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LG G3 specification

Phones

The Good The LG G3 has high quality calls and LTE data rates, a great camera, a brilliantly sharp display, a fast quad-core processor and a flat interface that makes Android 4.4 look good. LG’s flagship has also improved from the previous model – the new G3 comes with a removable battery and microSD card slot, and what the G2 lacked.

The Bad The new QHD display with a resolution of 2,560×1,440 pixels is a very strong pig, so the phone will hardly serve you a day without charge.

The Bottom Line With the right mix of features and design, the G3 finally gives LG the right phone to challenge Samsung’s Korean rival.

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8.7 Overall

  • Design
    9
  • Features
    9
  • Performance
    8

Editors’ note: This review was updated on July 22, 2014 with further analysis of US carriers.

LG has always played Samsung’s second risk in the smartphone market, especially in Korea, but it looks like the latest G3 flagship could cause serious upset. Early reports from Korea show the G3 being sold as hot cakes, outpacing the Samsung Galaxy S5 three times in the initial launch period.

It’s not hard to see why. Unlike the Galaxy S5, which demonstrates a more conservative approach in its design, LG’s G3 is bold with a new high-resolution QHD display (2,560×1,440-pixels) and the addition of laser autofocus for the camera.

Compare

LG G3

Apple iPhone 11

Samsung Galaxy A50

Samsung Galaxy S10E

Motorola Moto G7

Design 9 8 8 9 8
Features 9 9 8 8 8
Performance 8 10 8 9 8
Overall 8.7 9.0 8.4 8.9 8.0
Price $220 Amazon $870 Walmart $294 Amazon $650 Amazon $200 Amazon

Not to mention other design changes that address the challenges of the previous flagship, such as adding a microSD card slot and removable battery. With a cleaner, more toned UI update (it works with the uninstalled Android 4.4 KitKat), the LG G3 has what it takes to be the 2014 flagship smartphone.

LG G3 shows off high-res screen, metallic back (pictures)

Availability

AT&T and Sprint customers will be able to nab the G3 first, on July 11. It will cost $199.99 with a two-year contract. Off-contract, it will be $579.99 on AT&T and $600 on Sprint. Then, on July 16,T-Mobile users will be able to purchase it for the full prepaid price of $598.80. Verizon will pick it up a day later on July 17. Its on-contract price is cheaper at $99.99, but the retail price off-contract will be $599.99.

The G3 is available across all four major carriers.

Josh Miller

Design

Observing the same rounded corners and slim panel as the G2, the LG G3 holds the same buttons on the back. Instead of the glossy plastic found on the G2, LG has turned the G3’s metallic look back.

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LG says the back cover is mostly plastic (for wireless charging to work), but it added a metal film to give it a shiny, polished look. The result is a very premium finish, and Samsung should pay attention here. Although the S5’s concealed back cover is a noticeable improvement over the glossy S4 finish, the G3’s back cover conveys the more luxurious feeling you usually get from metal phones like the HTC One M8 or the Apple iPhone 5S.

However, unlike the LG G Flex, its surface does not have healing capabilities, so if you accidentally scratch the rear, you will have to live with battle scars.

The device comes in several different colors. Depending on which one you have, its battery door also features a stylish, brushed aluminum look.

Josh Miller

As mentioned earlier, the power button and volume rocker are on the back. LG has done this already for a few phones, and while it does get used to, it’s actually a pretty good fix. The keys have a textured pattern that sets them apart from the back cover. It is also easy to reach for buttons by holding the phone with one hand. You do not need to stretch your fingers to turn off the device (especially if it is on top).

The 13-megapixel camera is located to the right above the rear buttons and to the left is an autofocus feature that uses an infrared laser beam to measure the distance between the camera and the intended subject of your photo. On the right is a dual LED flash.

The bezel is extremely thin and allows for maximum screen real estate.

Josh Miller

However, the best part about G3 is that there are no buttons. Unlike the S5, which has a physical home button, the G3 uses on-screen keys instead. This means that a 5.5-inch screen with 2,560×1,440-pixel resolution draws all your attention, while the slim bezel enhances this experience, making the phone look like a “full screen”.

The G3 display has a staggering 538 pixels per inch (ppi), while the iPhone 5S stops at 326ppi. This is, by the way, 65 percent more pixels than an Apple phone. But does it really matter? In short, no. You will find it difficult to tell the difference between a normal full HD display and a QHD G3. The only time you could really see the difference would be to put a drop of water on the screen and take a close up shot.

