Credits to Starhub for loaning me the G3 to review.
Unboxing the LG G3
The G3 being reviewed is in Metallic Black. Even so, it comes in a shimmering gold box. It comes with a quick start guide, earpiece, charger rated at 1.8A and USB cable.
The G3 is the latest flagship from LG and on paper, the specifications make it look like a beast of a phone! The G3 is powered by a Snapdragon 801 SOC with a quad-core CPU clocked at 2.5 GHz, similar to flagships from other major manufacturers like the HTC M8 and Samsung Galaxy S5.
There are several hardware distinctions that make the G3 stand out from the rest of its competitors, and these features will be highlighted below. As seen in its predecessor, the G, its volume and power buttons are located at the back of the phone. Initially, this button placement took some getting used to as the buttons are located relatively near the camera lens and was mistakenly pressed and make the lens full of fingerprints. However, after sometime, this became less of an issue.
The thin bezels gives the G3 an impressive screen-to-body ratio of 76.4%. This means that a large 5.5 inch screen can be fitted onto a smaller, more manageable body as compared to phablets which typically possess screens of this size. The panel itself is also an impressive feat of engineering, boasting a display resolution of 2560x1440 and giving the G3 a pixel density of 538 ppi. Throughout the years, smartphones displays have been constantly improving, from VGA to FHD, and this year, displays with Quad HD resolutions are just beginning to appear on the market. The jump from FHD to Quad HD, as delightful as it sounds on paper, does not appear significantly better in real life usage. Yes, images do appear slightly crisper but it is not that apparent on first glance. In addition, it is unsure what impact doubling the number of pixels as compared to FHD has on the battery life of the phone. There are also not much content and applications available on the market which is able to fully utilize the display potential of the phone. Nevertheless, it is great to see that LG is pushing the boundaries of technology and leading other phone manufacturers to follow suit.
Comparing between the HTC One M8 and the LG G3, the former seems to have a cooler screen while the latter seems to sport a warmer toned screen. With both the displays set to maximum brightness and power saving mode disabled, the G3’s screen appears to be slightly dimmer. Having said that, the screen elements are still very visible under strong sunlight.
Another interesting piece of hardware would be the camera. The G3 has incorporated a 13 Megapixel camera with OIS+ (Optical Image Stabilizer Plus). As the icing on the cake, it also contains an innovative Laser Auto Focus which allegedly allows the camera to focus in a fraction of the time as compared to conventional flagship cameras. The OIS+ technology is supposed to reduce the blur which is caused by taking photos with shaky hands and to some extent, this technology works. A photo was taken holding both phones at the same time and a timer was set and the pictures taken by the M8 and G3 were compared. Surprisingly, for still photos, the M8 which did not contain OIS technology had less blurring as compared to the G3. However when videos were taken, the G3 won hands down as the OIS proved to be more useful here.
On the back of the phone, positioned at the bottom left is a 1W speaker with boost AMP. The sound output is fairly loud for a phone. When compared to the M8, it sounded as loud but less full, with the trebles and bases being less audible.
The first impression of the phone was that it was encased in a beautiful brushed aluminum body. Upon closer inspection, it was found that it was actually made of plastic. A very well-made high quality polycarbonate which does not flex when pressure is applied. It also does not have the disadvantage of heftiness and softness that metal phones typically possess. While other phones have been branded as cheap looking due to its plastic casing, the G3 definitely feels nothing like those phones. The look of the brushed metal, together with a coated finish makes the back of the G3 highly impervious to fingerprints yet effortlessly stylish at the same time. Even the volume buttons have a textured surface and the power button has a circular brushed metal look which is reflected in the front bottom bezel of the phone.
While other phones require a separate wireless charging kit and back casing, the G3 has wireless charging capability built in! All that is required is the purchase of the charging dock and the phone is ready to be charged wirelessly. The wireless charging, together with NFC, is embedded in the back casing, which can be easily removed to replace the 3000 mAh battery. The micro-sim and memory card slots are also easily accessible without the need for pins and this could prove to be very useful for people who want to swap cards on the fly.
The phone gets its juice from a 3000 mAh battery which is larger than most of the common flagships to date expect the Sony Z2. However, whether this translates to an equally impressive battery life could prove to be another issue when other factors such as kernel optimization and the pixel dense screen are brought into the picture.
