LG has just officially launched the LG G3 in London and had simultaneous events in San Francisco and New York as well. With people in 2 locations, we had ample opportunities to take a look at the LG G3, and tell you about our first impressions, and gut feel about this new top-lend contender in the never-ending Smartphone arms race. In a nutshell, the LG G3 is about New Design, Display, Camera and Software improvements.
"QUAD HD ROCKS FOR 4K VIDEOS AND PHOTO VIEWING" Quad-HD: LG says that the human eye can see beyond 600 ppi and point out that paper magazines use up to 400-ppi. The LG G3 has an astonishing 538 ppi pixel density, but pixel count isn’t everything. LG also pitches that its pixel pattern is better because it has 2.7X the number of sub-pixels than some AMOLED competitors, and it improves on the already excellent G2 display even in terms of brightness. LG Sur knows how to build displays, and they have impressed us in the past 18 months.
We were very curious to see what Quad HD brings to the table and in some cases QHD is noticeably better. When watching 4K videos, the difference with 1080p is noticeable, and it is clear that nature photos and other high-frequency images will look better on the QHD display. Since LG seems to keep the battery life under control, QHD rocks for 4K videos and photo viewing.
What about power consumption? With so many pixels, what will happen to the battery life? LG says that the G3 has been designed to optimize the battery consumption in general with techniques like Adaptive Framerate, Adaptive Clocking and Adaptive Timing Control.
The Adaptive Framerate relates to the screen and basically means that static images don’t need to be refreshed at 60FPS. This is a well-known technique that has just started to be implemented on modern devices. It works. Adaptive Clocking and Adaptive Timing Control work on the same principle of not doing work unless the user can see it.
The most visible aspect of the LG 5.5” Display is that its thin bezels, along with the new G3 industrial design, allow LG to fit a 5.5” phone into what “feels” like a regular 5” phone. This is probably the most important “feature” of the display: although it is huge, it doesn’t feel like it.
LG understands that Megapixel isn’t everything (although it remains important for nature scenes and high-frequency images).
Fast auto-focus (AF) is one of the main novelties with the G3 camera since LG introduces “laser focus” into its latest smartphones. 0.276 seconds is the time that it would take for the G3 to get a focus. Here, LG goes head-to-head with Samsung’s phase-detection auto-focus that was considered the best until now. Their demonstration and tests were quite convincing.
LG’s camera has image stabilization system that is called OIS+. As you may remember from our LG G2 review, the G2 was already very good, but the G3 should take things to the next level.
Additionally, LG points out that it has worked really hard on the front camera to make “selfie” photos better. The camera app can be controlled with gestures and will give you ample time to get ready for your selfie shot. Arguably a timed-selfie should be easier to snap since you don’t have to focus on not shaking while activating the shutter. I triedd this feature and it worked pretty well : in the gallery above see the photo with the number 3 inside the screen, the photo was triggered by making a fist in frnt of the camera.
While recording video, the LG G3’s sound input system will select the best presets depending on the sound conditions (night club, windy place, etc…). And obviously, it can record in 4K as well – however, it will do so with the H.264 encoding, which means that files will be large.
If you want to see some photo samples, check out our Flickr account, we’ve uploaded full-size photos.
The body of the G3 has been built around the “Simple is the new Smart” mantra. The buttons located on the back have been controversial at times, but they didn’t bother us. However, the LG G2 was still plastic looking, which is why the G3 has a metallic “skin” which makes it look much more premium. Basically, it is as beautiful on the outside as it is on the inside now. to make it clear, the back cover is still made of plastic, but LG has a surface treatment that make it feels much less like plastic.
The G3 will come in several color variants, and LG’s design makes it looking interesting because there’s just enough color to make it eye-caching, but not enough that it will look like a toy. This is a great balance, and overall this is a great design.
As expected, LG pitches the round back side as a comfort element, and after playing with it, we have to say that we agree. The slight extra thickness does not introduce any issues, and it was a good move to reduce the size in both width and height. As we had mentioned before, the LG G3 has nearly the same internal volume as the Galaxy Note 3, but looks significantly smaller from the front/back. We have also taken a few shots next to a Samsung Galaxy S5:
Hardware platform and perceived performance
We have covered the official LG G3 specs in details earlier this morning, so you know that it is powered by a Snapdragon 801 processor, check out our post is you want the full details.
Before the launch, some rumors mentioned a 3200 mAh battery capacity, but unfortunately, it is a removable 3000 mAh battery in the end. It’s not bad by any means, but it’s easy to get excited by any additional battery capacity.
