LG G3 Review

The LG G3 is the best Android phone I’ve ever reviewed and one I can confidently recommend. In this LG G3 review, I’ll explain why I was so pleasantly surprised by it and explain how it stacks up against the competition.The LG G3 is one review unit I’m going to be sad to send back to the manufacturer. I plan on buying a LG G3 as soon as it goes on sale in the U.S.

GBM-Editors-Choice-AwardWhy am I so enthusiastic about the LG G3? The LG G3 has a superb display and an excellent camera, two features that are very important to most users. It’s also easy to use, stressing simplicity rather than overstuffing it with features nobody will use.  The LG G3 review unit garnered repeated praise from several iPhone users I showed it to. The LG G3′s ease of use, outstanding camera and  outstanding display earned this device a Gotta Be Mobile Editors’ Choice Award. It is the best flagship Android phone for iPhone switchers who still want simplicity and don’t want to be drowned in feature bloat.

LG G3 Review Display

LG G3 Review: A big beautiful 5.5″ Quad HD display with 538 pixels per inch (ppi)

For reference, I use several phones on a regular basis as part of my duties here at Gotta Be Mobile. I used the LG G3 review unit for two weeks alongside my my iPhone 5s, HTC One M8 and Samsung Galaxy S5. I rarely use my Galaxy Note 3, so I pulled its SIM card and donated it to the LG G3 during the review period.

The LG G3 review unit LG sent over is a pre-production unit from Korea. It’s essentially the same phone that will be sold here in the United States, but the LG G3 review unit has some quirks worth noting up front. The biggest limitation in reviewing the LG G3 is that the review unit is tuned for Korean wireless spectrum and can’t run on AT&T’s 4G LTE network. There’s also a bunch of Olleh branding and apps all over the place rather than the AT&T and Verizon equivilants that you may be used to seeing on phones sold in America.

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Here’s a quick overview of the LG G3, including my first impressions and how it stacks up against the HTC One M8 and Samsung Galaxy S5.

LG G3 Design and Display

LG G3 Review Display

LG G3 Review: Quad HD Display

LG managed to pack a 5.5″ display into a phone that’s  about the same size as phones with 5″ displays, including the HTC One M8 and Galaxy S5. The LG G3′s display is just a hair smaller than the Samsung Galaxy Note 3′s 5.7″ display, but the LG device is much easier to handle than that behemoth of a phone.  As you can see in the photos of the LG G3 review unit, there is barely any room between the sides of the display and the edge of the phone. The same goes for the top and bottom of the display.

LG G3 Review unit display

LG G3 Review: Quad HD Display

The LG G3 came with a demo slideshow and a demo video showcasing high-quality photos and scenes. Above is a sample image from the slideshow that I shot with my Nikon DSLR. The quality may not translate well, depending on what kind of screen you’re reading this review on. If you really care about display quality it’s always smart to check out the phone in person.

I recorded the above video of the LG G3′s display at an event the day LG announced the phone. I put my video camera in macro mode and put it within an inch or so of the display. This video gives a better sense of the LG G3′s display quality than the stills above. For best results, view the video in full screen in HD.

LG G3 Review unit next to iPhone 5s

LG G3 Review: iPhone 5s vs LG G3 Display Size

The LG G3′s display is absolutely stunning and really shines when watching HD movies or flipping through photo galleries. LG calls the phone’s display Quad HD, which is a fancy way of saying that it managed to pack 2,560 x 1440 pixels into it. That’s a pixel density of 538 pixels per inch (ppi), which is much higher than the iPhone 5s Retina Display’s 326 ppi. The iPhone 5s only has a 4″ display, and that looks tiny compared to the LG G3′s display.  Watching movies, playing games and reading are all much more comfortable on the LG G3 thanks to the larger display.

There aren’t any physical buttons on the front or sides of the LG G3.  Instead, they’re on the back of the  device. Just below the camera are a pair of volume buttons with a power button sandwiched between them. The volume down button doubles as a quick-access button to launch the camera app when the LG G3 is asleep. Pressing the volume up button launches QMemo+, a note taking app.

