Jun 23 AT 5:07 PM Nick Sarafolean 19 Comments

Review: LG G3

LG G3 (9) (JPG, Resized)

Over the years, LG has developed a reputation for creating well-specced phones that are marred by gaudy, clunky software and poor design choices. For 2014, LG took a step back to take a look at what really needed to be done to create a great flagship. It then took that information and used it to create one of the finest flagship phones to date, the LG G3.

Last week, we gave you a review of each of the five main aspects of the LG G3 to give you an in-depth look at the phone and how it performs. Now it’s time for the big one. The full review. Read on to find out how the LG G3 stacks up in today’s competitive smartphone world.

1. Hardware

LG G3 (10)

Great hardware alone doesn’t make a great phone, but it’s nearly impossible to have a great phone without great hardware. The LG G3 excels in this department, offering one of the most impressive specs lists we’ve ever seen. LG packed the G3 to the gills with a 2.5GHz Snapdragon 801 processor, Adreno 330 GPU, 3GB of RAM, 32GB storage supplemented by a microSD slot with support for 128GB cards, 13-megapixel camera with laser auto-focus and optical image stabilization, a 3000mAh battery, Wi-Fi, LTE, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, and Android 4.4.2 KitKat. All of that is packed inside a 5.76 x 2.94 x 0.35 inch body that weighs just 5.26 ounces. The crown jewel of the G3, though, is its 5.5-inch 2560×1440 QHD IPS display that adorns its front.

Without a doubt, the LG G3 gets a big thumbs-up for hardware.

2. Design and Build Quality

In most cases, we’re not overly excited when a manufacturer uses plastic as the material of choice for its phone. LG has done it right, though. The LG G3 is a beautiful phone that uses minimalism to its advantage. The floating arc design of the back allows the device to fit comfortably and naturally into your hand, with your finger automatically resting on the rear power button. LG did more than make G3 comfortable; they also made it logical, with an anti-fingerprint coating that works surprisingly well.

The G3′s build quality isn’t the most durable we’ve seen, but it isn’t trying to be. The G3 isn’t designed as a phone for people heading outdoors and going off-road. It’s designed as a high-end device for the average consumer that won’t be looking for the most rugged device money can buy.

On both looks and feel, we can give the G3 great praise. Yes, the design is plastic, but it’s incorporated so that it simply feels premium. In the looks department, the G3 is beautiful. It may not receive any “Most Beautiful Phone” awards, but it’s certainly a contender.

LG G3 design and hardware: third time’s the charm

3. Display

LG G3 (16)

The G3′s display is what sets it apart from most other smartphones. It’s the first of the flagships to launch with a 2560×1440 display. Is the extra resolution necessary? No, but there’s no denying that it makes a great selling point. The G3′s display is a pleasure to look at, showing that it’s not all about the specs on paper. The colors are bright and vivid, with a touch of added saturation for extra pop. Viewing angles are some of the best we’ve ever seen. The G3 earns itself a solid “A” when it comes to display.

4. Software

The LG G3 runs Android 4.4.2 KitKat out of the box, including LG’s UI over top. With this latest iteration, LG toned down its software significantly, trimming out the vast majority of the gaudy elements, though some of the animations retain the over-the-top style that was once present. The new software resembles stock Android but with a few design tweaks here and there to set it apart.

While LG has included handy features like QMemo and QSlide, we can’t help but feel that there may have been a better approach to take. The software on the G3 would be perfect if LG had followed in Motorola’s footsteps and left the design as stock Android, merely throwing in a few of its own nifty features on top. Throughout, LG’s software design still feels old-fashioned in comparison to stock Android and other UIs like HTC’s Sense 6. Nonetheless, the G3′s software works well, which is the most important matter. It just didn’t leave us feeling wowed.

LG G3 software experience: simple really is the new smart

5. Performance

You’d assume that with the hardware that the G3 possesses, it would have exceptional performance, right? Happily, we can report that this is indeed the case. The G3 flies through every task thrown at it, handling power usage like a pro. Scrolling, especially on the web, is smoother than on any other Android device we’ve used. The only flaw to pick out is that occasionally the tiniest stutter will pop up when you’re quickly switching, scrolling and generally pushing the phone to its limits. We’re going to call out the extra pixels on the display for causing this one, but it’s not an issue in performance, so we can hardly knock the G3 for it.

If you’re into benchmarks, check out the table below to see how well the G3 performs.

Benchmark Test Score
AnTuTU 35487
Quadrant 24331
Geekbench 3 989 (single-thread) 2495 (multi-thread)
AndEBench Pro 7628
3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited 17,028
SunSpider 1.0.2 931.9ms

LG G3 performance: benchmarks vs reality

Camera

LG G3 (7)

In past years, LG has had major camera struggles. Its cameras were generally considered to be at the bottom of the pack for flagships. With the G3, LG aimed to turn that around and it accomplished its goal. The G3 uses a 13-megapixel sensor to snap photos with ease. Optical image stabilization improves the G3′s low-light performance and also aids those with shaky hands. The real key is the laser auto-focus, which works extraordinarily well and allows you to focus on a subject nearly instantly focus and then snap a picture.

The camera UI is extremely minimal and lacks any sort of clutter. The G3 also features HDR and Magic Focus, both of which worked well. Check out the camera samples in our camera review to get an idea of the G3′s camera performance.

LG G3 camera experience: megapixels and lasers

Battery

The most important part of a smartphone is its battery. LG took this to heart when designing the G3, and its hard work has paid off in the final product. While a 3000mAh battery isn’t much larger than the average smartphone battery, LG incorporated plenty of tweaks to make the battery perform better than most others. The G3 can easily make it through a full day of moderate usage. The battery takes a long time to charge and you should probably keep the display on auto brightness, but we can safely say that the G3 performs better than most other flagships in the battery department.

LG G3 battery: fully up to the challenge

LG G39.5 / 10

LG G3 (2)

Stacking the LG G3 up against the competition reveals the ultimate flagship for 2014. A blend of sheer speed, power, and simple beauty, the LG G3 delivers almost everything we could possibly want in a smartphone. Our only real knock against it is that its software isn’t the prettiest. It is extremely usable, though, effectively negating the beauty aspect.

While it’s not yet available on US carriers, it’ll be here soon. If you can’t wait, here’s a link to buy the unlocked version.

Beyond a shadow of a doubt, we can recommend the LG G3 to nearly anyone that’s shopping for a new smartphone.

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A nerd at heart, Nick is an average person who has a passion for all things electronic. When not spending his time writing about the latest gadgets, Nick enjoys reading, dabbling in photography, and experimenting with anything and everything coffee. Should you wish to know more about him, you can follow him on Twitter @Zricon15.

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