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July 23, 2014

LG G3 Review

With the success of the LG G2 last year, there was a lot of expectations on this year’s release from LG. Thus, we took our time to dig deeper into the new LG G3 to see if it met expectations. Check out our LG G3 review after the break.

lgg3-reviewphilippines

With the stellar success of the G2, much has been anticipated with the launch of the LG G3. And it didn’t disappoint.

Design and Construction.

LG’s approach with the G3 was expected as the same formula worked well with the G2. This time though, LG went ahead and pushed their G3 to the edge.

At 5.5-inch, one would think that the G3 has already crossed the line of the phablet category. LG managed to avoid this perception by maximizing the screen-to-area ratio and making the bezels as narrow as possible.

lgg3-camera

They also retained the rear key although it’s been stylized a bit and less prominent. What they added is the Laser-AF System which aids in the making the camera focus much faster.

lgg3-back

From the fancy pattern and glossy finish that they did with the G2, LG moved to a more industrial look with the G3 and now has a brushed metal finish in dark brown color and silver trimmings. It also feels solid on the hands, has a bit of heft and cold tones that gives that impression of premium quality. It’s still made of polycarbonate materials like the G2 but the G3 looks more elegant.

The G3 does not have any buttons on the sides and the only ones that exist are all found at the back — the power button and the volume controls both sit below the rear camera.

The IR blaster is found at the top end along with the noise-canceling mic; the internal mic, micro-USB port and the 3.5mm audio port are found at the bottom.

The G3 could already be considered a phablet pretending not to be. It’s cool with us since the size and form factor still fits in one hand.

Display.

Perhaps the biggest and most prominent feature of the LG G3 is the display. The 5.5-inch real estate screen is packed with a Quad-HD resolution — that’s 2560×1440 pixels or a 538ppi pixel density, the largest in any flagship smartphone launched in the local market this year.

The display is so good, it changes the way you look and appreciate photos and videos. Even watching movies and TV series on the 5.5-inch screen is definitely more pleasing on the eyes.

We felt it’s a bit excessive will all those pixels packed in such a small real estate screen (and aside from the Oppo Find 7), this is the first time we’ve seen a handset with a pixel density above 500ppi.

One thing we noticed though is that once in a while the graphics tend to get choked or delayed in between transitions/animation. Perhaps the Adreno 300 graphics is having a hard time pushing all those pixels at a faster rate.

Nevertheless, LG has upped the ante on display quality on the G3. It’s gorgeous, has great contrast and color, wide viewing angles and bright enough to be usable outdoors or even under direct sunlight.

OS, Apps and UI.

LG once again changed the thematic styling of the user-interface on the G3. The UI is more flat with a slight touch of gradient colors that works well because of the dense screen resolution.

While LG added its own UI and customizations but with subtlety — three home screens with one for the LG Health (built-in pedometer) and Smart Tips, the main Home screen for the widgets and the 3rd home screen for the apps.

The soft menu at the bottom is also customizable for 3 or 4 shortcuts, including the link for the app drawer.

And since the G3 comes with Android Kitkat right out of the box, you can install anything from the Google Play Store from apps, games, themes and other customizations.

The G3’s interface is pretty simple and easy to use that it gets things done really quickly. The virtual keypad and keyboard are both comfortable and easy to use.

The extra-large resolution also caused some apps not to be compatible with the G3 so we’re hoping those apps will be updated soon.

Multimedia and Camera.

LG is the first one to employ a laser to focus assist the camera, giving it a faster focus time and more accurate identification of the subject.

Check out the sample photos taken with the rear camera below.

It can shoot 4K videos too but we rarely set it that high since it eats up a lot of storage space very quickly.

With the laser focus and the optical image stabilization, the camera on the G3 performed well even with moving subjects or low light conditions.

Here are some sample clips taken with the G3:

With the revamped Quick Remote, the G3 acts like a universal remote for several appliances at home, including TVs, home theater systems and even air conditioners.

The speakers at the back are actually very loud and does a really good job when playing music or when watching movies.

Performance and Benchmarks.

The G3 is powered by a Snapdragon 801 processor with one of each 4 cores running at a maximum clock speed of 2.5GHz.

Our benchmark tools showed very high scores but they were nowhere near the mark of other Snapdragon 801-powered handsets that we’ve tested before.

lgg3-benchmark

We believe it is due to the very high display resolution which caused the numbers to miss their expected results.

Benchmark Scores:
Antutu Benchmark: 29,118
Quadrant Standard: 23,476
3DMark: 14,730 (Ice Storm Unlimited)
Nenamark 2: 59.9fps
Vellamo: 2,805 (Browser), 1,517 (Metal)

The numbers aren’t that high and when we looked into the individual scores, it’s mostly attributed to the graphics performance vis-a-vis the resolution.

Call Quality, Connectivity and Battery Life.

The G3 has all the connectivity options one may expect in a flagship handset. You get LTE connectivity on both networks which, depends on your location, can go up as high as mid-20Mbps. Call quality is good, reception is clear and crisp. We didn’t experience any problems in signal reception with WiFi and Bluetooth. The Quick Remote still works flawlessly for a lot of appliances and comes in handy a lot of times.

lgg3-battery

As for battery life, we were expecting almost the same or probably even better performance compared to the G2. Unfortunately, it was not the case. We logged about 8.5 to 9 hours of continuous movie playback using our standard bench (50% brightness and 0% volume).

We attributed this average battery performance to the very high resolution that eats up more battery than the usual full HD displays (more pixels to power up).

Updated: By July 23, a 43MB update was released to the LG G3 to improve battery performance. We have re-tested the battery life and noticed significant improvement. With the update, we we are seeing up to 10 hours of battery life while playing an HD movie at 50% brightness and 0% volume.

Conclusion.

It is equivocally apparent that the LG G3 is a huge jump from its predecessor. It’s better, faster, meaner, bolder — a fitting upgrade to LG’s strong position in the flagship arena. If not for the slightly reduced battery life, we would not have any reason or qualms about not putting it ahead of the pack. It’s a drawback that has been traded against that super-clear and gorgeous display.

Don’t get us wrong. It’s still one of our top contenders and we’re impressed with the over-all results but, as they say, it’s close to impossible to really have it all in one device. Yes, it’s that close to perfection.

And with a very competitive price point, we’re pretty sure LG will be selling more G3s than they did with the G2.

LG G3 (D855) specs:
5.5-inch QHD IPS display @ 2560×1440 pixels, 538 ppi
Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 2.5GHz quad-core processor
Adreno 330 578MHz Graphics
2GB DDR3 RAM
16GB internal storage
up to 128GB via microSD card
13MP rear camera with OIS, laser autofocus, and dual LED flash
2.1MP front camera
4G LTE
NFC
WiFi 802.11ac, DLNA, Wi-Fi Direct, Miracast
Bluetooth 4.0 with aptX support
GPS w/ A-GPS support
Wireless Charging support
1-watt Speaker with Boost AMP technology
3000mAh battery
Android 4.4.2 KitKat
146.3 x 74.6 x 8.9mm
149g

What we liked about it:
* Impressive performance
* Nice, elegant design
* Great camera quality
* Over-the-top display
* LTE connectivity
* Very good sound quality
* Very competitive price point

What we did not like:
* Occasional bottleneck in graphics performance with UI
* Lower-than-expected synthetic benchmark scores


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Abe is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of YugaTech. You Can follow him on Twitter @abeolandres.

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