Let’s face it, smartphones have become too powerful for us to even worry about raw specs. If you are getting a high-end device, they will all be nearly identical in terms of performance, with only milliseconds in loading to put them apart. A smartphone needs to set itself apart from the competition by being unique and having great features/software.
Can the LG G2 stand against competitors like the almighty Samsung Galaxy S4, the amazingly-built HTC One and other high-end powerhouses like the Galaxy Note 3? It certainly is different, with a form factor that is unlike any other smartphone and features that will not disappoint. I will tell you now it is my favorite smartphone to date. Why? Let’s jump into the review to show what this beast of a smartphone is all about.
LG G2 specifications
- Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean
- 5.2-inch 1080p IPS LCD display
- 2.2 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor
- 2 GB of RAM
- 32 GB of built-in storage
- 13 MP / 2.1 MP cameras
- 3,000 mAh battery
- WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, GPS and microUSB 2.0.
LG G2 build quality
Ideally, such amazing specs should be housed in an equally-stunning body. LG’s reputation doesn’t help, but the manufacturer has been building some rather stunning devices since the LG Optimus G (read our LG Optimus G review for more details). That phone was built amazingly, with a uni-body that had no flaws and a glass back and front (mimicking the iPhone 4’s style). Is the successor in the same level?
The LG G2 is a very well-built device. It does sport a plastic back that resembles Samsung’s, but it feels much sturdier and solid. There are no “air pockets” or flimsy spots. The buttons in the back are not flimsy and offer very nice feedback. Save for the power button, which is a tiny bit softer, but that is something you won’t ever really worry about (more on this in the software section).
Overall, the LG G2 is plasticky, but not in a bad sense. It is solid and well-built. The experience is improved by a very minimalistic look created by the combination of button placement and on-screen buttons. The device is very sleek and good-looking.
And you are in for a prize if you are a Verizon customer. This version actually has metal buttons in the back, instead of the international plastic ones. I actually prefer the plastic ones, as it is easy to confuse which button is which with the Verizon version. Then again, that is my opinion. Build quality does happen to be slightly better thanks to this design change.
LG G2 design
The LG G2 is a one-of-a-kind when it comes to form-factor. It is the very first Android smartphone to take the physical buttons off the side and place them on the back of the smartphone. If you have heard anything about the LG G2, it is the fact it has the buttons on the back. The point of this? Part hype, part functionality.
The power and volume buttons are placed right below the back-facing camera, where most people’s index fingers rest when they are holding a smartphone. Yes, it is a very weird placement and something we are not used to. I found most times I was looking for the buttons on the side, but once you change your mindset you realize it really does make sense.
It was a breeze to reach those buttons for changing the volume. As for the power button, I literally only used it a few times.
LG G2 software and performance
Best feature EVER!
There is one software feature I absolutely adore from this phone. LG calls it ‘Knock On’, and it allows you to turn the device on by tapping the screen twice. It is such a simple addition, but it makes a whole other difference!
I quickly got used to it and have been loving it ever since. It is simple and feels very natural from the get-go. This is why I rarely ever used the power button, there is really no need for it. Unless you want to boot or restart the device, of course.
Another cool feature is Answer Me, which makes it easier to answer calls by simply putting the phone to your face. You also get all the cool features that came with the LG Optimus G, including QSlide. You also get some extras like Quick Remote and Guest Mode.
Android Jelly Bean and LG’s UI
Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean runs great on the LG G2. But of course, it is powered by the very best processor in the mobile industry – Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 800. Normally, a device would be dragged down by custom manufacturer UIs, but this bad boy shows no signs of weakness.
No doubt many of you will not be great fans of LG’s interface, like with many other smartphones and manufacturers. Is LG’s software that bad, though? I certainly prefer it over Samsung’s TouchWiz, and people seem to love that phone.
In fact, the LG G2’s UI is nearly-identical to that of the LG Optimus G. You are offered a nice lock screen with neat shortcuts in the bottom. The notification center doesn’t offer the cool two finger swipe-down access to toggles, but those are placed right on top of the notification center.
One thing I did not like about the notification center is that LG’s shortcuts take too much space. With the toggles, Qslide apps, brightness and volume options covering about half of the screen, one is left with very little space for actual notifications. This forces the user to scroll down if you have more than a couple notifications. Not very convenient, and I would have liked to see some of these shortcuts gone in exchange for more notification space.
The app drawer is divided by apps and widget toggles, and the Settings features a very convenient layout. You can choose to have your good ol’ vertical list of options, but I happen to love LG’s tabbed Settings menu. It separates your settings by network, sound, display and general. This makes it very easy to find the settings you need at the moment. Just tap on the tab of choice and you are in.