I did this with Oppo Find 7, which has a 5.5-inch display with a resolution of 2,560×1,440-pixels, and compared it to Oppo Find 7a, which is a Find 7 with a 1080p screen. So the difference in this shot is similar to what you see between the LG G3 and a full-resolution regular phone – barely noticeable to the naked eye.

On the right is the Oppo Find 7a’s display: at 100 percent crop, you can see the pixels. You can barely make them out on the Find 7 on the left, and the Find 7 is the G3 equivalent here with a 2,560×1,440-pixel display.

Aloysius Low

But, as CNET editor Andrew Hoyle took a deep look at the G3 display, the G3 QHD screen has more natural colors than the S5 screen (which has a warmer color). In the end, though, having a 1440p display is more about bragging rights to marketing rights than any actual visualization improvement.

Above the display is a 2.1 megapixel selfie camera. (LG also included a few features to help ease the process, but later in the review.) LG borrowed a page from Apple’s trick book: The 3.5mm audio jack is located at the bottom of the phone, next to the Micro-USB socket.

Overall, I found the build quality quite solid; the phone is easy to squeeze. An 8.9mm thick phone sits comfortably in the palm of your hand, but often thanks to the width of its 5.5-inch display, it is often easier to type with both hands.

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Features of LG Software

The G3 comes with an updated Android 4.4 user interface (user interface) that is very clean and simple. This new look is very familiar – I have seen similar interfaces from Asus and HTC, but that does not mean that LG’s efforts are replicas. According to LG, the G3’s user interface has been configured to keep things simple; Instead of adding more features with each iteration, LG decided to reduce it a bit.

The new UI is clean and flat.

Screenshot of Aloysius Law

For example, instead of having 16 camera modes, LG checked its data and got rid of modes that used less than 1 percent of the time, leaving only four of the most frequently selected.

To improve user experience, LG has added a Smart Notice window that gives you tips on what’s going on around you, as well as reminders of callbacks. I like the weather tip – it lets me know when to expect the rain so I can pack an umbrella when I leave the office. This is really useful for me as one who lives in a tropical country with very inclement weather.

Like the Samsung S5, the G3 now has a built-in fitness tracker called LG Health. It tracks your steps and keeps track of your other activities, such as running or cycling.

Screenshot by Aloysius Low

The G3 also has KnockOn and Knock Code, which are features inherited from the G Pro 2. Although one caveat: if there is a thin lining in your pants pocket, you will want to put your phone in your pocket outside as you may accidentally turn on the power when the screen is on contacts your thigh through a thin tissue. It happened to me quite often until I thought.

Older LG features, such as QuickMemo, are also present, but Slide Away, a feature that lets you call three programs with a three-finger gesture, is gone. It was an inconvenient feature, so leaving it should not be a surprise. One of the features I liked was the saved clipboard, which allows me to collect data for easy insertion later.

Clip Tray and the adjustable keyboard.

Screenshot by Aloysius Low

The new Smart Keyboard is height adjustable, which makes a lot of sense to me. If you prefer larger keys to dialing (or vice versa, smaller ones), this allows you to customize it to your liking. I found it to be the default, as it was the right size. LG seems to have licensed Swype for use as the default keyboard, so you can draw a line between the letters to spell the word you want. I found it not very good if you hold the phone in one hand and try to draw words with your thumb.

Overall, the new LG interface is very nice and comfortable, and I’m impressed by how simple and clean it is. Although you still know and love the Android experience, LG’s settings have made OS usage even better.

Features of the software from the media

For AT&T users, the carrier preloaded a healthy dosage of apps and services. One is DriveMode, an app that can send out a customizable message to incoming calls or texts when it senses the device is traveling faster than 25 mph. There’s FamilyMap, which helps you locate family members on your AT&T account; and MyAT&T, which lets you check your data and account info.

If your device gets stolen or lost, Mobile Locate will pinpoint its location. In addition, a news app called “att.net Home” is included, as well as a 7-day trial to MobileTV, which lets you stream network TV shows. The carrier also threw in its own navigation app, a handset user guide, and apps to help set up a mobile hotspot and visual voice mail. You’ll also get AT&T Smart Wi-Fi, which connects your phone to publicly available Wi-Fi, a usage manager so you can look over your battery and data consumption, and 5GB of free cloud storage through AT&T Locker.

AT&T preloaded cloud storage, its own navigational app, and more.

Josh Miller

Verizon threw a bunch of its own apps too for its G3. There is My Verizon Mobile, which allows you to check data usage and minutes; as well as its cloud and caller ID services. The operator has also pre-loaded applications for visual voicemail, proprietary navigation and messaging applications, and VZ Protect. There are also several Amazon apps, such as the store itself, Kindle, its app and music stores, IMDb movie database, and audio.