LG G3 Review:  A metallic pattern on its plastic back cover

LG G3 Review: A metallic pattern on its plastic back cover

The back of the LG G3 looks like its metal, but it’s actually plastic with a faux metal pattern on it. While it would be nice if the back were actually metal like the HTC One M8, the LG G3′s plastic body still looks better than the Galaxy S5′s dimpled rear cover. The LG G3′s rear cover is curved, making it easier to hold with one hand. While the LG G3′s curved back has a similar shape to the HTC One, the LG G3 just feels easier to hold. While I really like the HTC One M8, it’s slippery and prone to drops. In fact, I dropped my first HTC One M8 and broke it within a couple of days of buying it. The LG G3 is also about 10 grams lighter than the HTC One. The LG G3′s build quality is good, but it’s not on the same level as the metal HTC One or iPhone 5s.

The speaker is located to the left of the LG logo on the back of the phone. The 1 watt speaker is sufficiently loud, but I’m not a fan of rear-facing speakers. They project sound away from the user and they’re too easy to cover up with the palm of your hand, effectively muting the audio. The right place to put speakers on a smartphone is on the front, like the HTC One M8, but the tradeoff is that this takes up valuable real estate and is at odds with LG’s attempt to minimize the area around the display.

LG G3 Review:  Rear curve compared to the HTC One M8

LG G3 Review: Rear curve compared to the HTC One M8

The LG G3′s curved back is similar to the shape of the HTC One M8. The curve makes the LG G3 easier to hold than you might expect from a phone this size.  As with the other current flagship phones, the LG G3 is pretty big and while it’s comfortable for someone like me with big hands to hold, others may have difficulty handling it with one hand.

On the bottom of the LG G3 is a micro USB charging port, the microphone and headphone jack. Sound quality was good on both ends of calls.

LG G3 Review: A view of the phone with the back cover off

LG G3 Review: A view of the phone with the back cover off

Peeling off the back of the LG G3 exposes the battery, SIM card slot and microSD card slot. The battery stores 3,000 mAh and is easily replaceable. Since the LG G3 review unit wasn’t the U.S. version, I wasn’t able to accurately gauge battery life.  It lasted much longer than it normally would since it was only using AT&T’s 3G network rather than the speedy 4G LTE network.   We will update this review with battery life once we get our hands on the final U.S. version of the LG G3. The battery can be recharged wirelessly using an optional stand. The phone comes with NFC support, something that’s sorely lacking from the iPhone 5s.

Unfortunately, the LG G3 isn’t water resistant like the Samsung Galaxy S5. I really wish that LG ruggedized this phone a bit so it could stand up to splashes and dunks. As you can see, the LG G3 doesn’t have the gaskets and a  protective flap over the USB charging port like the Galaxy S5 does.

Read: Samsung Galaxy S5 Water Test: Don’t Try This With Your iPhone

The LG G3 can be outfitted with a LG QuickCircle case that provides access quick access to key features without having to open up the cover. The circular cutout allows users to see the time, make phone calls, send messages and control music through it.

LG G3 Review: The HTC One M8, Samsung Galaxy S5, LG G3 and Samsung Galaxy Note 3 (from left to right)

LG G3 Review: The HTC One M8, Samsung Galaxy S5, LG G3 and Samsung Galaxy Note 3 (from left to right)

Above are four of the best Android phones currently sold in the U.S. The LG G3 is closer in size to the HTC One M8 and Galaxy S5 than the Galaxy Note 3 (far right). While the Note 3 looks just a little bigger than the LG G3, it feels a lot bigger, partially because it doesn’t have rounded edges. If your main motivation for getting the Note 3 and you don’t care about having a built-in stylus, then the LG G3 is a better bet.

LG G3 Review: The Cameras

Phone cameras are getting better and better every year and the LG G3 is no exception. Its primary camera shoots at 13MP (megapixels) and the front-facing camera shoots selfies at 2.1MP. Both cameras are good for their intended tasks, but if you want the absolute best photos and video you’re going to still want to use a dedicated camera. As I reviewed the LG G3 I also had the Samsung Galaxy S5 and iPhone 5s with me. As the review period went on I found myself reaching into my pocket for the LG G3 more often than the other two.

LG G3 Review:  13MP Camera, laser and dual LED flash sit above volume buttons and power button

LG G3 Review: 13MP Camera, laser and dual LED flash sit above volume buttons and power button

The primary camera is centered on the top of the back of the LG G3, sandwiched between dual LED flashes and a laser focus assistant (more on that later). While the primary camera is capable of shooting at 13MP, users have to select the 10MP option in camera settings to snap photos that match the display’s aspect ratio.

