Samsung took the wraps off its “next big thing” in February, HTC evened the score a month later by showcasing and then releasing the One M8, and Sony… well, Sony tried to keep up with the big fishes, but ultimately drowned in a sea of manufacturing woes and distribution hostility.
Meanwhile, LG kept an unusually low profile given the sudden boost of popularity earned after Nexus 5 and G2’s launches, observed and waited for the perfect opportunity to enter the high-end mobile arena with another heavyweight contender.
Did their patience and care for detail pay off? Is the LG G3 too late to the H1 2014 top-notch smartphone party? Was your patience a smart call or would you have been better served boarding the One M8 or Galaxy S5 bandwagons early? Let’s see:
LG G3 vs HTC One M8 vs Samsung Galaxy S5 – design and build quality comparison
I know what you’re thinking. Aluminum trumps plastic and fake metal (read also plastic) any day of the week, so why are we even having this discussion? Well, because maybe it’s not so simple. As it happens, G3’s back cover has a thin layer of robust alloy under the chintzy polycarbonate to make it stronger, more durable and, perhaps, handsomer.
Admit it, the G3 is one handsome son of a gun. Incredibly compact too. Although it incorporates extra usable screen real estate compared to both its rivals (5.5 inches vs 5.0 and 5.1), it’s a measly 4 mm taller than the GS5 and, get this, just as tall as the M8. Also, thinner (8.9 vs 9.4 mm). The S5 is even slimmer, at 8.1 mm, but Samsung has no excuses for its all-plastic exterior and no redeeming build qualities.
Sure, the GS5 is the only of the three to resist contact against water, but strictly from an aesthetical standpoint, the G3 and One M8 are neck and neck way ahead of Samsung’s spearhead.
Right, here’s where things get tricky. On paper, the M8 and S5 have nothing on the G3 in terms of screen resolution. 1,920 x 1,080 pixels may have been state-of-the-art a year ago, but now’s the time of Quad HD (2,560 x 1,440).
The tricky part is determining if Quad HD actually makes a difference. A palpable, perceptible, real difference. Personally, I’m not convinced it does. But at the end of the day, at least LG freed up some space with uber-slim bezels and rear physical buttons and made the panel larger without impacting on the overall footprint. So you see, the G3 wins no matter how you spin the Full HD vs 2K debate.
Processing speed, RAM and cameras
LG execs were surprisingly straightforward vis-à-vis their rationale to go plastic, not metal (it’s all about the moneys), and they’ll no doubt advocate the Quad HD cause for as long as it takes. But why choose Snapdragon 801 when 805 is also available? That, they’ll have a hard time explaining and defending.
I mean, sure, the 2.5 GHz quad-core SoC is enough to tie the S5 in raw power and slightly trump the M8. And boosted by 3 GB RAM, it should deliver superior overall performance to both. But only by a whisker. Besides, the 2 GB RAM config, which we’re hearing might see daylight on certain US networks, is theoretically S5’s match. Just its match.
Camera-wise, the G3, like the One M8, comes with an innovative, never-before-seen add-on. Laser auto focus. Sounds neat and all, but we’re afraid it may be a worthless gimmick in the end, not unlike the “Duo Camera” setup.
Oh, well, at least the actual shooter packs 13 megapixels, not four, plus upgraded optical image stabilization. So it clearly thrashes the M8’s Ultrapixel “powerhouse”, but does the OIS system weigh enough to make up for the 3 MP deficit against the S5? Impossible to tell so soon. For the time being, let’s call this a draw.
As for you selfie addicts, it’s no debate. The M8 has the best front-facing cam, a 5 MP unit, whereas the G3 and GS5 keep things fairly modest, courtesy of 2 MP duckface snappers.
Software and battery life
With pre-loaded KitKat across the board, the software battle comes down to UIs and Android skins. It’s TouchWiz vs Sense vs whatever LG calls its user interface nowadays. Is it still Optimus? No matter, the important thing is it’s flatter, simpler and less intrusive than ever before.
All while bringing a couple of valuable goodies to the table. Like Smart Notice and Smart Security. Granted, that’s nothing compared to S5’s bundle of health-oriented apps, security functions, air gestures and Ultra Power Saving Mode. But it’s a step in the right direction.
Speaking of power and batteries, that particular duel is wide open, with G3’s juicer tipping the scales at 3,000 mAh, 200 mAh north of S5’s cell and 400 of M8’s ticker. Remember, both Samsung and HTC went the extra mile to optimize autonomy, especially during the final stage of discharge, while G3’s battery needs to handle loads of extra pixels. Bottom line, the three are neck and neck here too. Or so they seem.
Audio, sensors, storage and pricing
Look, G3’s Dolby mobile sound enhancement system, with a 1 Watt speaker, is cool and all, but M8’s BoomSound audio is hands down the best solution of its kind in today’s mobile landscape. As far as sensors go, LG kept things as simple as possible, giving the cold shoulder to S5’s built-in fingerprint scanner and heart rate monitor.
Then there’s the storage bout, where I’m glad to see all three contenders offer 16 and 32 gig options with expansion capabilities via microSD. Finally, some on-contract G3 price tags remain up in the air, though it’s obvious the cost gap between the 5.5-inch giant and its adversaries will be nonexistent.
So I guess it’s time for conclusions. Answers. Let’s start from the beginning. Was LG wise to put off the introduction? Nope, sorry, I don’t see it. Is the G3 overall better than the M8 and GS5? Barely. It’s phenomenally compact, slim and sleek, punchy as hell, the display is a beaut and so is the camera, but it lacks a certain je ne sais quoi. A wow element. Something to make us not want to wait for Samsung’s Galaxy S5 Prime.