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

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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Topic: Mobility
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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.

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LG G2 in hand

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Back button arrangement of the G2

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LG G2 in hand

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Top front of the G2

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MicroUSB port and bottom LG branding

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LG G2 and HTC One

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Back of the G2 and HTC One

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Lots of great camera capture options to test

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There are several settings in the camera too

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You can speak to capture a photo

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Typical G2 home screen panel

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Some AT&T apps loaded on the G2

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T-Mobile has their own apps too

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ISIS is supported on the T-Mobile model

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Adding shortcuts

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Adding widgets

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Wallpaper options

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App launcher

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More widgets on the G2

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Widget management

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App info and management

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Removing an app

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Setting up home screen panels

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I love that the keyboard has a dedicated number row

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Make the keyboard left or right hand focused

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Emoticons on the keyboard

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Setting up the IR remote

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You can customize home screen icons

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Application management

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Typical Google multi-tasking

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Task Manager on the G2

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Quick launch options

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QuickMemo guide directory

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Making a memo on Google Maps

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Overlay mode guide

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Bit busy launch shade

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Edit quick settings

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Using the dialer on the home screen

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Browsing on the G2

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Browser bar option

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Manage QSlide apps

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Volume controls

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Network settings

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Sound settings

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Custom vibration settings

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Display settings

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Fonts can be changed

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Smart screen option

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Smart video settings

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Gesture settings

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Viewing your available storage

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Battery settings

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Viewing app status

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Guest mode setup

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Security settings

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Backup and reset settings

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More settings

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USB connection settings

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Software information

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Excellent default calculator

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Life Square utility

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Custom messaging setup

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Battery manager

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Gallery options

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Dropbox integration

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Custom calendar setup is excellent

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Customizing your lock screen shortcuts

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Tethering and networks settings

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Front touch button customization

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Notebook utility

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Screen swipe effects

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Home screen settings

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Lock screen settings

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Accessibility settings

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LG G2 themes

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Daydream settings

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My ladies at the Washington Fair

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Kari with the cows

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That's some tall corn!

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Luminasia ferry G2 shot

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Luminasia ferry Lumia 1020 shot

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Luminasia ferry G2 shot

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Luminasia ferry Lumia 1020 shot

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Luminasia whale with G2

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Luminasia whale with Lumia 1020

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Luminasia Space Needle with G2

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Luminasia Space Needle with Lumia 1020

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Luminasia ferry with G2

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Luminasia ferry with Lumia 1020

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Luminasia dragon with G2

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Luminasia dragon with Lumia 1020

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Luminasia dragon with G2

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Luminasia dragon with Lumia 1020

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Luminasia pagoda with G2

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Luminasia pagoda with Lumia 1020

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Luminasia bridge with G2

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Luminasia bridge with Lumia 1020

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Luminasia ferry with G2

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Luminasia ferry with Lumia 1020

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