New Delhi, August 5 – The smartphone market nowadays resembles that of the PC market in the early 2000s. It is all about offering the best possible hardware, a decent price and, if possible, a unique design.
HTC usually offers great design and Samsung usually has a little bit of everything. Sony also blends good hardware with decent design.
So, where does that leave LG?
LG has grabbed attention of consumers but that has been largely due to the Nexus 5 and Nexus 4, two phones that are marketed by Google. Last year LG came out with the G2, which was perhaps the best Android flagship of its generation.
The G2 had it all. Great hardware, a unique design and even decent pricing, but it was not a runaway hit. Now we have the G3. It is a true blue-blooded successor of the G2. It packs in top-of-the-line hardware. But can it prove to be a winner? We find out.
Look and feel:
The G3 follows the design language LG started with the G2. It has the unique rear-button layout and its bezels are insanely thin. It has a 5.5-inch screen, which is bigger than the screens in the Samsung Galaxy S5, the HTC One (M8) and the Sony Xperia Z2, but the size is manageable. In fact, the G3 is astonishingly compact despite its big screen. In terms of size, it looks almost similar to the HTC One (M8) and the Xperia Z2. Though, the Galaxy S5 does seem a bit smaller compared to the G3.
One reason for the compact size is the thin bezel. But the placement of speaker too helps. Unlike the HTC One that has front-facing speakers, the speaker in the G3 is tucked on the back side and hence does not add much to the size.
Of course, when we say that the G3 is a compact phone, it is all relative. It is compact when compared to the Xperia Z2 but compared to the iPhone 5S it is rather big. It is also quite wide (for a phone).
The back has a subtle curve to it, which makes holding the phone convenient. But due the width of the screen using the device with single hand is possible only for short durations.
The G3 is 8.9mm thick and weighs 146 grams. A lot of people expected the G3 to have a metal body. But LG sticks with plastic for the G3, albeit the one that has been given metallic finish.
The HTC One (M8) and the Xperia Z2 are better looking phones because of their aluminum and glass bodies. However, as far as plastic phones go, the G3 feels solid. It also looks more polished than the Galaxy S5.
The front of the device is dominated by the big screen. Above the screen there is a 2.1-megapixel camera and a few sensors. The power button and volume rocker are placed on the back of the phone.
Above the volume rockers there is the 13-megapixel camera. LG has used a dual-tone flash on the G3, something similar to what is found on the iPhone 5S. The G3 has a removable back cover.
Under the cover there is 3,000mAh battery and slot for a microSD card. The phone requires micro SIM. The G3 comes with LG’s quad-beats earphones, which we found to be very nice.
When the G2 came out, many users found the power and volume button placement awkward. Sadly nothing has changed with the G3. Accessing power and volume buttons still feels awkward you may take a while before you get used to it.
Besides the Oppo Find 7, the G3 is the only phone in India to offer a 2,560×1,440 pixels screen. If you like big numbers, here is one that you will love: the G3 screen has a pixel-per-inch (PPI) density of 538! Numbers aside, the screen is brilliant.
The display on the G3 is adequately bright and offers great viewing angles. It produces natural looking colours and text is visible on it even under direct sunlight.
The large size of the screen makes the G3 perfect for consuming content and gives it a slight edge over the likes of the Galaxy S5, the Xperia Z2 and the HTC One (M8). The device is great for watching movies, browsing the internet and playing games.
We believe that the HTC One (M8) has a slightly better screen. The HTC phone can show deeper blacks and has slightly better viewing angles. But after the HTC One (E8), G3 has the best screen, though some apps don’t scale very well and show glitch on the G3 due to its high resolution screen.
The 13-megapixel camera on the G3 is fantastic. It’s perhaps the best general-purpose smartphone camera after the iPhone 5S. It may not be as consistent and may not have the incredible imaging prowess of the Nokia Lumia 1020, but as far as Android smartphone cameras go, it is close to being the best, if not the best.
It has a three axis optical stabiliser, laser auto focus and has a dual-tone flash. This enables it to take great images in low light. In day light, though, the Galaxy S5 holds a slight edge over the G3 camera.
But in low-light, the S5 is not even close. The G3 provides a no-nonsense camera experience like the iPhone and allows users to click good images without much fuss. The laser-assisted focus locks quickly. But then so do the cameras in the Galaxy S5 and the iPhone 5S, even though they don’t have any “laser” in them.
Compared to its previous phones, LG has simplified the camera software to make it easier for mainstream consumers. This also means that people who know their way around a camera will feel a little disappointed as the G3 does not offer the granular control that phones like the HTC One(M8), the Galaxy S5 or the Xperia Z2 allow.
Pictures in daylight have incredible detail and macro shots offer good shallow ‘bokeh’ effect. In low-light, the camera is slow to lock focus, but when it does, it takes well-lit images.
The G3 has an automatic HDR mode. We would have preferred a separate HDR mode. The problem with the automatic mode is that it slows down the camera shutter speed when we want to take a quick shot and often does not shoot a HDR when we want it to do so.
Like the HTC One (M8), the G3 has a ‘magic focus mode’, which allows the user to change the focus in the photo once it has been clicked. In the case of the G3, the mode is implemented through software. It works well but the hardware-based solution in the HTC One (M8) is slightly better.
