LG G2 first take: Best LG smartphone raises the Android bar

LG G2 first take: Best LG smartphone raises the Android bar

Summary: LG's new G2 is rolling out for all major US carriers, bringing a large display, fast quad-core processor, big battery, and powerful camera with a unique button arrangement.

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  • AT&T LG G2 retail package

    LG continues to impress me with their latest Android devices and after a few days with the new LG G2 one of my biggest decisions at the moment is to figure out which carrier version I want to purchase. I have been testing the AT&T and T-Mobile models, but am leaning towards the Verizon model for the Qi wireless charging functionality.

    The LG G2 is available on all four major US wireless carriers for $199.99 with a 2-year subsidy. On T-Mobile the full price is $603.99 ($99.99 up front and $21/month for 24 months). The device specifications are the same on all carriers, with the exception of the radios and the fact that the Verizon Wireless one supports Qi wireless charging. Once you try wireless charging it is tough to go back to plugging in a cable to charge up your device and I just don't get why this capability has to be a carrier exclusive option.

    Initial hardware thoughts

    The LG G2 is the first device in the US to launch with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 quad-core processor and so far performance has been flawless. I have loaded up many of my apps and haven't seen any lag at all on the device.

    The G2 also has a unique rear button design where the power button and two volume buttons are placed below the camera while all other sides remain void of buttons. It takes a bit to get used to the new button placement, but I think LG is on to something here as my fingers do naturally tend to rest on the back. It is nice not to have to reach all the way across a device to control the device. Even better is the "knock" function that allows you to double-tap on the display to turn the screen on and off. Nokia has had this for a while, but it sure is nice to finally see it coming to Android.

    I took photos at the local fair with both the G2 and the Nokia Lumia 1020 and was very pleased by the accuracy of the colors in photos captured with the G2. The G2 has optical image stabilization, 13 megapixel resolution, and more.

    The 5.2 inch 1080p display looks awesome with a minimal side bezel helping to keep the device to a comfortable size. I'm not a real fan of the glossy plastic back, it reminds me of a Samsung device and lately I have been spoiled by the fantastic HTC One design.

    After using the IR port on my HTC One for my bedroom TV and while traveling for work, I have now elevated this functionality to a level where I need to see it on my new devices or I won't consider the device. The G2 has an IR port and remote control software included.

    The G2 also has a stacked battery design that provides 3,000 mAh of capacity, which is one of the highest for a device of this size. So far battery life has been excellent, but more testing is required.

    Initial software thoughts

    I know it is kind of gimmicky, but it is fun to tap and slowly move your finger across the display to see your last app appear under the lock screen. As you can see in my screenshot gallery, there are a TON of customization options on the LG G2. After several days I am still discovering new settings and options that I will cover later in a full review.

    LG includes a bit too much in the notification area, but some of these options can be toggled on and off. There are all sorts of LG utilities, such as QSlide 2.0, Quick Remote, Slide Aside, VuTalk, and more.

    To be tested

    I would love to know if a Nexus 5 based on the LG G2 is actually coming as that may influence my purchase decision. If I can't wait and go with a G2, I want to test out the cool looking QuickWindow Folio case too.

    I plan to test out the camera in more scenarios, see how long the battery can go, and try using the G2 as my primary device for a week or so. Please let me know if there is anything specific you wish for me to try out as I continue using the device.

  • LG G2 in hand

Topics: Mobility, Android, Smartphones

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Talkback

15 comments
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  • Nice...but...

    ...one MORE new phone without a micro-SD card slot.

    Sorry, but I want to store my photos, files, etc., LOCALLY...on the phone...not on someone's cloud storage.

    I will not purchase a phone without an SD Card slot...period.
    IT_Fella
    • Ditto for non-removable battery

      I feel exactly the same way about a non-removable battery.

      It doesn't take more than one business trip where you find yourself out in a rental car, in a foreign city, needing to navigate back to the "what hotel did they book me in this time?" hotel after being out for dinner alone.
      And hell - less critical, but I've had this happen just being out with friends.

