LG’s best yet, and a real contender for phone of the year: LG’s G3 reviewed

LG has long been trying to be the leader of the smartphone race, and in its 2014 flagship, it just might have the edge to beat the others, with one of the sharpest screens in the world and a smattering of other cool features. Is this the best phone yet?

Features

The last of the major Android flagship releases for the first half of the year are here, with really only phablets left to go.

If you’ve been waiting for a new LG handset, here it is, bringing a 5.5 inch screen with a new resolution to go with it. That resolution measure 2560×1440, making it the highest resolution display found in a smartphone in Australia, and delivering 534 pixels per inch, 200 higher than Apple’s Retina-grade panels found on the current crop of iPhone handsets (5C and 5S).

The 5.5 inch display is also protected by the third generation of Corning’s scratch-resistant Gorilla Glass technology.

Underneath this screen, LG is relying on a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor clocked to 2.5GHz, paired with 2GB RAM and 16GB storage. If 16GB isn’t enough, there’s a microSD slot available, and in some parts of the world, you’ll find a 32GB model with 3GB RAM instead of our 2GB. Not Australia, at least not yet, so here you’ll find the 2GB/16GB model in most places.

Android 4.4 “KitKat” runs natively here, with some changes from LG, and it works with a fair amount of connectivity, including 802.11a/b/g/n/ac WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0 with A2DP and LE, Near-Field Communication (NFC), infrared, GPS, and support for 4G LTE running under Category 4. MicroUSB is also supported, but it’s a wired connection found at the bottom of the handset.

Since cameras are such an important part of the mobile phone world, you’ll find a 13 megapixel shooter on the back, paired with a flash and laser-based auto-focus, as well as a 2.1 megapixel camera on the front. Both cameras can take stills and Full HD videos, but only the rear camera can capture in Ultra High Definition (4K, or close to it).

Buttons on phones are getting fewer in number, and that’s certainly true of LG’s G3, with the front only supporting Android’s soft buttons — back, home, and multi-tasking — though thanks to some programming, LG will let you move these around. The few hardware buttons that exist sit on the very back of the G3, with a volume rocker sitting under neath the camera lens, with a power button in between.

There are only two physical ports on the handset, with the microUSB and 3.5mm headset jack found at the very bottom of the handset.

The back of the G3 can be removed, however, revealing the battery, which can be taken out, and two slots sitting atop each other, with a microSIM slot underneath and a microSD slot just above this.

LG’s G3 battery is rated for 3000mAh.

Performance

It doesn’t seem like we’ve had LG’s G2 for all that long, but here are with another model, not even a year past that handset’s release. In August, however, LG is taking the G2 and improving it, updating the specs and bringing a new screen into the mix, and changing the design slightly.

We’ll start with that last bit, because everything else flows from it.

Pick up the handset and like the G2, you’ll notice there’s something rather interesting about the design: there are no buttons on the front or the side.

Just like in that older model, the buttons sit on the back, with a volume rocker sitting at the rear cover, just under the camera, with a power button the middle.

This design has been modelled on a particular hand-hold of the phone, which is that you rest the base of the phone in your palm, use your fore-finger to control the back buttons, and grip the handset with the rest of your digits.

It’s a little unorthodox, especially in comparison to the other phone out there, but once you get used to it, LG’s control scheme does make some sense.

Next is the design, and that’s a pretty basic gunmetal grey look on the back, with a front mostly set out with a piece of glass — the 5.5 inch screen — with small bezels on the top, bottom, and sides. The top and bottom are the thickest areas, with a speaker and camera up top, and an LG logo at the bottom, but it’s mostly a pleasing design that isn’t overly showboat, but still nice to look at.

We’re not sure we agree with LG’s decision to go with plastic as the main material, though. The body is made of polycarbonate, but features metallic paint applied to the back, making it look like metal.

It’s not, mind you, but it’s pretty enough, and is definitely comfortable in the hand, with a curved back that pushes into your palm nicely, though it can be a little slippery at first.

Switch the phone on and the first impressive feature you’ll be treated to is the screen. Oh my, that screen.

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