Not your standard smartphone: hands-on with the LG G2

Buttons go on the sides: that’s what we’ve been told about smartphones since the touchscreen slate took over from the physical button. But there might be something better out there, as LG shows us a more interesting way.

Just launched and now confirmed as heading to Australian shores later this year, LG’s G2 is the company’ next major flagship to really try and take the smartphone fight to its leaders, Samsung and Apple.

With every generation of new smartphone, the technology gets better, and it’s no different in the G2, with a better processor, graphics chip, and more impressive multimedia features.

Picking up a prototype that’s closer to what customers receive, we find ourselves grappling a device not much bigger than the HTC One we use on a day to day basis.

But while the One uses a 4.7 inch display, LG has managed to pack in a 5.2 inch model here, with less room for the bezels on each side.

LG's G2 on the left, HTC One on the right.

It’s a design that’s obviously effective, maximizing the screen into a body that doesn’t seem much bigger, which is hardly surprising because it’s not.

The G2’s body is plastic, with more of that holographic paint job we first saw on the LG built Google Nexus 4 and then again on the Optimus G released earlier in the year.

We’re still not huge fans of plastic as a finishing material, but thanks to the molded design used here, LG has managed to squeeze a bigger battery into the design, with the 3000mAh pack nearing what’s inside Samsung’s Galaxy Note 2.

So that’s a lot of juice, and since there’s 4G support here, that’s a good thing. It’s not just regular 4G either, with support for the Optus TDD technology and the regular FDD found in this handset.

That’s both types of 4G LTE, something which was previously only supported by Samsung’s upcoming dual-mode Galaxy S4 and S4 Mini.

The processor is also improved, with LG opting for the Snapdragon 800 clocked at around 2.3GHz, working alongside an Adreno 330 graphics chip. There’s 2GB RAM and 16GB storage working alongside Android 4.2.2, and the combination of technology seems to result in some very strong performance.

In fact, a quick benchmark against one of the fastest currently available smartphones found the G2 to be much faster.

Quadrant’s performance benchmark resulted in a score of 20055 for the LG G2, against the HTC One’s 11499.

Neither are remotely slow, but the G2 is almost twice that of the HTC One, which is very impressive.

Low light compared between the LG G2 on the left and the HTC One on the right.

The camera has also been redeveloped, with a new 13 megapixel shooter designed to take better images in low light, as well as have more features from the box.

Photosphere’s virtual environment shooting is present, as is a new tracking mode that keeps your camera locked onto a subject from far off and records a video with both the close-up and far-off image in the same shot.

Tracking zoom shown. You click on the face, it zooms in via the window, and keeps tracking it. Neat idea, and useful for concerts.