LG G2 Australian Hands-On: A One-Button Wonderphone

When LG debuted its last Optimus G "superphone", we were skeptical. In the end, LG managed to get in its own way with software, and the great hardware it had was ruined. Now it's back to debut the G2, and from our first-look, it's a wonderphone.

The G2 boasts a blazing 2.26GHz, quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor — the first major handset to do so — and 2GB of RAM to power its 5.2-inch 1080×1920 IPS display. The G2 will support lightning-fast dual-band LTE in Australia, and has a specially moulded, extra-large-but-still-mightly-slim 3000mAh battery under the hood to try and maximise battery life even under all that strain.

It's the Porsche of smartphones, in that the power (button) is in the back, and while it looks weird at first, it's a great idea when you start using it.

Pick up your phone right now and just hold it. You likely have three fingers on one side, the thumb bracing the other as the index finger steadies the handset from the rear. By moving the camera higher on the handset, the button has been placed pretty much exactly where your index finger naturally lives, giving you both added functionality and the ability to further steady the handset thanks to the grooves provided by the button. It really is a clever idea.

The rear-button is the only physical piece of clickety-clack hardware on the device, and it kind of makes the phone jut up at an angle when you lay it flat on a desk. That could get annoying but at least it's keeping the scratches off of your sapphire crystal lens cover. To activate the phone while it sits on your desk, just double tap the touchscreen and it will magically light up, ready to be used.

The back and menu buttons are all soft keys at the bottom of the touchscreen, but those can be customised to be anything you like. That even means the ability to swap the back and menu buttons if you're a reformed Samsung user.

The rear-mounted button also has knock-on effects to the design of the handset. It's one of the reasons why the bezel is so goddamn thin, for example. Thanks in part to some fancy cabling under the touchscreen and the button being mounted on the back rather than the side, the bezel is able to be super thin, allowing LG to pack more screen real estate into the device.

Speaking of packing stuff in, LG hasn't wasted any space under the hood of the new G2 either. Much like the Moto X we love so much, the G2 also has what's being called a "stepped battery". That means LG has jammed battery right up to the curved edges of the rear case to squeeze an extra 400mAh of battery into the phone. At the end of the day, that might come in handy.

The camera is a 13-megapixel shooter complete with Optical Image Stabilisation and a 9-point auto-focus system which cleverly decides what's closest in the frame to focus on. The OIS helps with low-light shooting, and from first glance it's more than capable to hold its own against Lumias and iPhones, but we won't be able to tell until we review it more deeply.

The most concerning aspect of the handset right now is LG's software. It was our main complaint with the original Optimus G last year. We just hope that LG doesn't get in its own way with software. Again.

LG has made several software tweaks that actually make the handset quite a nifty phone to use every day, but whether the ongoing tweaking will help or hurt the phone in the long run remains to be seen. For example, there's a customisable software drawer that pops out when you plug in a headphone jack. Customise it with Spotify or a Podcasts app if you like and it makes playing stuff easier. Same with USB thumb drives: connect it up and the default LG file explorer will let you access the files on that stick.

There's also a decent universal remote app which — via the IR blaster — hooks into any of the remote-compatible devices in your home, as well as a half-decent guest mode which can be activated by drawing a G-shaped pattern on your lockscreen for example. Good for kids or for hiding your noodz from your parents.

For audiophiles, the G2 will support for 24-bit 192kHz audio playback, so you will be able to stick your uncompressed files on there for your listening pleasure.

The LG G2 will go on sale around Q4 (September-December) for an outright price of roughly $699, which is crazy-affordable for the specs it's packing. The phone will be exclusive only to Optus for the rest of 2013 at least according to LG. Sorry Telstra and Vodafone customers.

The phone is uniquely positioned to Optus, considering that it's going to be one of the only phones on the market capable of dual-band LTE. It's likely to be joined in the dual-band ranks by the Galaxy S4 Mini when it launches.

The benefit of dual-band LTE is the fact that the phone can switch up to Optus' brand-new 2300MHz network band, where we're told it has 20MHz of contiguous spectrum. Having 20MHz of spectrum basically allows a network to deliver faster speeds and better performance during congested times. Right now a lot of 4G networks only have 10MHz of dedicated spectrum, which means congestion and speed issues can arise.

To give you an idea of what it all means when the rubber hits the road: Vodafone's 4G network has 20MHz of contiguous spectrum, and with it we were able to reach an astonishing 107Mbps down on a Category 3 device. The LG G2 is a Category 4 device, meaning it would potentially be able to do faster still, up to a theoretical maximum of 150Mbps.


Comments

    Does Category 4 = LTE-A? I heard the LG G2 was LTE-A hence the question.

      LTE A is not CAT4, LTE A is using carrier aggregation by band combining for better speed. Sometimes LTE-A downlink can reach up to 130Mbps where CAT4 is 150Mbps downlink

    But will the bootloader be unlocked, will we be able to install CM10.1, will they be quick to roll out JB 4.3?

    "To activate the phone while it sits on your desk, just double tap the touchscreen and it will magically light up, ready to be used"

    Somebody please get this capability onto every other Android phone, pronto

      The only other phone I have seen it on in recent memory is the similarly good Nokia Lumia 925. Tap it and it lights up waiting to be used.

        Nokia's about to release an update alongside with the next WP8 update that includes double tap to unlock on all their WP8s. Can't wait for it on my 920!

        Yeah, I was very disappointed to see that added between the 920 and 925 given the Surface products support it..

