Introduction


For quite some time, LG has been struggling to rejoin the big names in the industry, but 2013 was a great year for the company. What happened was that LG released the G2 high-end smartphone in the second half of the year, overshadowing most of its rivals in terms of specs. However, there was more to the G2 than an imposing specs sheet, as the G2 also proved to be quite innovative in the design department. With a remarkable screen-to-size ratio and an off-beat key positioning on the back, the G2 delivered a breath of fresh air to the market. Needless to say, the handset was well-received, and it paved the way for something even bigger that was to happen this year.

Enter the G3 – LG's all-out attack on the Android universe that will employ all the available resources and technology in order to make a dent in the industry. That's not to say that it's going to have an easy time doing it. Phones like the Galaxy S5, One (M8), and Xperia Z2 certainly are a truly fearsome bunch, but it seems like the LG G3 has all the needed guns in order to deal with the threat. Quad HD screen? Check. Enormous screen without an enormous body size? Check. No-compromise specs sheet? Check. Elegant design? Check. Is this the phone to rule them all in 2014? Let's find out!

Note that for this review, we're using the Korean version of the LG G3, which may exhibit some subtle differences in comparison with the international model.

UPDATE (Jun 25, 2014): This review was originally based on our experience with the Korean version of the LG G3. After testing the International (European) version of the phone, we've found differences in a few areas, including display quality and brightness, indoor camera quality, and call quality. The battery section has also been edited, due to a technical mistake in the original result. We've updated the text of the review accordingly.



Design

Rear keys meet elegance – it's a good-looking, but very big phone

The G3 borrows a lot of the aesthetic principles characteristic of its predecessor. Its form and overall appearance follow in the footsteps of the G2, but it's safe to say that the G3 builds on the heritage of its predecessor in every way. So, the exterior of the G3 is nicely curved on the back, making it sit nicely in the hand. The phone is rather big with its 5.76 x 2.94 x 0.35 inches (146.3 x 74.6 x 8.9 mm). Since it's equipped with a significantly bigger screen, one would expect that the G3 will be larger than its competitors, and it indeed is. For example, the Galaxy S5 (5.59 x 2.85 x 0.32 inches (142 x 72.5 x 8.1 mm)) is both shorter and narrower, while the One (M8) is about as tall (5.76 inches), but significantly narrower (2.78 inches) than the G3. The G3 is also significantly bigger than the G2, which had a 5.2” display. However, the thing is that thanks to the extremely thin bezels around the display, the G3 doesn't feel that much bigger than its opponents. What's more, the G3 has managed to retain a decent weight of 5.26 oz (149 g), so it's not really that overwhelming.

The front has that signature short top bezel, like in the G2, while the bottom one is slightly higher, but now features a splash of color that corresponds to the coloring of the rest of the phone. Frankly, it makes the whole shebang look classier and more elegant – a significant upgrade from the styling of its predecessor.

The smooth polycarbonate used for the exterior of the G3 may not be decidedly premium, but it's still a notch above your typical plastic finish. Yes, the G3 is predominantly made of plastic, but LG does note that there's a matte anti-fingerprint finish on top, as well as an extremely thin film of metal in the back cover, so it's supposed to be a bit more than 'just plastic'. As a whole, it does well in replicating the look of the brushed metal finish of the HTC One, while delivering the warmth and relative non-slipperiness of plastic. Its matte coating also does very well in avoiding those nasty smudges that are so typical with glossy plastic. It's really like you're getting the best from both worlds.

LG's signature rear keys are here, of course, positioned neatly on the back of the handset. Sure, this positioning takes some getting used to, since it's so different from what's widely accepted in the industry, but all in all, the rear keys don't come off as especially hard to use, especially after you've used them for a while. In terms of feel, they are by no means excellent. The power key is fine, with a decent amount of clickiness, but the volume rocker buttons are a bit too shallow.

The speaker of the LG G3 is placed on the back side, similarly to the Galaxy S5. It doesn't get muffled if you put the phone on a smooth and hard surface, but otherwise, it does. Right next to the signature rear keys is where the 13 MP camera resides, accompanied by a dual LED flash and a laser beam that's designed to aid it in its auto-focusing efforts. But more on that later.


