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  • We changed the LG G3's display resolution to 1080p - we got superb performance and negligible battery life increases

We changed the LG G3's display resolution to 1080p - we got superb performance and negligible battery life increases

We changed the LG G3's display resolution to 1080p - we got superb performance and negligible battery life increases

Introduction


The LG G3 is one of our favorite smartphones from 2014. Back then, it was an awesome product in many ways, but it was a little broken in some ways as well. Its problems with getting hot and straining to perform under heavy processor load, along with its unimpressive battery life, had many users pointing their fingers at the industry's first 5.5-inch 1440x2560 LCD display as the main culprit. After all, it was an easy target - it sucked out pixel-pushing horsepower, while bringing a diminutive improvement in image clarity over tried and proven 1080p displays.

Later that year, the LG G3's modding and developer community had flourished, and several new Quad-HD devices - the Samsung Galaxy Note 4, Galaxy Note Edge, Moto Droid Turbo, and Meizu MX4 Pro - were introduced. Obviously, Q-HD was here to stay, whether we needed it or not! Meanwhile, modders had rooted the LG G3, and around that time, the idea of lowering Quad-HD devices' screen resolution to a more serene 1080p began making rounds.

What's this idea about? As you probably know, a screen is comprised of “pixels”. Each pixel is one point of light, and that one point of light is capable of representing any color. The idea is to make the G3's processor and graphics unit deal with less pixels. The G3's screen resolution is a fixed 1440x2560 pixels, which means that normally, the display expects the smartphone to feed a whopping 3,686,400 pixels to it!

If we force the LG G3 to work in 1080x1920 resolution, the display's fixed resolution will stay the same, but much less pixels - 2,073,600, to be precise - will be fed to it. This will result in a considerable load being taken off the hardware. It's a bulletproof technique, one that every PC gamer has applied to coax higher frame rates out of their rig, for example. But won't that degrade the image quality? After all, the LG G3's screen is made exclusively for Quad-HD resolution!

When we force the smartphone into 1080p resolution, we're making it put 2 million pixels in a room for 3.7 million pixels. This means the graphics unit has to stretch those 2m pixels into occupying space for 3.6m pixels, or the picture will look wonky. This technique is called interpolation, and is known to cause the image quality to degrade. Here's why - when the LG G3 is set to 1440x2560, each of the 3.7 million pixels it outputs takes exactly one pixel from its screen. That's a perfect 1-to-1 match. But when we change the resolution to 1080p, each pixel will be stretched into 2 pixels or more, and we'll no longer have that perfect matching. However, we are still left with many, many pixels that are crammed into so little physical space (5.5 inches by diagonal) that the result of interpolation is barely noticeable.

What we did and how we did it


We took a Korean LG G3 F400S model with 3GB of RAM, and wiped it into a completely clean state. Not only there was no data on it, but the smartphone wouldn't even boot, because it had no operating system on it. We then flashed original LG G3 firmware from June 2014, and proceeded to install all available OTA updates, one by one. We didn't get Lollipop, but we got our G3 as close to "stock" as humanly possible. And then, it was show time!

First, we wanted to measure the performance again. We ran three passes of AnTuTu, followed by three passes of GFXBench's Manhattan Onscreen and T-Rex Onscreen tests. We recorded the results and calculated the average score - that's our standard procedure.

Next, we charged up our "newborn" LG G3 F400S to 100% and ran our proprietary battery test. The end result was 6 hours and 19 minutes, negligibly better than the 6 hours and 14 minutes of our initial LG G3 battery test from 2014.

After we went through that, it was time to show the LG G3 what we're made of! We rooted it and installed Nomone Resolution Changer. It's a simple app that does the job nice and quick. A few seconds later, our LG G3's display resolution was brought down to 1080x1920. Then, we repeated the benchmarks and battery test. 

Ready for the big reveal? Here are the results:

LG G3 Benchmark Results
TestAverage ScorePerformance Increase
1440x2560

AnTuTu32,915 (Total) | 9494 (3D)-
Manhattan Onscreen7.1 FPS-
T-Rex Onscreen19 FPS-
PhoneArena Battery Test6hr, 19min and 0sec-
1080x1920

AnTuTu41,880 (Total) | 14,136 (3D)27.24% (Total) | 48.89% (3D)
Manhattan Onscreen13 FPS83%
T-Rex Onscreen30 FPS57.89%
PhoneArena Battery Test6hr, 26min and 47sec7min 47sec (1.97%)

As you can see, the results are stellar! Our 1080p LG G3 enjoys a near 30% increase in overall performance. Meanwhile, 3D performance nearly doubles! The effects are noticeable not only in synthetic benchmarks, but in actual 3D games too. You can expect a moderate to substantial FPS increase in games where the LG G3 normally struggles, which will lead to smoother graphics. In addition, the smartphone isn't so quick to throttle down its CPU and GPU frequencies, and it stays a lot cooler.

As for battery life, obviously, the 7 minute 47 second improvement at 1080p is not much to write home about, fellas. Downgrading the resolution isn't the solution to the LG G3's battery woes.

Conclusion


We have two key takeaways from our LG G3 resolution experiment:

  • The LG G3 becomes an even better smartphone in 1080p mode. For the price of rooting, changing your Android launcher (a must, as LG Home is made for Quad-HD), and an almost imperceptible loss in image quality, the G3 becomes a faster device that feels noticeably livelier and stays mostly cool to the touch. You can even turn off LG's stock, heavy-handed thermal mitigation settings comfortably, without fear of overheating. When we tried this tweak in Q-HD mode, this same LG G3 almost disintegrated itself.
  • Unfortunately, downgrading the resolution didn't resolve the LG G3's battery woes. We only saw a negligible 7 minute 47 second (1.97%) improvement.

Thanks for reading, everyone! Tell us what you think of our experiment in the comments below.


83 Comments
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posted on 17 Feb 2015, 08:10 1

1. roldefol (Posts: 4327; Member since: 28 Jan 2011)


Should've waited for the SD805, LG. Bleeding edge hardware is great and all, but you need to match your GPU to your screen.

posted on 17 Feb 2015, 08:22 23

8. LetsBeHonest (Posts: 1484; Member since: 04 Jun 2013)


True. Besides 1080p is more than enough for smartphones IMO. To be honest I can't find any difference between 1080p and QHD. I take higher performance and more battery life over higher resolution display any day

posted on 17 Feb 2015, 08:27 4

10. jaytai0106 (Posts: 1888; Member since: 30 Mar 2011)


Yeah... leave QHD and UHD to TVs, monitors, and tables.

posted on 17 Feb 2015, 08:51

19. roldefol (Posts: 4327; Member since: 28 Jan 2011)


It makes some sense on phones at 5.7"+, where you need QHD to get another the magic 400 ppi number. 1080 is perfect around 5".

posted on 17 Feb 2015, 14:22 3

51. TechieXP1969 (Posts: 10618; Member since: 25 Sep 2013)


Only if you cant make a good one. The Note 4 has a QHD display, yet gets 8 hours of runtimes vs the Note 3 which got just over 6hrs with 1080p.

LG simply rushed an made a crappy @$$ QHD display and Samsung didn't. LG simply rushed to beat Samsung to the punch and didn't care about optimizing the display for the resolution. But it wont matter if they did because LCD's will always use more power than a AMOLED display.

posted on 19 Feb 2015, 12:05

67. miket1737 (Posts: 2967; Member since: 17 Mar 2013)


Yeah maybe the Note 4 gets 8 hours on screen time at 1% brightness on airplane mode it never ever gets that number in real world usage

Pairing 801 with quad HD display is where they went wrong

posted on 17 Feb 2015, 14:32 4

55. Niva. (Posts: 425; Member since: 05 Jan 2015)


OK, so they didn't actually shut off a section of the screen, or replace the physical screen, but expected much better battery results? No. most of the power being drawn by the screen is for feeding the actual pixels. Emulating lower resolution while still keeping the entire display powered is not a valid test in terms of understanding how battery would have performed. For all we know this 1440 screen might be even more efficient than some 1080 screens out there, but the test is stupid.