The panorama mode on the G3 is easy to use. The flash is fine, better than most phones, but if you can shoot without flash, prefer that. The front camera is decent. Its 2.1-megapixel resolution ensures that there will not be a lot of detail, but it has a wide aperture, offering great low-light shots.
LG has added a gimmicky gesture to take shots from the front facing camera. The gesture is tracked by the front camera, but in our testing it was unreliable. The G3 can shoot great 4k video. Videos that we shot with the device had natural colours and good focus. The audio quality of the videos was good.
The G3 comes with LG’s brand new Optimus UI, which runs on top of Android 4.4.2 KitKat. The new interface uses round icons and square or rectangular widgets. It is colourful and looks better than the UI that LG used on earlier phones. The new UI also uses a lot of animations, which we felt introduced some lag.
There are a number of unique features in the G3. It has a built in step counter and health tracking app. The QSlide apps make a return and then there is a new feature that LG calls Smart Notice.
Smart Notice is a localised version of Google Now. We did not find it to be very helpful as most of the functionality is already offered by Google Now. Like on Samsung’s devices, LG’s hardware allows users to use two apps in a split-screen like environment. This works well on the G3.
We used the internet browser, the messaging app, hangouts, email, gallery, Chrome, YouTube, Google Maps, Gmail and File Manager in dual-window mode. The QuickRemote feature the G3 is incredibly useful.
During our tests, we used it to control TV (a Samsung HDTV), set top box (Tata Sky HD+), iPod dock (the Bowers and Wilkins Zeppelin Air) and even the AC. LG claims the music player on the G3 is capable of playing 24-bit audio and can handle .FLAC files. But initially, in our tests it couldn’t handle FLAC files.
After a factory reset, however, it performed as expected. The QuickMemo+ app on the G3 allows users to jot down notes, doodle and scribble around with their fingers. It is similar to the S-Note app found on Samsung’s devices.
Another unique feature of the G3 is the knock unlocking feature. You can double tap on the screen to wake up the phone or install a knock code, a pattern of taps on the screen. This works well.
The new keyboard on the G3 is fantastic. Users can adjust the size of the keyboard using a slider in the settings menu. The auto correct functionality in this keyboard works very well. SWYPE too is included so if you like to type by drawing a pattern on the keyboard, you can use it on the G3.
Overall, we found the interface on the G3 to be a pleasant one. It is heavy on animations, which makes the phone lag a bit. But it looks beautiful and has some early elements of Material Design that Google is bringing in Android L.
On paper, the G3 is unmatched in terms of hardware. Only the Oppo Find 7 and the Xperia Z2 come close. the G3 is powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 quad-core processor clocked at 2.5GHz. The 16GB version has 2GB RAM and the 32GB version comes with 3GB RAM. We tested the 32GB version.
Unfortunately, despite the stellar hardware in the phone noticed some while swiping around and navigating the UI. The lag seemed related to user interface because in terms of pure performance, G3 seemed all fine.
Apps opened quickly, we could use the dual-windows mode without any trouble and even with 25 apps open multitasking G3 handled multitasking with ease. The Adreno 330 GPU is pushed to the limit with the Quad-HD screen, but there is also display RAM at play which ensures a 60Hz refresh rate is maintained.
Other than driving the insanely pixel dense display, the Adreno 330 GPU performs admirably while gaming. We played games like Dead Trigger 2 and ShadowGun on the G3 and we didn’t notice any dropped frames or lag.
The speaker on the G3 is loud and clear. Though, if you place the phone on a table or bed, it sounds muffled because of its rear placement. The G3 has a 1-watt amplifier, which helps when you are playing music on the phone.
Battery Life and network performance:
Battery life on the G3 is very impressive. The 3,000mAh battery lasts throughout the day, giving out 15-16 hours of usage. When we tested the G3, our daily usage comprised of two email accounts, social networks, lots of photography, around 2 hours of calls, music streaming and lots of web browsing.
The G3 easily tackled this and we were rarely looking for a wall charger. The G3 supports Qi-wireless charging, which is always handy, though we did not test this feature. The network performance of the G3 is also very good.
Using a Vodafone SIM in New Delhi, we never faced a dropped call on the phone. It almost always maintained good signal. Call quality was decent, though some time people on the other end complained that they were unable to hear us.The G3 also supports LTE in India.
The G3 is a fantastic Android smartphone. It is a jack of all trades. It has a great camera, a great screen, powerful specs and impressive battery life. It even looks nice and offers an attractive take on Android. But it is very expensive at Rs.47,990 for the 16GB version and Rs.50,990 for the 32GB version.
At the same time, in actual use we did not find it significantly superior to its rivals like the HTC One (M8) and the Xperia Z2, which are now slightly old and cost less than the G3. Then, there is the challenge posed by the Xiaomi Mi 3. The Chinese phone offers marginally inferior specs for a measly Rs.13,999.
The G3 is obviously the best phone LG has created to date. It competes very well with the HTC One (M8), the Xperia Z2 and the Galaxy S5 and is definitely one of the best Android smartphones in the world.
It is a safe buy if you want to spend more than Rs.45,000 on your next smartphone. It is just that with this high price, the G3 is not a value for money proposition in any sense.
Look and Feel – 8/10
Display – 8/10
Camera – 9/10
Software – 8/10
Hardware – 8/10
Battery life – 9/10
Call Quality – 8/10
Value – 6/10