LG G2 Hands-on Preview

Daniel Bader

August 7, 2013 2:38 pm

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Today, after the LG press conference, which was a lot more restrained and feature-focused than the same one for Samsung in April, we had a chance to look at how the company’s new device measures up to the competition.

At the outset, it was clear that while LG was focusing primarily on features, this is a serious spec powerhouse. From the vivid 1080p IPS display to the world’s fastest mobile chip, there is something for everyone to love. While we can’t fully evaluate the software due to its unfinished state (LG was insistent that it wasn’t running final software, and the bugs present were testament to that fact), we found many of the new features to be quite intuitive.

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The back of the device is home to the new soft-touch plastic, volume and power buttons, and the 13MP camera. The chassis is enclosed, which gives it more secure, premium feeling when compared to the Galaxy S4, but the positive impression wanes somewhat when compared to the HTC One’s aluminum frame.

The placement of the volume buttons, which double as both an app launcher and camera shutter, feel immediately familiar, something I wasn’t expecting when viewing the G2 for the first time. Due to the recessed nature of the volume buttons they don’t appear too prone to accidental presses, but the power button, which also doubles as a notification light, may be a bit more likely to cause trouble when in a pocket or bag.

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When compared to the Galaxy S4 and HTC One, LG comes in slightly taller and thicker, but it’s by a small degree. Indeed, holding the G2 next to the Galaxy S4 makes it appear almost identical in size, and the smaller screen bezels give the device a positively futuristic impression.

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Viewing angles and colour depth on the G2 are fantastic, and as I said in the introduction article, it could be the best mobile screen I’ve ever seen. LG’s use of on-screen navigation buttons is a departure from earlier devices, and from Samsung, and works in the company’s favour here.

The placement and colour scheme of the buttons can be altered, and a fourth button can even be added to bring one-touch access to Quick Memo or the notification shade. It’s a small but impressive feature that is sure to please a lot of Android tweakers.

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Some of the other features, like Slide Aside, are a little more vexing, but could still prove to be useful down the line. It allows users to slide three fingers across the screen in an app to save its individual state; these apps can be stacked like cards, and accessed from the notification bar. It’s not clear how this is different from the regular multitasking screen, which is accessed by holding down the virtual home button, but we’ll wait until the phone is available before making conclusions.

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The phone comes with LTE-Advanced support, which is built into the Snapdragon 800 baseband, as well as NFC, WiFi Direct, Miracast and wireless storage. The 3000mAh battery looks to be extended even further than the equivalent competitors’ device, too, as LG has built something called Graphics RAM (GRAM) into the device to take some strain off powering the vivid 1080p screen.lgg2-handson-29

Gestures weren’t talked about a lot in the announcement, but they’re there. One such application is to turn on the screen by tapping twice, and users can turn it off by double-tapping the status bar. Raising a ringing phone to your head will answer the call, and LG included a couple Samsung-like gestures akin to Smart Stay and Smart Pause, which keeps the screen on when looking at it, and pausing a video when looking away.

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LG has loaded Android 4.2.2 on the G2, and while it looks to deviate a fair amount from the vanilla experience I didn’t find performance to be negatively affected. Indeed, perhaps thanks to the Qualcomm 800 or LG’s optimizations, the UX felt far more fluid than Samsung’s TouchWIZ (which has improved since launching in May), and the features less gimmicky and arbitrary.

Other features like Guest Mode, Text Link, Plug & Pop, and Quick Remote all come off as legitimately useful. Text Link especially caught my attention, as deriving context from swaths of text in Android has traditionally been challenging. For example, if your friend sends a text message inviting you to see a movie at a certain cinema, holding down your finger on the screen will generate a new calendar entry and a maps request.

Guest Mode is something that has traditionally been only available on tablets, and limits secondary users to certain apps or features.

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LG G2 will launch in the fall on multiple carriers, likely Rogers, TELUS and Bell, and we will be getting review units in the coming weeks. It will be available in white and black, in 16GB or 32GB varieties.

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  • Me Ted

    Hey, I was wondering if the UI could stab me in the face more?

    • EvanKrosney

      Yeah, it ain’t the prettiest around, but at least unlike Touchwiz most of the features actually sound legitimately useful as opposed to gimmicky.

