LG G3: Australian Review

How have they done this? How? How has LG taken last year's monumental disappointment and turned it into one of this year's most exciting phones? You know what? I don't even care how, all I care about is how good it is to use. This is the LG G3, and it's the phone that demands your attention.

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What Is It?

The LG G3 is the new superphone on the block, packing a blistering quad-core, Snapdragon 801 processor clocked at 2.5GHz, 2GB of RAM and 16GB of internal storage (expandable up to 128GB via a MicroSD card).

The camera has been beefed up, with a new auto-focus module based on infrared that promises to square-up a shot for you within 0.276 seconds. Plus, the fact that it’s an infrared AF module means that, no matter what the light conditions are, it can do its job.

Most impressive of all is the new screen. It’s a 5.5-inch QHD panel, which means that it’s a packing a resolution of 2560×1440, and an insane 538 pixels per inch. That’s almost unheard of in a phone these days. I didn’t want to look away from the panel once I started playing 4k content.

The new screen is 0.3-inches larger than that of the LG G2, with the Korean manufacturer deciding that 5.5-inches is the sweet spot between an ordinary smartphone at 5.1-inches or less, and a phablet at 5.7-inches or more. Smart thinking in our minds.

Telstra will sell you the LG G3 for $7 extra per month on top of the $70 Telstra Mobile Accelerate Plan for 24 months. The plan includes $700 per month of calls and MMS, unlimited SMS and 1.5GB of included data.

Vodafone has the G3 for $0 on the $70 Red Plan for 24 months, which gets you infinite standard calls and text messages, 3GB of data and 300 standard international calls (made from Australia to other countries).

Optus, meanwhile, carries the G3 for an extra $5 on the $60 MyPlan for 24 months, inclusive of unlimited calls and texts and 2GB of data.

The outright price of the LG G3 at all three carriers fluctuates between $696 and $699 for those who want to save a few extra bucks.

What's Good?

Whereas the LG G2 was a brilliant piece of hardware let down by truly mediocre software, the LG G3 bounces back to create something that the manufacturer can truly be proud of.

For starters, the LG G3 is a massive departure in design from traditional LG products. Rather than try and compete in step with Samsung's design language, LG has taken a sharp left turn and replicated design styles that closely resemble HTC's in the One M7 and M8.

Twee white plastic designs have been replaced with tactile, complicated ripples on the centred volume rocker keys, the power button

The poor single flash unit on the G2 has been improved with a bi-xenon offering in the new G3, and it sits in perfect symmetry with the light sensor on the left of the device. Whoever took over LG's design department needs a medal or at least a firm hug for their efforts here.

The back case has even been cloned from one of LG's recent design triumphs: the LG G-Flex. Sadly, it isn't self healing like the G-Flex, but it is removable so you can swap in a freshly charged 3000mAh battery if you're a hardcore smartphone addict. Plus, colours!

LG has re-engineered its colour palette on the G3 to feature more pastels and brighter left-of-centre colours that match more modern sensibilities. That's an intelligent response to the iOS 8's of the world which have beautiful colours as a centrepiece. That new palette continues into the software, too. Textures, shadows and gradients have been replaced with better colours and sharper lines to fit the new design language, and it looks great.

The new design language has allowed LG to intelligently fold new features into different widgets, animations and smart panels, rather than shove them in your face and ruin the user experience like on the LG G2. It's the closest thing to stock Android that LG has ever built, and it's brilliant.

The G3 includes a clever new default weather widget that gives you more than just a forecast. It's a function called Smart Actions which acts as a Google Now-style service to tell you (for the most part) what the weather will be doing later on in the day so you can plan accordingly. "It will be cloudy until evening. The temperature will change significantly, so plan accordingly," is the latest notification from Smart Actions. It also slots in reminders for meetings, missed calls and other important events your phone knows about.

The old, slightly cluttered and intrusive notification centre can also be customised to rip out the stuff you don't care about and add in the stuff you do.

Swipe to the left of your Home Screen and you'll see an anchored, fold-out magazine-style panel giving you both tips on how to use your phone via the Smart Tips panel and relevant step counts and calories burnt. Elsewhere, the widgets have all been visually updated and significantly streamlined so as to cut down on the amount of system resources they use.

Thanks to the overall fat reduction, the G3 now runs much faster as a device. Apps don't hang anywhere near as much as they used to on the G2, and animations run much smoother and faster.

The 2560x1440 screen on the LG G3 is superb as well, showing off images in crisp, clear detail with an edge-to-edge viewing experience that smashes bezel-heavy competitors like the Galaxy S5 or Sony Xperia Z2.

That beefed-up screen doesn't drag battery life down all that much either. LG promised that the G3 wouldn't do any worse than the G2 on battery tests, and it's spot on: the LG G3 gives you as much battery life as its predecessor. An impressive feat considering it has a slightly smaller battery, insanely better screen and a more powerful processor.

The camera is also impressive on the G3, with the fast-autofocus claims holding water. The AF gets a shot ready to capture for you in under three seconds, and the multi-point AF system is fantastic for lovers of Canon's old multi-point focus array.

Click to enlarge...



HTC One M8

iPhone 5s

Sony Xperia Z2

The low-light functionality is also impressive, with the G3 capturing a superb amount of shadow detail.

What's Not So Good?

LG has improved its user experience in leaps and bounds with the G3, but some stock applications are still notoriously resource-heavy and slow. Thankfully because you're dealing with the Android OS, the responsible apps can be swapped out and defaulted elsewhere so you can get on with using a smooth and sexy handset.

While the battery is impressive on the G3 as mentioned earlier, the Bluetooth and Wi-Fi modules feel like they suck down far more battery than they actually should. When I was using the G3 on Wi-Fi with its G-Watch counterpart, the battery slid down to zero faster than it certainly should have. We'll keep an eye on the drain and report if it's fixed in a later firmware update.

The only other gripes we had is with the the placement of the Smart Tips and LG Health applications. LG Health is a great addition, especially in the magazine column at the front of the launcher, but it's baked in with Smart Tips that can't be moved, resized or turned off. It'd be nice if it were used more intelligently for power users who already know what to do with their new device.

Should You Buy It?

The LG G3 is the superphone that the G2 should have been. It kicks all manner of arse.

With a stellar screen, super-specs, delightful design and smarter software, LG has created something worthy of your dollars and your love.

It's also priced better than its competitors outright: that $695 outright price gives you great bang for buck.

We love the LG G3, and you will too.

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