LG G3 review – is LG’s 2014 powerhouse worth a look in 2016?

£480
Price when reviewed

The QuickMemo app – which allows you to capture and annotate screenshots – makes another appearance, but there’s also a Quick Remote app, which comes in handy if you lose the TV remote, and an improved Guest mode, which allows you to restrict the number of available apps and lock the handset via a password, a PIN, a pattern or LG’s Knock Code.

The Notification drawer has had a bit of a makeover, too. A customisable strip of round, scrollable buttons quickly toggles all the essential settings on and off, and the brightness control beneath makes it quick and easy to toggle automatic brightness or dim the screen for late-night use.

Our favourite feature, however, has to be the clip tray. This keeps a history of what you’ve copied to the clipboard – this could be text, photos or document files – and allowing you to select any recent copied item when you choose the paste option. It’s a very handy little tool.

LG G3 review

Like Samsung’s recent handsets, the G3 also allows you to display two apps on screen simultaneously. Dubbed Dual Window, the mode is accessed via the phone’s Recent Apps screen and allows a selection of apps to be run simultaneously side by side. This works in both portrait and landscape orientations, and the split can be adjusted to suit. The QSlide feature, meanwhile, allows certain apps to be run as resizable floating windows: it’s possible, for instance, to have two split-screen apps in the background and have a third QSlide app floating on top. It’s a great demonstration of the power of the quad-core processor in the G3, but it isn’t particularly useful.

LG G3 review: Keyboard and security

The onscreen keyboard has had more than a few tweaks, too, leading LG to dub it the Smart Keyboard. The keyboard panel can be resized with a quick drag of the finger (although only in the Settings menu, not in apps themselves), while holding the space bar lets you swipe back and forth through typed text. Selecting appropriate autocorrect word suggestions is as easy as swiping a finger upwards towards the desired word. In practice, though, it’s no better than the stock Android keyboard, and certainly no match for Swype-style keyboards such as SwiftKey – if anything, we found ourselves making more errors on the LG keyboard.

LG G3 review

As with most of the big smartphone launches of late, LG has pushed security features to the forefront. As mentioned, Knock Code makes a re-appearance. Unlike rival unlock screens, which provide visual onscreen lock patterns, this segments the G3’s blank screen into four quarters and allows you to unlock the phone with a sequence of finger taps. The benefit of this is obvious: it doesn’t leave tell-tale trails or finger presses on the screen, since you only need tap roughly in each of the screen’s quarters. It’s also possible to “knock” the phone into life by double-tapping the display, rather than reaching around the rear for the power button.

Another security feature is Content Lock. This makes it possible to secure photos, videos and personal files with 128-bit encryption. Even if files are visible when connected via a USB connection, it isn’t possible to preview or download them without entering the unlock code. The final safety net is the Kill Switch functionality, which can remote wipe or permanently disable the handset if you lose it.

There’s one area where LG has made a serious misstep, however. Despite its pixel-dense screen, an all-too-obvious image-sharpening filter is applied to onscreen content. Everything – including text, icons, webpages in the browser and even snaps taken by the camera – is fringed with halos.

This doesn’t have a huge impact in everyday use, but it’s difficult to ignore once you notice it, and in some circumstances it is a hindrance. When reading very fine black text against a white background, for instance, we found that the halos around the characters began to obscure the lettering itself. For this reason, we would appreciate the option to turn this off.

LG G3 review: first look

LG G3 review: hardware and performance

It comes as no surprise to find Qualcomm hardware powering the G3. It’s the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 CPU and Adreno 330 GPU pairing that we’ve seen on the frontrunners from HTC and Sony, but LG has joined Samsung in opting for the faster 2.5GHz version of the chip and packing in 3GB of RAM alongside. As you’d expect for a high-end handset, there’s not a hint of judder when flicking between the handset’s menus and homescreens.

Our usual suite of benchmarks saw the G3 complete the SunSpider test in 692ms, a result that puts it ahead of the Xperia Z2’s 920ms, narrowly behind the HTC One (M8)’s 590ms and well off the 391ms pace of the Samsung Galaxy S5. Oddly, performance in GeekBench 3 was around 19% behind all of its rivals, with a single-core score of 829 and a multi-core score of 2,205.

The G3 lagged behind its Full HD counterparts in our gaming tests, too. Although it has the same Adreno 330 GPU, the G3 has to power 77% more pixels. In the GFXBench T-Rex test, these extra pixels saw the LG manfully struggle to an average framerate of 19.9fps. It still has more than enough power to see off demanding Android titles, though; we only noticed a touch of jerkiness when the onscreen action really hotted up.

Details

Cheapest price on contractFree
Contract monthly charge£32.00
Contract period24 months

Physical

Dimensions74.6 x 8.9 x 146.3mm (WDH)
Weight149g
Touchscreenyes

Core Specifications

RAM capacity3.00GB
Camera megapixel rating13.0mp
Front-facing camera?yes
Video capture?yes

Display

Screen size5.5in
Resolution1440 x 2560
Landscape mode?yes

Other wireless standards

Bluetooth supportyes
Integrated GPSyes

Software

OS familyAndroid

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