If you think of high-end Android phones, then you’ll probably think of the Samsung Galaxy S5 or the HTC One M8. Both devices were accompanied by huge buzz and marketing campaigns, so you can be forgiven for thinking they’re the best of the best. But there’s another challenger for the Android crown out there. LG have been making Android devices for a number of years now – both LG branded and also Nexus handsets for Google – and with the G3, seem to be finally stepping into the big time with a BIG phone.
The Handset – 8/10
The first thing you’ll notice about the handset is the sheer size. The phone is very definitely a “phablet” – sporting a 5.5” screen (the same as the rumoured iPhone 6’s larger iteration). It certainly feels like a solid piece of kit: not too heavy (it weighs in at 149g), but not flimsy either.
The back has the appearance of brushed metal, but is actually plastic, which I guess makes it feel a little cheaper than metal alternatives, but you won’t be thinking of this when you actually use the phone.
What’s perhaps a little unusual is that unlike most phones, the power button, as well as the volume up/down buttons are not on the sides of the device, but in the middle on the back, underneath the camera. This is a clever idea as it means the power button is always within reach – something to consider when you have such a large phone.
Unfortunately though it the execution isn’t perfect: the buttons aren’t really distinct enough so you can end up prodding the volume buttons and wondering why the screen isn’t coming on.
Spec-wise, the phone is one of the most powerful Android handsets available today. Its powered by a Quadcore Snapdragon 801 processor clocked at 2.5ghz, with an additional Adreno 330 graphics processor. In a nutshell, this means that it is fast.
The Experience – 9/10
So what’s it like using the phone? As you might expect from the fast innards, it is a thoroughly pleasant experience. The interface is fast and responsive, loading apps quickly with very little lag. It does suffer from the problem all Android devices have of not being quite as polished as Apple’s offering, but that’s the price you pay for a more customisable handset.
Mercifully, LG haven’t changed the experience from stock Android too much – certainly less than Samsung have, so that could be a major plus point. There’s only a couple of points that can come in for criticism.
First off, the LG keyboard that comes with the device is terrible. The buttons are too small, the extra punctuation is hidden behind button presses and the predictive text is terrible. Within five minutes you’ll be heading off to the app store to download SwiftKey, which does the job much better.
There’s also the issue of unlocking. LG want to make a big deal about tapping to unlock – but it seems that this makes the screen a little too eager to power up. If you knock the phone in your pocket, you might end up freezing yourself out of the phone, or depending on your settings unlocking the phone and pocket dialling. Again – this is easily solved by fiddling with the lock settings, so isn’t too much to worry about.
Broadly though – it is a very nice phone to use. The big screen makes everything from reading to playing games a pleasurable experience – and the fast processor means that nothing lags. A very nice device indeed.
The Screen – 9/10
The 5.5” screen is great. It’s True HD-IPS – and an LCD touchscreen capable of displaying 16M colours. It runs at 1440 x 2560 pixels (which is bigger than 1080p HD) – this means there’s a pixel density ~534 ppi, making it super detailed.
It’s very nice to look at!
The Camera – 8/10
Like most modern cameras, the G3 has two cameras on board. On the rear there’s a 13MP – capable of shooting stills at 4160 x 3120 pixels. Images appear sharp, and colour comes across well. Ultimately though, it is still a phone camera so if you’re used to DSLR photography you won’t be impressed here. But for a phone camera, it is pretty decent – check out the clarity in these shots below:
In terms of video, it can shoot not only 1080p at 30fps but 2160p too… its just a shame there isn’t many devices that will display video in such quality yet!
On the front there’s a paltry 2.1MP – so this probably isn’t the phone for taking high quality selfies. That said – it can apparently shoot video at 1080p in 30fps on the front camera… just please promise you won’t film in portrait mode.
The Battery – 9/10
Now this was a pleasant surprise. For a modern device – especially one with such a large screen – the battery life was excellent. The phone can easily last a day with moderate use. If you’ve had your current phone a few years you’ve probably noticed your battery getting crappier and crappier – the G3, by contrast, will be a breath of fresh air.
Crucially too the battery is removable, meaning that it is entirely possible to carry around a spare. Brilliant.
The Final score – 43/50
So is the phone worth it? If you’re looking for a high-powered Android device then the answer is an emphatic “Yes” – it is easily one of the best Android handsets on the market. When compared to other Android devices it is certainly a cut above the rest, and easily on a par with other flagship handsets.
Compared to the iPhone, it is perhaps a matter of preference. Historically, I’ve always preferred Apple’s look and feel so though the G3 makes switching to Android a sorely tempting proposition, I’m still not certain I could make the switch full time. That said, the LG G3 is available on O2 Refresh right now, which makes it an incredibly attractive alternative to waiting for the iPhone 6.
- Big, bright screen
- Lightning fast
- Not too much bloated rubbish on top of the normal Android interface
- The positioning of the power button takes some getting used to
- Plastic casing doesn’t feel as nice as metal
By James O'Malley | July 30th, 2014