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Thread: Our LG G2 review: Out-Galaxying the Galaxy

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    Our LG G2 review: Out-Galaxying the Galaxy

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    So far this year, the Galaxy S4 has been Androidís poster child. Since the GS4 launched, companies have tried to offer something slightly different rather than go head-to-head with the GS4. Motorola has focused on their touchless voice activation while Sony has been experimenting with making their phones water resistant. After all, out-Galaxying the Galaxy S4 is a tall task.

    Still, it now looks like Samsung now has some competition in the LG G2, the first phone that really takes the GS4ís strengths and tries to improve on them.

    I already mentioned that the G2 is aimed squarely at the GS4 but people who are looking at the G2 are probably also going to take a look at the HTC One, the Apple iPhone 5s and the Sony Xperia Z.

    vs Samsung Galaxy S4:

    While the GS4 is a very fast phone, the G2 is even faster. When you pay top dollar for a phone, one thing youíre hoping is that youíre getting the most performance for your dollar. So, while itís debatable whether youíd notice the extra performance right now, thatís not the point.

    Performance from both cameras is very similar but the G2ís rear camera has a stabilized lens which makes it a much better choice for video plus it extends itís still photo performance.

    If youíre into media, the G2 supports 24bit audio though I was disappointed with its built-in speaker so I donít give the G2 much of an advantage here.

    Where the GS4 really differentiates is itís earpiece volume. The GS4ís earpiece is a lot louder.

    While the GS4ís battery life isnít as good as the G2ís, the GS4ís is removable. The GS4 also has a MicroSD slot while the G2 has 32GB of built-in storage (which should be enough for most users)

    In terms of software both are loaded to their proverbial gills. Itís hard to say which software is better: both come with a lot of extra fluff. Samsung has a bunch of useless air gestures which should be turned off right away while LG has their messy notification pull down.

    I will say that one of my favorite features on the GS4 is multi-view which lets view 2 compatible programs on the same screen. As for the G2 you can view video in a window which floats on top of your other programs. The GS4 has this features too but on the G2 you can make your video transparant.
    One feature missing from the G2 is something equivalent to Samsungís multi-window which lets you view 2 programs at the same time on one screen. Unless Android implements this sort of feature natively, I donít think anyone else has the scale and marketshare to offer their own version of this feature.

    There are 2 clear differentiators for the G2: The display and ergonomics.

    If the GS4ís display is great, then the G2ís is awesome. Itís just a lot better. The only area where the GS4ís display is better is when it comes to displaying black. Otherwise the G2ís is better outdoors, has better viewing angles and better colour.

    As for the ergonomics, the G2 runs circles around the GS4 because itís much easier to handle. The GS4 has 2 menu buttons at the bottom corners which drive me crazy because I always hit them accidentally. Ditto for the buttons on the side - when a device is this big with such a small bezel you need to clean things up a little. The G2 with its on-screen buttons and rear mounted volume and power buttons simply doesnít have these problems.

    It looks like LG has managed to out-do the GS4.

    vs Apple iPhone 5s:

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    Admittedly I havenít actually tried the 5S so this is really more of a G2 vs 5 comparison. As good as the G2 is, Iíd say if youíre already invested into the iOS ecosystem Iíd stay with it.

    If youíre deciding between the two, there are 3 main points where the G2 really stands out: Text size, the stabilized lens, and battery life.

    If you have a hard time seeing the iPhoneís small text youíll love the G2ís large, almost cartoonish font. If thatís not enough, thereís a global setting for text size in settings plus some of the built-in apps can be pinched zoomed to make text larger.

    While the 5s is supposed to have an awesome camera (I donít doubt this, my 5 has a very good camera too) it doesnít have a stabilized lens. If you take a lot of video thereís just not replacement for a stabilized lens unless you have a steadicam or something similar.

    I use my iPhone 5 regularly and it has terrible battery life. Iím sure given identical usage patterns the G2 will last 2 or 3x longer than the 5s for 9/10 users.

    Thereís a lot more to both phones but those are the 3 areas that jump out at me when I compare the two of them.

    I still think iOS has higher quality apps but Androidís ecosystem is much more open so there are a lot of apps (like video players, file managers, etc) which will run better on it.

    vs HTC One:

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    This is a tough one. As much as I praise the HTC Oneís camera, I donít actually like it that much. Itís wonderful indoors plus itís stabilized but thatís where my praise ends. I find many of my pictures look dull plus the Oneís camera is clearly optimized for indoors and not out. When Iím outside I actually find that itís a little noisy plus there are times that I find the lens is too wide (I donít like to use digital zoom). Still, itís hard to ignore the Oneís indoor performance; the One runs circles around the G2 but outdoors Iíd take the G2 every time.

    Surprisingly, while LG is touting the G2ís high quality 24bit audio, itís built-in speaker is pretty weak. Here, the HTC One is the clear winner.

    Both have outstanding displays - both are probably the best on the market but the G2ís is just slightly better.

    There is the issue of metal vs plastic body but honestly, both are solid phones.

    Both companies have taken a very different approach to their software. HTCís customizations are more oriented to managing data you read while the LG is more centered around content consumption. Iím not a big fan of the latest version of Sense on the One but the G2ís is a little too messy. While neither overlay is outstanding, I prefer LGís content-centered approach.

    vs Sony Xperia Z:

    If you want a water resistant phone then take the Z. The Z is also blessed with a microSD slot. Otherwise, aside from cost I donít see a reason why Iíd pick the Xperia Z over the G2 unless youíre prefer Sony.

    Screen, software, performance, battery size, LTE band support, etc. Itís a bit of a blow out.

    Body:

    Despite the larger screen, the G2 is almost the same size as the GS4. Both phones were built with the Ď5.xĒ screen in a 4.7/4.8Ē bodyí philosophy.

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    LG is making a big deal about how they put the power and volume buttons on the back. I like how it removes the buttons from the sides of the phone. It makes handling the phone much easier plus allows for a thinner bezel. The problem with it is that LG put the buttons right underneath the camera. So when I reach for the power button, I inevitably touch the camera which gets the lens dirty.

    Since there are no buttons on the sides, the bezels are extremely narrow. Normally I like having a nice thick bezel because it makes phones easier to use but in this case LG has done a good job with the design. Despite the thin bezel, I donít find myself accidentally pressing the screen with the palm of my hand that often.

    Overall I think putting the buttons on the back is a great idea. As bezels get narrower, this is the way to go.

    It uses on-screen buttons so there are no physical buttons at all in front of the phone. Again this is another feature which makes the G2 much easier to handle - especially compared to the GS4 whose buttons are very easy to press accidentally.

    Itís a solid phone - it doesnít flex at all when you squeeze it. While the G2 has a texture on the back which you can feel as opposed to being underneath a layer of clear coat.

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    I must say, the finish on the back looks fantastic - it looks just as good as the backs on itís brothers the Optimus G and Nexus 4.

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    While you get up to 32GB of storage you donít get a MicroSD card slot. Still, 32GB is probably enough for most people.

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    Microphone, Infrared Blaster

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    Speakers, Microphone, headphone jack, MicroUSB

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    Power and Volume buttons

    Screen:

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    The screen is stunning. I used to think the HTC One had the best out there but the G2 raises the bar, albeit slightly. It has the same viewing angles and outdoor performance as the One but it has more vibrant colours. Whites are also clean looking. In terms of accuracy I donít have a way to measure this but I will say that compared to my calibrated computer monitor the G2ís whites are slightly cooler.

    The 5.2Ē 1920x1080 display is impossibly sharp. Just like the HTC One.

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    5.2Ē is greater than the GS4ís 5.0Ē screen but itís not that simple. Most of the time, the bottom of the G2ís display is reserved for Androidís menu buttons. When you take that into consideration the GSí2 effective display area is slightly shorter but wider than the GS4ís screen.

    Camera:

    The camera focuses very quickly.

    Iím a big fan of phones with stabilized lenses. While it can really extend a cameraís photo taking capabilities, Iím more interested in how it can smooth out shaky video. I had the opportunity to take the G2 onto a racetrack in a car and even though it was handheld it did a really good job of smoothing vibrations in the video.

    Image quality is very close to the GS4ís. There are minor differences; in one picture I took I saw some purple fringing on the G2 but for the most part, theyíre very similar. The G2 is really good outdoors. Indoors itís not as good as the HTC One but I do like the G2ís colours more.

    I like how you can take pictures using the volume buttons on the back.

    You get a lot of gimmicks with the camera. Most of them are pretty fun - you might use them occasionally at some point.

    Besides the usual burst mode, panorama, night mode, time lapse mode (shoots photo constantly so when you hit the shutter it can also save photos taken before you hit the shutter), etc. It can shoot both video or photos from both front and rear-facing cameras simultaneously. It also lets you shoot video and magnify a point in a box which you can move around.

    Software:

    I noticed that the built-in keyboard is really good. It has excellent auto-correct. Itís so good Iíd mention it in the same sentence as the iOS/Windows Phone keyboards.

    In the past Android overlays got a bad rap because they werenít useful and slowed down phones. Then 2 things happened: Overlays like Touchwiz on the Galaxy S3 and LG Optimus G became more useful while phones got much faster. While the G2 is much faster itís overlay is now a bit much.

    Like Samsung, LG has taken the Ďmore is moreí approach to software. To turn the phone on you can press the power button, however if thatís not enough, you can also turn it on by double tapping the screen when itís off. Unfortunately, double tapping the screen doesnít work for me 100% of the time like pressing the power button does.

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    By default when you pull down notifications, thereís a row for switches, Qslide (like a quick launcher), brightness control and a volume slider. These take up half the screen. If you want to change your settings from the pull down youíd normally look for the settings button (in this case a wrench) - the problem is that the pull down has TWO wrenches. Someone at LG forget that more is not necessarily better.

    Like most Android phones you can switch apps using the task switcher. The task switcher is easy enough to use. Press the task switch button and then swipe up or down to see what other apps youíve used recently.

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    With the G2 thereís a separate task switched feature called Slide Assist. To use it you open up an app and swipe left with 3 fingers. You can do this with up to 3 apps which you can then switch between by swiping left and right with 3 fingers. Itís the answer to a question no one asked.

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    One bit of software I do like is LGís remote control software. Unlike the GS4 (and HTC Oneís) software, the LG remote is just a remote. You add your devices and then control them.

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    You can create custom remotes with custom buttons which can learn IR codes.

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    Samsung and HTC take note, this is what I want in a remote control. Not the crap that you ship with your phones.

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    Quickmemo lets you write down notes. You launch it by swiping your finger from the LG logo up to the home button then to the Quickmemo shortcut. I donít remember if it did this on the Optimus G but you can write down a note and then have it float on top of your apps. That way you can write down a phone number, have it float and then bring up the dialer or your phonebook. Thatís pretty useful. You can also use Quickmemo to take screenshots and then write on them (does this by default) and then save them.

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    Those who have trouble seeing small text will love the G2. Many of the built-in apps like the Email and messaging clients can be pinch zoomed. LG also uses a relatively fat font which is easier to see.

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    In order to minimize the G2ís footprint LG uses on-screen buttons on the bottom. One neat customization is that you can choose the layout of the buttons. Do you want it back, home, switcher or switcher, home, back?

    There is a clever guest mode. When you set a pattern to unlock your screen you can set a second pattern which activates guest mode. In guest mode, you can choose the apps. In Guest mode you can see the notification area but you canít pull it down. These features pretty much make the G2 a must-have if you have kids who play with your phone.

    Other extras include a File manger, Dictionary, Translator (with offline mode), Polaris Viewer and a Video Editor.

