LG G3 Review
A neat, flat, simple, and feature-rich user experience – a notable newcomer in the Android world
Naturally, the LG G3, being the super-phone that it is, cannot afford to run on anything less than Android 4.4.2 KitKat. What's more interesting here, though, is LG's new user interface, which has been reworked in accordance with the modern software design trends that promote lightness and simplicity. While LG's strengths have never been in the field of software design, we have to say that the company has done a surprisingly good job with its new UI. LG has shied away from using a lot of primary colors, and instead, it has opted for more secondaries, such as some lighter shades of orange, yellow, magenta and cyan. This has lead to a more of a mature look for the interface, despite the utmost simplicity and cleanness. It's also a good thing that LG has preserved the remarkable amounts of functionality that typically come with its software, but has designed the UI so that nothing really stands in the way of normal, comfortable usage.
In terms of structure and organization, LG's new UI stays true to the Android way – there is a lockscreen, homescreen, app launcher... everything that you'd expect, just made more advanced and customizable. The lockscreen, for example, presents you with customizable app shortcuts, as well as widgets, if you'd like. The useful KnockOn functionality is here, allowing you to wake the phone up by just doing a double-tap on the screen. And, if you'd like to make use of the same type of gesture to unlock your phone, but with a higher degree of security, you can take advantage of LG's Knock Code. The subject of many recent marketing efforts by LG, Knock Code lets you create a knock pattern, or sequence, with which to unlock the device. The benefit of this is that it allows you to bypass the lockscreen completely, but the disadvantage is that it's not super-secure.
As we said, LG's interface is extremely customizable. For example, the G3 makes use of on-screen navigation buttons, but you can actually add a fourth button there, which lets execute one of the following features: notification bar, QMemo+, QSlide, or Dual window, with most of these being self-explanatory enough.
A notable feature here is Dual window, which allows you to run two apps in splitscreen mode. The way it works is this: you activate Dual window, choose two apps that you want to run simultaneously, and after a few moments, they pop up on screen. It's not really casual, and has a mostly niche appeal, but it's good to have either way.
There are also some new additions to LG's software. Smart Notice is one of them – it's a Google Now kind of feature that attempts to act like it's your personal assistant of sorts. For example, it will remind you about various things, like birthdays of your contacts, or that you've recently rejected a call and might want to get in touch with that person, in case you're not that busy now. Other simple examples may include reminders to take an umbrella, when the weather forecast is looking wet and gloomy. Actually, Smart Notice is also voice-recognition enabled, so you can execute various tasks using voice commands.
Some other not-that-groundbreaking new features have also been baked right into the UI of the LG G3. Such are Content Lock and Kill Switch. The former lets you secure certain directories on the phone, so that they can't be accessed by other users, while the latter enables you to remotely lock and wipe your device, in the unfortunate event of your phone being stolen. As you can see, the G3 is a truly feature-packed phone, but that doesn't mean there isn't anything missing. For instance, there isn't a one-handed mode for easier operation, as on some competing devices, like the GS5.
The phonebook of the LG G3 is rather extensive. It does utilize the new, lighter and flatter UI design, but that doesn't mean that's not pretty heavy on features. You get a total of five tabs, dedicated for the dialer, call log, contacts list, favorites, and groups. Some manufacturers tend to combine some of these under a single tab, and this often means that compromises have to be made. LG has obviously gone for the opposite solution – to put everything in its own separate tab. That makes for an organized interface, but of course, it also means that there's going to be a lot of tab switching. One thing that we enjoy in the contacts list is that all contacts have small 'dial' and 'message' keys next to their names, allowing you to quickly dial or message them, right from the list.
The LG G3's messaging app is as customizable as ever. You can even change the background and bubble colors in your threads, in order to make the suit your liking. Other than that, it's just a messaging app – nothing too fancy about it, besides the abundant customization capabilities.
