If LG has got things right with its top flight G2 phone, priced at the £440 mark, the company might steal some thunder from the market leaders. The obvious competition for this 5.2in handset includes the HTC One, Samsung Galaxy S4 and Sony Xperia Z1 – so how does the LG G2 stack up?
Never mind the innards for now, the G2 looks like a winner right out of the box. Its 5.2in screen sits so tight to the long front edges that the ‘near zero bezel’ marketing blurb seems about right. The upper bezel is relatively narrow too, meaning that the speaker, front camera, alert light and proximity sensor seems positively squeezed into the space they’ve been allotted. And, not to be left out, the bottom bezel, although slightly taller than the top one, is also narrow. Yep, this handset really is all-screen.
At 9.1mm thick, the G2 isn’t anywhere near challenging the Huawei Ascend P6’s status as the thinnest smartphone out there at 6.18mm, but still, LG has boxed clever with the handset’s edging so that it appears thinner than it is. There’s a sliver band separating the front and back sections, and the back section curves away from the edges. The result is an optical illusion of thinness, while the curved backplate helps with comfort in the hand.
The backplate itself could have done with a more grippy finish in my view – it isn’t a deal breaker, but the shiny plastic just feels – and looks – well, plastic. In fact, that’s a criticism which can be levelled all round – the build just doesn’t feel premium enough. My review sample was black – maybe the white model has a more classy appearance, but if not this is something LG would be well advised to work on.
The backplate isn’t removable, so you can’t get to the battery. As a consequence your Sim fits in a slot on the left edge. There’s no slot for a microSD card, though – and alarm bells ring with me when I see that there’s no memory expansion. No matter how much internal storage a handset has, the inability to use my 64GB microSD card for a seriously large chunk of music (and to hot-swap whatever data I want) always puts me off a phone. Of course, your thoughts may be different on this matter…
I was actually sent the 32GB version of this handset for review, and it had 24GB free. The 16GB version is the model we can get hold of in the UK, and this will (presumably) lose a fair bit of storage to LG – you won’t get the full 16GB.
The bottom edge of the chassis houses a couple of speaker grilles, the headset slot and microUSB slot. The top and right edges are clear – so now, I bet you are wondering where the power and volume buttons are. They’re on the back, in fact.
The section in which these buttons sit is an extension of the camera lens, and the look isn’t off-putting at all. There’s a gentle sculpted effect to help you find the power button by touch alone – and this works well enough, but still, the arrangement takes a bit of getting used to. I found it great when changing music volume with the phone in my pocket, though. LG has overcome the need to pick the handset up from a desk to resume from the lock screen by letting you double tap the screen instead.
The screen itself is fantastic. Its 1,920 x 1,080 pixels shine brightly in the IPS panel, and I found that everything, from reading emails and eBooks to watching video, was a really pleasant experience.
The LG G2 is a 4G LTE handset. It runs Android 4.2 with LG’s own user interface on top. LG’s UI offers plenty of tweaks, and in general these feel useful as opposed to the overload of extras that Samsung now provides.
When you turn the handset on for the first time you can decide whether to have the menu and back buttons on the left or right of the Home button. You can configure the five app shortcuts that sit on the lock screen so you can open directly into your favourites.
Plug in a headset and the phone offers a choice of headset-related apps for you to tap. Slide Aside lets you use a three finger swipe to save running apps and push them off screen, bringing them back on screen when you need them. And there are other gesture based operations such as raising the handset to your ear to answer a call, having the ringtone fade as you lift the handset up, and you can silence incoming calls, snooze alarms and pause video by flipping the phone.
There’s also what LG calls Smart On – two settings you can enable which ensure the screen stays on when the handset detects you are looking at it, and it makes sure that video pauses when you look away.
Another LG feature, QSlide, lets you open two apps at the same time in little on-screen resizable windows. It’s almost as though LG has looked at Samsung’s approach to adding features, decided on those that are most useful, and implemented similar features itself. I’m very impressed.
Performance-wise things purr along really nicely. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 2.26GHz processor is very snappy, and backed up by 2GB of RAM. As for the camera, the 13-megapixel shooter has an impressive trick up its sleeve in the form of optical image stabilisation. There are some nice shooting modes including dual camera, which shoots from the front and back cameras simultaneously, and time catch which shoots five photos and lets you select the best one to keep. As you’d expect from a handset of this calibre, it captures 1080p video.
Battery life, which is an area where smartphones often let themselves down, is also impressive. There’s a generous 3,000mAh battery built in and I never really felt I was going to deplete it after a day’s challenging testing.
The inability to add extra storage is a real downer, and a very unfortunate decision by LG. I’m not a fan of the slightly budget feel of the G2’s backplate either – a more premium finish might have done better in the style wars.
That said, there’s loads to like here. The G2 has a superb screen, the UI and software extras are impressive, and battery life is really good. If you want leading edge and superb performance, and memory expansion is not a must-have for you, then put this handset on your shortlist.
Manufacturer and Model
GSM multi band; HSPA multi band; 4G LTE
5.2in, 1,920 x 1,080 pixels
138.5 x 70.9 x 9.1 mm