Interface and functionality

Loaded with tons of features out of the box, the LG G3 and the Galaxy Note 3 are ready to serve. But the former's Android experience is the one that truly stands out.

The LG G3 will be released running Android 4.4.2 KitKat. The very same OS version has already started rolling out for the Note 3, which puts Samsung's phablet on par with its rival when it comes to software updates.

On the LG G3 we find a new flavor of the company's custom interface. The UI now has a flatter look, as is the current trend among smartphone interfaces, with subtle animations, toned down color palette, and an all-through consistent presentation. At the same time, it has retained the typical Android feel and functionality as everything is where you'd expect it to be. You get your app drawer, notification panel, home screens with widgets, personalization options, the whole shebang.


TouchWiz, – the interface running on the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 – is also organized in a standard Android manner, but as a whole, the UI's presentation is a bit cartoonish. Unlike the G3, the Note 3 does not come with built-in support for interface themes.


Multitasking is one of the aspects that both Samsung and LG have improved upon. The two phones have the neat ability to run two apps side by side – a feature called Dual Window on the LG G3 and Multi Window on the Note 3. There is one notable difference between these two solutions, however. Note 3's Multi Window has to be toggled on in order to be used, and when active, there's a tab permanently sticking out from the side of your screen. G3's Dual Window, on the other hand, can be triggered at any time simply by holding down the “Back” key for a couple of seconds. Other than that, the two work in a similar fashion and let us enjoy true multitasking. For example, texting while watching a YouTube video or browsing two websites at the same time, is possible on both phones.

One trick that the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 has up its sleeve is called My Magazine. Basically, it is a news feed powered by Flipboard, presented in a user-friendly, magazine-like layout. News and articles are always available at a swipe's distance – a swipe up from the bottom of the screen brings forth the My Magazine feature. On the LG G3 we find Smart Bulletin, which is a home screen dedicated to providing tips on using the device, as well as activity information – how many steps we've made today and such. Too bad that the use of LG's bulletin seems too limited to justify occupying an entire screen with it.

The Smart Notice feature on the LG G3 is meant to serve as a personal assistant, providing suggestions and recommendations based on a number of factors, including the user's behavior, phone usage patterns, and current location. Yup, it reminds us of Google Now, but there are a few neat twists. For example, Smart Notice will prompt you whether you want to remove large, unused files stored in the phone's memory. It will also remind you of missed calls at a later time. The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 has a voice-guided virtual assistant that seems to have been inspired by Apple's Siri. It is called S Voice and it is triggered with a double press on the home button. Uses include calling or texting a contact, entering a new note or event in your schedule, playing a music track, sending a tweet, opening an app, or simply performing a web search.

The LG G3's set of security features has been enhanced with the addition of Knock Code – a user-defined unlocking tap pattern built as an alternative to lock screen PINs and passwords. Furthermore, a feature called Content Lock can be used to limit access to specified files when the handset is connected to a computer. And last but not least, the Kill Switch option on the G3 allows content to be wiped remotely in case the device is lost or stolen.

Messaging

From texting to sending emails, the two phones deliver a no-compromise messaging experience.

The LG G3's messaging app is as customizable as ever. You can even change the background and bubble colors in your threads to your liking. Other than that, it's just a messaging app – nothing too fancy about it, besides the abundant customization capabilities. The messaging app on the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 might seem simple at a glance, but it has a handful of neat extras to make it stand out, including scheduled messages that are sent at a specified time and the addition of the option to lock certain messages.

It is nice to see that LG has tweaked its on-screen keyboard in a way that makes it easier to use than ever. The LG Smart Keyboard adapts to our texting style and provides more accurate word predictions as a result. Plus, we're free to resize it vertically. We actually enjoy this keyboard quite a lot, and we're confident that you'd be feeling the same way once you try it.

The Note 3's keyboard is spacious, accurate, and no less likeable. We're finding it very comfortable for typing on using two thumbs, be it horizontally or vertically. It is responsive, too – our high input speed has never been an issue. To make single-handed typing possible, Samsung has added the option to squeeze keys on the left or right side of the screen for better reach.


Processor and memory

Although hardware specs suggest otherwise, the LG G3 and Samsung Galaxy Note 3 are on the same level when it comes to real-world performance.

LG has equipped the G3 with a flagship-worthy SoC – the Qualcomm Snapdragon 801, model MSM8294-AC. This mighty piece of silicon sports a quad-core Krait 400 CPU, which can run at up to 2.5GHz, while an Adreno 330 handles graphical computations. The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 comes with a Snapdragon 800 SoC. It is slightly less capable than the G3's system-on-chip, but at the time of the Note 3's announcement some 9 months ago, this was the best that Qualcomm could offer. The quad-core Krait 400 CPU on the Note 3 has a slightly lower top frequency of 2.3GHz, which puts Samsung's phablet a step behind the LG G3 when it comes to raw processing power.

Running the usual set of synthetic benchmarks, however, suggests that the G3 isn't leading by much. In fact, its performance drops behind that of the Galaxy Note 3 when it comes to performing GPU-heavy tasks, such as playing video games. That phenomenon can be attributed to the greater resolution of the G3's screen since the SoC's graphics processing unit has almost 80% more pixels to move around. Just don't get us wrong – both the LG G3 and the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 will have no troubles running even the latest games at the Play Store. It is just that you'll most likely get higher framerates with the latter.

When it comes to UI responsiveness, the LG G3 exhibits some slight lags and dropped frames every once in a while. These aren't annoying by any means, but at the same time, they shouldn't be present on a top-of-the-line smartphone. The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 isn't perfect in that respect either. The typical for Samsung lock screen lag is present, but overall, the phone handles UI navigation without any major issues.

LG is launching the G3 in two versions – one with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage, and another sporting 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage. The latter is definitely more future-proof, but even the 2GB model should prove capable enough when it comes to multitasking. The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 packs a solid 3GB of RAM and it has no troubles switching back and forth between recent apps. Storage space on the Note 3 is plentiful at 32GB built-in. Both handsets come with microSD card slots for storage expansion.

Quadrant Higher is better
LG G3 23551
Samsung Galaxy Note3 22270
AnTuTu Higher is better
LG G3 30634
Samsung Galaxy Note3 31543
Vellamo Metal Higher is better
LG G3 1322
Samsung Galaxy Note3 1214
Vellamo HTML 5 Higher is better
LG G3 1626
Samsung Galaxy Note3 2766
Sunspider Lower is better
LG G3 947.2
Samsung Galaxy Note3 599
GFXBench Manhattan 3.1 on-screen Higher is better
LG G3 7.5
Samsung Galaxy Note3 9.77
Basemark OS II Higher is better
LG G3 951
Samsung Galaxy Note3 1033.6

Internet and connectivity

With their huge screens and a fast browsers, the two handsets are ideal for surfing the web.

Needless to say, browsing the internet on either of the two handsets is a pleasure. Their large, high-resolution displays and their excellent performance make surfing the web an effortless task.

With the G3, LG is supplying its own customized web browser. What's new here is that there's a navigation bar at the bottom, although we don't find it all that useful. But the option to have a web page open in a dedicated window above the UI, with other apps accessible in the background, is neat. Overall, this app gets the job done and we don't have to say anything bad about its performance.


Samsung's own pre-loaded Internet browser on the Galaxy Note 3 also handles even heavy pages swiftly, and we like how it goes into full-screen mode on its own, using as much screen space as possible. Switching between opened tabs is a straight-forward process.

Keep in mind that if you're not satisfied with any of these apps, using an alternative is always an option. Chrome and Firefox, for example, are excellent substitutes.

As any high-end phone should, the LG G3 and Galaxy Note 3 support a plethora of cellular bands and frequencies, which makes them usable throughout the world. LTE is also present, should your carrier provide this type of connectivity. In addition, Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi 802.11 a, b, g, n, ac, NFC, GPS with Glonass compatibility, and DLNA have all been added. Of note is that while the G3 relies on a SlimPort interface for TV output, the Galaxy Note 3 uses an MHL TV-out. The latter is also USB 3.0-enabled for faster transfers to and from a computer.

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