LG G3

LG G3

Dimensions

5.76 x 2.94 x 0.35 inches

146.3 x 74.6 x 8.9 mm

Weight

5.26 oz (149 g)

Samsung Galaxy S5

Samsung Galaxy S5

Dimensions

5.59 x 2.85 x 0.32 inches

142 x 72.5 x 8.1 mm

Weight

5.11 oz (145 g)

HTC One (M8)

HTC One (M8)

Dimensions

5.76 x 2.78 x 0.37 inches

146.36 x 70.6 x 9.35 mm

Weight

5.64 oz (160 g)

Sony Xperia Z2

Sony Xperia Z2

Dimensions

5.78 x 2.89 x 0.32 inches

146.8 x 73.3 x 8.2 mm

Weight

5.75 oz (163 g)

LG G3

LG G3

Dimensions

5.76 x 2.94 x 0.35 inches

146.3 x 74.6 x 8.9 mm

Weight

5.26 oz (149 g)

Samsung Galaxy S5

Samsung Galaxy S5

Dimensions

5.59 x 2.85 x 0.32 inches

142 x 72.5 x 8.1 mm

Weight

5.11 oz (145 g)

HTC One (M8)

HTC One (M8)

Dimensions

5.76 x 2.78 x 0.37 inches

146.36 x 70.6 x 9.35 mm

Weight

5.64 oz (160 g)

Sony Xperia Z2

Sony Xperia Z2

Dimensions

5.78 x 2.89 x 0.32 inches

146.8 x 73.3 x 8.2 mm

Weight

5.75 oz (163 g)

To see the phones in real size or compare them with other models, visit our Visual Phone Size Comparison page



Display

Slightly dim and oversaturated – the screen of the G3 makes up with area and resolution

The screen is a pretty major asset for the LG G3. First of all, it's really enormous for a smartphone – with a 5.5” diagonal, it's decidedly bigger than the rest of the 2014 competition. The Xperia Z2's 5.2” panel comes closest to it, but those 0.3” do make a difference. With a screen that big, we're especially thankful to LG for minimizing the thickness of the bezels, as otherwise the G3 would have ended up a gargantuan affair. Now, with its efficient design, it's just a very, very big affair.

The second key aspect of this IPS LCD screen is the resolution. This is the first globally-available phone to make use of the enormous 1440 x 2560-pixel resolution, or in other words – QHD. A resolution this high enables a staggering pixel density of 538 ppi, meaning that whatever comes up on screen is supposed to look extremely sharp, without a hint of pixelization. Yeah, we said the same thing when 1080 x 1920 screens arrived, but this statement is getting more and more accurate now that QHD is here. Now, we obviously have to answer the question of just how much of a benefit there is in having QHD resolution instead of 1080p in cell phone screens of such size. Well, let's just say that some difference in clarity might be there, but it is extremely hard to notice. Yes, things do look super-fine, but we can't honestly say that it looks cleaner than 1080p in some way. At the same time, the higher resolution means a bigger load on the processor and the battery, so we aren't really sure if this jump in resolution is justified.

The maximum brightness that we could achieve with the LG G3 is about 450 nits. That's a pretty decent result, on par with what most other Android flagships offer. This kind of visibility usually translates to a display that's hard to view under direct sunlight, but in most other cases, you won't have an issue reading it. In comparison with the rest of the landscape, the Galaxy S5 appears to be just a bit easier to view outdoors, while the HTC One (M8) seems to exhibit a pretty much identical outdoor viewing experience, compared to the G3. Meanwhile, minimum brightness is about 9 nits, which is a bit high – it won't be unbearable for your eyes too look at in the dark, but it won't be the most comfortable experience either.

The LG G3 is yet another phone to arrive with pumped-up saturation of its screen, or at least that's what we can make of the display measurements we've done with it. Primary colors (red, green, and blue) tend to have that slightly oversaturated look, though, thankfully, they aren't too punchy. Overall color balance is pretty decent, with the screen being a bit colder than it needs to, with color temperature standing at 7100 K. Average gamma is about 2.26, which is very close to the reference value of 2.2. It definitely would have been much appreciated if there was a “natural” screen mode in the G3's setting, but oh well ...



FEATURED VIDEO

176 Comments

1. Jinto

Posts: 436; Member since: Jan 15, 2014

Congrats PA, your first QHD phone review! The G3 is a beast. And a better deal that the SGS5 because I believe the g3 is $550 while the s5 is $700

8. akki20892

Posts: 3902; Member since: Feb 04, 2013

Now, LG is master of bezels... Can't beat them.... LG getting better n better everyday.... Their phones are awesome.... Great work lg. Keep it up.

