Korea’s LG Electronics is not a manufacturer one normally associates with high-end smartphones. Apple, Samsung, Sony, HTC and Nokia are key players already in the space, with LG, at best, seen as very much the new kid on the block.
It may have taken several years, but LG has finally released its first premium smartphone, the G2. And the flagship device ticks all the required boxes for a high-end smartphone.
It has a 5,2-inch full-HD display and packs in a 2,6GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 quad-core processor, a massive 3 000mAh battery and a 13-megapixel camera with optical image stabilisation. It also features 2GB of RAM, 16GB on-board memory (not expandable), 4G/LTE support, Bluetooth 4.0, near-field communication and a built-in infrared blaster that lets you control any compatible infrared remote-controlled device.
According to sources, the G2 specs are very similar to the upcoming Google Nexus 5, also to be manufactured by LG. And it’s also clearly aimed at tackling home rival Samsung with its Galaxy S4.
One of the G2’s unique selling points is that it has no physical buttons on its edges. Instead, at the back, where your index finger usually rests — whether you are left- or right-handed — you will find the power button and the volume up and down keys. LG placed all the buttons at the back after researching human behaviour for 18 months and decided that this spot was most comfortable for users.
We’ve been reviewing handsets for years now, and finding the power button wasn’t straightforward. Even with a glance at the back, there was no indication of the standard power icon. The charging port and 3,5mm audio jack are located at the bottom.
LG opted for a 5,2-inch screen, which makes it the only smartphone with a screen that size. It’s managed to cram a large screen into a phone size that is physically quite similar to the Samsung Galaxy S4, although it weighs 13g more than the S4’s 130g. It has a full 1 920×1 080 HD IPS screen and 16:9 aspect ratio that allows you to view it from any angle.
Colours appear rich and vibrant, text is sharp and auto-brightness works well. Soft navigation buttons appear on-screen, which are customisable and you can choose between three or four buttons. The on-screen keyboard displays numbers above the alphabets, which makes typing passwords easier.
The G2 comes with Android Jelly Bean 4.2.2, and LG’s user interface brings a few unique features to the handset, including “Slide Aside”, “Guest Mode”, “Knock On”, “Answer Me” and “Audio Zooming”.
Slide Aside makes multitasking easier by letting you “dock” three apps, which run in the background, so you can quickly go back to them with a three-finger swipe from the left to the right of the screen.
You can add three of your most-used apps to Slide Aside by launching them, and doing a three-finger swipe from right to left across the screen. A notification at the top of the screen will let you know that it was successful. To access any of the three apps, you just swipe three fingers across from left to right, wherever you are.
Knock On is a feature that lets you wake your device by tapping the screen twice. It makes sense given that the power/lock button is situated at the back of the phone, and the device doesn’t have to be lifted to double tap the screen. We found it more useful than gimmicky and got used to it quite quickly as it seems like such a natural gesture. On a few occasions, though, we had to double tap a second time for it to activate. This feature makes the power button redundant, unless you need to restart your phone.
Guest Mode is a great feature that lets you share your phone with others while allowing you to limit access to the device. It’s like running your phone on “safe mode”. It only works if you set your phone to unlock using pattern locking as opposed to entering a code. You activate it by setting a specific pattern lock, and specifying which apps can be viewed in the guest mode.
Answer Me is a nifty feature that automatically answers the phone when you bring the device up to your ear. It’s most useful if you wear gloves most of the time, or if you receive a lot of phone calls.
Audio Zooming lets you target an audio source while recording a video so you can hear the sound more clearly during playback. It uses three stereo microphones to amplify the sound from different angles while cutting out background noise.
On the gimmicky side, and similar to the Galaxy S4, you can activate “smart” features like “smart screen” and “smart video”. Smart screen keeps the screen on while your face is detected but won’t work in the dark or if the camera is being used with another app. Smart video pauses what you are watching if you look away from the handset.
The G2 runs on Qualcomm’s powerful Snapdragon 800 quad-core processor. It’s the same chip found on the Galaxy Note 3 (LTE), Galaxy S4 (LTE), Sony Xperia Z1 Ultra and Xperia Z1. Scrolling is smooth, actions are immediate, and no matter how many apps are running in the background it won’t affect performance. You could forget to kill apps and it would function normally.
The 13-megapixel main camera with 8x digital zoom and optical image stabilisation is snappy, and there is no delay between shooting pictures. Picture quality is good, as are low-light images. It has a dual recording/dual camera feature that lets you activate both cameras at once and shoot simultaneously. There are various modes built in such as panorama, burst shot, beauty shot, night and time catch shot. It records video at 1080p HD at 60fps.
The G2 has a 3 000mAh battery, which means you won’t run out of power at 5pm, or even at 10pm. Average use has yielded two day of power. Even on overnight standby mode, not much battery life is lost.
The LG G2 will be available from 1 November through Vodacom, MTN and Cell C, and is available on prepaid for a recommended retail price of R7 299.
The smartphone also has a folio-style QuickWindow cover, available separately, that displays three scrolling screens — a customisable clock, the weather and a music player. It is available in black, white, red, blue, purple, yellow and light blue.
The LG G2 handset is a strong competitor, offers high-end specs found on the Galaxy S4 or the Sony Xperia Z1 and performs brilliantly. If you’re looking for specs, they’re all there; what you won’t get is an established brand already in the smartphone market. — (c) 2013 NewsCentral Media