The LG G2 is fast… stunningly fast! There is almost no lag when opening apps, games run smooth as butter and boot time is insane. It literally takes about 6-8 seconds for this phone to boot. The LG G2’s boot time is hands down the best I have ever seen.
You can’t really expect less from a well-optimized software, a Snapdragon 800 processor, 2 GB of RAM and Jelly Bean.
Control the LG G2 from your computer
One feature I really love from LG devices seems to have gone under the radar for most reviewers out there. I love the fact some LG devices feature what the manufacturer calls OSP (or On-Screen Phone). This allows you to control your smartphone from your computer using a WiFi connection.
Lag is almost inexistent and it is a dream come true for those who work from a computer and don’t want to pull their phones out for every meaningless notification.
Display and sound
The LG G2’s 5.2-inch display is as great as you can expect it to be. The 1080p Full HD resolution makes text, videos and images look amazing, of course. What I love about this display is that it features an IPS panel.
IPS displays offer the most “true to life” colors. The LG G2’s display is not over-saturated like AMOLED smartphones and there is no need to worry about AMOLED’s infamous pentile matrix. Of course, this is a matter of preference, but there is nothing like good colors for a good movie or photo.
As for sound, it is good, but not amazing. The LG G2 is the first smartphone to feature 24bit, 192kHz Hi-Fi sound. This means the sound quality and precision is higher. The volume is not very high, though, and there is a slight design problem with the device’s speaker.
The speaker is located on the bottom edge of the device, along with the microphone. This is a bad design element, as one tends to cover the bottom edge of the phone when holding it landscape. Your hand rests right on top of the speaker, muffling the otherwise awesome sound.
The LG G2 camera is good, but it’s not something LG can go around touting about. The 13 MP camera offers good high definition shots and videos. The camera is aided by OIS (Optical Image Stabilization), which helps take better shots during low-light situations. The difference won’t be titanic, though. Those with shaky hands will still have trouble taking a clear picture in low-light situations. I found images to be great under good lighting conditions, though.
With the buttons in the back, you find yourself often touching the camera by accident. This would normally mean blurry shots, but LG kept this in mind and discarded the issue. The lens is protected by a sapphire crystal treated for fingerprint protection. It is also 3 times stronger than sapphire crystal, so it will be pretty hard to damage it.
What I loved most about this camera was the software, though. It really puts the LG G2 next to the other big guys in terms of camera features. You get your regular shots, HDR, panorama, VR panorama (LG’s version of Photosphere), burst shot, time catch and more. My favorite was Dual Camera mode, though, which uses both back and front-facing cameras to take a shot (like Samsung’s).
Here are some images samples so you can take a look at the image quality. I have photos in dim-lit, dark and well-lit environments.
This is the factor that will make or break any smartphone. I don’t care if your device opens apps and loads games at the speed of light, anything without at least a full “work day” of battery life will not make it in the market. Fortunately, the LG G2 meets our expectations and goes all in with a royal flush.
This phone completely impressed me, and I come from using a Galaxy Note 2 as a daily driver. The LG G2 handles that 3,000 mAh battery like a BOSS. I would get a minimum of about 24-25 hours on a heavy day and about 40 hours with average/light usage.
I was able to take it on a 3-day weekend once, and I plugged it in for about 3 hours total during that whole time. Came back home with about 20% left (this was light to average usage). In fact, our very own Chris Chavez had the chance to test it and was able to pull over 3 hours of continuous screen-on time!
“Battery life is pretty stupid. Like, stupid good. I was spoiled by it” -Chris Chavez, Phandroid.com
So, should you buy the LG G2? I say heck yes! And not often do I get so excited about any smartphone. Especially lately. And no, I am not being paid anything to say this!
The LG G2 happens to be my very favorite smartphone right now, and I am highly considering buying it for myself. It’s specs are state of the art, design is very sleek and good-looking, it has killer features and battery life is unmatched.
The only downside I can see is software and the plasticky build quality. Camera is also not great, but it will still create some awesome shots for social networking (You must also consider I like photography and use a DSLR. I am spoiled!). Those are very subjective topics, though. Sadly, I am afraid all this amazing work by LG will be trumped by the lack of popularity LG holds in the smartphone market. As it is, I say the LG G2 is the phone to get right now and I would be disappointed to see it fail.
The LG G2 is currently available from all major carriers in the US, and many other internationally. In the US, you can get it from AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint and Verizon. Prices range up to $200, but I can honestly say those will be the best $200 I will ever spend on a smartphone.
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