Review: LG G2, Yet Another Stroke of Genius

One of the best phones of 2013

Our score: 5/5
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Published: October 3, 2013 9:08 AM
Updated: July 3, 2014 11:53 AM
By Florence Legrand
Translated by: Hugh Ehreth
With Morgane Alzieu
Axel Mendy
Some time over a year ago LG decided to hit the smartphone market, and hard. Now, after a string of excellent Android handsets (Optimus G, Optimus G Pro, Optimus F5...), the company is continuing its impressive run with the ultra-high-end G2 smartphone.

If the brand's track record isn't enough to impress you, then just take a look at the G2's specs: a 5.2" IPS screen with Full HD resolution for 432 dots per inch, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor clocked to 2.26 GHz, 2 GB of RAM, a 13-Megapixel camera with an OIS, a 3,000 mAh battery and a choice of 16 GB or 32 GB of internal storage (non-expandable). Clad with the most powerful smartphone processor on the market, the G2 clearly has nothing to envy of its market-leading counterparts, such as the iPhone 5s, Galaxy S4, HTC One and Xperia Z.
 
LG G2

Beyond the inner specs, the G2 is also innovative on the outside, as LG made the vertical borders on either side of the screen as thin as possible, leaving as much room as possible for a spacious display.
 
LG G2
8.9 mm thick, 143 grams

The G2 officially went on sale on Tuesday and will be available from Carphone Warehouse, Three, EE and O2 for as low as £32 with a contract, or £460 SIM-free.

Design & Handling4/5


LG appears to have figured out how to put a big screen on a relatively compact phone. The display takes up more of the façade than most smartphone screens, all without making the handset too big to hold comfortably. For proof, the G2 has practically the same overall dimensions as the Samsung Galaxy S4, even though it has a bigger screen (5" on the GS4, 5.2" on the G2). This is a nice little exploit on LG's part, making this just about as close to a "borderless" display as you can find right now.
 
LG G2
 
The design is classic, sober, minimalist. The façade looks great and the minimalism continues through to the edges of the phone, which are completely devoid of buttons. That said, LG could have done more with the non-removable back shell. It's well manufactured and made from quality plastic, but it's still just glossy plastic. Something more original in, say, matte polycarbonate could have helped drive the high-endness home.
 
LG G2

The real original touch on the back comes in the form of the volume and ON/OFF buttons located just below the camera. When LG first presented the G2 in August, we had our doubts about how convenient this bold choice would turn out to be, ergonomically speaking, since most brands put these buttons along the edges. But we were surprised to find that yes, it is convenient, and yes, we quickly got used to it. Your index finger naturally gravitates towards that spot, yet it's easy to avoid when you're talking on the phone. That said, for looking things up online and watching movies, we found it easier to use both hands.

Either way, you don't even have to use the ON/OFF button if you don't like it there, since LG included KnockOn, a feature that lets you turn the screen on and off by simply double-tapping the display. This is quite intuitive and quickly becomes a habit! Also, because the buttons are located in the centre of the back and not off to the sides, they're just as practical to reach for lefties as for righties—a huge plus for the 11% of us who usually get left out.

Display5/5


Naturally, with the screen as one of the G2's biggest selling points, you could expect great performance from it. Our first impression was... that it was simply remarkable.

And after running tests, that's exactly what we found. The contrast ratio is a fantastic 1,332:1 and the brightness is sky high at over 440 cd/m². The colour fidelity is quite respectable with a Delta E of 4—slightly better than the Optimus G and G Pro. (Delta E measures how faithful the colour tones are, where 3 and below is considered perfect, so a dE of 4 is not bad at all.) Indeed, the G2 manages its colours better than most smartphones, just like it does its viewing angles, providing a relatively consistent image from any angle.
 
LG G2

All in all, the G2's screen is equally as good as the Galaxy S4's, slightly better than the Sony Xperia Z1's (which has half the contrast) and just about the same as the HTC One's. The only downside to this gorgeous display is the 24-millisecond ghosting time. But it's a stunning display that makes movies and video games look amazing, even outdoors.

The touch-response lag is the same as the Xperia Z1's: 110 milliseconds. That means that 110 milliseconds go by between the time when you touch the screen and when the screen responds. That's better than most phones—the average we measured over the past six months was 150 ms—but it falls behind the G and G Pro (95 ms), the Xperia Z Ultra (90 ms) and the iPhone 5s (75 ms).

