UI, just like HTC did with M8.

Excluding a few gimmicky features, you will definitely enjoy the Android experience offered by the LG G3. The Korean model that I spent some time with was packed with a slew of carrier apps (easy to delete). I suspect the US variants will get the same treatment.

Atop of Android 4.4, LG’s “Enhanced UX” brings features like Smart Notice which is LG’s attempt at Google Now. It basically analyzes your location, time and habits and gives you “valuable” tips and reminders. It isn’t that bad but IT IS NOT GOOGLE NOW.

One of the new additions is “Smart Knock.” Along with knocking on the screen to wake the LG G3, you can now add a code to unlock it. LG says that there are 86,000 possible knock codes. The code is basically in the form of tap sequence/pattern that only you will know and remember.

Fans of flat UIs will definitely like what the G3 has to offer. The icons got toned down from the LG G2 and it does make the interface look clean and easy to interact with. I think it looks pretty close to stock Android and I hope that other OEMs (yes Samsung, you!) would embrace the choice of trimming down their UI to improve user experience.

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The new “Smart Keyboard is a welcomed improvement over last year’s keyboard. You can adjust the height of it to your liking. However, I don’t think many of you will pass the half line just because it is a pain to type. If you’re a fan of swype, the LG G3 has it. They call it “Path Input”. Auto-correction and word-prediction are also present.

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Do you like to track your steps and calories? LG Health will give you that but only to an extent. It isn’t as accurate as a Fitbit in calculating steps. LG Health uses GPS to record your routes and workouts. Unlike Samsung’s S Health, you will not be able to manually enter your food information to count your calories or even the type of workout (except for the already included one). So yeah, LG Health needs a lot of improvements.

Performance

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Over the 2 weeks that I had the LG G3, I’d say the performance was top notch, free of lag and very smooth. The phone has the same Snapdragon 801 chipset as the Galaxy S5 and HTC One M8. It outperforms the S5 and is slightly better than the M8. Flicking through menus and apps is a breeze (I am not exaggerating). If you’re a gamer, you will not be disappointed.

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Fans of benchmarks, I ran a few for you. Keep in mind that the phone tested is a Korean model. We may get different results with the US variants. Data speeds were good also and were all over the place. The LG G3 kept switching between 3G and LTE on AT&T. I believe that it has a lot to do with its bands which are not fully compatible with Ma Bell’s network.

Battery Life

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The LG G3 comes with a 3,000 mAh battery, just like the G2. And as I pointed it above, the 1440p display definitely nicks the battery life but not that much. Add to that the 801 Snapdragon processor, apps and the 3GB of RAM, you’d think that the phone dies quickly. To my surprise, I was able to get about 13-16 hours per day (moderate to heavy use). On the bright side, the battery is removable. So you can always get a spare to carry around for long trips.

Camera

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As you already know, there is a 13-megapixel rear camera with OIS (Optical Image Stabilization). It comes with the Laser Auto Focus which “measures the difference between the camera and the subject.” So it takes less time to focus and therefore takes pictures very quickly.

When you open the camera app, you’ll notice that it is pretty basic or should I say “simplified.” It only offers four modes which are Auto, Magic Focus, Panorama and Dual camera. There is no manual mode.

In the front, the 2-megapixel camera has been optimized for selfies. There is a light/flash that turns on to help you take a selfie if you’re in a low light scene. Also available is a gesture to activate a selfie timer. You have to raise an open hand and then make a fist. A 3-second timer will turn on. If you’re a fan of beauty filters, there is one as well.

Final Thoughts

The Good

  • The display is really crisp and nice, performed great in direct sunlight.
  • Battery life was really nice. It will get you through a whole day of use
  • I liked the how simplified the UI. LG has done a great job getting rid of unnecessary bloat.
  • The camera with the Laser focus is one of the best I have seen
  • Performance is top notch. No lags, very smooth
  • Build quality is good and the phone is easy to hold
  • Love that you can customize the home buttons

The Bad

  • LG forces you to dim down the display’s contrast in some situations
  • No wireless charging out of the box
  • Cannot tell the difference between 1080p and 1440p displays

Conclusion

Overall, I am very pleased with the LG G3. It is powerful, quick and almost the perfect Android phone. Whether you’re a power user or a first time Android user, you will not be disappointed with it. I highly recommend it!

  • Jack Maldonado
    Nice review. I was thinking about a S5 but not sure anymore