The LG G3′s front-facing camera’s built for selfies. While the 2.1MP camera isn’t going to wow you with overall quality, LG included a few tricks to make it easier to capture decent selfies on the first try. To take a selfie, all a user needs to do is hold a hand up in front of the LG G3 and make a fist. The LG G3 will recognize the feature, start a three second countdown timer and snap a photo.  The shutter can also be speech activated by saying a handful of words such as “Cheese.” Both of these options are better than fumbling for a shutter button on the phone’s display. Pressing on the volume down button will also take a photo. The placement of the volume rocker on the back of the phone makes it much easier to do this than on other phones, such as the iPhone 5s, that have volume/shutter buttons on the side of the phone.

(Note: Click on any of the below images for the full resolution version. Depending on your browser, you may need to right-click to download the full resolution version or open it in a new window)

LG G3 Sample Photo

LG G3 Review: Dual Camera Sample of fans at AT&T Park

There’s also a feature that lets LG G3 users insert selfies into scenes. In dual camera mode both the front and rear cameras are activated, allowing users to snap a photo of the scenery and of themselves at the same time. To capture the above photo I simply held the LG G3 in front of my wife and son as he screamed for the Giants to come out of the dugout. We’ve seen this feature in phones such as the Galaxy S5, but it’s sorely lacking from the standard iPhone camera app.

The front-facing camera has a beauty slider that applies a soft blur to smooth skin and help hide flaws. I didn’t really care for this effect, as it made skin look to soft, but I can see how a vain person wanting to put their best image forward would appreciate the ability to apply digital makeup instantly.

LG G3 Review: Sample photo of kid outdoors. ISO 50, 1/1050 sec, f2.4

LG G3 Review: Sample photo of kid outdoors. ISO 50, 1/1050 sec, f2.4

Taking beautiful pictures of inanimate objects isn’t too difficult with most premium smartphones these days, but the LG G3 has two features that reall helps capture objects that move quickly… such as my overactive toddler. The LG G3 shoots out a laser to autofocus quickly and it comes with optical image stabilization to reduce blur caused by camera shake.

Here’s a quick video explaining the laser focus feature and a demonstration of how it helps the LG G3 focus faster than the Samsung Galaxy S5. Both of these phones’ cameras focus much faster than most

 

LG G3 Review: Sample photo shot at a farmer's market

LG G3 Review: Sample photo shot at a farmer’s market.

Above is a photo I shot with the LG G3′s primary camera at a farmer’s market in San Francisco. The color and detail in this photo is on par with mid-range point-and-shoot cameras. As with most mobile phone cameras, the LG G3′s camera performs best in bright light. This allows the phone to use a low ISO, in this case ISO 50, and capture the most detail without any noise.

LG G3 Review: Sample photo at 100% Crop

LG G3 Review: Sample photo at 100% Crop

Here is a 100% crop of the LG G3 sample photo, focused on the left side of the basket in the lower-right corner of the original photo. Notice the detail in the seeds, the veins in the leaf in the middle of the frame and the hairs on the edges of the leaves.  This level of detail is more than adequate for everyday shooting.

LG G3 Review: Photo sample at a farmer's market. ISO 50, 1/160 sec.,  f2.4

LG G3 Review: Photo sample at a farmer’s market. ISO 50, 1/160 sec., f2.4

This is a photo I shot with the LG G3 review unit at the same farmer’s market of a sunflower bouquet. Again, the detail in this image is stunning for a mobile phone camera.  Again, this was in a well-lit outdoor stand, so we’d expect any current premium smartphone to capture a clean image.

LG G3 Review: Sample photo at St.Patricks, San Francisco. ISO 350 1/17 sec, f 2.4

LG G3 Review: Sample photo at St.Patricks, San Francisco. ISO 350 1/17 sec, f 2.4

But how does the LG G3 camera perform in dim situations? I took several photos at a church just down the street from the Moscone Center, the convention center where Apple, Google and other tech giants make major product announcements every year.  I visited St. Patricks church during a mid-day mass. As with most churches, there wasn’t a lot of available light, but I was more than satisfied with the photos I shot with the LG G3.  The shutter speed was pretty slow at 1/17 of a second, which means that I had to hold the LG G3 pretty still to get photos that weren’t blurry.

LG-G3-review--photo-ballpark

LG G3 Review: Sample photo at AT&T Park. ISO 50, 1/30 sec, f2.4

I was also pretty pleased with how the LG G3 review unit shot at a San Francisco Giants game at AT&T Park. However, the color balance was a little warm, resulting in a slight yellow tinge in some photos. The white balance was set to automatic, but LG G3 users can override this with a couple of taps to tell the phone what the lighting conditions are. Unfortunately, most users aren’t going to remember to do that. Photos of landmarks and events like the above aren’t very personal, which is why I enjoyed using the  LG G3′s dual camera mode.

LG G3 Review sample photo of fireworks

LG G3 Review: Fireworks at AT&T Park

After the game there was a fireworks show. I was pleasantly surprised that the LG G3 did a decent job capturing images such as the one above in automatic mode. I obviously could have taken a much better shot of the above scene with a dedicated camera, but this kind of image quality is just fine for sharing on social media or via MMS.

 

LG G3 Review: Sample photo of a car wheel.

LG G3 Review: Sample photo of a car wheel.

Here’s one last shot from the LG G3 review unit. I really like the amount of detail this phone’s camera captures throughout the highlights and shadows. You can click on the above photo to see the full resolution version of it and get up and close and personal with the brake dust on the wheel. This kind of photo is high enough quality to print out and hang on your living room wall.

LG G3 Camera User Interface

LG G3 Review: The camera app screen is clean and simple

Overall, the LG G3′s camera app is very easy to use and its user interface is pretty stripped down. That’s a positive for most users, but more advanced photographers will be left wanting more and should probably utilize a more advanced camera app. The stock LG G3 camera app’s user interface is nice and clean. In fact, it’s almost completely blank except for a a back arrow and three dots in the top-left corner that expand into the camera settings pane. The grid of lines to help compose shots can be turned on and off. The small dots and brackets in the middle of the above frame are focus points that appear as soon as the camera is focused on an object. Tapping on objects in the display both focuses the camera and snaps a photo.

LG G3 Review unit camera settings

LG G3 Review: Expanded camera user interface and camera settings

 

Tapping at the three dots in the top-left corner exposes the photo and video capture buttons, a shortcut to the camera gallery and a settings bar. Tapping on Mode exposes the four modes: Auto, Magic focus, Panorama and Dual. I’ve already explained Dual mode above in the section about selfies. Panorama mode lets users capture panoramic photos by sweeping the LG G3 from side to side in either landscape or portrait mode. Magic focus mode allows the user to snap a photo and refocus it.

Magic focus sounds cool in theory, but it isn’t all that magical since once you select the focal point and save it you’re stuck with it. There’s no way to refocus if you change your mind. It also takes too much effort to take a Magic focus shot… and of course you need to know up front that you actually want  to refocus, switch to Magic focus, stabilize the LG G3, wait for it to take multiple photos and finally make the focus adjustment. HTC does a much better job of allowing refocusing thanks to its Duo Lens feature that allows refocusing on all photos. Above is a video demonstration of the LG G3′s Magic focus feature.

The LG G3 can of course shoot video and it does so in up to 4K resolution. That’s the standard that’s just starting to trickle out to high-end televisions and computer displays. Videos shot with the LG G3 look fantastic on the device itself, but most people won’t be able to enjoy the benefits of the extra resolution until they buy a 4K HDTV or 4K computer display. Shooting in 4K with the LG G3 does offer a bit of future proofing of your memories, though, since 4K will be the new standard within the next few years.

Above is a sample video shot in 4K in downtown San Francisco. The drummer’s claim to fame is being featured in the Will Smith movie The Pursuit of Happyness. The video also shows some buildings and cars driving buy. The video is crisp and sharp, even when viewed on standard displays in HD.

The camera settings pane allows users to throttle down from 4K resolution (UHD) to Full HD (1920 x 1080 pixels) or 720p (1280 x 720 pixels). There’s also a slow-motion setting that shoots at 120 frames per second. The slow motion camera feature is fun to use, but unfortunately exporting the videos to online services like YouTube doesn’t work properly, with video speeding back up to real time.

I shot the above video at AT&T Park in 4K with the LG G3 review unit.  This phone isn’t going to win any cinematic prizes for its low-light performance, but I was surprised by how much detail was captured and how the LG G3 dealt with near darkness.