    • Me Ted

      True. Touchwiz’s dropdown containing 35 different settings is absolutely ridiculous.

    • Dize Odisu

      Well its a good thing that most other phones make you rifle through various multiple menu folders or groups.
      What could be easier than S4s options… on or off ?

    • Me Ted

      Look up ‘stock Android’. You’re welcome.

    • Savbers

      Yeah, if you’d like you could go through all the hassle to go to stock. But really, I don’t mind customizations as long as they don’t lag the phone.

    • BB BB

      I would rather have more features than none to choose from. Hint Hint BB. LG G2 has plenty of Gimmicks in there too. The notification pane doesn’t even show anything until halfway down the screen. The G2 skin looks plain jane compared to Samsung / HTC. I am scared to crack open the e-mail app. Why can’t anyone review the applications people need for work like e-mail???

    • Dize Odisu

      Im starting to worry that you dont know how to change wallpapers or use launchers

    • Me Ted

      Wow. You’re starting to worry? Why the fack would you even phrase it like that? Lol. That just sounds very ESL.

      As for launchers and the like, fack them and bloatware. They can eat my choad. Ferocious aren’t I?

  • Rich

    Love the internal specs on S4 / G2, but damn these phones look so plain.

    • HatInTheRing

      Agreed. This looks exactly like every phone out there right now, namely the S4.

      I really don’t think a few extra tenths of a gigahertz of processor speed is enough for me to desire this phone.

    • Bri

      Yea, I’m not surprised how plain looking the S4 is but LG usually makes their devices better looking than this..

  • Ethan B

    It’s nice that there is some hardware innovation, and good specs will ensure that it’s future proof. Also, massive battery is good!

    • Matt Z10

      so long as they fixed the power hungry quad core. that was the downfall of the Optimus G for me at least. The previous posts mentioned the 800 SoC was for the future of 3D gaming and games in general on mobile…without a 3D screen (correct me if i missed this) I really don’t see the point…

    • hfghgfhf

      3D gaming means games other than solitaire and pacman. The scene is rendered in 3D, but projected to your 2D screen.
      It doesn’t require a 3D screen at all.

    • Savbers

      The main issue with the quad core last time was that LG was rushing to be first and didn’t put much thought into the power needed to back that SoC. Now they’ve managed to throw in a 3000mAh battery into a next generation chip, we should see good if not great battery life out of this thing.

    • HatInTheRing

      Personally I don’t see a ton of hardware innovation here. It’s a carbon copy of the S4 with volume buttons on the back. What are you referring to?

      If you’re referencing boosts in specs that’s not innovation, that’s using the newest stuff cuz you have to…

  • Brandon Roberts

    Any word on the AWS bands? Please be WIND compatible!

    • MrGreen72

      Oops wrong post.

    • Savbers

      Yes, it’s coming to all four carriers in the US (T-Mobile included). Meaning you can get your hands on an AWS compatible version.

  • Andy

    is it me or does the white one look much better?

    • MrGreen72

      Just like the S4

    • CC

      The white one does look better. The wallpaper on the phone is bad. I actually thought the screen was cracked. LOL.

  • Andrew

    Any news on when carriers would be recieving hansets?

  • TomsDisqusted

    I really like my nexus 7 (2012), but ASUS could really learn something from LG (and the others) about shrinking the bezel.

    Some may say that the bezels make the phone look better, but it is still wasted space.

    • EvanKrosney

      I was actually discussing that with someone the other day. I’ve always been a fan of smaller bezels because they optimize the display to device ratio, and allow you to stick a massive screen on a device that still fits in your pocket with relative ease. They did it on the Moto X, and it looks great. However, he was advocating for larger bezels because it made the device easier to hold without touching the screen with your palms, and to a degree that’s true as well. What we really need is optimized software that’ll ignore unwanted or unnecessary touches near the edge of the display, similar to what Apple did with the iPad Mini.

    • HatInTheRing

      I agree with you Evan. I always thought bezeless was key to a modern phone and utilizing space but on my phone I constantly touch the screen on accident and it’s super frustrating.