66. Feanor

Posts: 1346; Member since: Jun 20, 2012

Everybody goes crazy about slim bezels. If the phone has slim bezels, then it's the best. Did anyway notice the contrast output of the screen? This review agrees with the one from GSMArena; appalling contrast ratio. In this case who cares about bezels?

82. Shatter

Posts: 2036; Member since: May 29, 2013

The poor contrast ratio is a huge turn off, especially if you do a lot of reading on your phone. The display max/minimum brightness is also bad.

160. Jillxz

Posts: 149; Member since: Jun 04, 2012

No problem for me and most people. Never even notice it.

144. sgtdisturbed47

Posts: 966; Member since: Feb 02, 2012

Handling the phone is also important, not just the screen. Slim bezels are just as important as screen quality. My only gripe about the review is giving it a Con for not being waterproof. That's stupid. "Waterproof" is not a common feature, so it shouldn't be mentioned as a Con if it doesn't have this feature. Having to deal with the stupid USB flap cover thing is a turn-off, and that flap will eventually snap off anyway.

149. bob_monkeywarts unregistered

Slim bezels are good on a phone with such a massive display. If the LG G3 had bezels as thick as the iPhone, then the entire phone would be huge. But if you take away the bezels, then you have a much smaller phone with a big display. If someone said, "Wow! the iPhone has thin bezels this year!" It wouldn't really matter, it would just make the iPhone the size of your fingernail.

148. bob_monkeywarts unregistered

Best high-end phone maker: LG. Best low-end phone maker: Motorola. It's a fact.

11. LGisgood

Posts: 833; Member since: Jun 23, 2012

so far ONLY PhoneArena Mentioned this TRUTH! REAL Thin METAL ON THE BACK OF G3! Good Review ! The smooth polycarbonate used for the exterior of the G3 may not be decidedly premium, but it's still a notch above your typical plastic finish. It's your typical plastic affair, but LG does note that there's a matte anti-fingerprint finish on top, as well as an extremely thin film of metal in the back cover, so it's supposed to be just a bit more than 'simply plastic'. As a whole, it does well in replicating the look of the brushed metal finish of the HTC One, while delivering the warmth and relative non-slipperiness of plastic. Its matte coating also does very well in avoiding those nasty smudges that are so typical with glossy plastic. It's really like you're getting the best from both worlds.

19. oister85

Posts: 508; Member since: Apr 27, 2012

Don't forget s5 is water resistant, and that's a huge feature you can't not ignore.

21. SuperAndroidEvo

Posts: 4888; Member since: Apr 15, 2011

You are right, the LG G3 is an EPIC phone, where Samsung beats it with the S5 is with the water/dust proofing. Both are excellent phones but to me the Samsung is all around the better device because of the water/dust proofing. When the LG G4 comes out then I will certainly bet it will be water/dust proof for sure. GREAT review Ray S! +1

154. William13

Posts: 27; Member since: Mar 10, 2011

As someone who sells these phones everyday and deals with constant feedback, I can tell you the S5 isn't a better all around phone than any other premium phone. Sure it has a great screen and camera and it's waterproof, but limiting the phone to 2GB of RAM is absolutely absurd. After about 2 months, every user that has the S5 comes in like clockwork complaining that their S5 is lagging, or the battery life is horrible. First place I check? Running apps, and even without their additional installed apps, the S5 is using about 1GB of that RAM out of the box with all of Samsung's bloatware. Every Samsung fan coworker of mine can't help but agree that the S5 sucks in usability, even if your average user doesn't understand RAM.

158. KFear

Posts: 170; Member since: Feb 06, 2012

I wouldn't confuse customers so much on RAM usage. Don't have them freak out about running apps either. KitKat manages those on it's own. They aren't really "Running", per say. But it is good to clean that out at the beginning of each day. I feel that Android now managers memory quite well. Remember the 2.1 days of android. Geeeeesh

162. jgalvez21

Posts: 21; Member since: May 29, 2014

s5 also have wolfson at least the exynos version.

45. pwnarena

Posts: 1129; Member since: Feb 15, 2013

and don't forget the sharp aquos 32sh (featured here before) is also water resistant but it has bezels smaller than that of lg g3.