      Option A if critically low: pop in an extra charged battery, that you can carry in your pants pocket with your phone.
      Option B if critically low: Purchase a $150 device that's as large as a pack of cigarettes and tethers to your phone by a cord, justifying the purchase by the urgency of the situation at hand - what a Rube Goldberg nightmare on all fronts!

      I agree on the SD card as well. I don't want to store all my music, movies, pictures on my phone locally, much less all the time. If I can keep my internal storage 100% available to the phone, for anything and everything related to the phone, caching, etc - that's what I want to do.
      geolemon
      • Option C

        Buy more than 1 G2, and switch the SIM when battery is running out.

        Agree on the SD card too. Won't buy phone or tablet without having a SD slot.
        laman
      • Inertia of thinking

        G2 gives you twice the battery time versus sgs4. Or two batteries squeezed in one package right today. Think about it. And after thinking -- do you still want a shitphone with two batteries or G2?
        s4z
        • Nope.

          Regardless - if you do reach a critically discharged point, your only choice is to plug your phone in for hours. Let's say you go camping - even an overnight trip, you are out of luck.
          Or you have to purchase one of those Rube-Goldberg expensive dongles that are simply a battery on a USB cable at a cost of 2x-5x what a pair of extra batteries and external charger costs on Amazon.

          And I'm not sure what you mean by two batteries squeezed into one - my Galaxy S3 has a 2100mah battery - I own two 2200mah batteries and an external charger as well (less than $40 total). This thing does not have a 4200mah+ battery.

          By contrast, if I needed one, also on Amazon (or anywhere) from numerous sellers, I CAN buy a giant extended battery that comes with a bulbous battery door, if I needed a 7000mah battery.

          None of these are options if you buy a G2.
          That's the point.
          geolemon
    • Never

      I have been in way too many situations where I needed my extra battery. I have no idea why anyone would buy a phone without being able to pop in a fresh battery.
      Also agree on the SD card too.
      dodonfred
  • I'll wait

    For the Nexus 5. I now only consider nexus phones, although I am tempted by the HTC One google edition. My nexus 4 has held up well and for the price it was tough to beat. I only do prepaid plans so I usually buy phones that have been out for a while and experienced their first price drop. Or I buy used like I did with my nexus 4, $190 bucks for a slightly used 16gb version. It been flawless for the past 9 months which bodes well for a G2 based nexus.
    2low_tech
  • it really does look awesome

    But I just got a EVO 4GLTE around christmas and I really cannot see needing to replace it...
    Jimster480
  • No external card slot is a good thing

    As long as the built-in memory capacity is sufficient. I'm not sure I would be comfortable with the new placement of buttons, though; it could generate a lot of accidental 'clicks' on-screen just trying to turn the volume up or down if you're using it one-handed.
    Vulpinemac
    • Sounds like Apple head-in-the-sand thinking.

      Why is not having an SD card slot better?
      dodonfred
  • And when you need to change phones?

    "No external card slot is a good thing
    As long as the built-in memory capacity is sufficient."

    Really? What if your phone craps-out all of a sudden, and you can't access the "built-in memory"?

    I have had this happen, and was very glad my files were on an SD card.
    It'sNotMe
    • It depends

      on what you keep on your phone. I only keep friend's contact info, music and apps on my phone so if the phone dies (has never happened to me) I don't lose anything that I can't readily replace.
      2low_tech
    • SD Slot is a good thing but in some cases,

      I have had 2 micro sd cards fail on me. Lost photos and music. Had them backed up so not a big problem. OTOH, having no extra memory card, would be a big problem also if the phone died for what ever reason. Moral of the story? Backup, and keep backing up!
      Spiros Lambrinidis
  • Full review question

    I'd like to see correct numbers for full brightness and comparison of G2 and SGS4 in day light outside when sun is at peak. Existing brightness numbers are too different. And nobody makes photos of reviewed devices under the sun because they are either selling them themselves or live on ads from manufacturers.
    s4z
  • tx

    thanks Matt for another excellent review. I pretty much only read you and Anandtech these days - too many apple fanboys out there.

    glad to hear you like the button placement. that's my only hangup about this phone, which I'm likely to purchase (esp after dropping my HTC Thunderbolt again today).

    was close to getting the Droid Maxx but apparently the G2 battery lasts longer.
    mtalinm