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A promotional picture of the LG G3. (LG)
A promotional picture of the LG G3. (LG)

Review: LG’s G3 joins the bigger, brighter smartphone trend Add to ...

With its 5.5” display, calling the G3 a large handset is an understatement.

Given that I have somewhat stubby fingers, I’ve found it hard to live with similarly sized handsets like the HTC One M8, Sony’s Xperia Z2 or Samsung’s Galaxy S4, but the G3 has a trick up its sleeve: By designing the back of the phone to curve in at the edges, LG has made the handset more comfortable to grip even for those of us with Hobbit-sized hands.

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LG calls this ‘Floating Edge Design.’ I call it ‘making a large phone that’s designed to be held by human hands.’ Over the few weeks I spent with the G3, I found that despite its size, I never felt like I was at risk of fumbling it.

That the G3’s only physical buttons are located on the back of the handset, instead of along the sides and top of its bezel as we see with most smartphones, added to its physical ease of use. I could hold the phone comfortably in one hand and futz with the power and volume buttons without having to adjust my grip–a nice touch.

LG packed the handset’s massive 5.5” surface area with their Quad HD 2460 x 1440 pixel display. For the time being, it’s the smartphone display against which all others must be measured. While not as bright the display on my iPhone 5, or the HTC One M8, the richness of the colours and the clarity that the Quad HD screen offers is startling. HD content watched on it looked better than it does on my home theatre set up–a frustration to say the least. That said, I did notice that the G3’s viewing angles were kind of limited.

LG has put a lot of work into the iteration of Android KitKat that the G3 uses, and it shows. The G3’s user interface features a flat, easy-to-read design with a ton of excellent, unified visual cues. Small, but thoughtful touches, such as a resizable keyboard, can be found throughout.

However, some features are hit and miss. For example, LG’s QuickMemo+ software allows users to jot down notes using their finger as a stylus. But the results are lacklustre at best. So too with LG’s SmartNotices. It’s a proprietary message system akin to Google Now. But with Google Now doing such a great job of keeping smartphone users up to date, the feature feels superfluous.

Wedged between its display and back plate are 32GB or 16GB of internal storage (upgradable to 128GB via Micro SD card,) an HDMI SlimPort, Bluetooth 4.0 LE, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, NFC hardware and either 16 or 32GB of RAM (depending on the amount of storage you opt in for). The G3 can handle most network connections, ranging from 2G to LTE, and to keep the phone’s various operations zipping along smoothly, they equipped the handset with a Snapdragon 2.5 GHz Quad-Core Processor.

It’s worth mentioning the G3’s 13MP rear facing camera as well, as LG decked the shooter out with a laser-focus system, which allows for almost instant imagine focusing to occur. This means fast, crisp photos and less of a chance that you might miss capturing an important moment in life–in theory. The camera produced excellent images during the course of my test, but I didn’t find them to be any more remarkable than what I’ve seen with the iPhone 5s or HTC One M8. When it comes to smartphone photography, how the image is processed is just as important as the hardware. In short, the G3’s camera is excellent, for one mounted in a smartphone, but not exceptional.

Speaking of unexceptional, let’s talk about the G3’s battery life. It’s not great. Despite its powerful internal hardware and massive display, LG, presumably for the sake of keeping the handset svelte, only equipped the G3 with a 3000mAh battery. By comparison, an iPhone 5s comes equipped with with a 1,560mAh battery. This makes it sound like the LG should be able to provide longer standby and usage times, but it’s simply not the case.

One of the largest draws on a smartphone’s battery is it’s display, and considering how large the LG G3’s display is, it’s easy to see why the handset’s battery doesn’t provide the staying power most people want out of their smartphone.

Under light use, such as taking an occasional call, reading incoming e-mail or check-in on my Twitter feed once an hour, I found the G3’s battery would last for an average of 13 hours. That’s not bad. But when I used my phone freely as my job demands on a daily basis to receive and make calls, talk on Skype, use Google Maps for driving directions, send replies to multiple e-mails and listen to music in order to keep my sanity while I type, I was only treated to six and a half hours of usage. That number dropped even further when I engaged in video chats, downloading an app or watching a movie on Netflix.

It could be argued that the battery is replaceable, so a G3 owner could carry a spare, but that’s a stopgap measure at best, and one that will cost you money–something you shouldn’t have to worry about directly after spending your hard earned cash on a new phone.

FINAL VERDICT

The LG G3 is a large Android handset that does many things well, providing a very attractive alternative to handsets like HTC’s M8 or the Sony Xperia Z2. But its mediocre battery performance keeps the handset from fulfilling its full potential.

I recommend it, but with hesitation. If you’re considering buying one, be sure to budget for a spare battery.

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