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LG G2 review: Samsung should be worried

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With the G2, LG is trying to build on the work it has done in the smartphone segment over the last few years. The South Korean manufacturer has not managed to take the fight to long-term rival Samsung when it comes to the smartphone market, but with the G2, it looks like the tide is changing.

Design

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LG claims that the G2 is its most innovative device. And it is hard to argue with that logic once you look at the device. The G2 features a volume and power button at the back of the device, which LG claims is more natural.

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Be that as it may, you must have been accustomed to these buttons being on the sides. As such, it takes a little getting used to. Another interesting feature is KnockOn, which lets you switch on the screen by doing a double tap. You can do the same gesture to switch off the screen.

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Coming over to the device itself, the G2 is the most powerful device made by LG. And it shows when you use the device on a daily basis. Another point in LG’s favour is that although the G2 features a bigger 5.2-inch screen to Samsung’s 5.0-inch Galaxy S4, the size of the G2 is the same as the Galaxy S4. This is due to the incredibly narrow bezels on the front of the device. It is as if the front of the G2 contains just the screen. Although the back of the device is made of glossy plastic, it is not too uncomfortable to hold. That being said, the device is prone to tumbles and falls, which is due to the glossy finish at the back.

Screen

The G2 comes with a 5.2-inch full-HD screen that is bright, offers great viewing angles and has amazing contrast levels. There isn’t another mobile that we’ve seen this year other than maybe the HTC One, that has a better screen that the G2.

Movies seem vivid and clear on the 5.2-inch screen, as well as videos and websites. The G2 manages to offer the ideal blend of entertainment needs while not being cumbersome at the same time. The Galaxy Note 3 felt too big and awkward to use, but the G2 does not. The screen is big enough that you watch content in great detail, but not too big that it is starts becoming awkward to use when you’re on the go.

Hardware

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The G2 comes with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 800 SoC, 2 GB RAM, 32 GB internal memory, of which 24 GB is available to the user, 13 MP autofocus camera with LED flash, 2.1 MP front shooter, Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean and a 3,000 mAh battery. In terms of connectivity, there is LTE, 3G, Wi-Fi ac, NFC, Bluetooth 4.0 and micro-USB 2.0.

LG has not backed down on any hardware features, and it shows. The G2 is one of the fastest mobiles we’ve ever used, and we have never noticed even the slightest of stutters or lags when using the device.

Software features

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Samsung introduced a trend of including a host of features with its high-end offerings since the Galaxy SIII, and more often than not eight out of ten features that it included were gimmicky and did not offer users any real utility. LG has decided to go a similar route with the G2, and while a few features like KnockOn are so intuitive that we think that they should be the standard for all manufacturers, there were a lot that did not merit more than a second glance.

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A feature that all users will like is the QRemote, which offers an IR Blaster. Through Qremote, you can control your TV, home theatre, DVD and other home entertainment hardware. The ability to use your mobile as a remote for your TV is not new, but the G2 comes with a few new tricks. If your current TV make and model is not listed, you can train the G2 to work with your TV by training it with your TV remote.

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Another feature is QSlide, which lets you run many different utilities like browser, calendar and messaging client simultaneously, allowing you to maximise the real estate of the 5.2-inch screen.

However, features like Voice Mate are extraneous considering the G2 comes with Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean, which already includes Google’s excellent Google Now voice recognition service. And in the list of things that LG has to tweak, we would include the keyboard. The default keyboard that comes with the G2 is not that great or usable. LG has mentioned that it intends to launch Android 4.4 KitKat soon, with South Korean users getting the latest version of Android as early as this month.  International users will have to wait another month or two before they get Android 4.4 KitKat. A lot of the niggling issues should be fixed in this update.

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Also, we found while using the device that LG’s custom software tends to crash often and for no reason. The design of the UI is as bad as Samsung’s TouchWiz, if not worse. There are two themes that are available to the user by default. One is the basic theme, and the other is titled Marshmallow, which comes with a Comic Sans system font. The UI elements by themselves do not cause any undue lag, as is often the case on TouchWiz, which is a good sign. The design could use a lot of polish, considering that other manufacturers, like HTC and Sony, have managed to launch UI skins that are modern and clean. For users who want to get a more minimalistic UI, there is the Nexus 5, which is available on the Google Play Store. It does feature a more minimalistic design than the G2, but it comes with the latest version of Android.

Camera

If there was an area that LG traditionally lagged in, it was the imaging section. All LG flagship devices before the G2 had cameras that were lacklustre to say the least. However, all that has changed with the G2. LG has finally gotten its act together, and the result is great. The 13 MP camera is backed by a scratch-resistant lens, and gives users the ability to shoot full HD videos at 60 fps. It also features optical image stabilization, and makes full use of the Snapdragon 800 to shoot photos and videos incredibly fast. It is one of the fastest cameras available on a mobile today.

The camera also comes with 9-point autofocus, and comes with a UI that is one of the better manufacturer camera UIs that we have seen in a while. Accessing shooting modes is easy, and you get the usual host of modes that include Normal, HDR, Action Shot, Burst Mode, Beauty Shot, Intelligent Auto and Night Mode. In Night Mode, the G2 manages to hold its own against devices like the Z1, and in fact takes better images than the HTC One. Videos are similarly full of detail.

Battery life

Battery life is an area in which the LG G2 blows all other mobiles out of the water. The 3,000 mAh battery may not be the biggest we’ve seen on a mobile this year, as the Galaxy Note 3 has a 3,200 mAh battery, but LG’s offering is the most durable. The G2 constantly lasted an entire day of heavy usage that involved gaming, videos, and web browsing. If you ever had any issues with battery life on a device, the G2 is the mobile to get. Even the most demanding usage scenarios resulted in the G2 lasting for more than 10 hours.

Verdict

The LG G2 is one of the best Android devices that are currently available. The device features a design that is unique, the hardware is the best that is currently available, and comes with a lot of software features that add to its functionality. The G2 gets a lot of things right, but falls short when it comes to the UI section.