      The biggest example of this is when you have a picture on your phone and you pass it to a friend. It’s pretty much a guarantee that during that transfer the picture will be switched or app closed or menu opened etc.

      Here’s a simple feature and I wish all phone makers would read this: A quick/easy gesture that locks/freezes the screen. Or make is so that when you’re viewing media the navigation gesture changes to a more deliberate input mode rather than this touch anywhere model where anything you do messes it up.

      This is something that will need to be addressed sooner or later as phones become essentially 100% screen.

  • Eric

    Disappointingly similar in size to the HTC One, which is a little small for my taste. Well, I’ll see how it feels in my hand, and decide then if I want to wait for the HTC One Max.

    • Dize Odisu

      Thats right! Im tired of people griping about how their wittle fingies cant hold a big phone… I say bring on theNote 3, HTC max or th Sony ultra
      Big hands need proper sized phones

  • Bri

    The back looks ugly.. hopefully it looks better in person

    • Dize Odisu

      any body who values their cash will put the back in a case anyways…

    • Bri

      I normally don’t get a case for my devices because the case really ruins the look. The phones these days look so nice. Xperia Z, iPhone, Nexus 4, LG Optimus G, etc…

  • MrGreen72

    Hopefully Videotron pulls its head out of its butt and gets this one or the HTC One any time this century.

  • hfghgfhf

    Note to RIM, Nokia and Motorola: THIS is a high end phone.

  • EvanKrosney

    This looks like a pretty decent phone. The only things bothering me are the slightly cartoonish UI à LA Touchwiz, and the plastic glossy back. Otherwise it looks great, I love the small bezels, and who knows, thee back volume rocker may not be too bad. That display looks gorgeous as well.

    • Me Ted

      You can admit it. The UI would make a mass murderer out of Mother Teresa.

  • Arslan C

    No active display? No thank you..

    • Miguel

      This is your deal breaker? The gimmicky screen display that you can probably get an app for?

    • hfghgfhf

      unless you have AMOLED this would kill your battery life

  • Lirodon

    At least the UI carries elements of Holo (really needs to be dark though)

    And for the buttons, Back/Home/Recent isn’t an option? Awww :(

  • Guest

    Are the up and down arrows at the back buttons?

  • Sanjay Saini

    The back button placement is perfect, easily accessible by the index finger without compromising grip!

  • BB BB

    I would think the main selling feature would be the gorgeous 1080 5.2″ bezel free display and the horse power of the 2.26GHz S800 under the hood with LTE Advanced basically future proofing this device for at least a year. image stabilization on the 13 MegaPixel camera will help fight blurry photos. I watched the event and those would be key features for me. The Text Link feature looked useful as well and the fact that the G2 has better sound, good speakers, a 3,000 Mah battery this device should please those who can get over the G2 Skin. Give us a removable battery and SD card for expansion and LG would have covered all bases although they wouldn’t have been able to squeeze in 3,000Mah in there and keep the phone thin if they did go with a removable battery.

    • HatInTheRing

      No external SD or removable battery, hey? I was curious about this and didn’t notice mention to it in the article. Deal breakers for me..

    • BB BB

      In order to squeeze in all that battery power LG and MotoX use a new “Stepped” battery that layers extra cells on top of the main battery. This comes at the cost of no swappable battery and apparently I don’t see an SD card slot on the external casing.

    • LGsucks4ever

      cost of no swappable battery my a*s!

      The Korean version of G2 has both removable battery and sd card. Go figure!

    • BB BB

      That’s nuts. And apparently the European version is available in16gb or 32gb. So my question to you is does LG suck forever?

  • bembol

    Sh*t! I thought I was set on my next two Super Phones. Samsung Galaxy Note 3 & hTc One Max but after watching the video, I don’t know anymore I might get the G2 first.

  • Nathaniel James

    LOL HE ALMOST SAID SAMSUNG

  • Julian G

    It’ll be interesting to see if the Nexus 5 will be based off the G2… looks like arrows are pointing in that direction since HTC made the first 2 Nexi, and Samsung the next (not to mention 4 = 4.x” screen, 5 = 5.x”). Having a G2-based N5 would eliminate some of the less-than-attractive UI quirks & bloatware! Also, would be the first time a Nexus device would be released with truly top-of-the-line specs. Just wondering what the chances are of seeing it sub-$400 off-contract >_>

    • Ovi

      Well, it probably costs LG around that to make. So it Google sells it at a tiny profit we’ll be ok still. Same as the Nexus 4. I don’t think they made a ton of money from that, but they definitely got more users for their ad network and made money like that.