        [Rant Disclaimer: Coming soon to everything mentioning Lumia in any way near you]
        Though just to hammer the point home in literally every place on the Internet possible; I would never recommend a Nokia product again again, having encountered several design and/or manufacturing issues that are well known/documented with the handset, and their complete apathy to it.

        Telstra shops who have dedicated staff to deal with people calling about defective handsets equally so.. Though they were quite amicable at first, until they learned I had their precious exclusive device on Optus... Something about that changed their tune a bit and I was instantly referred to the manufacturer since they would only offer me ANY warranty on DOA devices.

        Between this, and my Surface Pro - which has a case that, when charging has enough current running through it to make my hands go numb, which they tell me is "quite normal in many consumer electronics".. Aint it nice to be an early adopter of Microsoft stuff.

        [Edit: Your spoiler tags don't allow me to hide my spam. How sad :<]

        Last edited 08/08/13 3:11 pm

          Now you've done it. Motormouth will be on here any minute to tell you how incredibly wrong you are and that you're not holding it right.

            Shhhh... If you don't say his name he will not come....Im scared mommy...:D

          Wait to see apple implement the 'double knock', patent it and sue everyone retroactively...

          I've wanted a Surface and WinPhone for ages but i had always felt that they just weren't quite mature enough yet. I'll wait it out for Surface Pro 2 and a OS update for WP8.x. Happy with Win8 on my laptop though

        Or the Nokia N9

          Which is the first phone to have it! Yet everyone forgets it even though its one of Nokia's best...

      Wouldn't that constantly go off in your pocket or will it only work when the phone is horizontal?

    Wouldn't you very easily turn the phone off accidentally if you had it in a tight pocket with the power button at the back...?

      Solution? Don't wear stupidly tight hipster pants! :P

        I wear jeans that aren't stupidly tight, but they're not loose either.
        It's not so much a problem unless you're sitting down, then the pocket can get a bit tight.

        Personally, I'm also waiting for the next Nexus, but I just wanted to point out the fact that they didn't seem to have thought of something so simple with the power button.

          Fair enough. I was largely joking with my comment.
          I have found the same problem with my phone with the power button on the top though.
          Depending on what I'm doing I can bend over and it can push the power button cause it to reboot.
          Guess we can only wait got a review and see how it goes.

    As interesting as this phone is I honestly don't see myself getting anything other then the next Nexus phone. I am over the long delays or non-appearance of software updates.
    That is still Androids number 1 problem in my view.

      In all honesty tho, each update only brings minor changes, is their really a feature that comes out in an update that you just cant wait for?

        The upgrade from ICS to JB was fairly major.
        It definitely made a difference when I eventually got it on my One X.
        Of course it's debatable if we will see any major changes to Android in the future but I would still want to be covered.

          Sure but that was a whole version number update - 3 to 4. Since then they have been point releases and have taken at least as long to materialise so the guy's point is quite valid, I reckon.

            The question though is when will the next major release be?
            Most people keep their phones for 2 years which is the standard contract length.
            So are we willing to say there won't be a major release in that time?

              Who cares? If you're happy with your phone when you buy it, why would you care? There is always a period where it does matter but surely Android is sufficiently mature now that nobody needs to bother with updates if they don't want to?

                There is always ways to improve things.
                As I said above I have seen the difference an upgrade to JB from ICS did to my phone. There is nothing to say that the same thing wouldn't happen at the next major update.
                Yes the phone may work fine but there is no reason to not want it to be better.
                And there is nothing wrong with taking that into consideration when you are looking at a new phone.

                  Im not talking about the jump from ics to jb. Like MM said, point updates are so minor I have sometimes been unable to spot any difference at all. Most phones now days have either ics or jb when you buy them and if not, nearly every phone I can think of is able to be updated to JB. IMO if my xperia sp never gets an update again I wouldnt care, it does make phone calls at the end of the day :)

    "When LG debuted its last Optimus G “superphone”, we were skeptical". I know skeptical is the american spelling but it just hurts my eyes!

      Skeptical mate is a Greek word not American. Cheers

        Greek origin "skeptikos" - but we awesome-o-fied it by making it sceptical then our American friends went and phoneticised it adding to the confusion....aluminum!

    Same crappy quality as the Galaxy S4 and probably the same stupid gimmicks as well, not a patch on the Htc One though

    Last edited 08/08/13 8:08 pm

      Three words.....Google Play Edition, As for the design, I hope its not like Samsung's build quality too and Im also worried about that bezel, while it does look awesome, you drop that phone once, specially on the bezel, bye bye :(

    'One of the Only'
    Try 'One of the few'
    or 'The Only'

    If SAMSUNG doesn't get rid of those horrible huge bezels, this will be my next phone. Just one question Mr LG, why the big bezels at the top and bottom, just why. I want a phone that is nothing but screen. Ok, two ml top and bottom for speaker and microphone, BUT THAT'S ALL.

    I went on a vacation with my friends to Australia. Me and my friends went to hotel where we were having a good time nearby swimming pool by mistake my apple iphone dropped in the swimming pool. Until I catch it out, it was completely damaged from water.
    Someone suggested Minidigital iphone service which was nearby my hotel. A kind man on reception listens to my problem and submitted my damaged iphone. Next day I got a Minidigital service man in my hotel room with a parcel and my iphone was in it. Until I made sure that It is working properly the service man stayed there. Within just one day I found I my Apple iphone back. Really Minidigital made my trip awesome and I would appreciate & recommend them to my friends.

      Fuck off loser, go peddle your trash somewhere else...I would recommend you stick your head up your friends arse.....

    No point in faster LTE if data caps are so low. I have got 95 mbits on Telstra

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