With over two weeks having passed since LG G2’s formal introduction in New York City, you’re probably wondering why we’ve waited so long to pit this outstanding looking fellow against the current heavyweight champion of the Android world, Samsung’s Galaxy S4.
The answer is pretty simple. We wanted to let G2’s exceptional hardware, silky smooth software and innovative design sink in a bit and we also wanted to see how LG will be handling the commercial release of the 5.2-incher.
As you probably know, LG hasn’t really been a favorite of the four major US carriers over time. The Optimus G and G Pro, for instance, though looking phenomenal on paper, have seen their chances of becoming American blockbusters crushed by Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile’s reluctance to pick them up or offer them in due time following their releases.
Not sure what’s changed in the past few months, but LG seems finally capable of turning the page in its relations with “The Big Four”, as all four networks are nearly confirmed to launch the G2 by the end of September.
That said, an LG flagship is likely to be judged for the first time… ever solely based on its hardware, software and design, so let’s see how all this holds up against Galaxy S4’s specs and features.
Design and build quality
The LG G2 may not be made of aluminum, which seems to be the hottest build material for smartphones nowadays, but it’s still sturdy, robust and elegant enough to beat the somewhat lackluster GS4 to the punch.
Despite sporting extra screen real estate compared with its opponent (which is always a good thing), the G2 is not noticeably taller or wider than Samsung’s flagship. It’s also just a mm thicker and 13 grams heavier, things that you’re likely to look away from when hearing about the extra battery “juice” they bring to the table.
All in all, even if you don’t dig LG’s bold and controversial choice of placing physical buttons on G2’s back, you can’t deny the 5.2-incher is a design jewel and overall a more “premium” looking device than the overly plasticky S4.
Winner: LG G2
Since the G2 reviews are not in yet and the phone is not available anywhere in the world, we’ll have to rely on cold numbers for otherwise subjective battles like this one. And the cold numbers say two things.
On one hand, the G2 has a larger display than the S4 (5.2 vs. 5 inches), while on the other the pixel density is slightly lower (424 vs. 441 ppi). All things considered, I highly doubt anyone will notice any lack of crispness, brightness or complain of poor viewing angles out of G2’s stupendous Full HD panel, so the verdict here is quite predictable.
Winner: It’s a tie
Processing speed and cameras
I know, it’s not really fair to criticize a four month-old handheld for not being able to keep up with a yet to be released device in raw speed, but the tech world is seldom fair. So I’m sorry, Samsung, but the LG G2 is the clear winner here.
The 5.2-incher comes with an explosive quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor clocked at 2.2 GHz, far superior to the 600 or even the Exynos 5 Octa inside the S4. Sure, Samsung’s pack leader comes in a Snapdragon 800 flavor itself, but as of now that’s only available in Korea.
Meanwhile, the dual cameras of the two phones look nearly identical on paper (sporting 13 and 2 MP sensors), though we’ll have to wait and see G2’s real-life performance in this department.
This is another battle that I’m reluctant to declare a final winner in, as we’re yet to see LG G2’s software perform in real-life conditions. Both phones come with pre-loaded Android 4.2 Jelly Bean and they both have skins on top (TouchWiz and Optimus UI), but we know very well some differences are to be noticed.
Theoretically speaking, G2’s user interface should look purer and closer to vanilla Android, but on the other hand the Samsung device comes with plenty of exciting exclusive apps and tweaks (i.e. gimmicks), including Smart Stay, Smart Pause and S Health.
Winner: Tie again
With the risk of becoming annoying, I think I’ll hold off on a final verdict here as well for after we see the G2 in action. Again theoretically speaking, LG’s beast should have the upper hand, as it packs a massive 3,000 mAh battery (the S4 only comes with a 2,600 mAh ticker in tow).
But what you have to remember is the G2 sports the larger screen and is powered by the faster and more power-hungry CPU. Plus, LG’s software optimizations (or lack thereof) have been known to cause autonomy shortages in the past.
Winner: Yet another tie
Based on speculations and leaks preceding the G2 intro, we had hoped the 5.2-incher would come with a premium design, massive, user removable battery and microSD support. Sadly, that’s not the case after all (unless you live in Korea), so the GS4 wins massive points for being the only one of these two to allow both the replacing of its battery and storage expansion.
Then again, at least the G2 features 32 GB of on-board memory, which should be enough to go around even for the most passionate movie and music buffs. Finally, as far as pricing goes, there should be no difference between the two both with and without contractual obligations ($200 and $600 tags).
I’ll keep this short. The LG G2 is the most dangerous contender for S4’s crown. On paper. Whether it will be so in reality remains to be seen. Worst case scenario, G2’s battery and cams will prove glitchy, which will still leave the 5.2-incher with the raw performance edge. Uh-oh, it sounds to me like old Sam is in trouble.
Thankfully for them, the GNote 3 is coming soon and could get them out of this pickle.