LG G2 review: Recommended, unless you need storage expansion

LG G2 review: Recommended, unless you need storage expansion

Summary: LG has done a great job with the 5.2-inch G2, whose battery life is a big plus. The power button placement is odd, but the G2's main drawback is its lack of MicroSD storage expansion. If don't need this, then it's well worth shortlisting.

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  • Editors' rating:
    8.2
  • User rating:
    6.5
  • RRP:
    £340.00

Pros

  • Superb 5.2-inch screen
  • Excellent battery life
  • Some clever software features

Cons

  • No MicroSD slot for storage expansion
  • Non-removable backplate
  • Rear-mounted power button

The LG G2 is the flagship handset from a company that arguably doesn't get the credit it deserves. The G2 is LG's answer to the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S4, HTC One, Sony Xperia Z1 — and of course Apple's iPhone 5s. With a large screen and impressive battery life, The LG G2 hits some important targets — but does it match its high-end competition and justify its high price — £340 (ex. VAT, or £408 inc. VAT)?

Design

The marketing for the LG G2 mentions the positioning of its on/off button and its 'near zero bezel'. These are certainly distinctive features, and while the former won't be to every taste, the latter is likely to be welcomed by all. LG has managed to cram a 5.2-inch screen, which we measured as 65mm wide, into a chassis that's just 70.9mm wide. The bezel along the long edges really is almost non-existent, and is surprisingly narrow at the top and bottom too. A speaker, front camera and alert light are squeezed in at the top, and the overall effect is of a phone that's almost all screen.

lg-g2-models
LG's flagship G2 has a 5.2-inch IPS screen and is powered by a top-end Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 SoC with 2GB of RAM. Our review sample had 32GB of internal storage, but no MicroSD slot for adding extra capacity. Note the power button and volume rocker on the back of the handset. (Image: LG)

Despite its size, the screen doesn't seem overly large — although we found it impossible to use one-handed. The display itself is superb, with a full-HD resolution of 1,920 by 1,080 pixels giving it a pixel density of 424ppi that's only beaten by the 4.7in. HTC One (469ppi), 4.95in. Google Nexus 5 (445ppi), 5in. Samsung Galaxy S4 and 5in. Sony Xperia Z (both 441ppi). The IPS panel has great colour rendering and excellent viewing angles. It's difficult to find fault here.

That other design element we mentioned, the positioning of the on/off button, is likely to be a little more contentious. Rather than locate this on an edge, as is the norm, LG has placed it on the back, beneath the camera lens. It's bounded top and bottom by the volume buttons.

The small lozenge-shaped power switch is slightly raised, making it possible to find by touch alone. We found a bit of a fiddle at first, but did get used to it after a while. LG has clearly recognised that the ergonomics will remain an issue for some people, and has provided the option to double-tap the screen for locking down and opening the phone.

Although relocating the on/off button might have been a better move, we have to admit that the double screen tap is a great idea. It's particularly useful when the handset is sitting on a desk, and we'd like to see more phone-makers adopt it.

The volume rocker that surrounds the on/off button is much less of an issue. It is less frequently used than the power button, and we found it easy to access with the handset in a pocket.

The LG G2 takes a microSIM that goes into a caddy on the left edge of the chassis. Apart from the caddy and a headset jack and Micro-USB connector on the bottom, the edges of the handset are free of clutter. They curve into the backplate which is shiny, shows up finger-grease and is not particularly grip-friendly.

The only other edge-mounted feature is a pair of speaker grilles on the bottom of the chassis. These deliver a healthy volume, although there's some distortion at the very loudest level. It's easy to cover these grilles when you're holding the handset in landscape mode (when gaming for example), which will muffle the sound.

Features

As LG's flagship handset, the G2's specifications are impressive, with one annoying (but all too common) exception: there's no MicroSD card slot for storage expansion. Our review unit had 32GB of internal storage, but that's not available in the UK, where 16GB is standard. The operating system and various LG extras took up 8GB of space on our review handset, leaving 24GB for user apps and data. The 16GB model will have even less free storage to play with, and it's a real pity that capacity is hampered in this way.

lg-g2-buttons
Front touch button configuration options for the LG G2.

