I had high expectations for the LG G2. Many told me that it's one of the best flagship smartphones in the market. Let me tell you, I’m merely impressed.
The LG G2 has been sent by Verizon for review purposes only; this has no effect on the review.
The design of the phone is interesting. Giving the task of ‘unlocking’ the phone to people is entertaining, because most of them don’t even know how to. Out of the 30 people I told to unlock the phone, only 7 were able to complete the task without me assisting them. Why is this such a hard task? Easy answer, there are absolutely no buttons on any side of the phone; you can find the volume and power controls on the back of the device. This provided me with a major challenge I had to face within the first 5 days of using the phone. Even when I was used to the controls on the back of the phone, I sometimes accidentally put my finger on the camera lens. Recently, I had to take a few screenshots - to take a screenshot on Android you simultaneously press the power and volume down key - this results in one of the most uncomfortable experiences of the phone; it’s a bitch if you have large fingers too. The back-facing buttons are sunk into the device for the Verizon LG G2, which makes it hard to distinguish between different buttons. On top of having an odd button placement, the phone doesn't feel great. The phone has a glossy plastic housing that loves fingerprints. Luckily I found a way to fix the fingerprint love from the phone, but it’s not free.
Slickwraps makes some great wraps for various smartphones. When I found out they had wraps for the G2, I immediately ordered them. The wrap I ordered was the ‘Brushed Onx’, which provides a great texture and look on the front and back of the phone. Installation of the wraps was easy; it took me about 5 minutes.
The 3.5mm headphone jack, micro-usb cable, speaker, and microphone can be found on the bottom side of the phone. Having a headphone jack on the bottom is something smartphone manufacturers need to do more, this helps you take your phone out of your pocket without ‘flipping’ it around to use it, which can lead to accidentally dropping the phone if you’re not careful. The speaker found on the bottom of the phone isn’t good, with or without headphones. I compared the music playback to the same song on the LG G2, iPhone 5s, and HTC One with Apple’s standard earbuds. This resulted in the LG G2 having the least pleasant music playback. The sound from the G2’s speaker can be classified as “muffled”, with very little clarity in the treble, and not a good amount of power in the bass.
Nevertheless, thanks to the backside controls, the G2’s bezel is nearly non-existent. This provides a great amount of screen estate, which offers a great experience for reading articles, and watching YouTube videos on its beautiful screen. Many would proclaim that the 5.2 inch screen of the phone is “too big”, but I honestly find it s a sweet spot for smartphones.
The G2 has a Snapdragon 800 processor - the same processor found in the Nexus 5. This means that the phone is extremely fast. I found this to be noticeable while opening websites and playing games. Other menial tasks, like opening apps and watching YouTube videos are fast as well. Although the phone may be fast, the software tells another story.
LG’s skin for Android is by far the most unappealing modern skin I’ve ever used on any Android device. The phone provides a lot of interface elements that are ugly. The pop-up menu reminds me of a Windows 98 error message. The standard apps aren’t appealing at all. I found myself disabling nearly all of the pre-loaded apps and hiding a lot of “necessary apps” in the app drawer.
LG decided to take a page from a few features on Samsung’s Galaxy smartphones. The features found are the Smart screen functionality, which doesn’t let the screen turn off while you’re looking at the phone - this feature works 10% of the time. Another feature is the Smart video function that pauses a video when you’re not looking at it - this feature works 5% of the time. Although these features barely work, there’s one that does, and that’s the Knock-on feature. This lets you double tap the screen to lock/unlock the device, which is simply brilliant considering the fact that the phone is sometimes placed on a surface where you can’t access the backfacing controls.
In regards to software, the phone’s 3000maH merely sips battery life, while other current Android devices drink it. My usual phone usage: Pull the phone off the charger at 6:30 a.m. Glance at Feedly for 10 minutes. Stream music on Google Play Music from 7 a.m to 7:55 a.m on my way to school - I’ll find myself at 98%. Get through 7 hours of moderate usage - 65%. Head home and read emails, Reddit, and Instapaper for an hour - 60%. By the time the phone reaches 46%, it’s 6 p.m. I’ll periodically use the phone until 11p.m, and by then I find myself looking for a charge. Mind you, I enable the background sync with (4G LTE) mobile data the entire time the phone is on. Frankly, these are numbers the Nexus 5 and HTC One can’t reach.
The G2’s camera is another appealing point. The phone features a 13mp camera with an aperture of f/2.4. The phone’s camera is sharp in situations where there’s a good amount of light. Although the camera is sharp in settings with good lighting, the phone’s camera is a hit-or-miss with low light situations. The camera seems to use a high ISO, which develops a noticeable amount of noise when there isn’t enough light to be captured. Surprisingly, I’ve found the camera to still retain a good amount of detail in a low-light image, but this results in losing a lot of vibrancy in the image.
Compared to the HTC One, the LG G2 retains more detail in the body text of the subject matter, but loses a lot of contrast in the foreground of the image. The HTC One displays a lot of noise, which is surprising since the phone has a f/2.0 aperture - the lower the number, the more light let into the sensor. To view full hi-res versions of each of the images, click here for the LG G2, and here for the HTC One.
The G2 has an intuitive HDR feature. You can notice the the image without HDR displays a lot of shadows. The image with HDR extracts about 90% of the shadows, and retains a good amount of contrast.
The photos above were captured with the default camera app and processed with VSCO Cam.
I respect the ambition of LG developing a great concept, but the G2 is weighed down by the non-cohesive software. Yes, the phone has a great battery life and its camera is good, but LG’s software feels more cumbersome than other Android skins. There are a lot of unnecessary things you can manage to hide, however, there are a few things you’ll enjoy. The LG G2 proudly announces LG as a manufacturer people can look toward again.
- Extremely fast
- Rich and large display
- Long lasting battery life
- Camera shutter voice command
- Double tap to lock/unlock - Knock on
- Sharp camera, hit-or-miss low-light image
- Fingerprint frenzy housing
- Unappealing software design
- Unnecessary Verizon & LG bloatware
- Menu button that hides the standard menu in an app
- The keyboard takes up a lot of space when active
This is the first product review to use a numerical scoring system. The maximum value for each score is 10. Read more on how products are tested and reviewed.
Aesthetics - 6
Battery Life - 9
Camera - 7
Software - 5
Performance - 9.5