LG G3 s hands-on
The LG G3 s was already unveiled earlier, but we only get to see at IFA 2014, so it’s a great time for some hands-on impressions of the ‘mini’ version of LG’s flagship G3. In fact, apart from the similarity in the design language between the two, the G3 s is a drastically different phone. It’s even hard to call it a mini, despite the ‘s’ part in its name.
Why? It’s got a 5-inch display, as much as most flagships out there. But how does it feel in the hand and is it well-performing? Let’s find out.
The LG G3 s comes with the now signature for LG physical buttons on the rear side of the device: you’ve got the power/lock key encircled by the volume rocker right where your fingers reside, so they’re convenient to press. Right above the keys is the camera eye, a single LED flash and - yes - an infra-red sensor for faster focusing as in the G3. Having the buttons on the back (and having no keys on the sides) makes the G3 s look clean on its front and adds to its aesthetic appeal.
The G3 s is made of plastic, but it feels solidly put together and it does not screek or squeel when you hold it tightly. It clearly lacks that premium feel of other mini phones (cough, Xperia Z Compact series), though, but it is still very nice to the touch and great in terms of ergonomics. Finally, in terms of size, it’s a very compact 5-incher, so much that LG claims that it’s made the phone with the best screen-to-phone size ratio. That’s what makes it much easier to handle single-handedly, more so than other 5-inch devices.
The 5.0-inch screen of the LG G3 s features a 720 x 1280-pixel resolution and is of the IPS LCD kind. That means great viewing angles. The HD resolution of the panel translates into pixel density of 294ppi, which makes it hard to notice much of pixelization on the screen.
At first sight, colors do seem very pleasing, with a nice vibrant charm to them, but we’ll reserve our final opinion for later on when we get to do our full set of display benchmarks.
The LG G3 s ships with Android 4.4 KitKat adorned with the company’s newest user interface, the same one we first saw on the flagship G3. That’s great to see as LG’s new interface looks less cartoonish and more modern, with the trendy flatter looks and nice transitions between screens. It’s also full-packed with features and apps in a way similar to how Samsung stuffs its phones full of apps. Among the more notable ones are:
Smart Keyboard, Quick Memo+, Dual Window, Knock Code, Gesture Shot, Touch & Shoot.
Performance and Memory
With the now standard for mid-range devices quad-core Snapdragon 400 system chip running at up to 1.2GHz, and a nicely optimized UI, the G3 s runs almost without a hiccup. It’s got 1GB of RAM on board, which translates into fairly speedy multitasking, a RAM-critical area.
Internal storage stands at 8GB. Sounds insufficient? Good news is that you can expand on that via microSD cards of up to 128 gigs.
The G3 s is equipped with an 8-megapixel main camera with a single LED flash and a 1.3-megapixel front shooter for selfies. Our initial impressions are that it’s a fairly fast shooter that captures decent, but not outstanding images. Surprisingly, the G3 s does not cater directly to the recent selfie mania and its front shooter is a meager 1.3-megapixel cam. Why so? We’d guess that with those rear buttons and rear camera you simply don’t need to use the front cam for selfies - you can capture them using the main cam without much effort!
For what it’s worth, the LG G3 s is a good device on its own: it features a surprisingly good-looking and compact body, and despite the plastic materials used feels solid and well-crafted. It’s also very snappy and responsive, plus it runs the newest LG user interface with neat features like Dual Windows for better multi-tasking. However, the G3 s is arriving on an extremely competitive mobile market where it’d have to fight off rivals like the Samsung Galaxy S5 mini and - even worse - the Snapdragon 801-equipped Sony Xperia Z3 Compact. In that fight, pricing it right will be key.