We took a look at the Nokia Lumia 1020 and the iPhone 5s earlier this week, and now we’re going to turn attention to LG’s late 2013 flagship, the G2. The LG G2 has an impressive, but often overlooked camera, and we want to explore how this under-rated competitor stacks up against not only the best camera phones on the market today, but the best smartphones out there. Given that in our review of the LG G2 we dubbed the smartphone a worthy Galaxy S4 challenger, and given that Samsung is gunning for the iPhone with its flagship Android device, the LG G2, by proxy, then is also a rival to Apple’s iPhone. So let’s see how the Android-powered G2 measures up against Apple’s iconic iPhone 5s.
The best camera is the one that you always carry with, whether that’s a professional-grade DSLR or a 1-megapixel flip phone camera. Fortunately, though, if you have the cash to spend on either an iPhone 5s or an LG G2, you’ll not only get two amazing smartphones, but ones with highly capable cameras to preserve your memories.
LG G2. The LG G2 has an impressive camera with a 13-megapixel resolution sensor–or the same one that rival Samsung is using on the Galaxy S4 and Galaxy Note 3. What makes the LG G2 stand out is optical image stabilization, which will make videos look more stabilized and less shakey and will allow for brighter images when captured in low light situation. The former is good for when you want to record video and play it back on a 50-inch HDTV and not get seasick from all the camera shake and the latter is excellent for when you’re at a dark bar and don’t want to look touristy by using a flash.
In reality, performance by the LG G2 is great, but not excellent. Slower times to lock focus and a slower shutter speed still led to motion blur, which is different from camera shake. Motion blur is when you’re trying to take a picture of someone moving, and the slower shutter blurs the movement of their motion rather than freezing it in the shot. The OIS engine is on par with the HTC One, but still pales to the Lumia’s excellent OIS mechanism.
On its own, the LG G2 is a very capable camera that allows users to do more in more settings. You can literally take the camera out from dawn to dusk and not have to use the flash and still have a good image. It’s a very impressive camera, and LG is already promising a better OIS and camera experience on its next LG G Pro 2 phablet, which means that the LG G3 later this year will have an even beefier camera than the G2’s.
iPhone 5s. As the iPhone is the most popular photography tool today, it’s what most camera phones will be compared against. The iPhone 5s doesn’t have a mechanical OIS mechanism like its rival, it does have digital image stabilization, which does a decent job for video shake. In low light situations, the LG G2 does a better job of gathering in available light to brighten an image taken in a dark bar or restaurant without having to activate the flash. That said, if you do need a flash, the dual LED flash module on the iPhone 5s is superb as it renders accurate, more natural skin tones.
Apple does an admirable job of simplifying technology for the user, and it shows with the camera experience. Though you won’t get the best in class performance of competitors, like the Lumia 1020, the easy to use camera provides the best quality for what it is, and perhaps this is why iPhone users capture, share, and upload more photos to the web than users of any other smartphone model. The LG G2 tries to be better, but it doesn’t do enough to truly challenge the camera experience of the iPhone 5s.
With the latest specs and processing power, both the LG G2 and the iPhone 5s are worthy of their flagship statuses. However, does either device push far enough to deliver powerful performance that power users can appreciate?
LG G2. The LG G2 is powered by Android and runs on a powerful quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor with enough RAM to give it fluid, instant response. There is nothing to complain about–fast processor, vivid 1080p display in a still manageable 5.2-inch package, and great sounding speakers.
What LG does well is it enhances its own experience on top of Android, but does in a way that doesn’t overwhelm the user. With the LG experience, you can have floating windows of applications so you can multitask, you can have transparent windows, and the device could intelligently detect if you’re looking at the display or away to automatically pause video playback or turn off the screen to conserve battery life. Additionally, users can also use the home screen in landscape orientation, which would make the LG G2 a great car computer for GPS navigation and just docked to a dashboard or windshield in landscape, rather than portrait view.
These simple enhancements may not sound much, but coupled with the ability to simultaneously multitask with cascading floating windows on a 5.2-inch screen, users will be able to do more with their G2 smartphone throughout the day.
iPhone 5s. Apple’s latest A7 processor is fast and provides for a zippy experience around iOS 7 on the iPhone 5s. TouchID, iMessage, and unrivaled iTunes/App Store ecosystem really helps the iPhone standout. However, through the years, little has changed functionally about iOS. It still provides plenty of power, but iOS really is showing its age when mated to a still small 4-inch display of the iPhone 5s. And given the small display, it may be of little sense to allow for simultaneous multitasking. In these areas, both LG and Samsung are blowing Apple out of the water, though some of the other smaller enhancements on the G2 may seem a bit gimmicky to iPhone owners.