 LG G3 Software

Like most Android phones, the LG G3 has its own take on Android. Starting with KitKat, LG’s added its own customizations, including a flat user interface, a number of apps and other enhancements. The LG G3′s user interface has a more mature appearance compared to Samsung’s more capricious interface. Overall, the LG G3 feels less cluttered than the Galaxy S5 and it is indeed simpler, as LG promises.

The LG G3′s stock keyboard isn’t the best Android keyboard available, but it does have some nice features. One thing I really like about it is that you can resize the keyboard on the fly, giving people with bigger fingers more freedom to type. This also allows users to scale down the keyboard when they need to see more of the text-entry area, such as forms in apps or websites. Above is a quick video demo of the keyboard resizing and how easy it is to select word suggestions. The video also shows that you can scrub back and forth on the space bar to put the cursor exactly where you need it.

LG G3 Review: Smart Notice shows alerts such as low battery warnings

LG G3 Review: Smart Notice shows alerts such as low battery warnings

Just because it’s simple doesn’t mean the LG G3 isn’t without some nice add-ons. One of those features is called Smart Notice. The widget rests on the home screen and comes to life when there’s important information that users should act on. For example, the Smart Notice area alerts users when the battery dips down to 30% and offers to turn on power saving mode. Smart Notice will also remind users to call back declined callers if you’ve sent them a message that you’ll call them back later. Some of the Smart Notices seem to be repetitive, however. For example, there are Smart Notices for weather conditions even though there’s a weather widget on the LG G3 by default. Do we really need to double up on weather info on the home screen?  The most common Smart Notice that popped up for me during my time with the LG G3 unit besides weather were small craft advisories on the San Francisco Bay. It seemed like LG was just trying to fill blank space with that notification. As with all current Android phones running KitKat, the LG G3 offers quick access to Google Now cards, which are ultimately more useful than Smart Notices.

LG G3 Health App

LG G3 Review: LG Health app tracks steps and calories

Like other flagship phones, the LG G3 comes with an fitness app. Simply called LG Health, the app is pretty basic. Punch in your gender, height, weight and age and the phone is all set to track how many steps you take and estimate how many calories you burn. Activity is tracked over time and routes can be recorded via GPS. Your activity can be viewed at a glance through the QuickCircle case while you’re on the go. This app feels like it’s simply there so LG can check off a box rather than providing something that can really help keep users fit. If you want to stay in shape with the help of the LG G3 your best bet is to download a more robust app like RunKeeper or buy a fitness band like a FitBit that comes with a more comprehensive app.

LG G3 Review: Messages and other alerts over other apps.

LG G3 Review: Messages and other alerts over other apps.

One very nice feature on the LG G3 is that messages gracefully slide in over apps and offer the chance to reply. For example, when my dad messaged me to tell me when he would be able to meet me I was flipping through some photos in the Gallery app. The alert is prominent and offers the user a chance to reply or just go back to the task at hand.

Knock Code allows users to unlock the LG G3 by tapping out a pattern on the lock screen. When Knock Code is enabled there are no numbers or dots displayed. The idea behind Knock Code is that it’s more difficult for others to access your LG G3 without your authorization. The LG G3 requires you enter a backup PIN when the Knock Code feature is enabled. If you enter the Knock Code incorrectly five times in a row the phone can only be unlocked with the backup PIN. This feature isn’t anything earth shattering, but we have seen problems with gesture-based locked screens. On some phones you can actually see the greasy pattern of unlock patterns. The LG G3 Knock Code has 80,000 permutations.

LG G3 Review: QMemo+ app for note taking

LG G3 Review: QMemo+ app for note taking

QMemo+, the LG G3′s built-in note taking app is adequate for taking quick notes. Notes can be written with the keyboard and styled with a toolbar. There’s a pen mode for annotating notes with a finger. Locations, photos, video and audio recording can be inserted into memos. The memos can be synched to Google Drive so you can view and edit them on other devices.  Those who take a lot of notes will want to use a more robust note taking app, such as Evernote.

One feature that the LG G3 has that I really wish the iPhone had is Guest Mode. With Guest Mode, a LG G3 owner can select up to five apps that guests can access. This is perfect for parents that want to let their kids play a few games without being able to change settings, delete apps or get into their email.

Another nice feature the LG G3 has is split screen. It’s not something that I used a lot during my time with the LG G3 review unit, but it is useful when trying to multitask.