A movie which was around 1h38mins was played on both phones. At the end the M8 had 68% battery left while the G3 had 66% left. The airplane mode on both phones were turned on, the brightness and speaker volume were set to maximum.
On the top left hand corner on the front of the phone is the LED notification. The default software only allows for 3 colors but with 3rd party applications such as light flow which can be found in the play store, a multitude of colors can be concocted.
The G3 runs on the Android 4.4.2 operating system and is skinned by a beautiful yet minimalistic user interface with flat graphics and most of the default apps have a flat, muted look to them.
Smart Notice is also included as part of the core experience of the phone. Unlike other smartphones which takes on a passive stance on interacting with the user, LG’s Smart Notice software utilizes a more active approach. For example, when there is a missed call, it will ask and remind the user to return the call instead of just displaying a notification about a missed call. It can also recommend maintenance operations such as deleting old downloaded files which the user no longer requires. All these are presented to the user in a natural manner of language, which allows it to be more relatable.
Another one of LG’s innovation on the software side is the smart keyboard. The keyboard’s height can be adjusted to the user’s preference and the keys can also be customized to those that are frequently used. The keyboard also analyses the user’s typing behavior and can suggest the words the user intends to type next. While the adjustable height and ability to learn from the typing patterns of the user are indeed convenient tricks, it is not unlike what we have seen from 3rd party keyboard software developers such as Swiftkey. For new users who have just entered the Android ecosystem, this could prove to be a superb keyboard but for season android users, most will probably just install and revert back to the keyboard which they are more accustomed to.
The Knock On feature which debuted on the G2 has also be reincarnated on the G3 as the Knock Code. With this software, the display can be conveniently turned on and unlocked by tapping a user determined pattern on the screen surface. This method provides a fun yet secure method of ensuring that the contents of the phone remain secure, yet easily accessible when required. While other smartphone manufacturers have some variation of this tap-to-unlock feature, LG’s implementation is the gold standard when it comes to functionality and simplicity.
Many of the preinstalled applictions follow a consistent minimalistic design language. The elements of the screen are displayed in a plain white background with only a dash of color at the top. If a more quirky user interface is desired, there are also a number of community made themes that can be downloaded from the LG Smartworld Software. There are also tiny bits of interesting customizations that are embedded in the settings menu such as screen swiping and lockscreen animations. While these are not crucial in the overall experience but they certainly do help to differentiate the product in a competitive market.
Since Google has recommended soft navigation keys instead of physical hard buttons, phone manufacturers have mostly converted to using on screen keys which comprises of a standard three button layout with little room for variations. The G3 gives the user some leeway by allowing up to two additional shortcuts to be placed at the bottom, as well as tweaking the color and transparency of the onscreen keys.
From the G2 to the G3, LG has once again outdone itself with breakthrough technologies such as laser autofocus and a Quad HD display. At the same time, it specification sheet boasts of impressive figures that matches or blows away its competition.
While some android fanatics swear by stock android for its performance and simplicity, little can argue that the G3’s user interface is pretty as well as functional. To top it all off, it is also more customizable that other of its flagship counterparts.
Although the G3 has an impressive screen to body ratio, make no mistake, it is not a small phone. Some might find it too wide or too tall to handle with one hand. While there are software implementations such as KnockCode and the ability to change the keyboard height to alleviate some of the issues which may be faced by those with smaller paws, it still could prove to be slightly unwieldy.
The speakers which are marketed to be rated at 1W, do indeed sound loud. But like most smartphones, they suffer from some sort of distortion when the speakers are tested to its limits. The extreme highs and lows of the G3 while audible, pack little punch. However, these are to be expected of smartphones and perhaps HTC’s Boomsound might have brought more competition to other phone manufacturers.
A video comparing the sound quality of both phones can be found here.
The camera’s OIS is slightly unsatisfactory. While it greatly improved the quality of the videos taken, it seemed to have little to no effect on the still shots taken. Perhaps a future software update could solve this particular issue. The first photo is from M8 while the second is from the G3.
If you are looking for a powerhouse phone with all the bells and whistles, look no further. The G3 has all the specifications that you could want and is packed in a pretty metallic looking body.
The LG G3 will be available in StarHub shop from 28 June
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