In general and for all phones, we’re pretty upbeat about the wireless charging option because it makes it really convenient to charge anyway you can drop your phone: office, car, home, bedside table… you name it. For the small price of a wireless charger, you now have that many opportunities to keep the phone charged. It would have been even better to have it built-in.
The 1-Watt speaker seems very interesting too, but you can imagine that a lunch event is hardly the place to put it through its pace, so you will have to wait a little for the full review. Sound is always challenging when the speakers aren’t directly facing the user, so we’re curious to see what kind of performance will come out of these good-looking specifications.
As usual, LG has its own user interface, which has been updated to look simpler, and uses a flatter design (LG’s design was already fairly flat before”. Things do look cleaner, and this should put a good emphasis on the exceptional screen clarity. The new user interface design looks great and is very readable. LG has been able to use very thin fonts that remains readable, thanks to the QHD screen.
Since software is much better seen than read, we’ve shot a video to show you the LG G3 software in action (LG’s Tony P. Curry kindly showed the new G3 features to our team), check it out below:
"KEYBOARDS ARE FINALLY GETTING THE CARE WE DESERVE" With users touching the virtual keyboard every 5mn (according to studies), LG points out that the keyboard is getting very little attention. LG’s Smart Keyboard has been designed to adapt to different finger sizes and habits. The thumbs typically move around a lot when we type on the keyboard and LG has been trying to limit that motion because that’s what is slowing you down (and typos too!).
Now, you don’t need to tap on a suggested keyword to select, a simple up swipe will do it to select one of the three word suggestions. To edit typos, you can long-press and swipe the space bar to move the cursor around. Both features reduce finer motion.
It is possible to change the height of the keyboard, which is great because it makes the keys bigger, thus reducing the number of typos. This is one very efficient way to help pretty much any “heavy texter”.
LG thinks that users love to get suggestions and notifications which provide you with information that you are very likely to need, and before you request them. That’s what Smart Notice is about: it is LG’s personal assistant that will compete with Google Now.
For example, if you get a call during a meeting and choose to discard a call, Smart Notice will remind you later in the day that you haven’t called back yet. The user can tell the system who’s important and who’s not.
The app will also keep an eye on your file cluttering and ask you if you want to clean your storage. It will also keep tabs on your battery life and make some suggestions. We’re curious to see how that one works in the real world.
And of course, the phone will alert you when drastic weather changes are scheduled to happen. This is not quite as interesting for us Californians, but in parts of the world where it can rain or freeze without warning, this is quite popular.
With so much information on the phone, LG has focused on 3 features to provide “Peace of Mind” to the users. Knock Code is a well-known LG feature one and allows you to use a series of taps to wake up and unlock your phone at the same time. This is pretty awesome and we tried it on the LG G Pro 2. It doesn’t leave a grease trail from your finger, so it’s also a little safer to use than the Android lock pattern.
The G3 can safely be shared with others temporarily because you can lock content, while giving access to phone functions. If case of theft, LG has added a kill switch that will disable your phone. The phone will be remote wiped, remote locked and the phone will be “permanently unusable” says LG. We’re not 100% sure what that means exactly, but we know that your data won’t be accessible anymore.
The G3 will come with a number of accessories. The more interesting ones are the Quick Circle phone case with a window, and the G Watch smartwatch, which also work with any other Android phone. There are many Bluetooth headsets, etc., but it’s nothing you haven’t seen before. We’re surprised that there was no wireless charger, but any Qi Wireless charger should get the job done, so don’t sweat it.
Wrapping Up: Impressive
The LG G3 turns out to be a very impressive handset, and LG has done its homework to address important aspect of the design. The batter industrial design was probably high on the list, and the “plastic” feel seems like a far away memory now. Instead, the new metallic skin and and extremely clean design does wonders to make this phone appealing.
Secondly, LG has been working on usability for a while, and this is now surfacing in the new keyboard design, and features like Knock Code which may seem trivial on the surface, but they affect how we use our phones hundreds of times a day. Any tiny improvements that has to do with unlocking and typing will make a huge impact. We welcome the intent, but also the results.
Finally, the display looks amazing. Sure, there were concerns over whether or not the world “needs” a QHD or 2K display on a handset. The answer is that as long as it doesn’t affect the battery life negatively, then it’s a win. Photos and 4K videos look clearly better than on a 1080p display, and the photos viewing alone would justify wanting a QHD display.