The processor is Qualcomm's Snapdragon 800 running at 2.26GHz. It's the current processor of choice for top-end handsets and, backed up by 2GB of RAM, is very zippy: screen transitions, web page renders and video playback were all fast and smooth. We've no complaints about this handset's speed.

This is an LTE handset with a full complement of wireless features — Wi-Fi (dual-band 802.11a/b/g/n/ac) and Bluetooth (4.0), plus NFC and GPS (with A-GPS and GLONASS support). Music support includes the lossless FLAC codec — one of a number of extras that LG has overlain on top of Android 4.2.2.

The camera is a case in point. The rear camera has a 13-megapixel resolution — a healthy specification, and one that produces some nice shots. Optical image stabilisation helps reduce the likelihood of blurred images (especially in low light), and you can take photos that include what both the front (2.1Mpixel) and rear cameras can see; there's also a mode that shoots five images quickly, allowing you to retain the one you like best.

You can configure the front touch buttons to your liking, changing the configuration of the left and right buttons and adding a fourth button either to launch LG's QuickMemo app — which lets you take a screenshot and annotate it, and then save or share it — or to pull down the notification panel.

lg-g2-calc
QSlide provides a collection of pop-up applets such as this calculator.

The notification icons can be edited to include just the shortcuts you require. QSlide is an additional utility that sits in the notifications area and provides access to a range of pop-up apps that open on top of whatever you are doing at the time. These are resizeable and include not just applets like a calculator and a note-taker, but also weightier apps such as a file manager.

When you plug in a headset, four shortcuts pop up pointing to relevant apps, and you can edit these so that your favourite quartet is offered. There's also an eye tracking system that pauses video if you look away from the screen and keeps the screen awake while you're looking at it — overriding whatever time-out you've set.

The LG packs a 3,000mAh battery beneath the G2's non-removable backplate, claiming up to 17.5 hours of 3G talk and 900 hours (37.5 days) on standby. For once we're not complaining about having to find mains power mid-afternoon, or even early evening. Even if you're a power user, you should be able to get through a day without charging the battery. This feature alone may draw you to the LG G2.

Conclusion

LG has done a great job with the G2, and its battery life will be a big plus for many potential buyers. The power button placement is odd, but isn't a deal-breaker. The G2's only real drawback is its lack of MicroSD storage expansion. If don't need this, then it's well worth shortlisting.

Specifications

General
Dimensions (W x H x D) 70.9x9.1x138.5 mm
Weight 143 g
OS & software
Software included Android 4.2.2, Polaris Office
Processor & memory
Clock speed 2.26 GHz
Processor model Qualcomm Snapdragon 800
RAM 2048 MB
Storage
Internal 16000 MB
Display
Display technology TFT touch-screen (active matrix)
Display size 5.2 in
Native resolution 1920x1080 pixels
Connections
Ports Micro-USB
Networks
2.xG GPRS, EDGE
2G GSM 850, GSM 900, GSM 1800, GSM 1900
3.xG HSPA
Wireless
Wi-Fi 802.11a, 802.11b, 802.11g, 802.11n, 802.11ac
Short range Bluetooth 4.0, NFC
GPS technology
Accuracy enhancement system A-GPS
Antenna built in
GPS receiver yes, with GLONASS support
Input devices
Touchscreen Yes
Camera
2nd camera front
Main camera rear
2nd camera resolution 2.1 megapixels
Main camera resolution 13 megapixels
Power
Battery type Li-polymer
Battery capacity 3000 mAh
Standby time 900 h
Talk time 17.5 h
Miscellaneous
Accessories AC adapter
Expand

Prices

Price
Price GBP 340

Topics: Smartphones, Android, Mobility, Reviews

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Talkback

10 comments
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  • Not enough of a Compelling product....

    5.0

    There is much competition in an already flooded market. Not enough offered to make it a compelling product which is unfortunate as I rate LG above Samsung in build quality.
    5735guy
    • Not true

      I'd agree with you if you actually owned the product. But I'm not sure if you do. I have owned several phones this year alone, including Samsung GS4, HTC One and LG G2. In the camera and battery departments alone, the G2 beats the crap out of GS4 and HTC One -- for once, you have a phone that lets you constantly email, chat on whatsapp, browse the web, watch some vidoes, and listen to two hour worth of music -- without running out of juice at 2 pm. The near-edge-to-edge screen is another distinguishing feature: gigantic screen minus the gigantic device size. I think that's more than enough to make it a very compelling product.
      Harris2014
  • A great Phone!