      SO I think we might be surprised at what we can get for a possible relatively low price.

    • Julian G

      Well based on reports it looks like near-G2 specs, tradeoffs being 1) a slightly smaller screen and (most significantly) 2) a 20% smaller battery :/. Hopefully Qualcomm’s envelope tracker tech (like on the Galaxy Note 3) will make it into the N5 to mitigate some battery drainage, which seems like the N5′s biggest issue at the moment

  • Humberto Giambrone

    No MicroSD and no removable battery…not for me.

    I’ve been waiting for the Nexus 5, but if it’s based on this and also missing those two features, I may just go ahead and grab the S4.

    • Ovi

      The NExus will basically never have expandable storage so Google can push us to the Cloud. Might get a replaceable battery, but from the latest leaked photos it doesn’t look like it. It gets a 2300mAh sealed battery. I’ve been waiting for the Nexus 5 too. Might as well wait until next month (only a month left!!!) and see.

      To be honest, if I don’t like the Nexus 5, I won’t know what to get. GS4 is good, but I would go with a newer phone that has better battery life. The Note 3 is on my radar, even though I used to think it’s way too big. Wish it had stock AOSP ROM though.

  • Allan

    The is the phone a lot of us have been waiting for. As for the removable battery and the MicroSD, I think those issues need some addressing.

    First of all, many reviews of phones with non-removable batteries will say that a removable battery allows you to carry around a spare and put that in should your default one run out. I have never found the need to do this, and I have never seen anyone do this or heard anyone do this on a regular basis. For many people, they don’t leave their data and wifi on 24/7, turn their screen brightness on maximum and always feel the need to bring out their phone. Of course, that’s just my opinion, but many phones these days actually have pretty good batteries. In reviews, editors will usually put the phone through a stress test, involving a lot of data usage and web browsing and gameplay, therefore the battery drains quickly. Of course, having a removable battery is always a good thing, and for some phones that are labeled unremovable, the battery can actually be removed, albeit with a little effort and time.

    As for expandable storage, I have never found that to be a good thing. Here’s where the iPhone and iPad have been superior: many people don’t realize that all kinds of storage are not made equal. In the iPhone, the 64GB of internal storage is the NAND, which means the fastest read/write speeds you can get in a mobile device. However, expandable storage is not as fast, and before you start calling BS, very few, if not none of the Class 10 SD cards can match 2013 NAND read/write speeds. I recognize that mobile games are becoming more and more sophisticated and taking up more space as a result, but I’d much rather have 32GB of reliable NAND than 80GB of which 64GB is on a MicroSD card. Not to mention that after getting an expensive high-end phone, a bit of money saved on buying an SD card is better than none; good Class 10 SD cards are relatively expensive.

    Looking forward to Adreno 330, Krait 400, the 3000mAh battery and the gorgeous 5.2in screen!

  • hyperhyper

    Some really interesting features on this phone. I think the removal of buttons from the side is awesome. Will be interesting to see what call quality, audio, camera quality and battery life is like when it comes out.

    Kudos to LG for bringing some new features to the phone market.

  • Luc Khbdflkjfi

    Hey guys, I recently bough the phone and #1 I am absolutely fascinated by its battery. 1hour to charge it completely and it lasts 2-3 days max usage. At min utilisation, it can easily lasts 3-4 days. #2 the double tap experience is a very efficient and fluid technology; a lot of time I can just let it on the table and take a quick look into my things without even bothering to grab it or pushing it in any sorts of ways. 32Go intern and the transfer speed on usb2 goes as fast as a recent technology device is suposed to take it. I wanted the Note 3 at first for its batterie and usb 3, but I tried this badboy and man my heart started beating. + Double speakers too. The overall sound experience is great. Very sexy processor. I mean… f*ck yea I didnt expect that much with my 150$. Amazing technology. You have a nice day!