Interface

Sexy? Not really. But extremely functional, and more attractive than ever – these are the adjectives we'd use when referring to LG's and Samsung's new UIs.

In the past, both LG and Samsung have been rather similar in their approach towards their respective proprietary Android overlays, and, specifically, the number of features they pack into them. Now, both have introduced some substantial changes to these skins, opting for flatter, more lightweight-looking designs.

Starting off with the G3, we have a brand new, simplicity-driven UI that still holds swathes of options and features – it just does a better job of keeping them out of your way when not needed. Said otherwise – the default state of the interface proves true to the Android ways, but you can influence the experience a great deal. This is possible through customizations such as lockscreen shortcuts, double-tap-to-wake-up (KnockOn) functionality, and even the ability to add a fourth on-screen navigation button that can be re-purposed over and over.

Other stand-out features of the G3 include Dual window, which allows you to run two apps side-by-side, Smart Notice, which is a Google Now-like personal assistant that tries to to provide helpful tips as you go along with your day (e.g. remind you to return a missed call, bring an umbrella when it's raining, and so on), and Content Lock, which allows you to password-protect sensitive data. Last, but perhaps not least, you also get the so-called Kill Switch – a feature that allows you to remotely disable and completely wipe the contents of the G3 in the event of theft.


But even though the G3 is one of the best-positioned devices to challenge Samsung's GS5 when talking depth of functionality, this remains the strict domain of the latter. The Galaxy S5's Android 4.4 KitKat-based TouchWiz software has also received a major visual update, and it is more attractive than ever. Don't let this fool you, though – it's still armed to the teeth with features.

Without a doubt, the two most eye-catching goodies of the S5 are its fingerprint sensor (embedded into the physical Home button) and a novel heart beat monitor (nestled underneath the rear camera). We haven't come across a solid purpose for the latter, but the fingerprint sensor will definitely appeal to folks who like playing it safe. That said, we're obliged to note that its accuracy leaves something to be desired.

We're not nearly out of goodies, though. You also get a comparable Multi Window mode (two apps side-by-side), and extras like a one-handed mode (the whole UI gets miniaturized), Smart Stay (display is kept on indefinitely, as long as you're looking at it), and you can even scroll through pages or lists without even touching the phone, by just waving over the front sensor.


Phonebook


Utilizing a new, lighter theme, the G3's Phonebook is chock-full with features. It has a tabbed interface that is organized and uniform, and we definitely enjoy perks like a T9-fashion quick search dialer, and direct shortcuts to call and message next to each of your contacts.


Samsung's skinned Phonebook app still feels a tad laggy, despite the extremely potent silicon that powers the S5. Indeed, a high response time is something you simply have to get used to, as, typically, it takes about a second for the app to load, and switching between the various essential tabs – call logs, favorites, and contacts – is done with a hint of delay. On a brighter note, as most things Samsung, the Phonebook offers a slew of options and features, including T9-fashion quick dialing and various ways of picking up a call (e.g. voice commands, gestures).

Lastly, both the G3 and the S5 have support for what we generally refer to as 'floating calls'. This means that, if, for example, you're gaming when a call comes through, the software will not interrupt your record run and will instead simply introduce a small window on top of your screen, notifying you of the call.


Messaging


You may have thought that old-fashioned, text messaging is a thing of the past now that the likes of Viber, Whatsapp and BBM have taken root, but you may be surprised just how common this mode of communication still is.

Like in the past, LG's new take on this core phone application is very customizable – you can change the background of different chats, and even the design and theme of the chat bubbles. What's more, the all-new LG Smart Keyboard's height can be adjusted to your liking, and adapts to your writing style and offers predictive word suggestions

The Galaxy S5's messenger app is equally powerful. Apart from the default functionality you'd expect from it, you also get extras such as a priority list (creates small thumbnails with your favorite contacts for quick texting), the ability to lock specific messages, and spam controls. You can also tweak essentials, such as font size, and both background and chat bubbles' design.


Organizer


The G3's Calendar app is the main tool for organizing your agenda for the day, and LG's solution definitely doesn't fall short. It's clean-looking, and can be fed information from various sources. The typical views – day, month, year, and agenda – are all there.

Dubbed S Planner, the GS5's organizer combines the essentials with a few perks handsomely, though it can be a bit overpowering by default. That's especially true if you have a ton of Facebook friends, whose birthdays and events will all be automatically fetched by S Planner. Thankfully, you can disable the Facebook Calendar, and every other calendar for that matter. Lastly, S Planner can work in concert with the default AccuWeather app, and show the weather forecast for a given day, simplifying your planning efforts.

Processor and memory

Industry-leading hardware with top-end, in-app performance. Navigating Android, however, is not perfectly smooth with both phones, and stutters do happen.

When you've got Qualcomm's top of the line chip in the 2.5GHz, quad-core Snapdragon 801 (MSM8974-AC) powering your handset you kind of have the luxury of never having to worry about performance.

Both handsets deal with even the heaviest crop of tasks with finesse, though there are caveats. For example, the G3 fares worse in synthetic benchmarks, mainly due to that super-high resolution display. Occasional stutters while navigating the UI on both can also be seen and felt, though the G3 is definitely a notch worse in certain regards. Regardless, it would simply be misleading to claim that either smartphone offers anything other than a top notch user experience.

In terms of memory, you have two options in terms of RAM with the G3 – 16GB of on-board storage with 2GB of RAM or 32GB of built-in storage with 3GB of RAM. This is not the case with the Galaxy S5, which simply has several storage size options. Lest we forget, a microSD card can be found underneath the removable shells of both devices.

Quadrant Higher is better
LG G3 23551
Samsung Galaxy S5 25041
AnTuTu Higher is better
LG G3 30634
Samsung Galaxy S5 36603
Vellamo Metal Higher is better
LG G3 1322
Samsung Galaxy S5 1186
Vellamo HTML 5 Higher is better
LG G3 1626
Samsung Galaxy S5 1632
Sunspider Lower is better
LG G3 947.2
Samsung Galaxy S5 777.3
GFXBench Manhattan 3.1 on-screen Higher is better
LG G3 7.5
Samsung Galaxy S5 11.7
Basemark OS II Higher is better
LG G3 951
Samsung Galaxy S5 1054

Internet and connectivity

Excellent browsing experience and chock-full connectivity caches.

Both the LG G3 and the Samsung Galaxy S5 come with proprietary Browser apps, and they both prove quite functional. Indeed, we're pleasantly surprised by just how well they handle themselves even under stress, and the added layer of customizations and extra functionality over the likes of Chrome will be appreciated by some. That said, we do tend to prefer the company of Google's matured and consistent browser.

As you can imagine, the G3's larger, 5.5-inch screen is a God-sent when it comes to comfortably browsing the web – certainly a tad comfier than with the S5. In terms of responsiveness, however, we're unable to make a distinction between the two – the user experience (scrolling, zooming) is speedy and leaves very little to desire.


On the connectivity front, we have two Category 4 (150Mbps download), LTE-enabled handsets with massive arsenals of extras. Those include Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, A-GPS, Wi-Fi 802.11 a, b, g, n, ac, and support for TV-out technologies in the SlimPort/MHL standards (G3 / GS5, respectively). To top the list off, both also offer Screen Mirroring and have a built-in IR blaster for remote control over home electronics.

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