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LG G2 REVIEW: A Device Worthy of Top Billing

by Roy Choi | September 26, 2013September 26, 2013 11:15 am PDT

The LG G2 is undoubtedly the South Korean company’s flagship smartphone. In an already crowded market you have to develop and make a device that stands out above the crowd. On paper the G2 ranks among the best, with a gorgeous 5.2-inch, 1920 x 1080 display, 2.26 GHz Snapdragon 800 quad-core processor and a 3,000mAh battery. Does the device stand out amongst your iPhones, HTC Ones, Galaxy devices?

LG devices of the past fell flat of premier status, and weren’t considered amongst top of the line devices. The G2, finally, bucks that trend and is a device that not only competes, but possibly beats the competition.

LG G2 Video Review

Hardware

The G2 sports a 5.2-inch 1920 x 1080 pixel display (424 ppi), and while it doesn’t pack the pixel density of the Galaxy S4’s 441 ppi, it is still stunning and does offer a slightly larger (0.2-inches) display over the S4. It’s one of those displays you simply have to look at to appreciate. It is no surprise other companies source LG to build displays for their devices. The display has almost no side bezel and doesn’t feel like you have any “wasted space.” It’s also incredible indoors, though it has some drawbacks like many other devices, especially outside under direct sunlight. Just remember to turn up the brightness.

The processor is a beefy 2.26GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 quad-core processor paired with 2GB of RAM.  You can imagine with those specs you can pretty much handle anything. According to LG, the G2 is the first device in the U.S. to offer the Snapdragon 800 quad-core processor. It is absolutely a beast; I can’t wait to see more devices sporting this processor. Just from my quick trial it is amazing how quickly apps pull up and process commands, even multiple functions at once. The Quadrant score was 20851 if you value those figures. All I can say is from my real world usage, it is one of the fastest experiences on any mobile device.

It is available with 16GB or 32GB of storage but is not expandable. For most users 16GB should suffice.

The unit itself is essentially plastic all around, but feels more durable than Galaxy devices.  It is currently available in black or white; we tested out the black model. The back panel has a two-tone fiber-like design beneath the glossy finish. It actually looks neat upon closer inspection.

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So the rear button, as you might expect, is without a doubt quite peculiar. It feels like it should be a fingerprint scanner rather than a power button and volume rocker. That being said, I like how the button is not on the side or top of the device. I had issues with the Galaxy S4’s button placement and found that I, or someone who wasn’t all too familiar with the phone, would accidentally press the volume buttons while taking photos, which just so happens to be the zoom in/out rocker. You really don’t have to worry about that on the G2.  Secondly, LG has built in some pretty neat software tricks to render a power button completely useless. However, I will admit, it took me about two days (Jon said it took him about four days) to get used to the button being placed on the back.  I don’t miss it.

So you’d think with a rocking processor and ultra-bright HD display that battery life would take a hit. While the G2 is relatively thin, LG’s engineers have crammed a 3,000mAh battery into the device. The battery itself lasted Jon about two full days, the first of which he had more than 60 percent remaining before going to bed. I used it fairly heavily one particular day, from 8:00 a.m. to 12:30 a.m. after a full charge with multiple calls, texts, social media, photo taking, streaming some shows, and about an hour’s worth of GPS/navigation use, and I still had about 40 percent of the battery remaining; I was blown away at how long the battery lasted.

Software

The G2 comes loaded with Android 4.2.2 and a ton of other LG features: QSlide, Slide Aside, Clip Tray, QuickRemote, KnockOn.

QSlide

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QSlide: allows you to run multiple apps on top of each other, such as watching a video clip on top of an email you’re working on.

lg-g2-qslide-apps

SlideAside

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SlideAside: allows you to jump back and forth across open apps more easily, instead of going back a bunch of times or hitting the home button to reopen the app. Use three fingers to swipe left and swipe again to the right to get to your recently opened apps.


Clip Tray

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Clip Tray: takes your recent copied images, files them into one gallery for easy organization, and then send those pictures in an email, message or document. Certainly helps you from jumping around from app to app to get the right content.


QuickRemote

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QuickRemote: utilizes the built-in IR emitter to control your TV, media. Worked great and very easy to use when you can’t find your remote.


KnockOn

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KnockOn: knock or tap twice on the display to wake the device. This is my favorite software tweak by LG and certainly makes the rear button (or any physical power button) useless. I rather enjoy this feature and wished it could be available on more devices.

The G2 comes with other tricks we’ve seen, like picking up the phone to your ear to answer calls, or flipping the device over to “silence” a ringing phone. Certainly useful and neat if you use them, but nothing that truly sets the device apart from other customizations.

Camera

LG’s Camera has glimpses of brilliance mixed with moments of unsatisfying results. Most situations will result in gorgeous images you’d expect from a point and shoot, while some moments will deliver images that look grainy and noisy. Different situations result in differing photos. My biggest concern regarding the camera is when shooting in low-light situations. The G2 tends to over compensate things, whether it is the flash or over processing, I felt it tried to do too much at night. While the camera captured images and compensated for low-light it tended to look too saturated, overexposed and just a tad too grainy. However, I wouldn’t say that it was any worse off than most other smartphone cameras. In fact on most devices, you’d usually end up with a dark photo with not much else, I suppose an overexposed photo is better than no photo.

Camera Samples

Call Quality and Data

Call quality was on par with other flagship devices from competitors. I will say I found call quality and reception to be better than what I’ve found on the Moto X and iPhone 5 from where I live. Obviously results vary depending on where you live and your carrier. I live in a dead zone for most carriers and I still managed to get calls out.

The speakerphone was plenty loud and since it’s located on the base of the device, it didn’t matter if I had the phone facing up or down.

Data was actually a little better on the G2 than I’ve found on other devices. I managed to pull 22 mbps download speeds and 10-12 mbps upload speeds on AT&T’s 4G LTE in TechnoBuffalo’s Irvine office, which is above average compared to other handsets.

Final Thoughts

The G2 finally gives LG a device that can compete with the best.

The rear button seems weird at first, but honestly it shouldn’t detract you from taking a serious look at this gorgeous, speedy device.

With so many flagship phones vying for our attention, it really is hard for devices to stand apart from the crowd. The G2 finally gives LG a device that can compete with the best, and is worthy of top billing. It’s one of the fastest phones on the market and has a battery that will outlast your busiest days.

Jonathan Rettinger used the LG G2 for 5 full days and on and off for 2 more. Roy Choi used the device for 6 days. Video by Jon Rettinger, text written by Roy Choi.


Roy Choi

Roy Choi is a Southern California native. He has been infatuated with technology reviews ever since he bought his first crummy laptop in the summer...

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