One thing of note here is the new Smart Keyboard. LG has designed its QWERTY keyboard so that it adapts to your writing style, trying to make it easier for you along the way. It'll try to figure out what words you're more likely to type when trying to predict your input, and such kind of stuff. It's also very cusomizable – you can actually adjust the keyboard's height to your liking. We actually enjoy the keyboard's layout, as it maintains a good balance simplicity and versatality. Thankfully, there's also built-in Swype-like functionality, for those of us who are too lazy to actually press those buttons.
LG G3 is equipped with a host of versatile organzer tools, like a calendar, notes, and health apps, as well as some additional features designed to enhance multitasking and productivity. One of those features is Dual window, which lets you run two apps at a time. That's cool, but another feature, called QSlide, tends to be a bit more gimmicky for us, as it also attempts to let you have a number of apps running at the same time, but displaying them one over another, appliying different levels of transparancy to them. Obviously, it isn't anything that's managed to creep its way to mainstream thus far.
Processor and Memory
The QHD resolution slows things down a bit, but the G3 still packs quite a punch
Snapdragon 801 is the name of the game for all globally-available high-end smartphones in the first half of 2014, and the LG G3 is not an exception. Similarly to the Galaxy S5, the G3 is equipped with the slightly more powerful 801 variation – 8974-AC. This chip makes use of a super-fast 2.5 GHz quad-core Krait 400 CPU. Of course, this is complemented by the tried and true Adreno 330 GPU, as well as the plentiful 2 or 3 gigs of RAM (depending on whether you got the 16 or 32 GB vartiant, respectively). As you can see, that's one mighty configuration that should be able to force its way through anything you throw at it. To an extent, it does, but unfortunately, there's a substantial amount of lag and choppiness as you browse through the interface. This can be attributed to two main possible causes: it's either because of the high QHD resolution, or bad software optimization. There are just slight hints of slow-down every now and then, while executing simple tasts, such as browsing through the menus, opening and closing apps, etc. If the screen was 1080 x 1920, performance would have probably been considerably better. Anyway, to be honest, the LG G3 doesn't seem to lag more than the Galaxy S5, for example, so its not really that bad.
The synthetic benchmark tests we did proved that the QHD screen does present the chipset with a rather heavy load, as the results achieved by the G3 are comparable to those of the G2 or the Xperia Z1 – phones that are one generation older. Not that it's slow – quite the contrary – the G3 is still a speed demon, but that's mostly because mobile software can't quite catch up with mobile hardware yet. So, at the end of the day, performance of the G3 is still very good, although the extraordinary number of pixels stuffed in its screen mean that its performance is limited to sub-S5/M8/Z2 levels.
No compromises have been made when it comes to storage space. Internal space comes in 16 GB and 32 GB varieties, and if this doesn't seem to be particuarly spacious for you, you still have the option to insert a microSD card of up to 128 GB. This way, you'll be able to keep anything you want right on your phone.
Internet and Connectivity
As you can imagine, the larger-than-life 5.5-inch display is simply perfect for internet browsing. With the G3, LG is supplying its own browser, but we'd rather stick with Android's stock browser, Chrome. After all, Chrome has reached a very mature level, plus it's getting tons of support from Google, so it's really hard to come up with an overall better browsing solution on Android.
Needless to say, we had zero issues while surfing the web on the G3. Everything loads as quickly as possible, while navigation actions such as scrolling and zooming are performed in a snappy and fluid fashion.
The Snapdragon 801 chipset inside the LG G3 comes with support for all kinds of GSM and 3G bands, allowing it to be usable almost everywhere around the world. Naturally, there's also LTE support for areas where such is present. It wouldn't be a true LG smartphone, though, if it doesn't pack almost all the connectivity features known to mankind. Those include Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi 802.11 a, b, g, n, ac, NFC, DLNA, and SlimPort. The latter is TV-out technology typically used by Nexus smartphones, while its more popular alternative, MHL, is usually found in devices by Samsung, Sony, HTC, and other companies. If you prefer to wirelessly stream your content to a big-screen TV, though, you can always resort to DLNA, or for wireless mirroring purposes – Miracast.