Welcome to another article in our series Should I Upgrade? Here, we examine if the new iteration of a device is really worth it to purchase over its predecessor. Today, we’ll be looking at the spectacular LG G3, and how it stacks up to the 8 month old G2.
Much like Sony switching to a 6 month release cycle, it looks like LG is following the industry as well. Pioneered by Samsung with their dual S and Note series, only HTC has not confirmed a 6 month release cycle.
The LG G2 was a brilliant smartphone. It took a great risk by including rear power and volume buttons, and left the front and sides devoid of any controls. This also allowed for a nearly bezel-less display, of which they could easily squeeze 5.2 inches of IPS LCD into. It had a capable 13 MP camera and OIS, as well as the latest Snapdragon 800 processor. It was glossy plastic and quite bland, but looks can be secondary. The only true let-down was the poor UI.
Enter the LG G3. It launched 2 days ago, and it blew the whole Twenty First Tech team away. Surpassing all expectations, it looked absolutely marvellous despite being plastic. Powering on the display made you forget the design though. The first 2K resolution display from a major manufacturer, the IPS LCD panel was impossibly perfect. It also has a removable battery and micro-SD card slot together with a much improved UI.
So, let’s get down to the details first, shall we?
|Display||5.5″ 2K (1440p) IPS LCD display||5.2”, 1080p IPS LCD display|
|Processor||2.5 GHz Quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801||2.3 GHz Quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800|
|RAM||2/3 GB (respective to storage)||2 GB|
|Storage||16/32 GB, expandable micro-SD card slot||32/64 GB non-expandable|
|Rear Camera||13 MP, 1/3 inch sensor, OIS+, laser autofocus||13 MP, 1/3 inch sensor, OIS|
|Battery||3000 mAh||3000 mAh|
Design and Build
If you had bought the LG G2 (which is why you’re probably reading this), you wouldn’t even have looked twice at the design. Glossy plastic made it so that it was a fingerprint magnet, but it wasn’t like the G2 was a head-turner anyway. It also lacked a removable battery option and didn’t have a micro-SD card slot either.
The LG G3 changed nearly every single bit of that. It’s still plastic, but a sturdy kind that inspires a similar feeling to the HTC One (M8)’s metal. It also looks miles better, and that with a removable battery and micro-SD card slot. The rear buttons, which felt sticky on the G2 are solid in the G3 lending to a feeling of strength.
Even with the changes in design, handling has not taken a hit. It still fits into your hand, with your index finger resting on the power button (not that you need it with KnockCode).
All in all the improvements are hugely welcome – sure it lacks the pure metal feeling that the HTC One (M8) evokes, but I’d say it’s a massive step above Samsung’s idea of a plastic, removable battery smartphone.
This is the whole selling point of the LG G3. The first 2K (1440p) resolution display to ever feature on the big four’s flagships. What’s more, it’s an IPS LCD panel, so you have flawless viewing angles and colour reproduction.
The LG G2 also had a Full HD (1080p) IPS LCD display, but are you really going to argue with 1.8x more pixels? And this has been done at an increase in display size to 5.5″ from the 5.2″ of the G2, while the dimensions have only grown to the size of the Sony Xperia Z2.
This is perhaps the biggest force behind a decision to upgrade, though it should be noted that 2K content is limited right now, so you will get 2K resolution apps but only 1080p movies for now.
The effect on battery life of the G3’s snazzy display is also questionable, with concerns of a heavily curtailed battery life, but preliminary tests from PhoneArena show otherwise (more on this below).
Coming to the performance section of this comparison, here is where the two devices are the most alike.
The LG G2 ran with a 2.3 GHz Snapdragon 800 processor, and the game has been upped by 200 MHz to a 2.5 GHz Snapdragon 801 processor.
However, the Snapdragon 801 is not just a performance upgrade. It is also a major power saving upgrade. Battery life is significantly improved over Snapdragon 800 devices, and our tests comparing the Sony Xperia Z2 and Z1, and the Samsung Galaxy S5 and Note 3 seem to corroborate the claims.
What we did not like was that RAM capacity is tied to the amount of internal storage in the G3. It is true that the LG G2 only had 2 GB of it, but if LG is offering 3 GB of RAM for the 32 GB variant of the G3, then they should have done the same with the 16 GB variant. Instead, the smaller capacity G3 gets 2 GB of RAM.
