LG G2 review

Is the G2 the best Android smartphone around?

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LG G2 review

For

  • Outstanding screen
  • Incredibly quick processor
  • KnockOn

Against

  • Uninspiring design
  • Too big
  • Only 16/32GB

This smartphone has come with a lot of hype, taking on the likes of the HTC One. Find out what we thought in our LG G2 review

The LG G2 is the brand's biggest attack yet on the flagship Android smartphones that have, until now, remained the main point of call for customers not looking to buy an iPhone 5s.

For those customers the choices have been mightily impressive, the Samsung Galaxy S4 is certainly one of the best smartphones ever made while the HTC One has become a critic's favourite by rivaling Apple in build quality.

To say LG is the new kid on the block then would be hugely unfair - the brand developed the first dual-core smartphone and was responsible for launching the first 3D phone. So while it's clearly been an innovator in the market it has fallen into something of a lull.

The only exception to the rule has been the brilliant Google Nexus 4 - a phone that bore little evidence of its maker but that won customers over by blending flagship specs with an incredible price tag.

So we know LG can make excellent phones that push boundaries, whether it's in the pricing or the technology inside. The question now though is whether LG has learnt from all this and applied it to the G2.

LG G2: Size and build

One of the biggest talking points surrounding the LG G2 was the fact that LG has moved the volume and lock buttons to the back of the phone.

It's an interesting idea and while it did take some getting used to we quickly adjusted, instead opting to mainly unlock the phone using KnockOn, which works by simply tapping the touchscreen twice.

Whether or not it's a 'game changer' is another question, it certainly felt quite natural using it, but ultimately it does feel more like a stylistic decision than one that would actually benefit us.

The G2 is also a big phone, and we don't mean in the same way that everyone thought the S3 was a big phone when it came out.

This is, in part because LG has managed to cram a 5.2-inch screen into a smartphone that's only 70.9mm wide and 138.5mm long.

So what you gain in screen size you lose in portability as, despite what LG claims, this is not a one-handed phone by any stretch.

If that's not a problem then things aren't so bad after all, the large glass front is attractive and very reminiscent of the Nexus 4.

You'll find a very plastic back cover, and despite the swathes of plastic on show the G2 feels incredibly robust with little to no bend and flex inspiring real confidence in its durability.

LG G2: Features

The G2 comes running Android 4.2.2 and has received a very minimal UI skin from LG, this was a solid move on the maker's part and makes the G2 incredibly easy to navigate when it comes to positioning apps, widgets and more.

Where LG has faltered is in its desire to try and compete with Samsung by offering a plethora of features on top of Android, and as with the Galaxy S4, this is a very hit and miss affair.

Smart Screen and Smart Video are both features you'll recognise and work by detecting your face looking at the screen to either pause video or keep the screen on if it can see you looking at it.

These work to a degree with Smart Video only reacting to very determined movements away from the display.

Next up are the range of apps and features that LG has created to make use of the 5.2-inch display and again this is a fairly hit and miss affair.

QSlide lets you create an app window you can position around the screen, whether it's video or something else. Ultimately we can see why LG has created it, but even on a 5.2-inch display it's still a window that's actually just blocking what you're trying to do in the background without adding the supposed benefit of being able to do two things at once.

QuickRemote is thankfully a genuinely useful feature with some of the easiest set up we've ever seen making it an invaluable tool if you have a lot of kit in your living room and only want one remote.

Next up is Slide Aside that lets you, using three fingers, swipe up to three apps to the side so they run simultaneously.

While it works really well, the G2 also comes with Android's one-handed alternative that lets you see more than three recent apps and lets you easily switch between them so we're not entirely sure what the benefits of using LG's own version are.

LG G2: Screen

The G2 comes with a stunning 5.2-inch Full-HD LCD LED-backlit display that offers a resolution of 1920x1080 and boasts a ppi of over 400 trumping the iPhone 5s and even beating the Samsung Galaxy S4.

It's an incredible panel, not least because of the minute bezel, boasting incredible levels of contrast and sharpness making the home screen jump out of the phone at you.

Of course this comes back to our point about size, so while you may lose the ability to navigate the screen one-handed you may find yourself being easily swayed to switch to a more 'Phablet'-based approach because these larger Full HD panels look so good.

Ultimately if customers go into a store and try a smartphone, the G2 will win a lot of people over with the screen alone, not least because of the way it completely dominates the front of the phone.

LG G2: Camera

The G2 comes with a 13MP OIS camera on the back and a 2.1MP camera on the front for video-calling, Dual-recording and Dual-camera.

The rear-facing 13MP sensor is impressive enough, producing bright and clear shots during the day. If there is one complaint we do have it is that the UI begins to get considerably more lag-heavy when the light is lacking.

This not only hinders your ability to take the shot, but actually shows through on some of the shots you take with the focus not coping.

It's a rare bug but one that you'd hope LG would be able to iron out considering the processing grunt that's powering the phone.

Video comes in the form of 1080p and the results are very much the same, resulting in some beautiful footage during the day followed by some occasionally blurry results at night.

Features like Tracking Zoom and Audio Zoom are incredibly cool ideas on paper - being able to focus the mic on a specific area or telling the phone to focus on an object during recording.

Ultimately though they do come across as a bit gimmicky with Tracking Zoom only really working if you're not moving too much, thus arguably defeating the point of its creation in the first place.

Audio Zoom is more of a hit though, with our playback noticing a considerable spike in the audio when we zoomed in on a person speaking.

LG G2: Performance

Powering the LG G2 is the next-gen Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor, in this case a massive 2.26Ghz quad-core chip. You also get 2GB of RAM as well to handle the features like QSlide and multi-tasking.

Ultimately you're not really going to notice that processor kicking in unless you fire up some of the most intensive games or video-editing apps available on Google Play.

For the rest of the time though, you'll have a smartphone that feels incredibly fast and smooth with no lag at all when browsing through the UI.

LG G2: Battery

Inside the G2 there's a 3,000mAh battery with LG's own technology making sure that the phone uses as little of it as possible.

Like all flagship smartphones though you're going to struggle to find it working past a day if you happen to enjoy making calls, watching YouTube videos or playing games.

For a day of light texting and social media interaction you may get a full day and at a stretch half of the next morning as well.

LG G2: Verdict

The G2 is, on paper, one of the best smartphones you can buy today. That of course though, only tells half of the story as in day-to-day usage the G2 does begin to show some of its shortcomings.

LG claims that 5.2-inches is the optimum size for one-handed use. We'd argue that when you've reached the point that you have to add features to accommodate a normal keyboard in the screen (a one-handed keyboard option sits to the left or the right) you've gone beyond that optimum size.

That said, we realise that there's a very large percentage of people who like having big displays, the success of the Samsung Galaxy Note is a testament to this. What we'd say then is that this is a smartphone for those people who don't mind two-handed usage and are happy to forgo the convenience.

Its design is also less than inspiring, with understandably much of the focus being on that highly impressive screen.

Where the G2 really shines though, is actually where LG has been hands-off, its simple UI interpretation of Android lets the screen do the talking with plenty of real-estate and the big widgets showing just what that 5.2-inch panel is capable of.

It's also the simple features like KnockOn that make the difference in day-to-day usage with the screen becoming your main point of contact almost removing the need for the buttons at all other than to change the volume.

Despite this there just aren't really any aspects of it that would make you actively choose the G2 over say the Galaxy S4 or the HTC One.

LG G2 release date: Out now

LG G2 price: £470

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