Good to see the much better performance in games running at native resolution though, and that Android also behaved better.

posted on 18 Feb 2015, 05:37

64. Exempt1 (unregistered)


Nah, QHD should stay on phones. You can notice a difference between the HTC One M8 and the Note 4/LG G3. You put all three next to eachother, which I have done, and the Note 4 looks clean and awesome, then the LG G3 and M8 look gross, but the LG G3 looks way sharper and generally nicer to look at. I regret getting my G3 cuz it is just a dreadful phone. My current (second unit) G3 has a broken vibrator (never had this happen in any phone ever), screen digitizer visible, blues and greens look bad, cracks along the top and bottom near the holes.... Etc. My first G3 had all the same issues, but backlight bleed too. never drooped the phone, I take good care of it. It self harms. :( But QHD definitely looks the business. 500+ ppi is where life looks good

posted on 17 Feb 2015, 08:46 5

17. drunkenjay (Posts: 928; Member since: 11 Feb 2013)


until you have a vr headset

posted on 17 Feb 2015, 14:20 7

50. TechieXP1969 (Posts: 10618; Member since: 25 Sep 2013)


First off, not all QHD displays are battery killers. My Note 4 a QHD display, last 2hrs longer than the Note 3. Think about it. Both the Note 3 and Note 4 both use AMLOED displays. So whst is it about the Note 4's display where it uses less power than the Note 3 and yet have almost 2M more pixels?

When compared to LG, the Note 4 has a better display. First off, AMOLED is better than LCD because they don't require a backlight. The Note 4's display is closer to true color as well. In fact NO other smartphone display is closer....NONE!!!!

And the battery inside the Note 4 is only slightly bigger than the previous model.
It basically seems th other OEM's cant make a good QHD display. So because they didn't, does that mean they are all bad?

720P is plenty of a phone really. You don't need 1080p or 1440p. But its nice to have, especially since I gain 2 additional hours of runtime with it....lol

posted on 17 Feb 2015, 16:07 3

59. hallihallo.87 (Posts: 30; Member since: 07 Jul 2014)


Do you also having wet dreams about Note 4?

posted on 18 Feb 2015, 10:36

66. Niva. (Posts: 425; Member since: 05 Jan 2015)


Nobody has said that all QHD are battery killers in comparisons to all 1080 displays on the market. What I have said is that a QHD display will draw more ower than a 1080 display given the same technology. This test attempted to do battery life estimates without actually unpowering the portions of the display which should have rendered as black bars. If the LG G3 ran a 1080 display of the same tech as used in it's screen it would result in a much smaller screen. They didn't even try to replace the current screen with a 1080 screen of the same size, though there it could have been impacted by other changes in the technology, not just the bigger pixels.

Most of the battery consumption is used for powering displays, this is a critical are where any improvements will have major consequences in terms of usability and battery lifetime.

I have also repeatedly stated that I don't really want anything over 1080 on a sub 6" smartphone device. Someone here was talking about VR headsets, I'm not even sure what that is or why it would matter what the resolution of my phone's screen is to a headset. I would rather buy a headset that has the required resolution built in, and use my phone for phone type stuff. One of the things I hate the most is when my phone cuts off due to no power.

posted on 19 Feb 2015, 12:06

68. miket1737 (Posts: 2967; Member since: 17 Mar 2013)


It only has the best true to life color when you have it in basic mode in screen settins, which i doubt you have it on, stock settings it is on regular mode which is oversaturated colors as always

posted on 23 Sep 2016, 13:53

83. xuzax (Posts: 4; Member since: 23 Sep 2016)


i know this is old. but the battery is your note 3 (whomever did the test)
was most likely older than the one in the note 4. even if never used. also if the android version was different on the two phones that could have a significant difference. most likely the 1440 screen doesnt cosume less energy, its the newer battery. the technology in the phone, and android being more efficient for the note 4

posted on 17 Feb 2015, 19:44

60. yajia1 (Posts: 151; Member since: 22 Aug 2012)


The test would have been better if they changed the panel to the same size panel but with 1080p. The negligible battery life increase was solely for the processor's workload.

posted on 17 Feb 2015, 08:16

2. mphker.com (Posts: 1; Member since: 17 Feb 2015)


