The core structure of a phone begins with the internals that make the phone tick. It then moves onto the aesthetics, making the phone beautiful. For the final touch, it carries into the software, making the phone usable. Today, we’ll take a look the first two facets: the hardware and the aesthetics of the LG G3.
The LG G3 is LG’s 2014 flagship, and it has some stiff competition. To make the G3 stand on its own, LG pulled out all the stops when it came to design and hardware. From the narrow bezels to the perfectly positioned power button, the G3 screams detail. Detail that makes LG’s user experience better than ever.
Let’s begin with the externals, shall we? The G3 is solidly built, with Gorilla Glass 3 expanding across the face of the phone. The front is blissfully minimal with a simple speaker grille set at the top. Below the screen sits a small patch of accent glass that matches the color of the phone. A subtle, reflective LG logo sits in the middle, reminding you who crafted the phone.
On the sides, we find an attractive yet restrained silver and white trim that loops around the G3. The sides are relatively unadorned, but on the top sits an IR blaster, microphone and, interestingly enough, an extendable antenna. The review unit we’ve been given is a Korean LTE-A model, and the antenna is used for picking up Korean television signals. Moving down to the bottom of the phone, we find another microphone, a 3.5mm headphone jack and a microUSB port.
Sweeping around to the back, we can see white, curved plastic sheathing the phone. A brushed design gives a premium look to the plastic and allows it to have a faux metal appearance. The backplate is treated with anti-fingerprint and anti-smudge coatings. Pleasantly surprising was the fact that both coatings worked well. The G3 didn’t scratch during my testing. Even more impressive was the anti-fingerprint coating that entirely resisted skin oils and food smears. How LG did this, I know not. But if this coating can be applied to screens, LG could have a real marketing feature on their hands.
On the back of the G3 we find a camera that’s flanked by a dual-LED flash and laser autofocus. Directly beneath the camera are the volume and power buttons. I initially doubted LG’s claims about the rear buttons being more intuitive, but eventually I found that the setup worked better than any other I’ve used. With the size of the G3, your finger rests almost directly on the power button. When your finger is already there, you don’t have to worry about doing finger acrobatics to reach a top-mounted power button. The placement is unconventional, yes, but there’s no doubt that it works.
The LG G3 is one of the best-designed smartphones to date. The phone is large, and unashamedly so. Rather than trying to narrow or slim itself down, the G3 features what LG is calling a “floating arc” design. The phone naturally curves itself into your hand with a solid feel thanks to its added weight and thickness. Without a doubt, LG took the right move in bypassing slimness and opting for comfort.
Where the magic really happens is on the front of the phone. Pressing the power button brings to life a stunning 5.5-inch QHD display. The resolution of 2560×1440 allows the G3 to embrace the the title of having the highest resolution smartphone display available, with a PPI count of 538. The display is more than just a gimmick, though, offering beautiful color reproduction and superior brightness (even outdoors) compared to devices like the HTC One (M8). Take a look at the comparison shots in the gallery and notice the difference in color and brightness between the two devices. In person, the rift grows even more vast.
UPDATE: One of our eagle-eyed readers has pointed out to us an unfair comparison between the G3 and the One (M8). Although in testing both devices were set to max brightness, the One (M8) had power saving enabled, which doesn’t actually allow the screen to reach max brightness even when the brightness scale is set to full brightness. Thus, we made a claim about the G3 providing superior brightness that should be revised to something more along the lines of, “The G3′s display is brighter, but only marginally. Colors also appeared more natural on the One (M8) when compared at max brightness.” We’re going to call the display a toss-up as both displays have their own great features. Two new pictures of the devices at max brightness have been added at the bottom of the gallery.
Were those thousands of extra pixels necessary? It pains us to say no. While it gives LG a great feature to sell, the extra pixels make no change to the naked eye. The pre-loaded content looks great, but in everyday use, the boost over 1080p isn’t noticeable. And due to the high resolution, you occasionally get a stutter when flying back and forth as the processor whirs to keep up. We applaud LG for making an effort, but a gentle reminder about the specs race might be necessary.
A standout feature of the LG G3′s design is a small part that usually goes unnoticed, and that’s the bezel size. The G3 has some of the thinnest bezels to date and, while it’s a small change, it makes a big impact. Coming from an HTC One (M8), I immediately noticed the reduction in bezel size. After a few days, I became hooked, with the bezels on the One (M8) seeming massive in comparison. Not only do those small bezels allow for increased screen size, but they also allow the phone to be more usable, with less of a stretch around the device. Still, people with smaller hands may still need to use two hands while operating the G3.
One final aspect to mention is the sound. Plenty of you asked us to compare it to the HTC One (M8) and we did. Needless to say, the One (M8) outperformed the G3. However, for a device with only a single rear speaker, the G3 performed admirably and produced sound far more pleasing than most smartphones. Sound quality through the audio jack was also great. The sound output by the G3 through the audio jack is comparable to the One (M8), though we will say that the M8 has a slightly cleaner, crisper sound.
Looking at the G3 hardware as a whole, we can conclude that it is one of the nicest smartphones to date, and certainly LG’s best designed device. From the curved, oil-resistant back to the thin bezels on front, the G3 has serious design chops that allow it to compete with the big dogs like the One (M8), even if we’re not crazy about the plastic.
Check out the gallery below for even more pictures of the G3.