Meanwhile, Sprint has a fair share of software, such as its digital payment system called Sprint Money; a ringtone portal called Sprint Music Plus; Sprint television and movies; and Sprint Zone, which users can use to check their account information and balance. Like most of its smartphones, the operator has rolled out a Sprint ID – an app that lets you customize your phone with pre-selected apps, widgets and more depending on the identity you choose – and Framily Wall, a private social networking app for those who plan Framily your carrier. Several other non-standard flavors – Nascar Mobile 2014, Bacon Reader Reddit and navigation and navigation application, scout.

Finally, T-Mobile played it conservatively with its apps. Only a few users are included, such as the Lookout security program; My T-Mobile account, which gives information about the phone and data plan; trial subscription to the subscriber’s service name identifier; and apps that help you customize your visual voicemail and mobile hotspot. Finally, T-Mobile TV’s media service offers a 30-day trial for channels such as Fox News and ESPN.

You can expect carriers to throw in a number of preloaded apps and services.

Josh Miller

Camera

A 13-megapixel laser-guided AF camera, a G3 shooter, seems to be able to quickly capture an object and take a picture. The laser also helps to take low-light shots, though if the subject is moving, the shutter will likely be too slow to take without some motion blur.

Andrew Hoyle conducted an in-depth review of the capabilities of the G3 rear camera compared to the Galaxy S5. I suggest reading it, but here’s an abridged version. He found that the G3 takes very good low-light shots and has better flash, but the S5 shoots a bit richer. Even with the laser, the focus of the G3 was only slightly faster than the S5, but he said that the speed would help to get a clear shot. Be sure to click on each picture to see them in full resolution.

Even with low light, this picture shows plenty of detail.

Andrew Hoyle

Even in this darker photo, you can see the intricacies of the brickwork.

Andrew Hoyle

The LG G3 kept noise to a minimum in another low-light test.

Andrew Hoyle

In our standard studio setup, objects are in focus and appear extremely sharp.

Lynn La

At the end I put the front camera to test. The 2.1 megapixel shooter has two modes to help you take selfies. The first detects an open hand that you clench into your fist to start the countdown timer. This is especially useful if you use a selfie stick, as you probably won’t be able to get on the phone to get on the shutter. In the second mode, you just tap the screen to start the countdown.

You can make a fist to start the countdown timer for taking selfies.

Aloysius Low

Performance

The Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 quad-core processor runs at 2.5 GHz, the G3 is burning fast. I had no problems with my phone’s performance, even while playing 3D games.

The G3 scored 23103 in the Quadrant test benchmark, and the Linpack multi-threaded test rated 606.715MFLOP in 0.28 seconds. The quadrant estimate is very similar to that earned by the Galaxy S5 and OnePlus One, which is not surprising since all three phones use the same chipset.

According to FCC radiation measurements, the phone has several SAR ratings depending on the carrier. On AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile, it has a SAR level of 0.50, 0.56, 0.70, and 0.42W/kg, respectively.

Data speeds

Again, we tested all four carrier models in our San Francisco offices. The tests were carried out at the same time, during the same day. Each test was run five times to calculate a fair average. In addition to our regular schedule of download times for mobile and desktop CNET websites, we have also included the time it takes for each handset to download mobile and full desktop versions of The New York Times and ESPN.

One important thing to note is that Sprint time data is obviously slower than its competitors. Although Sprint G3 is compatible with the carrier’s high-speed Spark 4G LTE network (currently available in 470 official markets), San Francisco is not yet a Spark LTE market. So we only managed to measure the 3G data rate. If you live in the Spark LTE market, however, you can expect your Sprint G3 to run faster than the 3G times listed.

Finally, although we know that your carrier plays no role in how quickly your phone is processed, we measured how long each device needed to restart and run the camera. As expected, there aren’t many variations between the models, though, interestingly, it takes seven seconds longer to reboot the Verizon G3 than T-Mobile.