Nicee

posted on 17 Feb 2015, 08:17 4

3. emanuelwooten (unregistered)


So q-hd is worse on the performance of phones than I originally though SMH. so im guessing the 1080p htc one m9, will out perform its q-hd m9 plus brother by a good bit. if i was going htc this year i know which one i would get.

posted on 17 Feb 2015, 08:39 4

14. roldefol (Posts: 4327; Member since: 28 Jan 2011)


We already know a lower resolution screen will outpace its more pixel-dense brother. Compare the benchmarks for the Z3 Compact to the Z3. SD 801 at 720 flies. Hopefully the 810 will similarly fly at 1080.

posted on 17 Feb 2015, 08:49

18. Bishop_99 (Posts: 75; Member since: 04 Dec 2013)


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W9IJ6wyjdSM

He ran all the benchmarks on the LG G Flex 2, that has the S810 and a 1080p screen, and they weren't overly impressive when compared to the 1440p phones with the S805. Considering it is a 1080p and a newer GPU, you would have thought that the Antutu benchmark would have been far more impressive, yet, it isn't flying over the 1440p display phones. Not a night and day difference.

It's great that the option will be there for people to buy 1080p phones with the S810, but I doubt that they are really going to be so different in comparison to the 1440p phones using the S810.

Probably a bit more improvement in battery life, although I think manufactures will counter that by putting in smaller batteries to release thinner phones.

posted on 17 Feb 2015, 08:52 2

20. emanuelwooten (unregistered)


The g flex 2 hs a flawed sd810 with heating issues.

posted on 17 Feb 2015, 09:23

31. Bishop_99 (Posts: 75; Member since: 04 Dec 2013)


Even if the S810 had flaws of overheating, it would run the initial tests fine. It doesn't have a flawed GPU. Quick benmarks would be fine, prolonged use might be an issue and things may be throttled.

posted on 17 Feb 2015, 11:02

41. emanuelwooten (unregistered)


yeah thats true

posted on 17 Feb 2015, 14:24

52. TechieXP1969 (Posts: 10618; Member since: 25 Sep 2013)


NO! It simply sucks on THIS phone. Its perfect on the Note 4. The Note 3 had 1080p, and just over 6 hours of usage. The Note 4 has QHD and has over 8hrs of usage.

LG simply made a crappy QHD display.

posted on 17 May 2015, 16:54

76. chenski (Posts: 446; Member since: 22 Mar 2015)


That's just your opinion, i love my g3's display and i don't find the note 4's display any better

posted on 11 Aug 2015, 08:34 1

79. Hexa-core (banned) (Posts: 2131; Member since: 11 Aug 2015)


LCD requires a backlight in order to light-up it's pixels, whereas AMOLED's pixels light-up by themeselves and do not need a backligt, hence consumes less power. Thereby giving it better battery life over LCDs. Copy that ?

posted on 17 Feb 2015, 08:18 9

4. aesthetics (Posts: 128; Member since: 02 Oct 2014)


1080p is more than enough on a smartphone... i hope the HTC m9 comes with full hd screen instead of gimmicky QHD.

posted on 17 Feb 2015, 14:25 3

53. TechieXP1969 (Posts: 10618; Member since: 25 Sep 2013)


No it isn't. Its no more gimmicky than 720p or 1080p. My Note 4 has QHD yet I get an additional 2hrs of batterylife over the Note 3 with 1080p. Samsung simply did a better job on the display.

posted on 17 Feb 2015, 08:20 14

5. harvardale (Posts: 46; Member since: 22 Jul 2011)


I could be completely wrong, but...

Forcing 1080p doesn't "turn off" pixels, so the display is still working as qHD even though the resolution is 1080p. So the battery life increase is probably just because of the processor not working as hard. A true 1080p display would still see even better battery life.

posted on 17 Feb 2015, 08:22

7. luis.d (Posts: 329; Member since: 04 Dec 2013)


You are correct. No pixels turned off. Just less of them to process.

posted on 17 Feb 2015, 08:46

16. ngo2dd (Posts: 896; Member since: 08 Jul 2011)


It is an LCD screen so the pixel are always on so the phone still is pushing a QHD display. If this was OLED then you can turn the pixel off

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