LG G3 Hands-On: Glorious Hardware, With Software That's Actually Usable

LG G3 Hands-On: Glorious Hardware, With Software That's Actually Usable

Last year's LG G2 was a marvel of hardware stuffed with miserable software that made the phone a perfect case for ditching bloat and rooting it, as unappealing as that option might be to normal folk. So I had a feeling that this year's G3 would bring more of the same. After spending a few minutes with the G3, I can safely say the whole package is so much better than I expected.

Hardware and Design

LG G3 Hands-On: Glorious Hardware, With Software That's Actually Usable

LG's G3 has a big 5.5-inch display, but it doesn't feel at all like a clumsy giant -- it's more of a sleek beast; a station wagon that handles more like a sports car. Its overall shape owes a lot to the wonderful Nexus 5 that LG built for Google, but the slick metallic back and slightly rounded sides, could almost be the latest HTC One. The thing feels slim, and although LG had the phone tethered to a security cable, I could feel that it's not unwieldy like burly phones of similar size, like for example, the Galaxy Note 3. As an everyday phone for normal people the G3 is going to feel like a light and leisurely tool.

The display itself seemed pretty standard despite its high PPI count. LG has opted for a softer palette for its new software UI, but even then you can tell that the new screen won't have quite the saturation and pop of the Super AMOLED display in the Samsung Galaxy S5. That's not necessarily a bad thing -- and it might actually be more accurate -- but to the untrained eye it might seem lifeless.

Compared to competing hardware with much smaller screens, like the Samsung Galaxy S5 and the HTC One in the images below, the G3 is impressively slight and slender.

LG G3 Hands-On: Glorious Hardware, With Software That's Actually Usable
LG G3 Hands-On: Glorious Hardware, With Software That's Actually Usable
LG G3 Hands-On: Glorious Hardware, With Software That's Actually Usable

The phone's defining hardware element turns out to be not its size, but the single back button interface. If you're used to bunches of pressables on on competing phones, the streamlined design is almost disorienting. We learned last year that you can definitely get used to it. This time around, LG tweaked the aesthetics to make it nearly invisible. Very elegant.

LG G3 Hands-On: Glorious Hardware, With Software That's Actually Usable

UI and Software

LG G3 Hands-On: Glorious Hardware, With Software That's Actually Usable

Following the trend with Android software, LG has built a new skin that's flat, meaning it doesn't have unnecessary ornamentation. The basic interface looks like stock android in pastels.

LG G3 Hands-On: Glorious Hardware, With Software That's Actually Usable

LG made a big deal about how typing on the new keyboard would be a piece of cake. The new keyboard UI ain't pretty, but it's certainly serviceable. It usually takes me a a while to get used to typing on a new phone -- especially a phone with as much screen real estate as the G3 -- but I didn't have any problems diving right in.

LG G3 Hands-On: Glorious Hardware, With Software That's Actually Usable

Another important addition to the G3's interface is the new Smart Notice assistant-like tool which lives as a widget on your homescreen. It's designed to pull information from you actual phone usage and feed you back actionable tips or suggestions. (The contrast is supposed to be competitor information feeds that pull from your social media accounts.) While you definitely can't evaluate this tool all the way on a phone you haven't been using for a while, it seems like it would be at least useful. A minor critique is that its implementation looks like a bunch of undifferentiated sticky notes. Not pretty, but we'll take useful over pretty any day.

LG G3 Hands-On: Glorious Hardware, With Software That's Actually Usable

The LG G2's camera was excellent and in announcing the G3, the company made a new "laser focus" feature sound like something from the future. In comparing it to the focus on the Galaxy S5, it wasn't noticeably better. The 13 megapixel rear camera's photos were sharp and nicely balanced, as far as we could tell from images displayed on the phone's screen.

Bottom line

We didn't mince words when it came to LG's G2: It was braindead, even if the hardware was beautiful, and even if the chipset was powerful. The G3's hardware has gotten big -- almost huge -- this time around, and it's done so without losing a touch of its former elegance.

What's encouraging to see this time around is that LG's software appears to be catching up, though, it succumbs to some of the pitfalls that the proprietary Android skins from all manufacturers do: We'd still rather have stock Android. Without doing a full review, it's hard to say for sure how far LG as come with the G3, but if you're the person using it, we're almost certain you'll be happier with this phone than with almost any other.

WATCH MORE: Tech News


Comments

    You know what ruins this phone (besides the fact that it isnt dust or water proof unlike its competition)? The fact that it has that ugly arse LG logo on the front! Had LG been smart enough to take a design queue from the N5, they would have removed the front logo and just left the one on the back, or at least simplify their logo on the front to either just an LG, or that smiley face.

      Agreed. Label the back, but dot contaminate the front. Samsung could learn a lesson here too.

    Would of been better with smaller bezels.

    Good to see LG delivers excellent product. LG G2 was the best and now LG G3 should be a good performer too, especially when compared to Samsung.

    Now, HTC, Sony and LG have moved away from plastic finish for their flagship smartphones.
    I expect that Samsung will follow. It used to be Samsung who set the trend. Not any more.
    I myself have now moved from samsung to Sony Z2.

    All three above have built-in FM hardware radio. Samsung does not have it in their S4 & S5.

    I would hope that the next thing the must consider adding :
    1. DAB Radio Hardware Tuner in their next devices.
    2. Laser Pointer.
    3. Mini Projector, -say 50 Lumens or so- similar to the ones already appear on several Sony Camcorders.
    It may be a dream today, but if they manage to bring it then it would be very exciting products to have.

    But they shall not consider taking out existing features to force customers alter their habits. That would be a blunder like what have Samsung did to their FM Radio, -which in my personal opinion only- trying to push customers to use mobile data which is expensive these days, instead of free hardware radio.

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