|Style & Handling|
|Stunning screen||QHD resolution is a gimmick|
|Great camera||Plastic build|
|Powerful||Battery worse than rivals|
The LG G3 is an undeniably great phone which achieves almost everything you’d hope and expect a flagship would, but its standout feature makes little impact.
The LG G3 was one of the most highly anticipated phones of the year, both because the LG G2 was so good and because the rumours swirling around it pointed to a game changing handset.
Many of those rumours turned out to be true, including the surprising inclusion of a QHD 1440 x 2560 display, but has the LG G3 really changed the game or is it all just smoke and mirrors?
While the LG G2 was fairly plain and arguably even ugly, the LG G3 takes some substantial steps forward. It’s still plastic but this time the plastic is disguised to look like metal and it does a fairly good job of it.
It also still has buttons on the back, but while they jutted out and looked unsightly on the LG G3 they’re now almost flush with the back and look a lot more stylish. Things look good on the front too thanks to small bezels and a large screen.
At 146.3 x 74.6 x 8.9mm and 149g the LG G3 is on the large and heavy side, but no more so than you’d expect of a 5.5 inch phone and while we long for some more premium materials it still looks good and feels well-built.
On paper the LG G3’s screen is the star of the show and while it’s definitely great it’s also a bit of a disappointment. The 5.5 inch 1440 x 2560 True HD IPS+ LCD display is not only big but incredibly high resolution, far more so than the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S5 or HTC One M8. In fact despite the larger screen size it still has a pixel density of 534 pixels per inch.
That’s very impressive on paper, but the problem is that it’s just not noticeable in use. Show an incredibly detailed image on this screen side by side with a 1080p one and if you really squint you might notice ever so slightly more detail on the LG G3, but short of that it’s just not a difference that the human eye can perceive, so in day to day use you’re not going to benefit from those extra pixels. Quite the opposite in fact as it’s inevitably going to be a bigger drain on the battery than a 1080p screen.
Let’s not be too negative though. While the super high resolution is little more than a marketing gimmick this is still a stunning screen. The 5.5 inch size could risk making it too large for many people, but by shrinking down the bezels LG has managed to fit it into a handset that’s only slightly bigger than the LG G2, so it’s still pocket sized and just about useable with one hand.
It’s also a very high quality screen. It’s rich, vivid and presents natural colours and of course it’s also incredibly sharp. It could hardly fail to be with so many pixels. While it’s great though, it’s not really any better than the screen on the Galaxy S5, which is lower resolution, but not so you’d notice and it’s just as high quality in other ways.
The LG G3’s performance was always going to be great. This is a flagship after all. Curiously though LG has made two version of the phone. Both have 2.5GHz quad-core Snapdragon 801 processors, but one has 3GB of RAM while the other only has 2GB. It’s the 2GB version which hits the market first and that one which we’re reviewing.
It’s certainly very powerful, but sometimes doesn’t seem quite up to the standards of its rivals. There’s occasional stuttering when navigating home screens for example and while it’s not a big deal we’d expect performance to be faultless in a flagship. This is perhaps a side effect of having such a high resolution screen, in which case it’s yet more evidence that 1080p would have been a better choice.
For the most part though the LG G3 still feels fast and powerful and it’s just as impressive for web browsing, streaming and downloading, thanks to the inclusion of 4G.
The camera is another big feature of the LG G3. It has a 13 megapixel sensor, which is the same as the LG G2, but it improves things by adding a laser autofocus, which allows it to focus on things faster than any other smartphone camera.
It also has optical image stabilisation to reduce the effects of camera shake and improve low light performance, and a dual-LED flash which more naturally recreates colours when the flash is used. So it’s feature packed, but that wouldn’t mean much if the pictures it takes weren’t up to scratch. Thankfully they are. The LG G3 is capable of snapping high quality, detailed photos that are easily up to the standards of other flagship phones.
The G3 can also shoot 2160p or 1080p video at 30fps and it has a 2.1 megapixel front facing camera.
LG has overhauled its interface for the G3 and the company has done a good job of it. This was an area that was really in need of work as the LG G2’s interface was confusing and messy, but this time around we get a clean, minimalist design with flat icons. It looks stylish and it’s far more intuitive to navigate.
LG has also baked in some context-sensitive alerts and information, which aims to tell you what you need to know when you need to know it. That can take several forms, but for example if you’re at a station it might automatically tell you the train times, so you don’t have to look them up. Sometimes it’s more useful than others but it seems to do a reasonably good job of predicting what information will be of use to you.
Underneath LG’s interface the G3 runs Android 4.4.2 KitKat, so it’s fully up to date.
The LG G3’s 3000 mAh battery imbues it with good but not amazing battery life. LG hasn’t published any stats on the battery life of the handset but in practice it fares pretty well, easily lasting more than a day with moderate mixed use. We’d wager most people will be able to get around a day and a half of battery out of it while light users might be able to stretch to two days.
On the other hand if you use it intensively for watching videos and web browsing it won’t even last you a full day and doesn’t seem quite as good overall as the HTC One M8, Samsung Galaxy S5 or indeed the LG G2. We have a suspicion that the QHD screen has something to do with that, but can’t say for sure.
For memory there’s a 16GB version with 2GB of RAM and a 32GB version with 3GB of RAM and both come with microSD card slots which support cards of up to 128GB. The LG G3 isn’t short of connectivity options. It supports 3G, 4G LTE, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, infrared and NFC, just as you’d expect a flagship to.
The LG G3 is undoubtedly a fantastic phone, with one of the highest resolution screens on the market, a top flight camera, lots of power and a good interface. But while the design has been improved it still can’t match the iPhone 5S or HTC One M8. Its battery life could be better too and all those extra pixels in the screen don’t add up to much.
If you loved the LG G2 then you’ll love the LG G3 even more, but it’s not the definitive flagship of 2014.
LG G3 Specification
Dimensions : 146.3 x 74.6 x 8.9mm
Screen size: 5.5 inch QHD
Screen Resolution: 2560*1440 pixels
Pixels Per Inch (PPI) : 534ppi
Processor: Quad-core 2.5GHz processor
RAM: 2GB or 3GB
Battery capacity : 3000mAH
Onboard Memory: 16 or 32GB
Camera : 13 megapixel camera (2.1 mega-pixel front facing
Operating system: Android KitKat (4.4.2)
Ultrafast / 3G / 4G LTE : Yes/Yes/Yes
Bluetooth / NFC : Yes/Yes
Colours : Gold, Black and White
Launch Date: July 1st
Price : TBC