Product Review: LG G3

Having owned a number of different phones from a number of different manufacturers, I’m starting to fall in love with phones by Motorola and LG. My Nexus 5 is an LG manufactured device, and the Moto X was one of the most cost-efficient devices you could own. And while I like what Samsung’s doing to Android devices, I think most of the time there’s too much Samsung, and too little Android. Though the Galaxy S5 is one of the best phones on the market.

LG on the other hand is doing a good job of balancing power with prowess, and that’s no different for the LG G3. In fact, after using the G3 provided to me by AT&T, the G3 might assume a spot as my next want-to-have device.

LG G3 Front View

The features that set this phone apart

As much as I love my Nexus 5’s capabilities, Google definitely skimped on the features. Of course, the Nexus 5 is missing many bells and whistles simply because of price. However, the G3 improves where Google told LG to skimp.

First, the G3 has a 5.5 inch screen, which surprisingly doesn’t feel too big in my small, stubby hands. The screen doesn’t feel any larger than the Nexus 5’s  5 inch screen, and I could easily swipe from edge to edge while holding the phone completely in my hand. The screen is also a 2560 x 2600 Quad HD IPS screen.

Now, most people won’t know what that means (here’s a good comparison between QHD and 1080p), but it’s very beautiful. I found the screen easy to look at, and particularly clear. Unfortunately, many sites like YouTube or Netflix don’t support ultra-high resolution, but even the compressed stuff still looks good.

The second great feature is the G3’s fantastic camera. We’re using our phones to take more and more pictures, replacing costly DSLR cameras with costlier cell phones and mobile devices. Manufacturers are recognizing this need and accompanying our desires. The G3 fills the niche with a 13 MP rear camera and 2.1 MP front camera.

LG G3 Camera

I loved the high speed shutter, which basically eliminates the frustrations that led me to search for a fast burst camera for my Nexus 5.

Included in the camera is another feature that LG calls “laser auto focus.” This is basically a series of dots, similar to a high-end DSLR camera, that allow you to pinpoint target your focus.

LG G3 Laser Auto Focus

Laser auto focus seems to help improve the camera’s response time. The faster focus time means you can keep the focus on your action shots. Trust me, if you’re looking for a device with an awesome camera to take awesome pictures, the LG G3 is one at the top of the list.

Finally, I’m loving the quality of the G3’s speakers. Most manufacturers skimp on speaker and sound quality, but the G3 does a genuinely good job of carrying sound through its two speakers.

LG G3 top speaker

LG G3 back speaker

Admittedly, neither speaker is astoundingly awesome, but for their size, they give off a loud and clear sound. The sound clarity was especially helpful when I used the speakerphone function.

Packed with storage

SD Card aficionados should clamor over to this device. The phone comes with 32 GB of internal space, and is expanded up to 2 TB with an external SD card.

LG G3 internal external storage

That’s a lot of expandable space.

Some awkward buttons?

The G3’s button placement is the first feature that will truly confuse you. LG opted with a new approach at design by placing the power and volume buttons on the back of the device below the camera lens.

LG G3 back buttons

Initially, I wasn’t too keen on this design. We’re generally used to the placement of the buttons on the side of the device. But after using the phone for a few minutes, I grew accustomed to pressing the back panel.

I also thought there’d be a lot of issues with me accidentally turning the phone on while in my pocket. That rarely, if ever happened. LG tucked the buttons low enough that they’re basically flush with the back of the phone. LG made the buttons very convenient to use. I easily turned on the phone and raised or lowered the speaker volume with one finger.

LG G3 back buttons 2

I ended up not really missing the traditional placement of the buttons.

Portable performance

The LG G3 is getting a lot of praise for being a well designed, easy-to-use Android smartphone. LG is available on all US carriers, and comes loaded with Android 4.4.2, so you’re getting the latest version of the Android operating system. You’ll also definitely notice that the G3 is faster with a 2.5 gHz Snapdragon processor.

The larger 5.5 inch screen doesn’t feel overwhelming. The LG G3 is a well-made device without a lot of flaws.

The phone weighs in at a mere 151 grams, so you’re not carrying a heavy device. I also made it almost 4 days on standby, and 1 day on regular use with the 3000 mAh battery. This was comparable to my Nexus 5.

LG included something called “KNOCK Code.” This is security feature from past devices. The concept is something close to pattern unlock, but more like Morse Code for your Android phone.

I like the concept, thought I’m not too sure I’d be able to remember my dots and dashes when it came time to unlocking the phone. I honestly didn’t play around with this too much, since I’m partial to using a passphrase to secure my device.

Finally, I loved that LG placed the 3.5mm jack output at the bottom of the phone. This is really convenient when I’m in the car and need to run my cable from my phone to the line-in plug. However, I often use headphones when I’m exercising, and I discovered that having the headphone jack at the bottom of the device is very inconvenient when placed in your pocket. I noticed some GPS signal issues when I turned the phone downward. But more particularly, I worried about durability every time the phone slammed down on the headphone plug.

Perhaps the biggest drawback for most people is the high cost of this phone. Retail value is $600, so you’re probably going to need to buy this phone on contract. When you compare the high price of the LG G3 with the relatively low cost of the Nexus 5 or Moto X, I don’t predict a lot of LG G3 sales. Price shouldn’t discourage you from picking up the G3 on a contract with some nice discounts.

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Jeff Taylor

I’m just an ordinary guy living an extraordinary life. I’m also an attorney and I blog about Android for lawyers. You can follow me on Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, or Google+.