By now there are hundreds of reviews on the LG G2 that you have probably already veiwed and read a couple of dozen times. Usually the larger blogs will be the first to get their hands on review units, which is understandable given their traffic is a lot higher. But that doesn’t mean us smaller blogs don’t have something to offer to the conversation. Thanks to LG for sending us their LG G2 Verizon model to test and review. Let’s get the obvious out of the way with a quick spec list. This list is about as far as we will get into specs because they have been covered over and over again. So briefly, the specs:
- 2.26 GHz Quad-Core Processor, Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 800 MSM8974 Chipset
- LTE, CDMA/1xEVDO Rev. A (800/1900 MHz)
- EDGE/GSM (850/900/1800/1900), HSPA/UMTS (850/900/1900/2100)
- 5.45″ (H) x 2.79″ (W) x 0.36″ (D)
- 5.47 oz
- 5.2″ (1920 x 1080) Full HD IPS Display
- 3,000 mAh / SiO+
- Up to 18 hours and 20 minutes
- Up to 12 days
- 32 GB
- All listed frequency support is network/carrier specific. Roaming capability and network frequency support may not be available. Check with your network provider to see if and to what extent they offer support for this device.
- Certain features may use more power and cause actual time to vary.
One of the things I always touch on (first) with any product review is design. I’m a very visual person and aesthetics are quite high on my priority list. That being said, the LG G2 design does not exactly break any kind of ground with design innovation. It is still the same rounded rectangle that most “candy bar” type phones are. The plastic construction is not all that appealing and it collects fingerprints like no one’s business. You honestly have to look hard to be able to tell what device you’re holding. Although, the device is comfortable to hold in the hand.
On the plus side of design LG did think out of the box with its volume rocker and power button on the back of the device. That feature alone is the single most identifiable part of the phone’s design. I understand LG’s thinking here, I really do. It is natural to hold the phone with index finger on the center of the back and it would seem placing the volume rocker and power button on the center back is logical. Well, on one hand it is and on the other it is not.
At first it is a bit awkward to manipulate the volume rocker and power button from the back of the phone. While it is natural to hold the phone in that manner, we are already programmed to look for the buttons on the side so your fingers naturally go to where you remember the buttons to be. I am not saying it cannot be done, it took me a few days to get myself programmed that the buttons were on the back. But I will say that not everyone will find this design element to their liking and you will probably want to check with your carrier on return policy if you think you might not acclimate to the button positioning.
The other plus side to design for the G2 is the incredibly small bezels. LG did a phenomenal job getting their screen into the chassis and using the space appropriately. The bezels are so super thin it is almost like you’re holding all screen. While the phone may be your typical rectangle with rounded corners, they managed to make the screen and bezels on that rectangle quiet gorgeous.
Dare I say that which many other reviews have already said? Samsung ought to be flattered at LG’s efforts here because it seems every feature that Samsung brought with the Note series and the Galaxy S4 has found a home on the LG G2, albeit with different names. QSlide, Quick Memo, Quick Remote, Voice Mate, and Slide Aside are just a few “features” that come packaged into the G2. They have even incorporated “eye pausing” like the Galaxy S4. You simply look away from a playing video and it will pause and start playing again once you look at it. Some of these features, as in the Samsung phones, are useful but most are gimmicky (although the SMS/MMS pop up notification with reply is very nice).
While I understand the need to compete and want to bring a feature rich phone to the market. I also think LG could have done a little more research into the features Samsung provided and maybe weaned out a few that are actually more gimmicky than helpful. It is likely that users will rarely use half of what is packaged inside this phone. I’m not going to go into all these software features because there are many reviews that have done that already. This review is about giving my thoughts on using this phone as a daily driver. So maybe thinning out the software might have been a better option? Just a thought.
Which brings us to the look of the software. Part of the beauty of Android is that OEMs can visually customize it in a myriad of ways and that is a good thing. Part of the bane of Android is, sometimes OEMs just take a wrong turn. The G2 skin reminds me of Samsungs Touchwiz interface with some very minor improvements. Some visual elements are less than pleasing (to my eye) but some of them are actually not bad, though they are few and far between. The lockscreen animations are very pleasing and fun to play with and the tap to turn on and off feature is great. Just tap the screen twice to turn your phone on and tap twice to turn off. Just as with Samsung, it is the visual elements that just do not do it for me. The design work on buttons and menus is harsh, just not pleasing to the eye.
It has been said many times over that simplicity is the best and frankly, LG has gone off the rails of simplicity and into the realm of confusing. The G2 could really have been something phenomenal but part of what is holding it back is the software. It seems OEMs think that throwing more options into the phone is what consumers want. What they are failing to see is, the consumer wants their phone to just work and complete simple tasks. Offering them more software only serves to confuse them and make it more complicated to operate the phone.