    While 4.3 was just released, under the G2ís hood is Android 4.2. If youíre thinking that if you get a G2 it will be stuck with 4.2 forever I should point out that LG updated last yearís Optimus G from 4.0 to 4.1 - whether theyíll update it again is anyoneís guess but I should point out that both the Canadian Galaxy S III and Note II from last year are also on 4.1. Anyways, if you get the G2, based on previous experience youíll probably get at least one update.

    Performance:

    When I tested the GS4 a few months ago I wondered how much faster phones would get this year. Turns out a lot. While the G2 did well in browser benchmark it absolutely absolutely smoked all the gaming benchmarks I threw at it. I'll have some boring benchmark charts tomorrow.

    Media Capabilities:

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    The video player has good codec support plus it supports pop-up video. Sound familiar? I like how you can select a different video while something is playing. When youíre watching a video in a pop out window you can choose a different video, plus thereís a useful transparency setting.

    One new feature on the G2 is the ability to playback 24bit 192kbps audio. Besides the usual formats, the music player can also playback FLAC files. Youíd figure LG would put an awesome speaker on the G2 to take advantage of this but sadly, itís not that loud and doesnít sound anywhere nearly as good as the HTC Oneís stereo speakers.

    The headphone jack sounds fine but itís definitely not as powerful as my HTC Oneís (this isnít necessarily a bad thing)

    I already mentioned that thereís no MicroSD. Still, with 32GB (24GB available) of storage it should be enough for most people.

    As a Phone:

    Battery life is great. The 3000mAh battery should allow most users to make it through the day.

    RF performance is excellent. It manages to find LTE in places where my iPhone is stuck on HSPA mode. Plus when it does switch over to HSPA, it does a good job of hanging on to it.

    Sound quality is a bit rough until you turn voice enhancement on. Once you do that itís sounds pretty clean without sounding processed.

    I was very disappointed with both the earpiece and speakerphone maximum volume. This may be the G2ís achilles heel.

    If you're a data junkie you'll be happy to know that the G2 supports Band 7 (2600Mhz) along with AWS. Yes, that means it can get speeds of up to 100Mbps.

    Conclusion:

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    Just when I thought smartphones were getting boring the LG G2 comes into the picture. Front and center is the beautiful screen. A lot of people are going to buy a G2 the moment they see the screen - itís that good.

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    The stabilized lens makes the G2 awesome at taking video while it also makes it more versatile for still photos.

    The LG Overlay is a bit overdone but it does have some genuinely useful features like Quickmemo and the video playerís ability to pop out and display on top of other apps.

    Pros:
    • Insane screen
    • Very fast performance
    • No buttons on the side makes it easier to use
    • Strong battery life
    • Stabilized lens
    • Guest Mode
    • Solid
    • Nice back


    Cons:
    • Notification pulldown is cluttered
    • Low earpiece volume
    • Low speakerphone volume
    • Rear buttons are next to camera
    • Many software extras arenít useful or duplicate existing functionality

  2. #2
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    Howard i was wondering if the HTC has more ppi how is the G2 better display wise?

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    Deal-breaker is the battery which is sealed in there. I like being able to change my battery anytime for little cost.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Extraordinary View Post
    Deal-breaker is the battery which is sealed in there. I like being able to change my battery anytime for little cost.

    Seems to be going the way of the sabertootn. Almost all new phones are now with a non removable battery.
    Phones using: Honor Play 6GB 128GB,wife using LG G7 One, son using iPhone XR,daughter using iPhone XR, Youngest son using Xiaomi Redmi 5.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ijcy View Post
    Howard i was wondering if the HTC has more ppi how is the G2 better display wise?
    The PPI doesn't matter after a certain point... unless you're a microscope.

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    Quote Originally Posted by howard View Post
    The PPI doesn't matter after a certain point... unless you're a microscope.
    Lol.......

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    One of my old coworker showed it to me yesterday at my job. It has a beautiful screen on it. It was like look in a HD TV the colors were so vivid on the wallpaper it had. The only thing I did not like with seeing it only for a couple of minutes was it was had to tap on the power button with it being in the center. I know with the phone being so thin it was designed to be more ergonomic. I found it was hard to tap when having it with one had. Other than that I did not get much time to play with it. I just was blown away with that screen and lack of bezel around the phone. I would be very angry if I scratched that screen if I owned that phone.

