6 September 2013

LG G2 - First Impressions


The LG G2 has been officially unveiled at a dedicated launch event in New York City after months of leaks and countless rumours.

A 5.2-inch phone with a raft of premium innards, the LG G2 marks the South Korean manufacturer’s return to form on the smartphone scene. It comes running a speedy 2.26GHz quad-core processor alongside 2GB of RAM, a 13-megapixel rear-mounted camera and an all new design which sees all physical buttons moved to the handset’s rear.

Set to hit retailers later this summer, the LG G2 looks, on paper at least, to be a direct rival to the Samsung Galaxy S4, HTC One and iPhone 5. We’ve gone hands-on to find out if it can match the big names on performance too.

LG G2 Design

The LG G2 design is sure to be one of the phone’s main talking points with its rear-mounted physical buttons. In short, however, this new approach really does work and after a bit of early confusion and clumsiness quickly becomes an intuitive way of controlling the phone.

Located in the upper centre of the phone’s back panel, the Rear Key controls sit comfortably under the handset’s integrated camera and add barely any additional thickness to its svelte design. Far more than a simple volume rocker, the Rear Key acts as a camera launch shortcut, camera shutter button, launcher for LG’s QuickMemo services and a whole raft more. It is easy to blindly feel your way around the controls too with the buttons acting as a natural resting position for your index finger whether holding the phone in either a left handed or right handed manner.

Although the 5.2-inch display does make the G2 feel quite sizeable within the hand, it is not overpowering. The phone is light and well balanced with the minimal 8.9mm thickness and slightly rounded edging further aiding the ergonomic fit. Impressively, the edge-to-edge display means the bezel has been cut to just 2.65mm.

While the phone is filled with high-end components, its build materials are a little less highbrow. Unlike the HTC One or iPhone 5, the LG G2 has a plastic body. Despite this, it feels solid with no unwanted flex and on first impressions we anticipate it will survive most moderate knocks or drops with little damage. It is set to launch in both black and white colour schemes.

LG G2 Screen Quality

The LG G2’s screen is where this high-end smartphone really sets itself apart from the competition. It has a 5.2-inch edge-to-edge Full HD and this provides an instant wow factor that will continue to impress far beyond first use.

Colours are sharp and vibrant and offer a true-to-life replication while the 1920 x 1080 pixel Full HD resolution and 423 pixels-per-inch image density mean there is no graining or pixelisation when viewing photos or text-based content. The LG G2 screen really does pop, with its stunning visual more akin to a premium TV than a smartphone. Not only does it bring LG on par with Samsung and HTC, it could well give the Korean company the edge.

During video playback screen transitions were smooth and seamless with no motion blur or unwanted stuttering. The black boarder between the screen and bezel is, however, a little larger than we might have hoped and takes something away from the screen-expanding, bezel-reducing design efforts LG has gone to.

Following our hands-on we can’t wait to get our LG G2 review sample in within the near future if only to once again marvel at its stunning screen.

LG G2 Software

On a software front, the LG G2 is sleek and intuitive. Although the recently launched Android 4.3 is missing, the near identical Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean OS is at the heart of the phone and has been overlaid with LG’s UX interface.

There are a number of new UI additions in the LG G2 such as a privacy enhancing Guest Mode and a simple tap to wake option which further aids the lack of physical controls. The phone’s software felt fluid and highly responsive during our hands-on, although further strenuous testing will be required before full judgment can be passed.

LG G2 Performance

On first use, the performance of the LG G2 is second to none. That’s all down to the considerable power lying under the phone’s shell too, with a 2.26GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor lining up alongside 2GB of RAM.

This combination is a formidable one and the true power of the G2 is apparent from the off. Springing to life with no hesitation, it skips through homescreen transitions with ease. What’s more, jumping in and out of multiple apps didn’t come close to tripping the phone up. The G2 handled everything we could throw at it during our hands-on without breaking a sweat. Although more extensive testing is still required, early impressions are strong for this Android phone.

Although the LG G2 lets you answer calls simply by picking up the phone without touching the display or any buttons, we were unfortunately unable to test this function during our hands-on time with the phone. Similarly, the 3000mAh Lithium-Ion battery which keeps things running along was unable to be pushed to its limits. We will address all of these areas in our full LG G2 review soon.

LG G2 Camera

The LG G2’s camera gave strong on-screen results when we put it through its paces. Quick to launch and with prompt shutter speeds, the 13-megapixel camera on the rear was a joy to use. What’s more, paired with the 5.2-inch display and image playback is an equally enjoyable experience. The rear-mounted camera has optical image stabilisation and an integrated LED flash to further enhance shots.

On the front the 2.1-inch secondary camera is a welcome inclusion but which, on first impressions, suffers from the same issues which trouble many forward-facing smartphone cameras. Early testing showed the camera struggled slightly with light management and its shutter was a little on the slow side.

Ensuring your shots aren’t tarnished by smeared fingerprints, the rear LG G2 camera features an anti-fingerprint sapphire glass lens, ideal for its location under the physical buttons.

LG G2 First Impressions

On first impressions the LG G2 is a much needed step forward on the smartphone scene from the Korean manufacturer. Not just LG’s best phone to date, the LG G2 is shaping up to be one of the best phones ever made. Its 5.2-inch screen is simply stunning and the powerful specs beneath the hood will future proof the phone for some time yet.

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