Interface & Navigation5/5


LG added its own software overlay, Optimus UI, on top of Android 4.2.2. Optimus UI looks good, is well integrated into Android and has several good ideas to help you personalise your phone. For example, you can choose which functions the touch keys activate and assign the Back button to either the left or right side of the home button. Another handy feature is the three-finger swipe to the left or right for switching between apps. The notifications/shortcuts window is also customisable, and every time you plug headphones in, the multimedia apps open automatically.
 
LG G2

Guest Mode allows you to create a sort of second desktop where you can choose which functions or features the guest has access to—a handy feature for the kids (Windows Phone 8 has a similar function called Kids Corner). Another advantage here is that you can lend your phone to friends or colleagues, all the while keeping your personal data private.

Holding down the volume up button opens Quick Memo, which you may already know from the Optimus G Pro. Quick Memo is for writing handwritten memos with your fingertips (if you want to jot down an e-mail address, phone number, etc.), and you can also write directly on the home screen and save a screenshot. Like the GS4, the G2's screen stays on as long as you're eyes are fixed on the display, and every time you look away from a movie, the video pauses automatically. Very cool.

The LG G2, the first smartphone to sport an S800 processor, simply buries the competition (iPhone 5s, Galaxy S4, HTC One, Lumia 1020) when it comes to processing and graphics! The G2 never blinks, never hesitates, never loses its breath. Its fluidity and responsiveness should serve as an example to all. Mobile gamers will be in seventh heaven on this phone that also plays 1080p video like a champ.

Multimedia5/5


We tested the 16 GB model, which isn't much storage, since there's no microSD slot to expand it with. Sony offers a better alternative with the Xperia Z1, which does accept microSD cards. But you can always get the 32 GB model for a higher price, although that's still non-expandable, so you're stuck with the 32 gigs.

The LG G2 plays FLAC and 24-bit/192 kHz audio files. It's one of the first smartphones to be labelled "HD Audio", but after testing, our measurements showed that the sound quality is "just" in the upper-average for a smartphone. The headphone output is clean and relatively loud and has no notable background noise. The built-in speaker, however, isn't so thrilling. It saturates at high volume, even though the sound doesn't go very high. There are a couple spatialisation and equalising options, but they're token features.

Camera4/5


The G2 has a very good 13 Mpx camera sensor with optical image stabilisation that's highly effective when shooting video. There's no dedicated camera button. Instead, the volume buttons double as a shutter release when you have the camera function open and ready to shoot. But located, as they are, on the back, we didn't find them very practical at all—we just ended up using the onscreen touch button instead.

As for image quality, photos look amazing in the centre of the frame, but less so further out toward the edges. The Galaxy S4 takes better photos with much more consistently sharp rendering throughout the frame and less noise (when zoomed in 100%). The colours in photographs taken on the G2 look natural and more or less faithful to reality, and the white balance is also good. In low lighting the G2 handles quite well in conditions that would be problematic for most smartphones. The picture looks quite good, and brighter than the GS4, but it's still nothing like the Lumia 1020, which is currently the best phone for taking pictures in low lighting. On the G2 you can focus on multiple parts of the screen, but in dark settings the autofocus has trouble finding its bearings.
 
LG G2

The camera interface was pretty well thought-out and has some neat features, such as Panorama mode, which can still spit out an image even if you don't follow the motion all the way through. Dual Cam mode takes a picture simultaneously with both cameras (front and rear) in order to include the person who took the photo in the picture. However, you get a much more extensive digital camera experience with the Lumia 1020, Galaxy S4 (which has more modes, such as Drama Shot) and Xperia Z1 (augmented reality, free and not-so-free camera apps...).

Battery Life5/5


Like the Xperia Z1, the LG G2 has a 3,000 mAh battery (the GS4's is only 2,600 mAh). And in practice, this provides astonishingly long battery life. In our raw tests, the G2 got just over 18 hours, or about two days of "typical" usage. That's similar to the Asus Fonepad and much longer than the GS4 (about 13 hours, on average), Optimus G Pro (9 hours) and HTC One (10 hours). That's obviously a huge plus for the G2, especially if you're a big data consumer.
 
5/5 LG G2 DigitalVersus 2013-10-03 10:08:00

Pros

  • Superb display with tons of brightness and contrast
  • A big screen doesn't necessarily mean a huge phone!
  • Optimus UI includes some great ideas with lots of customisation options
  • Buttons on the back: practical location
  • It's always responsive!
  • Outstanding battery life

Cons

  • Glossy plastic shell
  • Autofocus can be slow in low lighting
  • No microSD slot
  • Built-in speaker saturates quickly

Conclusion

The LG G2 is a super-powerful smartphone with a stunning display. It's perfect for multimedia (games, movies, photos, Internet) and has remarkable battery life. Yet another display of genius from LG!

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