A smartphone isn’t just about the hardware, but it’s also the sum of the surrounding parts, including the networks that it connects to as well as the apps and contents that it has access to. Google Play is rapidly catching up to iTunes and the App Store, but is there more to the story than two apps ecosystem that are largely on par with each other?
LG G2. The problem with the openness of Android is that manufacturers get creative, and sometimes their thinking is years ahead of Google’s. Take for instance tablets–Samsung had released its Galaxy Tab 7–the original edition–ahead of Google’s optimized Android Honeycomb for tablet. This leads to a rather poor experience with third-party apps that have to scale up, but don’t offer any real value to the end users, to the tablet’s larger display. The same could be said with phablets. With 5-inch or larger devices, these phablets run the phone version of Android, so third-party apps run with a phone user experience. It would be nice to see if users could force apps to run in their tablet experiences, which provides for more columns and a more desktop-like interface. By doing this, users won’t have to click and go back as often, jumping between screens.
And while the apps ecosystem on Google Play is largely catching up to the App Store on iOS, digital content on the Google Play Store–like movies, TV shows, magazines, and e-books–still are lagging behind the content selection on Apple’s iTunes. That said, with what’s available, I think you’ll be able to enjoy the content more with a larger display, and one at a high 1080p full HD resolution.
iPhone 5s. Though Google may be catching up to Apple in terms of apps, selections on iTunes cannot be beaten still in some cases. What really sets the iPhone apart from the competition is the quality of apps. Rather than force developers to create apps for different screen experiences, Apple has a few screen sizes to choose from, allowing for more consistent and elegantly created apps. Retina iPhone display, Retina iPad display, normal iPhone, and normal iPad displays are just the few resolutions that are available, and developers know that their apps are built to work for a 4-inch, 3.5-inch, 7.9-inch, or 9.7-inch screen size.
In reality, you won’t find apps that are meant for smaller phones that are now stretched to fill a larger display. Everything just feels like they fit better together.
The downside about the iPhone 5s is that though both it and the LG G2 connect to supported 4G LTE networks in the U.S., the LG G2 on Verizon could handle simultaneous talking and web browsing at the same time whereas the single antenna on the iPhone 5s limits users to either talking on the phone or surfing the web. Not only will you not have the simultaneous multitasking of apps that is present on the LG G2, but iPhone users on Verizon’s and Sprint’s CDMA/LTE network are more confined to just talking or web access. GSM iPhone owners on AT&T and T-Mobile don’t have this issue, but it’s something to keep in mind none the less in your decision to buy a phone.
The new rage these days is not accessories to personalize and customize your phones. Though simple, colorful, and trendy cases are still hot, power users will likely look at accessories that extend the usefulness of their phones.
LG G2. The LG G2 benefit from a number of cases as well as first-party covers from LG that protect the screen while also giving you access to quick information through a small window on the cover. It’s a nifty idea that allows you to check notifications without having to constantly flip open the cover.
iPhone 5s. Apple has done an excellent job in not only courting software developers, but also makers of accessories to extend the ecosystem and support of its phone. With the iPhone 5s, you’ll find a number of interchangeable lenses for the camera–like Olloclip’s snap-on lenses to extend your photography to the next level–as well as specialized cases. From rugged Otterbox cases to waterproof Lifeproof cases, there is something that will fit in with your lifestyle. There are also wallet cases, ISIS-approved mobile payment cases, and battery cases that combine an extended battery with a hard shell for added protection, like those made by Mophie.
Dedicated docks, customized holders, colorful and playful cases, and skins and covers, you’ll find a lot of accessories at varying price points from the cheap to the luxurious with the iPhone 5s.
So while the LG G2 excels ahead of the iPhone 5s in a few areas, general smartphone owners who may not need all the powerful features may find more value in the iPhone than Android. Nice sounding speakers, crisp and large display, OIS camera, and strong multitasking show where the LG G2 shines, but where Apple trails, it makes up for in apps that are beautifully built, a more robust ecosystem of apps and accessories, and more digital content. Depending on where your needs lie, you can’t go wrong with today’s powerful selections of phones.