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    Quote Originally Posted by David Walcott View Post
    One of my old coworker showed it to me yesterday at my job. It has a beautiful screen on it. It was like look in a HD TV the colors were so vivid on the wallpaper it had. The only thing I did not like with seeing it only for a couple of minutes was it was had to tap on the power button with it being in the center. I know with the phone being so thin it was designed to be more ergonomic. I found it was hard to tap when having it with one had. Other than that I did not get much time to play with it. I just was blown away with that screen and lack of bezel around the phone. I would be very angry if I scratched that screen if I owned that phone.
    That's why you're supposed to double tap on the screen to turn it on.
    People fight too much on this forum. Can't we all just be friends?

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    I almost wish I had waited for this instead of getting an S4, I think I'd really prefer that nice IPS LCD screen to Samsung's AMOLED.
    Oh well, I'm sure in 6 months there will be another phone that's even better than this one .

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    Great review! I just got my G2 today and LOVE it! Has more features too than the G Pro I exchanged for it.

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    Just finished playing with Howard's G2. Love it. In other reviews they were slamming the rear plastic but I found it to be quite nice with a slight textured feel and not as slippery as the GS4. A couple things Howard didn't mention in his review (he'll update soon) is that you can not only turn the phone on by tapping the screen twice but also turn it back off the same way as long as you tap it on a blank part of the screen. Also you can not only change the configuration of the bottom on screen buttons but add a fourth button to do another function. Earpiece and speaker phone volumes are a little more quiet than the iphone 5s but not dramatically so imho. Not a deal breaker for me.

    I think this might just be my next phone coming from the HTC one.

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    How does not having side buttons a PRO?

    So, if I want to raise or lower the volume of my phone on a table, I have to pick it up off the table and fiddle with volume controls versus leaving it on the table and pressing the buttons that are needed to control volume?

    Same scenario - phone is on the table, I have to pick up the phone and press the power button to see missed calls/messages, rather than giving it a tap or the side of the phone?

    What if I'm browsing the phone on the table and the screen goes off, I have to pick it up to turn the screen back on? I thought phones were supposed to eliminate steps, not make things more inconvenient.


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    Quote Originally Posted by kintamanate View Post
    How does not having side buttons a PRO?

    So, if I want to raise or lower the volume of my phone on a table, I have to pick it up off the table and fiddle with volume controls versus leaving it on the table and pressing the buttons that are needed to control volume?

    Same scenario - phone is on the table, I have to pick up the phone and press the power button to see missed calls/messages, rather than giving it a tap or the side of the phone?

    What if I'm browsing the phone on the table and the screen goes off, I have to pick it up to turn the screen back on? I thought phones were supposed to eliminate steps, not make things more inconvenient.

    Not having side buttons makes the phone easier to handle. If you want to adjust the volume you'll have to take it off the table to adjust the volume. You can also adjust it from the notification pull-down.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kintamanate View Post

    Same scenario - phone is on the table, I have to pick up the phone and press the power button to see missed calls/messages, rather than giving it a tap or the side of the phone?

    What if I'm browsing the phone on the table and the screen goes off, I have to pick it up to turn the screen back on? I thought phones were supposed to eliminate steps, not make things more inconvenient.
    No, you can double tap the screen while it's down to wake it up/unlock. When you use it, you'll see how quick and handy it is.
    I personally find this design great because you get this massive and gorgeous screen, but the footprint of the phone is that same as the HTC One.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Eluder View Post
    but the footprint of the phone is that same as the HTC One.
    Hmm, really? the G2 is both wider and taller, also when put side by side the G2 looks substantially bigger in my opinion.
    And i just can't see myself buying another LG phone after all the issues with the G2X, Also the One has such a unique design and great speakers and the G2 is just another Galaxy look alike.

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    Last Post: 11-11-2010, 07:54 PM

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