Hands-on preview: LG G3

Hands-on preview: LG G3

Lucky Goldstar launches its latest flagship smartphone, and a range of matched accessories. We went hands-on in Singapore.

One day LG would like to have the same kind of market pull as Apple.
Then, it might be able to push for truly global launches of its high-end
smartphones; until then, we’re stuck with the current staggered release
pattern, as much reliant upon the whims of local carriers as any
internal LG decision-making process.

But the company is getting better at juggling dates. The just
officially announced LG G3 will be hitting Australian shores in early
August, a mere couple of months after its announcement, and barely a
month after it hits the Korean market. And for a fairly reasonable $799
outright at launch, it’s a pretty good buy.

We got a chance to get an early session with the new phone as a guest
of LG’s at the Singapore launch. The night before the big event, we even
got to have a brief play with a heavily-watched sample.

We liked what we saw.


Look and feel
Even in its basic form, the metallic-backed (not metal, mind, but
rather a plastic backing that does a very good impersonation of metal)
LG G3 looks and feels premium. It’s ever so slightly larger still than
the previous model, and beats the current Galaxy S5 as well. The two
buttons on the rear surface have had a redesign; they’re now curved
inward and fit finger-tips better than ever.

In the palm of the hand, it grips easily, and offers a lot of screen real-estate. And what real-estate it is!


Display
Let’s get nitty gritty. The LG G3 boasts a 538ppi, 5.5in display, that
outputs at an eye-bleedingly sharp resolution. LG’s calling it Quad HD,
though it’s really ‘only’ 1.8 times higher res than a normal Full HD
display – though, yes, it is four times better than most phone HD
displays.

Nonetheless, it’s one of the best displays we’ve seen. HD video looks
crisp and clean, colours are rich and varied, and it even impressed in
terms of total screen size. With a new way to run power to the display,
the G3’s screen goes almost to the edges.

It’s also very bright, and probably really annoyed some of the other patrons at our restaurant preview session.


Sound
But not as much as the sample videos, which were probably more
intrusive for the various couples trying to have semi-romantic
evenings.

No smartphone is ever going to be able to out-do external speakers or a
good set of headphones, but if did have to fall back on the G3’s own
hardware, its still an impressive level of soun detail coming from a
phone.


Raw power? Looks like it…
Under the rather slim and stylish hood the LG G3 packs the almost
standard at this level quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor. However,
the phone feels a lot more responsive, most likely because of LG’s new
approach to UI.

There’s a lot less flash to the G3’s iteration of Kit Kit. Gone is the
faux 3D of most mobile UIs, replaced with something flatter and cleaner.
LG’s also working to make all the important icons round instead of
square. More importanty, the phone doesn’t seem packed with more or less
useless LG cruft, and what LG has added makes a lot of sense.

But, importantly, it makes the user experience feel much better. We’d put it a touch above Samsung’s on first blush.


It’s a feature, not a bug
LG’s added bits and bobs all seem pretty handy. The Smart Keyboard we
just didn’t get enough time with to see if it really can learn how bad
we are at using Android keyboards, but the Smart Notice system, which
pops up handy notices and reminders is useful. If you miss a couple of
calls, the phone will remind you to call your poor ignored partner; if
the battery runs low, it’ll prompt you to turn on power-saving.

LG’s also added some enhanced security features. Knock Code takes LG’s
double-tap-to-turn-on/off to its logical conclusion, letting you record a
series of knocks to secure your phone as well.

The LG G3 can also lcok on a file by file basis, so if you’re plugging
your phone into a friend’s computer – or even if it’s plugged into
something that belongs to no friend of yours – it can still keep
important files encrypted.


And that’s not all

This is where LG’s getting really clever. The G3’s standard back casing
features a built-in induction loop for charging – though the official
accessory will cost you extra. The standard back can be swapped out for
the QuickCircle Case, which is a lot like a certain Samsung flip-case
accessory. But this one’s round.

It is cool, however, since the round aperture is perfect for classic
clockfaces, and with a single gesture the clock can be ‘flipped’ to
reveal favourite apps.

Finally, there’s a Bluetooth headset designed with the help of Harman
Kardon. We didn’t get to see this in action, but it sounds neat – a
simple plastic bad that sits around your neck, with retractable cables
for the in-ear headphones.

Sadly, there’s no confirmed Australian date for the accessories. But we’ll be keeping an eye out.

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