LG G3 Review Unit Specs:

  • Chipset: Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 Quad-Core Processor 2.5 GHz
  • Display: 5.5-inch Quad HD IPS. 2,560 x 1440 pixels, 538 pixels per inch (ppi)
  • Internal Storage: 32GB
  • microSD Slot: Accommodates up to 128GB
  • Battery: 3,000 mAh, user replaceable
  • Android 4.4.2 KitKat
  • Dimensions: 146.3m x 74.6mm x 8.95mm
  • Weight: 5.28oz / 149.7 grams
  • Wireless:  LTE/HSPA+ 21 Mbps / CDMA
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
  • Bluetooth 4.0 LE, NFC
  • Slimport A-GPS, USB 2.0 HS
  • 1 Watt Speaker

LG G3 Comparisons (iPhone 5s,  HTC One and Galaxy S5)

If you’ve made it this far into our LG G3 review, you’re probably pretty serious about buying the device. While I really like the LG G3, it isn’t perfect and it’s important to compare it to other popular phone models. Below, I’ll summarize the pros and cons of each of the competitive flagship models and link to relevant reviews and articles.

LG G3 and iPhone 5s

iPhone 5s sits atop the LG G3 Review unit

LG G3 vs iPhone 5s

While we’re expecting the iPhone 6 in September or October, the iPhone 5s is the best Apple has to offer right now. The iPhone 5s is arguably the best smartphone available period. Yes, the LG G3 and other Android phones have NFC, higher resolution cameras and bigger displays, but the iPhone 5s has something that no other manufacturer has: the best smartphone ecosystem.

There are a lot of reasons why I recommend the iPhone 5s over the LG G3 or any other Android phone to friends and family. But the most important one is customer support. Apple has an unrivaled network of retail stores that are able to swap out broken and faulty devices at a moment’s notice.  Apple also has excellent support via its call centers. AppleCare+ extends the iPhone’s warranty to two years and includes damage insurance. With the LG G3, users are going to be at the mercy of their local wireless retailer or LG’s call centers for support. The problem with bringing a buggy LG G3 phone to your wireless retailer is that the representative helping you likely won’t be using an LG G3 regularly or be able to solve a lot of problems on the fly. Swapping faulty devices with wireless carriers or with companies like LG can take several days by UPS or FedEx, which means users can be left without working phones until a replacement arrives.

The other glaring reason why I generally recommend iPhones over Android phones is that the App Store is much more robust than Google’s Play Store. App developers consistently launch high quality apps on the App Store before making them available to Android users, if at all. It’s difficult to develop for hundreds of Android devices compared to a handful of iOS devices. It’s also more profitable to develop for iPhones since iOS users simply spend more money on apps and in-app purchases. While the gap between the two app marketplaces isn’t as bad as it was a couple of years ago, there are still glaring holes. If having the latest and greatest apps is important to you, you’re going to want to stay away from the LG G3, or any other Android phone for that matter, and go with the iPhone 5s or wait until the iPhone 6 launches.

If you use a lot of Google services or value flexibility, then the LG G3 might be the better choice. While Google does offer an iOS version of just about every app it makes, Android puts your Google account at the core of your phone. If you have to manage a second Google account for work there’s even more reason to go with Android.

The biggest advantage the LG G3 has over the iPhone 5s is its massive display. It’s really tough to go from watching Netflix movies on the LG G3′s glorious display to the iPhone 5s’s small screen. The LG G3′s display is also better for playing games, so long as you don’t mind the extra bulk.

As I mentioned before, I started using the LGG 3 to take pictures more than my iPhone 5s as time went on. The iPhone 5s seems more reliable for taking OK pictures in most situations. Where the LG G3 really shines is in taking photos that are superior to those that the iPhone 5s can shoot in nice bright conditions.

Read: iPhone 5s Review

LG G3 vs HTC One M8

HTC One M8 vs LG G3

HTC One M8 vs LG G3

The HTC One M8 is the best built Android phone available and rivals the iPhone 5s in terms of overall quality. As I’ve mentioned before, the HTC One M8 looks as if it could’ve been designed by Apple. The HTC One M8 is refined and its solid metal shell puts the LG G3′s plastic shell to shame. But as I mentioned in my review of the HTC One M8, it has a serious flaw that I warn potential buyers about nearly every time I discuss the phone.

htc-one-for-lg-g3-review-u-focus

HTC One with UFocus effect applied

As much as I like the HTC One M8′s build quality, its camera simply cannot compete with the LG G3′s camera in terms of image quality. If you want nice big printable photos from your phone, then the LG G3 is the way to go. But as I mentioned up above in the camera section of the LG G3 review, the phone’s camera app doesn’t have much to it. On the other hand, the HTC One’s camera app can help anyone tell a story and do more with their photos. HTC’s UFocus is a really nice feature that lets HTC One M8 users select focus points after shooting and blur out distractions.

