May 27th, 2014

LG G3 IMG_5365

Last year’s LG G2 came as a pleasant surprise, rear button and all. In 2014, Korea’s other major smartphone maker brings the innovative design back for round two, today unveiling the highly-anticipated (and highly-leaked) LG G3. Does the successor to the 2013 sleeper hit once again knock (pun intended) one out of the park?

For anyone that has seen or used the G2, the G3 is immediately familiar, yet it retains a fresh feel with a redesigned rear button and brushed metal finish. That finish uses a metal layer to achieve the look, but it comes with a matte coating to aid in its durability and make for easy cleaning and care. The back cover is removable, revealing a 3000mAh battery within the belly of LG’s beast.

But back to the back button. The G3 does away with its quick functions by default, relegating its use as the power/standby button and volume rocker out of the box. Fans of the selfie shortcut and one-button access to Quick Notes will be happy to know that these functions can be restored easily via the settings menu. Unfortunately, the buttons can still not be mapped to other user-defined functions.

Moving around to the front of the device comes another cornerstone of the G3’s design — its Quad HD display. The G3 offers four times the resolution of a phone with a standard HD display, and the display is built around IPS technology for solid color reproduction. It looks great, but the extra pixels might be a little wasted on the 5.5-inch display. It’s hard to say whether the higher resolution really makes a difference, and the advantage is arguable, but we liked what we saw. Is it the smartphone display to beat? Time will tell.

Given the color and clarity of the Quad HD display, it’s a wonder LG went with a more muted color scheme for the G3’s user interface overhaul. Don’t get me wrong, this is perhaps the most welcomed change to the G3, but if it were any other manufacturer bright colors would have no doubt been the emphasis to really showcase the screen technology. That’s neither here nor there, though. We don’t want to undersell the extreme improvements LG has made to their user interface with the G3.

In past releases, LG’s take on Android was perhaps our biggest gripe. Here it is one of the phone’s key advantages. This still isn’t the super stock implementation we would like, but it’s the closest it has ever been on an LG phone. As is the trend, flat, simple design cues can be found throughout.

Let’s touch on the G3’s camera for a moment. It turns out the mysterious sensor located to the side of the 13MP camera that was spied in leaks is a laser blaster. Why include a laser blaster? To offer super fast image focusing. And it is fast. We tested it out around the demo room floor and found it to be quite adept at quickly focusing on and snapping impressive shots. Advanced optical image stabilization further adds to the camera’s abilities.

This all, of course, is merely scratching the surface of what LG has accomplished with the G3. Will its allure outlast our initial excitement? That is the question we hope to answer when we get a chance to further review the handset. For now, check out our above hands-on video for a bit more about the new G3. Release dates aren’t quite clear yet, but one thing is certain. When the G3 touches down, it will come as a worthy competitor to other current Android powerhouses like the Samsung Galaxy S5 and HTC One M8.

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