Truth be told, 2 GB of RAM is enough. However if you like to run many intensive apps together, then you should try and get the 3 GB variant to avoid lag, but you’ll have to pay extra.
This is not a major reason for an upgrade, but as they say, a smartphone is more than the sum of its parts.
The first thing that you notice when powering on the G3 is the clarity of the 2K display. The second thing you notice is the massively changed Optimus UI. Gone are the gaudy, skeuomorphic and horribly mismatched icons and colours. The new Optimus UI sports a clean, flat and more muted design.
The icons packs are also more mature, and do not feel like they’re targeted at two year-olds anymore. This is a great step towards following Google design guidelines, and moves the Optimus UI really close to stock, while having their own, unique identity.
Also replacing the outdated ‘menu’ on-screen key is the ‘task switcher’ key. As with the G2, the navigation keys can be customised to include a ‘QSlide’ key at the right as well, or you can choose to swap the locations of the ‘task switcher’ and ‘back’ keys.
All in all, LG has brought their UI from a terrible one in the G2 to an extremely fantastic one with the G3, which has really pleased us.
The camera in the G3 has not seen much changes when compared to the G2. It is still a 13 MP shooter with a 1/3 inch sensor and has OIS (albeit a slightly upgraded one). LG has changed the autofocus to a new (to mobile) laser feature.
The G3 can also shoot video in UltraHD (4K) resolution, which is certainly impressive and will look good on that marvellous screen. In comparison, the G2 stays with 1080p video (at least for now).
There’s also “Magic Focus” with the G3. Basically, LG made it possible to refocus their pictures like what was offered by HTC in its HTC One M8. Oh, and without the addition of another camera, while performing the function extremely well anyway.
Still, G2 users won’t be feeling the need for an upgrade based on just the arguably minor improvements in the camera department.
Many had griped when the G2 was announced about the lack of a micro-SD card slot. Well, if you are a person who is feeling the pinch without a micro-SD card, then you’ll be happy to know that the LG G3 does include expandable storage.
This means that internal storage drops to either 16/32 GB though, and you will then have to choose between 2 or 3 GB of RAM respectively.
With the new Android 4.4 KitKat guidelines that prohibit write-access to the micro-SD card, apps and their data is all installed to internal storage, so 16 GB may not be a viable option anymore.
In the end though, it depends on the user. If you are an avid mobile gamer, games like FIFA 14 and Modern Combat 4 will quickly fill up the 16 GB of internal storage, and you will not get to transfer files to the micro-SD card. In this case, the 32 GB/3 GB RAM variant is the choice for you.
If not, then it could possibly come down to how much RAM you want, and how much you are willing to spend for the extra 16 GB of storage and 1 GB of RAM.
With the new 2K display in the LG G3, it would be natural to be concerned about the effect on the battery life, especially since the capacity has remained constant at 3000 mAh.
Don’t be so quick to dismiss LG’s choice though. With the new, more power-efficient Snapdragon 801 powering the G3, battery life has seen an approximate 15% jump, with display efficiency the largest beneficiary.
It is then not surprising to see the LG G3 get a 6 hours screen-on time when undergoing PhoneArena’s preliminary battery test, which is a marked improvement over the G2, especially considering the 1.8x increase in pixels.
The LG G2 was the best performer between the late-2013 flagships, but LG have really outdone themselves even while including a more power-hungry 2K resolution display.
Should I upgrade?
If I had the LG G2, and you’d have asked me this question, I would say no. I find it hard to justify paying close to S$300 more just to get a 2K resolution display, a marginally faster processor and expandable storage.
The G2 is still a rock-solid smartphone. It has a stunning 1080p display, and a merely 8 months old processor. The S$300 and upwards cost for an upgrade is even more jarring when considering you can get the Snapdragon 800 powered, 1080p IPS LCD sporting Xiaomi Mi3 for just S$339.
Even if you can afford to splash the cash, it would not be the best decision. A 6 month release cycle means that the LG G4 will be releasing somewhere around October, and it is sure to come with the Snapdragon 805 amongst other improvements. By then, competitor flagships will also be sure to pack a 2K display, so if that’s a minimum requirement then your choices will open up greatly.
In the end, the decision is yours to make. Do wait for our LG G3 review coming soon, and meanwhile collect as much information about the possible upgrade pathways available to you.
What will you be getting after the G2?