LG G3 Hours (Multiple Operators)

AT&T (4G LTE) Verizon (4G LTE) Sprint (3G) T-Mobile (4G LTE)
Average download speed (Mbps) 26.45 14.34 0.33 6.19
Average upload speed (Mbps) 13.12 14.23 0.75 8.15
Temple Run 2 app download (48.61MB) 26 seconds 36 seconds 16 minutes and 56 seconds 1 minute and 16 seconds
CNET mobile site load (in seconds) 7 6 32 7
CNET desktop site load (in seconds) 12 13 46 18
New York Times mobile site load (in seconds) 5 6 30 5
New York Times desktop site load (in seconds) 5 8 69 7
ESPN mobile site load (in seconds) 4 4 18 4
ESPN desktop site load (in seconds) 6 7 36 7
Restart time (in seconds) 28 30 27 24
Camera boot time (in seconds) 1.80 1.87 1.89 1.76

Overall, data speeds among AT&T and Verizon were fast and reliable. Although T-Mobile clocked in slower download and upload speeds with Ookla’s speed test, as well as longer download times for Temple Run 2, general Web browsing experience was on par with the former two carriers. T-Mobile also felt the most consistent, with a smaller delta of change between its fastest and slowest times. As noted before, Sprint’s 3G network was understandably slower due to our testing location. However, it was also inconsistent as well. When we launched the Google Play store, connection would often time out, and we’d have to turn mobile data on and off to reconnect again. Progress would also stall when we wanted to download Temple Run 2, and we’d have to retry several times.

Battery

However, one thing holding back the phone was the battery life. With a 3,000mAh removable battery, it’s easy to avoid the fact that the high-resolution QHD display is a cob; I was unable to get the phone to last a full day between charges. In our CNET video test, the phone lasted 11 hours 24 minutes, far behind the impressive 15 hours, 18 minutes of the Samsung Galaxy S5 in the same test.

Fortunately, you can replace the battery with a spare battery, but this is something you will have to live with if you are someone who needs to use the phone constantly.

The 3,000mAh battery will barely last you a day, but the good news is you can swap it out for a fresh one.

Aloysius Low

Call quality

We conducted tests at our San Francisco offices for call quality. According to Lynn La CNET, the quality of calls from all operators was excellent. During our tests, none of our calls dropped, the sound remained continuous throughout, and we heard no third-party hum. Although we could hear a bit of static here and there when our calling partner was talking, it was very slight and not at all distracting to the conversation. The volume range was adequate and our partner sounded clear and easy to understand.

When we moved outside, the calls were just as reliable, and our partner at first didn’t even realize we had moved outside. She also did not perceive background noise as loud construction and general street traffic. At maximum volume, the audio speaker can make the conversations a little shallow and sharp. However, the conversation was still very easy to hear, and we had no problem understanding the sound, keeping the G3 away from our faces.

LG G3 (AT&T) call quality sample

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LG G3 (Verizon) call quality sample

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LG G3 (Sprint) call quality sample

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LG G3 Call Sample (T-Mobile)

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In general, differences in call quality between operators were almost noticeable, as all three worked well. However, there were some little things we picked up from each network. First, although our partner told us she could always hear us well and her voices were clear and constant, the call to the Sprint handset sounded the most muffled and suffocating. In addition, we could hear slight background noises at the end of our partner, but this was more noticeable when we were in the T-Mobile unit. Although none of the issues were particularly damaging and did not detract from the overall experience of the calls.

Conclusion

As a result, the LG G3 is the best LG phone on the market, and it should take its place as one of the best phones of the year. Battery life, however, perceives a higher resolution bump than not like it. But this is really the only downside to this otherwise great phone.

In contrast to the Samsung Galaxy S5, the G3’s design shines through, and in my opinion it’s clearly the best user interface. The software features make the G3 more interesting and easy to use, while LG has added features such as a microSD slot and removable battery that G2 and Samsung lacked in their phones to the G3.

LG’s G3 finally has something worthwhile to challenge its Korean rival, and given the choice between the S5 and the G3, I can bet on the latter now.

As LG’s most powerful phone yet, the G3 is a major flagship contender.

Josh Miller

Unlike the metallic HTC One M8, the G3 artificial-metal rear may not seem so impressive, but enough that the M8 doesn’t feel like it is too far ahead. Despite the fact that both phones have modern and flat looking interfaces, the G3 is still ahead of the camera with more megapixels, giving you much more detail.

Keep in mind, however, the many different price variations from carrier to carrier. For example, on prepaid carrier T-Mobile, the G3 is cheaper than both the GS5 and the One M8 by $61 and $37, respectively. However, on contract, the G3 is about $100 more expensive than the GS5 for Sprint, and the One M8 on AT&T. This is a significant amount of money to save for customers of these carriers, so take time to consider if the G3’s slight edge over Samsung and HTC’s flagships is worth it on contract.

In general, the G3 is the perfect new gadget for the early adopters who want the latest and greatest. They are sure that those looking for a workhorse phone can instead buy the S5 (especially if it is cheaper on contract, as stated earlier), which does not have a high-resolution G3 battery-saving display. But if you are looking for a powerful handset that is beautiful to boot, you will not be disappointed with LG’s latest marketing endeavor.

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