On my trip to Durban for a family holiday I realised that there is no better place to fully test a new mobile phone than when you are on holiday. This is when you discover just how reliant you are on the phone to do everything from emails on the go, to using maps to finding out about new restaurants and general “things to do”. Hot on the heels of the immensely popular LG G2 is the new LG G3 which I put through its paces during my trip.
Look and Feel
The LG G3 is a 5.5 inch device which has an impressive True Quad HD LCD screen with 1440 x 2560 pixels at 534 ppi pixel density. This translates into a super clear screen with amazing clarity and icons that “pop off” the screen. Text is extremely sharp even when facing the direct Durban sunlight and this makes browsing the web a pleasure with no eye strain at all. Using the LG G3 indoors is where the amazing screen is even more noticeable as the device comes to life making watching high-definition videos on the LG G3 an experience that can only be described as “wow”.
The LG G3 is button-less. The only interruption to the bezel and edging around the device is the charging port and the headphone jack which are both found at the bottom of the unit. At the top of the LG G3 is an infrared port. The Power and Volume buttons are set on the back of the device which are flush into LG’s curved backing beneath the rear camera.
Underneath the hood resides the 2.5 GHz Quad-core processor. This is accompanied by 2GB or 3 GB of Ram and the internal storage is set at 16GB which is expandable to 128GB via the microSD card. The LG G3 handled everything I threw at it with ease. The device didn’t hesitate at every day social networking apps to the high intensity games that require a lot of processing power.
The LG G3 is in the phablet territory. Measuring at 146.3 x 74.6 x 8.9 mm and weighing in at 149g. The size and the curvature of the phone makes it a phone that is easy to handle, however it does require some hand gymnastics if you want to handle the phone with one hand. Having the buttons on the back does take some getting used to and my large fingers initially kept hitting the camera instead of the power button. However over some time, this too went away especially when remembering that to “wake up” the device, you simply have to knock-on the screen. Simple and ingenious as you don’t have to look for the power button as one does on other devices.
LG G3 has a high-end plastic cover to give it a polished pseudo-metal look which thankfully seems to repel any fingerprints and smudges keeping the device looking clean and clear.
The interface of the device is sleek and simple to use. It runs LG’s interface on top of Android 4.4.2 (KitKat) and has LG’s Smart Notice integrated into the system. Smart Notice provides suggestions based on combination of location, weather, phone usage and apps. When the weather forecast was looking a bit grim for Durban, the Smart Notice suggested that “it will be rainy this afternoon, so you may want to take an umbrella.” The Smart Notice is able to remind you to call people back if you missed (or ignored) their call and prompt you to add people to your contacts as you seem to communicate with them often. The more you use the phone, the better and more useful Smart Notice becomes.
Holding the back button down brings up the split-screen ability to open two apps on the same screen simultaneously. This was useful when navigating and having to look up information about the specific location we were heading towards.
As with other android devices, there “dots” at the bottom that represent the various screens and with the LG G3 there is a G on the far left. This is where LG has set its LG Health and the Smart Tips screens. Not sure why LG did not make more of a whoo-ha about the Health app as it is one of the best I have seen. Steps are recorded accurately and you can log activities such as walking, running, hiking, as others do but you can also log cycling and even inline skating activities. The info is represented clearly and intuitively. Most importantly, when you enable the Health trackers on phones you tend to notice a battery impact as the sensors are constantly working to record the movements. This is not so with the LG G3, which doesn’t seem to be impacted by this constant logging of fitness information. What I also liked is that you don’t need to remember to switch on the tracking app which can be frustrating when you realise half way through the day that you forgot to enable it on other devices.
The LG G3 comes with a 13 Megapixel rear-facing camera which has a 4160 x 3120 pixels and a UHD video capacity at 38402 x 2160. The camera interface has been brought back to basics with a simple point-and-shoot interface. There are various setting that can be be changed however even the modes have been reduced to 4 being Dual-Mode, Panorama, Magic Focus and Auto. If you are looking for a manual setting for ISO and White Balance you are out of luck – the LG G3 doesn’t have these at all and you will need to download an app for that.
The camera is responsive and not only focuses quickly but it captures shots quickly. LG took the same laser technology out of its robotic vacuum cleaners that ensures that the robot doesn’t hit any walls or people and adapted it to focus the lens on the subject at laser speed so it reduces the chances for blurry images. This worked well and I managed to capture the Durban sea-waves and my daughter doing her cartwheels on the beach with ease.
The front facing camera is 2.1 Megapixel camera and does an “ok” job in capturing those selfies. If you enable the “flash” the preview of the picture is centred on the screen and around it is a pinkish-white background that casts more light on the “selfie taker”. This works to some degree and is better than not having it at all and losing the previous selfie-moment.
The LG G3 comes with a highly respectable 3000 mAh battery. This is a removable battery which allows those high-end users to carry a spare battery for those just-in-case moments. In my experience, even with the 5.5 inch HD display, running at full 4G, with WiFi and GPS on, I regularly managed to get more than 10 hours per day. There is a power-saver mode that can be enabled when the battery reaches a specific low battery level. When this mode is set, then the power saving methods kick in such as disabling WiFi data and turning Bluetooth off when not in usage. These options stretch the battery of the device even further.
During the time I had the device on holiday I used it constantly for navigation, emails, social networking, gaming and music streaming and not once did I have to carry my portable USB charger with me. This phone is built to work.
So in summary
We demand so much from our mobile device. It need to cater for our working lives, our personal lives, social networking, music and camera and still have enough battery to last the entire day. If this is something that you need, then the LG is a workaholic’s best friend. The screen resolutions and clarity is something that needs to be seen to be understood and together with its speed, processing power and amazing battery life, this is truly an astonishing device.
I am a phablet fan so the size of the LG G3 didn’t scare me and the curved backed surface of the unit allows you to quickly forget you are holding a “large phone”. Saying that, it is not for everyone and some commented that the size did not suit their needs.
The official South African launch of the LG G3 is on the 17th July 2014 where more details will be available about availability and pricing. Currently there is an indication that the LG G3 will be selling at around R8000 as shown on the Orange website and it seems like both the metal-coloured and the gold-coloured models will be available.
some sample camera shots: