LG G2 – Android Smartphone of the Year? [Review]

LG G2 Slide Aside

LG has been around for a while; well known for creating a series of flip phone and candybar phones for Sprint with the Rumor series and then also more phones with their “Black” line they had a steady market. Of course consumers started to veer off into smartphone territory and LG tried to play catch up creating their Optimus series. They tried to create high end devices to come after the lines of Apple, HTC, and Samsung but couldn’t catch a break.

Entering the “Optimus G” era they look to have reached some success and finally seem to be hitting there stride with impressive sales of the LG Optimus G and G Pro (similar to the Samsung Galaxy Note series). Dropping the moniker “Optimus” name are they also able to drop the competition with the LG G2?

Hardware & Display

LG G2  (5)It’s a dream of sorts regarding the design of the G2. Glossy black polycarbonate is compromised on the back and while your camera is still back there some additions have been made. Instead of being on the sides as we have grown accustomed to, volume and power buttons are located right under the camera. By this new location of buttons they were able to make the bezels razor thin and providing a slight back curve to the device.

Realistically when the G2 was first unveiled it felt weird and didn’t think it was something to adjust to. As you get used to it, you’re wondering how this wasn’t thought of before. With the placements of the buttons on the back your fingers are usually always resting on them and providing easy access. It allows for a greater feel in the hand as far as comfort is concerned.

The beauty of the G2 is its 5.2-inch IPS LCD display, it looks nice and sleek when its off and once you turn it on its a sight to see. Wiring is done right under the display to make the bezel super thin. Now with the power button on the back how are you able to turn your device on lying on its back? You can tap the screen 2x and it will awaken the screen. Do it two more times and the screen will go off. First adapting to this can be frustrating if you’re not tapping it right or in the right spots (which has to be empty). At the release event it seemed problematic and wouldn’t always work, once we got our hands on the final product it goes on and off without delay. As stated it’s a learning curve and you may find yourself reaching for that back button until you perfect it.

 

 

Performance

LG G2  (3)

The G2 is a beast going through everyday use. Its specs are killer with a 2.26 GHz quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor along with 2GB of RAM. Now when I say this phone shreds through everything in its path without lag or stutter it does by all means. I have hopped from those depressing hours spent playing Candy Crush Saga to checking emails to browsing the internet and back without missing a beat. Also built in is 32GB of storage which should be the standard nowadays and helps from your phone passing out from too much applications being saved on the device. That is all you get though as there isn’t any expandable slot for memory. With the G2 it is worth the sacrifice and if you feel the need for more space you can always depend on cloud storage such as DropBox or Google Drive amongst others.

Usually with all this processing power and having such a sharp crisp display, battery life has taken a toll on these smartphones mixed with 4G LTE. Surprisingly using the LG G2 I have experienced extremely great battery life on this phone. 3000mAh runs the life of the non-removable battery which put its slightly lower than the Note 2 & 3(3100 and 3200 respectively) but destroy its competition such as the Samsung Galaxy S4 which sits at 2600mAh. I have squeezed close to 15-16hrs out of it and thats not lowering the brightness nor using any battery saving options. I used WIFI, GPS, took hundreds of pictures, and the list goes on. Looks like batteries are starting to hold up to what they need to do with these demanding devices. Dont think I have dealt with a battery this good since the Note 2.

Speaking of speeds, it handled AT&T 4G LTE speeds like a champ getting service all over in New York City which usually isnt a problem while downloading applications and opening browsers such as Google Chrome.

Software

Optimus UI is the Android OS running on the LG G2 and is currently sitting at Jelly Bean 4.2.2. The UI is similar to Samsung’s TouchWiz, but there is alot assistance being offered with adapting. Everything you do from a text to moving a app has a feature or option. LG wants you to learn how to use stuff on here you may never use and that could be overwhelming for some. Otherwise there is a nice deal of customization available. From changing fonts, theme colors, screen rotations, the list goes on. If you’re like me you might get bored of your UI and look to download launchers. You might not need to do that with the G2. You can even reorganize the order and color of the soft keys at your leisure.

 

 

LG G2 Screenshots  (5)A feature that should be put on all devices is that called “Guest Mode”. Setting this up and you can have whichever apps you want accessed on there so if you pass it off to a friend or even the kids you wont have to worry about snooping or “accidents” going on. You can have two different lockscreen codes, one taking you to your usual screen and the latter sending you to Guest Mode. Only downside to Guest Mode is that it doesn’t have that person login into their own stuff. So it might defeat the purpose for some.

There are some other features such as QSlide Apps which is similar to MultiWindow for Samsung’s TouchWiz or Sony’s Smart Apps. You can bring up a notepad, native video app, calendar, and others and have them on the screen. Options are there to expand, make less visible are cool, and you can drag it to the side to minimize it. I haven’t seen myself use but maybe once and its nowhere in MultiWindow’s league as far as variety of apps are concerned.
A blaring problem I have with LG’s UI is the space it takes up on the pull down menu. If you add QSlides to that and its half your screen, get some notifications and you’re scrolling down the screen. SlideAside looks more cool than useful, it enables you to save up to three apps “to the side” for instant later. This is done by taking three fingers and sliding to the left side of your screen.

Camera

The standard for camera phones is 13 megapixels so its no surprise thats whats packed into the back of the G2. On the front is a 2.1 megapixel shooter. Going back to the 13 megapixel camera, there is also optical image stabilization(OIS) which creates some beautiful images. It takes quick and colorful HDR pictures, maybe some of the best and fastest seen. The processing power could be lending a assist to that.

There are 12 different features on here such as Time Catch Shot, Shot & Clear and Dual Camera. Some of which you may of recognized under different names on the Galaxy S4 series. LG’s camera features are getting better but the layout just isn’t as good as the S4’s yet. A nice addition is the manual focus option which helps to get that sharpness you couldn’t get from the camera’s autofocus. Video has some features such as effects, zoom tracking and others. Shooting some video with the camera wasn’t bad but getting a good focus caused some problems at times.

Stepping up to the plate?

The LG G2 is a magnificent device and unarguably one of the strongest android smartphones around. Its Snapdragon 800 processor works great with its high def 1080P display and its excellent 3000mAh battery life. Taking pictures with it is a dream and a experience one should enjoy. The downfalls are mainly to its Optimus UI which just seems to be too overpowering with alot going on. Thankfully the power of the G2 helps to make sure there isn’t any hiccups using the device. LG also ending exclusivity and releasing the G2 on all carriers can hopefully help software updates coming out faster as well.

If you’re looking for the fastest and the baddest out right now as far as Android is concerned then the G2 is a worthy pick up and maybe one of the best of the year. It doesn’t have the best look which goes to the HTC One but its definitely up there as far as greatness.

The LG G2 is available now on carriers such as AT&T for $199.99 and also Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint(coming November 8th).

  • Great Review. I love this phone.