“Simple is the new smart.”
At least that’s what LG’s trying to sell this year alongside its new flagship, the G3.
Like many rumors suggested, the G3 is the cream of the crop, at least on paper. Its innards are comprised of the finest specifications a buyer could hope for today. It comes with a 5.5-inch QHD (2,560 by 1,440 pixels) display, a 2GB RAM and 16GB storage combo or 3GB RAM and 32GB storage, a storage expansion slot for up to 128GB microSDXC cards, a monster 3,000mAh battery with EQi wireless charging, a 13-megapixel camera with OIS and laser autofocus, a Snapdragon 801 SoC, and a 1W loudspeaker around back.
LG made it very clear that it has paid very close attention to some of the most minute details, which is deserving of a great deal of respect.
The South Korean handset manufacturer talked about countless prototypes and endless testing to find the best radius for the curvature of the backside, in order to make the physical size of the phone easier to deal with. Further, it comes with a subtle, metallic finish beneath a matte coating for both beauty and an assured grip. And even the rear-facing buttons – love or hate them – have been tirelessly tweaked in both angle and tactility to make them more responsive and easier to feel and use blindly.
From afar, the attention to detail is praiseworthy, and our own Michael Fisher who was on-site at the G3 launch event in New York City tells us the minor details shine through, even in person. He told us on the Editorial Roundtable earlier today that despite still being plastic, the matte finish helps keep the phone from feeling too cheap and he called it the “perfect weight”, though he remains upset about the speaker placement.
LG has also managed to keep all bezels to the absolute minimum once again, squeezing a 5.5-inch display into a package more likened to the Galaxy S5 or One M8, instead of the Oppo Find 7a or OnePlus One.
According to LG, we (consumers) wanted simplicity, not complexity, and that’s exactly what the G3 is.
Even LG’s software has been the recipient of a slight face-lift. LG claims to have flattened the UI and passed on primary colors and pastels to give it more a more “mature” look and feel. The UI has been toned-down significantly and LG, not unlike HTC, has color-coded some of its core apps to help users know immediately which app they are in.
A simultasking feature is thankfully still present, alongside three other helpful software features: Smart Keyboard, Smart Notice, and Smart Security.
- Smart Keyboard offers a few advantages over LG’s previous soft text input system. The height of the keys is adjustable on the fly; you can now long-press on the space bar to access quick cursor controls to make editing faster and more simple; and similar to the new BlackBerry keyboard, swiping up mid-word will auto-complete word suggestions.
- Smart Notice is LG’s attempt at a digital assistant. It’s a lot like Google Now or Cortana in that it learns you the more you use it, but it’s paired with more antiquated (and somewhat pestering) features, like reminders to add people to your address book or to call people back. It warns you of a low battery, tells you about the apps and files you rarely use, and more.
- Smart Security is also a combination of new and old features – custom Knock On codes, content lock with 128-bit encryption, and remote phone disabling or a permanent kill switch.
All things considered, the ultimate question is still unanswered. Is the LG G3 the phone of the year? Is it best Android handset yet?
For the record, it’s impossible to draw such a conclusion from nothing more than a press event, promo videos, a few hands-on videos, some pictures, and an official list of specs.
With that taken care of, I have to say I’m thoroughly impressed with LG’s attention to detail and how much it seemingly listened to the complaints and comments of users and reviewers. Virtually every low point of the G2 has been addressed – non-removable battery (in US variants), external storage, build quality and design, and, most importantly, the software.
The G3 appears to be the dream phone many have been begging for. On paper, it has nearly everything everyone wanted: a fantastic display, a high-res camera with OIS, 3GB RAM, a Snapdragon 801, and a giant battery.
Still, I’m not convinced. I’m not ready to hop on the G3 supporter bandwagon just yet. Time has taught us more than a few times that a great list of specifications doesn’t automatically lead to the most stellar user experience ever. And just because a company claims to have fixed the awful cluster which was last year’s software iteration doesn’t mean the software is notably better.
Like a lot of you, I’m jaded. LG, in particular, will have to work to win my affection again. The Nexus 4 and Nexus 5 are the only two recent LG phones that have spoken directly to me, and that’s due in large part to the Nexus branding, not LG.
That said, the G3 appears to be a serious contender and I think Michael said it most succinctly on the Roundtable. The ultimate battle is not between the G3 and the One M8, it’s between the G3 and the Galaxy S5. That being the case, I’m inclined to give the nod of approval to LG, not only because LG paid such close attention to detail but also because it appears to have created a product with a far more compelling story. The G3 has soul – maybe not as much as the M8, but it still has soul.
On the other hand, the Galaxy S5 looks, feels, and operates more like Android devices of yore, save for the water-resistance.
My personal conflict, however, is pitting this phone against the M8. As far as that subjective battle goes, I have to lean towards the M8, solely for the (actual) metal frame and the BoomSound speakers. Apparently I’m in the minority, but even though I have a thing for nice headphones, I also require a nice multimedia experience without some wired speakers crammed into my ears.
No less, this is definitely one of the most compelling handsets to ever come from of LG. Ever. It shows, as does LG’s desire to take on Samsung.
I won’t go as far to call the LG G3 the best phone of the year just yet, nor will I recommend it over anything else without a full review treatment. I reserve my final opinion until I get my hands on the device itself, but I definitely applaud LG for stepping up its game today and showing Samsung what actual effort to be on top looks like.