The Nexus 5 got a lot of flack recently for its camera performance, which was interesting, as the Nexus 5 is based off of the G2. But of course the Nexus 5 is priced far below the G2 and to get to that cost sacrifices have to be made. Which is too bad because the camera on the G2 is awesome. Having it on the Nexus 5 would have made that phone even nicer. LG again brings in some of its own software here which sometimes feels unnecessary. But that aside, the G2 camera performance is actually quiet good. In my testing I found that it took better pictures than my iPhone 5 and nearly matched the pictures from my HTC One. I still think the HTC One has the better camera but the G2 is certainly nearly neck and neck with it. Colors were accurate and clarity was great. Low light pictures were not as good, but most cell phone cameras get flaky in low light (save the HTC One).
So lets talk a little bit about battery life. This is one area the G2 is a definite winner over both my iPhone 5 and former HTC One. The G2 battery is insanely awesome. I got through a full day with moderately heavy use with no problems. So about 16-17 hours with about 20% left on the battery. The only time I gave the battery a run for its money and it drained quickly was when I would play Ingress, but any phone will drain quickly playing Ingress. The battery was another complaint on the Nexus 5, another cost cutting measure by Google to not use the battery from the G2. There is no question that the G2 battery will be more than enough for the average user. It is by far the best battery I have used thus far.
The display on the G2 is brilliant. I have been vocal about the brilliance of the HTC One screen and I still think the HTC One has an awesome screen. The G2 is right on par with the One and with the amazing bezels (or lack thereof) it is easily one of the best screens on any smartphone right now. There is not much more that can be said of the screen, it is simply one of the best.
The LG G2 is a specs powerhouse, of that there is no doubt. It is packing a lot of punch under the hood and it sits on top of the heap with its competition. We wish LG and other Android manufacturers would think a little more outside the box in terms of hardware design (HTC has done a great job of that). While the buttons on the back side of the phone are unique, we wish the design would have gone further and given us something fresh. But wishes aside, the G2 is not an ugly phone, it is just not thrilling.
The software on the G2 is overwhelming and often times unnecessary. LG has fallen into the more is better mindset and has really thrown simple out the window. I understand they are trying to offer something for everyone, but if you try to please everyone you’ll end up with a phone that is not usable for anyone. There are some nice things in the software, such as the lock screen animations and the SMS/MMS pop up notification. The deign of the software was also a miss for me, it could have been cleaner and less harsh. It seemed over thought and in your face. Maybe if LG put a little time into pulling stuff out of the software they could simplify the user experience and streamline the visual elements.
The camera, battery and display are winner winner chicken dinner here. The camera is one of the best I have used on a smartphone, even enjoy it better than the iPhone 5 camera. The battery is amazing and easily the best out there right now. And the display is on par with the best of them. If you were thinking of getting the Nexus 5 but were disappointed in the specs of the Nexus 5. Then the G2 is a perfect alternative. It is basically the same phone but with better specs than the Nexus 5. Of course you might not be too thrilled with the software but that is nothing a root and ROM session cannot fix. Far easier to make a G2 into a high end Nexus than it is getting better specs into the Nexus 5.
So should you buy the G2? I would say yes. The G2 is a more than capable phone. The specs are outstanding and the phone is all around solid. There are visual design elements that did not strike me too well but that does not diminish the phone’s usefulness. The G2 is on par with the S4, HTC One and the iPhone 5s, if you’re considering any of those phones, the G2 should be on your “check it out” list no doubt. I’m going to go out on a limb and recommend this to those would be Nexus 5 owners who want better specs than the N5 offers. This is basically the same phone with better hardware. If you are capable and handy with custom ROMs then you will be able to basically make this into a powerhouse Nexus 5.
I give the G2 a strong 4 stars out of 5. Yes there are things I did not particularly like about the design and software of the phone but those are subjective and what I did not like someone else might. The G2 is a great phone and very capable and should be on your list for checking out if you are in the market for a new phone. Check out LG at the link below.
- Best Android smartphones of the year (androidauthority.com)
- LG G2 Sales Are Significantly Less than Expected; Even at Home in South Korea (androidheadlines.com)
- LG G2 struggling against the competition, sales lower than expected in Q4 (phandroid.com)
- The LG Nexus 5 review: Are the downgraded G2 specs offset by pure Kit Kat? (Spoiler: Yes!) (9to5google.com)
- The 5 hottest Android phones square off in this side-by-side spec comparison (digitaltrends.com)
- LG G Flex launched in India, to go on sale from Feb (91mobiles.com)