Camera

No clear winner here. The LG G3 is the faster shooter, but the Galaxy Note 3 takes better videos. But if ease of use is a priority, we'd go with LG's flagship.

The LG G3 has a 13-megapixel main camera with a sensor size of 1/3.06". So does the Samsung Galaxy Note 3. This is where the technical similarities between the two snappers end, however. The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 has a slightly wider aperture of f2.2 versus the G3's f2.4 aperture, which could prove beneficial for the former in low-light conditions. The G3, on the other hand, takes advantage of optical image stabilization, or OIS+, as LG calls it, for steadier videos and blur-free photos when longer shutter speed is used. What's more, LG has equipped its flagship with a two-tone LED flash. This is to improve color accuracy when the flash is used. The Note 3 offers only software-based stabilization, should you choose to enable it, and a single LED flash resides on its back. But what's most interesting, the LG G3 boasts a laser-assisted focus system for shorter focusing times.

The camera UI on the LG G3 is straight-forward to use once you get used to the arrangement of the items in its options menu. Yet we find it strange that LG has stripped its snapper off of modes and options we had on the G2. This time around there is no ISO control, no exposure fine-tuning, and most surprisingly, no 60fps video. On the bright side of things, the lack of clutter in the camera app make it more suitable for casual photographers – you just point and shoot without worrying about modes and scenes. The camera app on the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is definitely more rich in terms of manual controls, scenes, and adjustments, for those who may need them. What's more, we're free to modify the two shortcut slots, where a toggle button with a frequently used setting can be set.



But enough with the theory; let's comment on some real-life photos from these two bad boys. The good news is that both the LG G3 and the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 take presentable photos, be it in day- or night-time. Some irregularities, however, are noticeable. In daylight, the LG G3 tends to produce warm images with pumped up colors. They look fine,, but are slightly detached from reality. The Note 3, on the other hand, often skews hues towards the colder side, so its photos are pretty much equally inaccurate color-wise. As far as details go, the LG G3 uses a more aggressive noise reduction algorithm. Details in its photos are soft, but natural. The Note 3 relies on increased sharpness to artificially boost the detail presence in its photos, and while the results are fine, we wouldn't call them life-like.

Indoor photos from the LG G3 are high on detail and low on noise, but sometimes are inaccurate when it comes to color. The casual shots that we took around the office turned out fine, albeit slightly warmer in most cases, but the ones shot in our studio, where light is not as abundant, had their colors way too messed up. Apparently, the LG G3 can't nail the proper color balance in low-light situations. In contrast, it produces great photos when its flash is used, while the Note 3's flash photos are noticeably colder. When no flash is required, Samsung's handset snaps pretty indoor pictures. And when it comes to detail in indoor shots, the Galaxy Note 3 performs about as well as the LG G3. At night, the results are a mixed bag. We like the color tones in the Note 3's night-time photos, but the LG G3's images look slightly better when looked at from up close.

Focusing times are shorter with the LG G3, that we can't deny. Because of that, the phone is really good at taking photos instantly, without any special preparation. The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 focuses almost as quickly, but if you just take it out and shoot, there's a lower chance of ending up with a decent, properly focused photo.


Taking a pic Lower is better Taking an HDR pic (sec) Lower is better CamSpeed score Higher is better CamSpeed score with flash Higher is better
LG G3 2.7
4.3
No data
No data
Samsung Galaxy Note3 2.7
No data
494
353

Of course, both handsets can take 1080p video with their cameras, and even 4K video at 30 frames per second is an option. The two perform really well when shooting videos, but it looks like the Galaxy Note 3 has the upper hand this time. Its footage is a tad more detailed and natural-looking, while the LG G3 takes artificially sharp and contrasty videos. Same goes for night-time videos – the Note 3 produces clearer, smoother footage, while the G3's leaves something to be desired. The sound recorded by both phones is loud, but the G3 adds unwanted digitizing artifacts to it, presumably in effort to reduce noise.


Multimedia

The LG G3 and Samsung Galaxy Note 3 are excellent multimedia devices. Music, movies, games – the two handle it all pretty well.

On the LG G3 we find a gallery app that's intuitive to use, especially if you've owned an Android device before. We like the option to delete photos with a swipe up, and we appreciate the added sharing shortcut with a swipe down when in filmstrip mode. Thumbnails can be resized, which is very nice. The app is short on built-in editing tools, however. All we get out of the box are the options to crop or rotate an image. The Gallery app on the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 gets the job done, but the sharing menu is a bit annoying – instead of bringing the most recently used apps to the top of the list, as stock Android would, it displays a static list with dozens of apps listed alphabetically – to get to Twitter, for example, you have to scroll to the very bottom. At least the image editor is a versatile one, with effects, stickers, frames, and a drawing mode.



Functionally, the music players on both phones have all the basics covered. The UIs share a lot of similarities, with tabs for song, artist, and albums at the top, a playlist occupying most of the screen space, and playback controls at the bottom. On the Note 3 we find a broader array of music enhancements, including a 7-band equalizer, a bass booster, and Samsung's own AdaptSound feature. The G3 lets us pick an equalizer preset, or we can adjust the frequency levels manually if we want to. Pitch and speed can also be controlled, although that seems useful only for fans of audiobooks.



On the back of the LG G3 is placed a single, 1-watt speaker of good (for a phone) quality. Sound coming out of it is very loud and relatively clear, without any crackling even at high volumes. The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 has a single loudspeaker at the bottom edge, which means that your ringtone won't get muffled if the handset is lying flat on the sofa. Sound produced by it is loud, but lower in quality when compared to the G3's speaker.

To no surprise, the two phones are ideal for playing games and watching movies thanks to their huge displays. By default, videos on the LG G3 are played back via the Gallery app, and while one can always grab a third-party solution from the Play Store, doing so isn't necessary. LG's phone plays back all popular video formats along with subtitles, when available. The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 has a separate video application, which helps with finding the video files stored on the device. Like the G3, Samsung's phablet reproduced our test video files without problems. Of note is that both phones can play back videos in a window hovering above the UI.

Both smartphones come with built-in IR blasters. These turn them into universal remote controls for many of your home appliances, including your TV, set-top box, air conditioner, or Blu-ray player.

Headphones output power (Volts) Higher is better
LG G3 0.57
Samsung Galaxy Note3 0.43
Loudspeaker loudness (dB) Higher is better
LG G3 81
Samsung Galaxy Note3 76


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