It's difficult to create a flagship smartphone that will stand out from the crowd. When you walk into a store and see the Samsung Galaxy S4, HTC One, Sony Xperia Z, iPhone 5s, Nokia Lumia 1020, Moto X, and others staring at you, the specs and features are blurring what the Makes purchasing decision harder than ever before.
LG G2 – $ 570 (Unlocked)
- 5.2-inch True HD IPS + LCD display (1920 x 1080) (424 ppi)
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 SoC
- 2.3 GHz quad-core CPU, Adreno 330 GPU, 2 GB RAM
- 32 GB internal storage
- 13 MP camera, BSI sensor, f / 2.X lens with OIS, 1080p 60fps video
- 3,000 mAh, 11.4 Wh battery
- LTE, Wi-Fi a / b / g / n / ac, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC
- Android 4.2.2 "Jelly Bean"
- 143 grams, 9.1 mm thick
What has LG done to make this buying decision easier? You've got almost every feature you can imagine packed into the G2, from a powerful Qualcomm Snadpdragon 800 SoC and 1080p display to an optically stabilized camera and fine-tuned software. LG clearly put it all into this device, and on paper it looks almost like a complete handset package.
Even if the G2 comes with a solid list of specifications, a list doesn't tell how well the features will work together or how smooth the experience will be. Will the LG G2 be the ideal competitor to the feature-rich Galaxy S4? Or did LG spend too much time packing specs and not enough time refining it?
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The LG G2 (AT&T model LG-D800) used in this test was kindly provided by Negri Electronics. No matter where you are in the world (including Australia, USA and abroad), Negri brings you unlocked smartphones and tablets first at very competitive prices.
Let's start with the most interesting aspect of the LG G2 design: the oddly positioned rear buttons. Instead of having the power and volume buttons in the usual position on the edge of the handset, LG has placed them under the camera on the back. The idea is that by removing the buttons from the edge, the display can extend as far as possible to either side of the device and provide minimal bezel.
The small thickness of the front bezel on the left and right of the display is impressive and allows the 5.2-inch display to fit in a case that is practically the same size as 5-inch devices such as the Samsung Galaxy S4. However, if you move the buttons to the back of the device, it will take a few weeks before using the G2 for the first time to adjust to the odd position. Either way, be sure to press the side or top of the device to turn it on and you won't find a button to match.
After adjusting to the unusual positioning, it actually becomes very comfortable to use. LG placed the button in just the right spot on the back so it doesn't require an awkward hand position to access, and I had no problem finding the button without seeing it. For those who find access annoying, LG has provided a software feature that allows you to double-tap the display to turn it on.
The front of the LG G2 looks classy. A single piece of tempered glass protects a dominant display. Next to the loudspeaker grille on the top there is a front-facing camera, a sensor array and the always useful notification light. In combination with a smooth glass panel, the borderless display and the lack of a border around the front panel, the display is an absolute pleasure.
The back of the G2 is made of smooth plastic with diagonal highlights, which is disappointing in two ways: The plastic plate is an important magnet for fingerprints, but it also looks and feels a bit cheap. It doesn't look as cheap as the Galaxy S4's design, but when you have a well-designed front panel it's a bit of a let down if the back hasn't received the same sheen.
The handset lies comfortably in the hand thanks to its curved design. LG wasn't all that keen on breaking records for slenderness with the 9.1mm thick device, but it's unlikely you will feel or care about the size in your hands. By maintaining the size of the device, LG has succeeded in installing an 11.4 Wh battery. In most cases it is preferable to use a large battery instead of a 6mm thin phone.
All connections of the G2 are at the bottom, the micro-USB port in the middle and the 3.5 mm headphone jack on the left. Interestingly, there are also two speaker grilles on this panel, although there is only one speaker behind one. The other is fake and included for design reasons only. The upper edge has a small IR LED to facilitate the TV control function and a microphone.
It's not the prettiest design I've seen for a flagship smartphone, but the LG G2 is ergonomic and functional. The large display fits exactly into the front panel with a minimal bezel. Surprisingly, the rear buttons are easy to use and an interesting change from the standard smartphone layout.
Smartphone display technologies reach new milestones every year. In 2013, 1080p was introduced and the quality of AMOLED and LCD panels improved significantly. The G2 has a 5.2-inch True HD IPS + TFT LCD panel from LG with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 for a pixel density of 424 pixels per inch. It is undoubtedly a quality display.
The 5.2-inch IPS display from LG used on the G2 occupies 74.5 cm², which is approximately 76% of the front of the device. The 0.2-inch enlargement compared to the displays of the Galaxy S4 and Xperia Z is noticeable. Taking up a significant portion of the front of the device creates the illusion that the display is even bigger.
The device has on-screen buttons for the home, menu and back, reducing the effective screen size to 4.9 inches diagonally in most applications. However, when watching videos, the entire 1080p display is provided. Compared to the lower control buttons on the Galaxy S4, the G2 are in a comfortable position at the bottom of the display. Interestingly, you can change the layout of these buttons in Settings, adding a fourth to bring up the notification panel or launch QuickMemo. I was a little disappointed that you couldn't add an app toggle button, but you can still access it by long-pressing the home button.
The True-HD IPS + TFT-LCD panel is bright, lively and color-accurate and lets images burst without falling into the trap of oversaturation. The display has strong, even black values, with the backlight only bleeding slightly on the upper edge. This allows the panel to have great contrast, with untinted whites also being added to the package.
The True-HD IPS + technology offers impressive viewing angles with only minor drops in brightness (and no color changes) when the display is viewed from angles other than normal. This is aided by very few layers between the LCD crystals and the glass, which also makes the display look like it's part of the layer of glass instead of sitting far below it. The screen also has a polarization layer for better visibility in direct sunlight. In general, I was impressed with how the display can be seen outdoors.
The pixel density of the 1080p display is absolutely fantastic, and it helps make the images and text look as good as paper on the screen. At 424 ppi, you cannot determine individual pixels without some kind of magnifying glass. The display offers excellent clarity and no noticeable jagged edges. Since the LCD panel uses a standard RGB subpixel matrix in contrast to a PenTile matrix on AMOLED displays, the G2 panel looks a little sharper than the display of the Galaxy S4, for example.
If I compare the G2's display to other flagship smartphone displays, I'd take it very close to the top. It certainly has better viewing angles than the eIPS LCD (Xperia Z) from Sony, is brighter than the Super AMOLED (Galaxy S4) from Samsung, more vivid than the AMOLED (Lumia 925) from Nokia and larger, but a little less color-accurate than the IPS LCD (iPhone) from Apple 5s). I still rate the Super LCD 3 panel used on HTC devices as the best I've seen, but the LG's True-HD IPS + panel's great strengths make it a very solid component of the LG G2.