LG G3 Review: The Perfect Smartphone
I’ve had the LG G3 for a month now and I want to point this out because most reviews – including many of the ones I write – are penned after significantly less time using a handset. I’ve waited this long, because I wanted to live with the G3 to decide if its many features live up to the hype.
Since the G3 was first announced, I’ve been through a couple of different emotions over the styling. First of all, when I initially saw photos of it, I thought it looked great. At the launch event, when I got to use it for the first time, I was less sold. Early rumours had suggested that it would be a metal device, but in fact it’s plastic. It felt, to me, a bit less well-built than the iPhone and HTC One M8. Having actually used it for the past month, I have to say I really like the build quality.
For me, plastic is something of an advantage, because it’s a bit lighter. That doesn’t matter for the iPhone because it’s a smaller phone, but when you’re looking at devices like the HTC One, it’s big enough for that extra weight to make a difference. The G3 is larger than the One, and still lighter, so the body makes sense. Also, metal is a very expensive material to build phones from and doesn’t make sense for a lot of manufacturers.
One of the things that caused a ripple of excitement when the phone was announced were the Quick Circle cases. These are covers that protect the back of the phone with a hard cover, and the front with a softer material that has a circle cut into it. This allows the phone to display a clock and basic notifications. These cases are a nifty idea, like HTC’s rather nice Dot View cover, but the LG version is a little more basic and while it does keep the phone protected, I haven’t totally fallen in love with them.
LG also does other cases, there’s a harder shell that replaces the back cover too and aims to protect the phone from drops and scrapes. Because the phone supports QI wireless charging, you need to make sure that the case supports that if you’re planning to use it. I have the wireless charger, and it’s really nifty and ideal for desk use when you want to keep your phone topped up during the work day.
The biggest fuss, of course, was made about the LG’s screen. It won me over based purely on spec, because it’s an LCD – which I prefer to OLED – and it has an impressive resolution of 1440×2560. In practice the screen really is amazing. There’s a clarity to it that really startling, and it goes well beyond the spec alone. It does make using the phone a really great experience, and it also makes it hard to go back to phones with lower resolutions. I’ve found browsing the web to especially benefit from the high resolution, and the phone is powerful enough to make scaling content slick and responsive too.
Battery life is good, but having the wireless charger means you can keep the phone charged all the time
Battery life is another issue, and something I’ve battled with over the time I’ve had this phone. To be totally fair to LG, I think it has done a good job. The battery has to run a powerful processor, large screen with massive resolution and that’s very challenging. With my heavy use, I can’t usually get a full day on a single charge. LG also sent me the wireless charger too, and this makes a lot of sense for modern smartphones. Simply put it on your desk, and stand the phone at it while you work. That way, it’s charged when you need it.
Going out and about can be a problem of course, but even with heavy use I didn’t have massive problems, the phone would be in need of charging early evening, but it would still get me through the day. I got into the habit of carrying an external battery a while ago too, so if it does need a top-up, I can provide one while I’m out.
Some features that I really like about the G3 aren’t really that glamourous. But the included keyboard is excellent. I love the prediction, I find it amongst the most accurate I’ve used on a phone. Some tweaking of the settings will let you turn one the “path input” which is the Swype-style draw through letters option. You can also tweak the strength of the auto-correct too, which will be useful if you find it too aggressive. There are also options to update typing corrections from an online database. I’ve certainly felt no need to follow my own advice and replace LG’s keyboard with a third-party one.
I’m also a massive fan of LG Health. It’s much simpler than other phones options, but it happily tracks how far you walk each day and does so without any extra hardware. This is then presented in a graphically attractive way, and allows you to monitor how far you’ve walked on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. You can add in other activity too, but I like the simplicity of it.
LG Health is a nice little app, and simple to use
I like the idea of the split screen feature too. Press and hold the back button, and you can have selected apps running together on one screen. Say, a browser, and messaging. I haven’t really found myself using it, but for chatting with friends while looking up directions online, it’s a nice idea.
The camera is also top-notch. A lot of fuss was made about the laser autofocus. I’ve found that to be as much of a mixed bag as with any phone’s autofocus, but I think it’s an improvement over other handsets. Samsung’s cameras are pretty quick too though, so there’s not as much in this as you might think. I really like the photos and video the G3 produces though, it’s deeply impressive with images that have loads of colour and detail.
The camera is impressive, although the laser autofocus isn’t as amazing as one might hope
LG has made one slight error in the way it is selling the G3. There are basically two versions of the phone, which on the surface appear to be the usual storage options. You pick either 16 or 32GB, but there is a slightly more important difference, that of RAM. In the 16GB model you get 2GB of RAM, and in the 32GB there is 3GB. This is frustrating, as the microSD slot makes opting for the 32GB version less relevant, but the extra 1GB of RAM will make a huge performance difference. It’s an odd decision, and I don’t like it at all.
I’ve also noticed that the G3 is very sensitive to headphone connection glitches. If you’ve used Android, you’ll know this happens on some phones where moving the cable on the headphone can cause the phone to pause your music. This is annoying, and I’ve yet to find a solution to it. Also, I can’t make the G3 work with a line-out cable in my car, which is the first time I’ve found that problem.
The high-resolution screen is really impressive
In my opinion, the G3 is the best Android phone in the world right now. It rivals Apple'sAAPL +0.19% iPhone for the best overall phone too, and the decision of which to get between Apple’s flagship and the G3 will likely come down to which company you’d rather spend money with, or which operating system you’re most comfortable with.
The LG G3 isn’t perfect, but it’s the closest to it I’ve seen to it in a smartphone. I predict that Samsung’s Galaxy Note 4 will give a run for its money in a few months time, but for me, the G3 is a better phone than anything currently on the market. Of course, it was introduced after everything else, so Apple’s iPhone 6 and Samsung’s upcoming handsets will surely snap at its heels, but for now, it’s king of the hill.
If you have any questions about the G3, or my review, please add a comment below and I’ll do my very best to answer.
^ The review nails it really. Though i would call it the perfect phablet instead. Straight up beats out the competition for the same price. Awesome really. I'm usually impressed by HTC flagships, but this time LG takes the cake. Props to them!