The HTC One has the best speakers in the smartphone business, but putting them on the front of the phone means there’s not as much space to stretch out the display. If a bigger screen means more to you than bigger sound, then that’s another reason to lean towards the LG G3. The LG G3′s 5.5″ display looks a lot more than half an inch bigger than the HTC One’s 5″ display side by side.

While HTC doesn’t have anywhere near the same level of support as Apple does for its mobile devices, the complimentary HTC Advantage program offers a free screen replacement program for the first 90 days. When I broke my screen a couple of days after buying my HTC One M8 I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly the company’s representatives helped solve the problem by phone. LG doesn’t have a program to match HTC’s.

While I wasn’t blown away by LG’s QuickCircle case, it’s a heck of a lot better than HTC’s flawed Dot View case. Like the QuickCircle case, the Dot View case gives users quick access to information and the ability to answer calls without flipping back a cover. The problem with the the Dot View case, however, is that the darn thing won’t stay open. The cover snaps shut unless you hold it down, making it virtually impossible to use the HTC One M8 with one hand.

Read: HTC One M8 Review

LG G3 vs. Samsung Galaxy S5 

Samsung Galaxy S5 vs LG G3

Samsung Galaxy S5 vs LG G3

The Samsung Galaxy S5 is the LG G3′s chief competitor. Both are good devices and most smartphone users would be satisfied with either. However, Samsung and LG have two very different philosophies on software and that’s where the real differences are.

The Samsung Galaxy S5 is absolutely packed with features. While more features are generally a good thing, they can end up suffocating users. For example, there are seemingly endless ways to tweak the camera app. There’s an ‘S’ app for just about everything, even though a lot of them duplicate Android’s own built-in efforts. LG’s focus on simplicity really shines through by comparison. It’s a cleaner, more user friendly experience that a lot of users will appreciate. LG G3 users aren’t constantly bombarded with offers to download extra add ons and other offers. LG’s color palette and design choices are decidedly more mature than Samsung’s.

The Galaxy S5′s 5.1″ display is smaller than the LG G3′s even though the phones are about the same size. While both are made out of plastic, the LG G3 looks and feels more refined thanks to its faux metal back. The LG G3′s edges make it more comfortable to hold than the Galaxy S5.

While I prefer the LG G3′s overall design to the Samsung Galaxy S5′s, the latest Samsung flagship phone has one killer feature that the LG doesn’t. The Galaxy S5 is water resistant, making it much more durable than the LG G3. As you can see in the above video, the Galaxy S5 can be dunked and splashed without missing a beat. I’ve lounged in the bathtub with my Galaxy S5, brought it to the pool to snap pictures of my kid and taken it to the beach without worrying if it would survive.

When it’s all said and done, buying a smartphone is a very personal choice and there’s no perfect phone for everyone. There are tradeoffs to consider no matter which phone you go with. After spending so much time with the LG G3 I confidently say that it will please most users.

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Comments

  1. G says

    Amazing review. The detail is just staggering and I especially love the videos demonstrating some of the G3′s features. I do have one question though that has not been clearly answered by any of the many reviews I have read. Once you take a video on the LG G3, is there a way to edit the video, such as make it brighter?? I have not been able to find it if there is. Thus, I will probably buy a photo editing app unless someone advises that there is a way to edit videos that is built into the camera/video part of the phone. Thanks.

  2. Xavier Lanier says

    Thanks for reading. There’s no way to do ‘real’ video editing on the G3 with its stock camera/gallery apps. You can trim videos shot on the LG G3, but you can’t adjust brightness on the fly.

  3. Aws Khanfar says

    Nice review with excellent videos. The most helpful part was the comparison among the different smart phones. Still I have an enquiry. I use the mobile in my work a lot so I need a pen in using the phone especially when preparing lectures through Polaris office. Is this phone supporting the use of a pen or I have to wait galaxy note 4 release. Many thanx

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