49. SuperAndroidEvo

Posts: 4888; Member since: Apr 15, 2011

Yeah but the Sharp is not sold worldwide like the Samsung's, LG's & Sony's are.

75. SuperMaoriBro

Posts: 533; Member since: Jun 23, 2012

I hate my s5 waterproofing. That usb flap is annoying and feels so cheap and flimsy, im sure it wont last. I regret buying it tbh. Still prefer samsubg but i have to admit im dissappointed with my s5

76. SuperAndroidEvo

Posts: 4888; Member since: Apr 15, 2011

I personally like the Sony Xperia Z2 WAY better than the Samsung Galaxy S5. Should have bought the Xperia Z2... +1 to your honest comment.

161. Jillxz

Posts: 149; Member since: Jun 04, 2012

That's not a deal breaker for me .

56. LGisgood

Posts: 833; Member since: Jun 23, 2012

REMINDER! REMINDER! REMINDER! "Note that for this review, we're using the Korean version of the LG G3, which may exhibit some subtle differences in comparison with the international model." LG can easily fix any bad issue from this review model

77. LGisgood

Posts: 833; Member since: Jun 23, 2012

GENERAL INFORMATION! GsmArena battery test for G3 IS DOUBTFUL! according to GsmArena LG G3 managed @ 9;57 hours in VIDEO PLAY BACK and there is still a 10% remaining of G3's battery. THE FACT! IPS LCD Display is actually doing better in Browsing than on a Video play back?. then HOW COME? G3 Manged ONLY 6:40hours in browsing?

105. BaffledTruffle

Posts: 523; Member since: Dec 07, 2013

I can't answer that question. Maybe you should ask GSMA for that.

118. Diezparda

Posts: 941; Member since: Oct 23, 2013

I hope they are wrong, because G3 maybe my next phone. The verge said the same thing about how good G3 battery life is.

121. BaffledTruffle

Posts: 523; Member since: Dec 07, 2013

I kind of get now. It's not just the screen that you're powering. You're actually using the antenna as well. You are browsing the web and powering that pixel-dense and that must be the ultimate reason why it's very easy to deplete the battery. If many reviews agreed with GSMA's scores, then maybe G3 is not really that power-efficient. That is a shame though, my P6 got only 10 minutes less on their battery test.

111. sar44

Posts: 278; Member since: Apr 14, 2014

Pros: Thin bezels Good design OIS (Advanced OIS) Cons: No isocell No oled Small camera sensor Plastic body No waterpoof qhd (bad for battery and soc)

113. sar44

Posts: 278; Member since: Apr 14, 2014

116. BaffledTruffle

Posts: 523; Member since: Dec 07, 2013

Not having an ISOCELL camera is not a con. OLED is a matter of personal preference. QHD is both a con and a pro. (Pro side is the sharpness, con is the average contrast ratio, being such a battery hog)

120. sar44

Posts: 278; Member since: Apr 14, 2014

isocell have better color, better dynamic range, better detalization. watch link oled have ideal black color, ideal contrast, ideal viewing angle, ideal response speed, all much better than lcd oversaturaturated colors only on bad calibrated displays qhd bad for battery and soc. I do not see any difference between 400ppi and 500ppi, a lot of people do not see any difference between 300ppi and 400ppi.

122. BaffledTruffle

Posts: 523; Member since: Dec 07, 2013

Dude, the reason why the S5's ISOCELL camera is excellent is that their image processing is very good as well. It's not just the sensor that's good, it must be the software as well. Look at Z2's camera. It's a monster on paper but not on the field. Not everyone likes AMOLED displays. You should accept that. And finally, not everyone is like you who is contented with a 300-400+ppi displays. Pixel peepers will agree with you. I personally am fine with my phone with 312 ppi. It's enough not to see individual pixels. Not everyone will agree to your "facts".

123. sar44

Posts: 278; Member since: Apr 14, 2014

Facepalm. You are troll? Such images are obtained immediately at that moment. With more accurate colors, better dynamic range, better detalization. Watch link, also watch tests and reviews. Where is your proof? Z2 have usual BSI sensor. About screen i answered.

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

G3
  • Display 5.5" 1440 x 2560 pixels
  • Camera 13 MP / 2.1 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 801, Quad-core, 2500 MHz
  • Storage 32 GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 3000 mAh(21h 3G talk time)

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