    8.0

    I've had my Lg G2 for about 6 weeks now and I love it. I looked at the iPhone5, the G4 and HTC One, but this phone is faster and has better battery life. I didn't need the microSD slot -- 32 gbs feels like riches after my 8 gb iPhone4. I love the beautiful, big screen and the tap to wake feature. The camera takes great pictures. I like everything about it. This is a small but important (to me) thing -- it handles aspect switching WAY better than my old iPhone. I agonized over my choice, but I'm very pleased -- I would make the same one again.
    nelturner@...
  • With all the cloud storage srevices available,

    8.0

    why would an SD interface make a difference? My Windows phone doesn't have added storage and I get along fine without.
    nesdave
    • Seriously, MicroSD a drawback?!?!

      right on point nesdave! Who still uses Micro or SD anything? I think it would be a drawback if LG wasted the space actually putting one in! Heck, my wife has not one but TWO cloud services, icloud & Acercloud so that we can upload or download ANYTHING & have access to it INSTANTANEOUSLY regardless of device!

      @Ms Vogel: thx for the review but you go ahead and look for your devices with micro tech still in 'em - LOL!
      bsc249@...
    • Clouds can rain!

      8.0

      I'm sorry, but your thinking on the requirement of an SD card is rather limited. Not everyone lives or uses their phone in areas of good coverage. I carry work documents and other media on the phone, which has to be local if I actually want consistent access to it. I also use several apps which include fairly large databases which need to be accessible even when off line. Sure, if you live in a good coverage area with consistent high speed data, you can play your music from the cloud. For some of us that just won't work well enough!
      junk@...
  • TERRIBLE CAMERA

    5.0

    Every reviewer has forgotten to mention the TERRIBLE camera. It is so bad it would take pages to describe how bad. The most glaring issue is that it does not work at all in low light. I was at a concert and everyone what holding up there cameras to take photos. Me with the latest most powerful phone on the planet could not get a photo of Bon Jovi directly in front of me. Damn you LG and your garbage. Now that I have had the phone for months I can say also that the button placement is far worse than I initially thought. When it is in a dock for driving. I cannot shut the screen off. I cannot change the volume. LAME. Also those buttons are impossible to distinguish from each other. What to change the volume, well count on turning the screen off multiple times. Also, count on having to wipe off the lense every time you take a photo, because when you were fumbling to find the volume or the screen off, yep you put your finger on the lense, which now is compromised due to that finger print. I wish I could get all my money back.
    lukester01
    • Wrong vote

      1.0

      I thought voting I'd be able to give a negative vote. But this is better. You're ranting is unwarranted. Learn how to use the device before giving a bad review. Go get an iPhone and go whine on an Apple site.
      coleone13
  • Most impressive set of hardware and apps.0

    9.0

    I have been reading about the complaints of no SD Card or complaints of the camera.

    I must say that I have been evaluating smart phones ever since Motorola put out the first Droid. You folks who are making these complaints I feel are good but hardly fair. I find that 32Gb of storage is not bad. My reasoning is that large files can be downloaded and then moved to another device via the USB cable.

    As for the camera, the photos are crisp and clear. There is no denying this. The video is also outstanding. With 13Mg pixals, you cant go wrong.

    By far the battery life for me is most impressive. I use my smartphone heavily and it keeps up with my usage.

    To date, the LG G2 is a⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐product. It is a sturdy phone with everything I could need. It seems tjat most reviews agree with me.
    bobbys73
  • LG G2 a high point

    8.0

    Nice screen, battery life, good camera, very fast.
    We appreciate the fact that the LG G2 has Radio but we really miss the ability of the 3rd button of the headset to change stations and turn off the Radio. It's not justified the fact to take it out of my pockets every time I want to change stations. Hopefully this will be improved in updates.

    I really like the three Front Touch Buttons on the screen 5.2 inches. However, this buttons greatly reduce the real screen size to 4.9 inches most of the apps. I suggest a new option to hide/show this buttons in order to maximize the screen usage. Hopefully this will be improved in updates.
    jplazas65