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LG G3 hands-on review

LG's flagship Android 4.4 Kitkat smartphone should have rivals worried
Wed May 28 2014, 14:46

LG UNVEILED its flagship LG G3 smartphone at an event in London on Tuesday evening, a handset that aims to challenge the Samsung Galaxy S5 and Sony Xperia Z2.

The LG G3 mocks its competitors' specifications with a huge 2560x1440 Quad HD resolution display and a 13MP camera with laser autofocus, making it the first smartphone with these features. However, LG has never rivaled the big-name smartphone vendors in the market before, so we took a hands-on look at the LG G3 to see if Samsung and Sony should actually be worried about losing customers.

Design
The LG G3 is one of the best looking phones of 2014 so far. The handset is constructed from a lightweight metal-effect material, which means the phone is comfortable to use while feeling like a premium device, much more so than the Galaxy S5. The back of the device is also removable, good news for those who like to be able to switch out their battery.

Despite having a 5.5in screen the LG G3 sits surprisingly well in the hand, likely thanks to the phone's tiny bezel that LG boasts "makes it closer to the size of a 5in phone, than a 5.7in device". That rang true when we tried it out, with the LG G3 measuring 146x75x8.9mm and tipping the scales at 149g.

LG G3 design

This means that the LG G3 is much more comfortable to use than last year's flagship LG G2, and its quirky rear-facing Standby and Volume buttons are much easier to control one-handedly and don't feel quite so awkward.

There is a downside to the LG G3's design, however. Unlike the Galaxy S5 and Xperia Z2, the LG G3 isn't resistant against water, scratches or dust, which means those looking for a tough smartphone might look to its rivals instead.

The LG G3, much like the iPhone 5S, will launch in black, white and gold versions, although the firm also teased upcoming pink and purple models at its launch event in London on Tuesday.

Screen
The screen on the LG G3 is its standout feature. Rather than equipping its latest flagship smartphone with an HD 1080p display like its rivals, LG has gone one step further and configured it with a 5.5in 2560x1440 Quad HD resolution screen.

The LG G3 has a 5.5in Quad HD resolution screen

While this might come across as a gimmick, the screen is the most gorgeous we've seen on a smartphone this year. While it's hard to distinguish a big improvement compared to the HD 1080p screen on the Galaxy S5, for example, everything looked a little bit sharper on the LG G3, and while colours might have not been especially vibrant, it knocks the competiton out of the water in terms of detail thanks to its 538ppi pixel density.

Software and performance
The LG G3, as you'd expect, arrives running Google's Android 4.4.2 Kitkat mobile operating system, skinned with a redesigned version of LG's custom user interface.

LG has clearly been taking tips from iOS 7 and the latest version of Samsung's skin, as the firm has tweaked its user interface with flat icons, mature colours and an overall minimalistic feel. It's a huge improvement on LG's previous skin, although we're not entirely convinced by LG's claims that it's "simple" to use, with the G3 coming loaded full of apps and widgets that we found ourselves lost in during our time with the phone.

LG G3 runs Android 4.4.2 Kitkat

That's not all LG has loaded onto the G3. Security is a huge feature of the smartphone, with the handset boasting Knock Code, allowing the user to unlock the phone by tapping a custom pattern on its screen, even when it is locked, and a built-in Kill Switch. There's also LG's Smart Keyboard onboard, a feature that lets users resize the onscreen keys to fit their hand size, a feature that's often overlooked by rival smartphone makers.

The LG G3 has a quad-core 2.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor. We noticed no signs of lag while using the smartphone, with general performance proving slick and smooth, although we'll be sure to test its performance during our full LG G3 review.

Camera
While the LG G3's 13MP rear-facing camera in itself is nothing special, the handset is the first to have a laser autofocus, which the firm claims means it can focus on images in less than three milliseconds.

LG G3 has a 13MP camera with OIS and laser autofocus

We put this to the test during our brief time with the G3, and it seems that LG's claims are true. The LG G3 put rival smartphones to shame when focusing on objects, and with the handset requiring a simple 'tap' on the screen to take a photo, it proved to be one of the quickest smartphone cameras we have used so far.

Of course, we'll put this camera fully to the test in our full LG G3 review.

First impressions
LG handsets have never been much of a threat to those designed by Apple, Samsung and Sony, but with the LG G3, that could be about to change.

While its specifications, including its Quad HD screen and laser autofocus, might seem a bit gimmicky on paper, we found that these features put the LG G3 ahead of its competition in real-world performance, with the screen and camera both proving among the best we have used.

Check back soon for our full LG G3 review. µ

 

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