LG has been a quiet achiever in the smartphone market of late, recently becoming the world’s third largest smartphone manufacturer by volume, after Samsung and Apple.
While their marketshare has been boosted by manufacturing Google’s Nexus 4 smartphone, they will need a stellar flagship smartphone to really challenge fellow South Korean tech giant Samsung.
So is its new G2 smartphone good enough to challenge the Galaxy S4?
A key feature of the LG G2 is that most of the buttons, including the volume rocker, have been placed at the back of the phone near the camera, rather than on the side of the device, as is the case with most smartphones.
The G2 uses Android 4.2.2 Jellybean and is based on a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor running at 2.26GHz, a processor more powerful than either the Apple iPhone 5’s dual-core 1.2 GHz chip or the Samsung Galaxy S4’s quad-core 1.9GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon Series 600 processor.
It uses Graphic RAM (GRAM) for its display, which LG claims uses 26% less energy to draw a still frame, potentially increasing usage time by 10%.
It also features a 5.2-inch Full HD IPS (high definition in-plane switching) display at 1920 by 1080 pixels, which features the same resolution as the Galaxy S4 and a larger screen than the 4-inch display on the iPhone 5.
Finally, it is designed to run on 4G LTE Advanced mobile networks, meaning fast download speeds.
As PC Authority points out, at least in terms of its hardware specs, the LG G2 is a tough competitor:
The LG G2 has impressive hardware, and on paper is the equal or better to all of these other flagship devices when it comes to almost all specs, storage excepted.
However, as CRN points out, there are a few issues with the phone. One potential issue is the amount of bloat that comes with LG’s customised version of Android:
LG’s loaded a lot of in-built apps, tweaks to Android 4.2.2 and features to the G2 – so much so that on the 16GB model we played with only 10GB was available. We like the tweaked pull-down notifications menu but it does make accessing the full settings a bit of a chore.
Placing the device’s buttons on the back will also take some getting used to, especially for users with small hands:
If you’re afflicted with tiny fingers, the buttons on the back of the phone won’t exactly help matters. Volume keys and a power/lock/camera button are placed just underneath the 13MP snapper – in theory to make them easier to press, and less likely to result in your smartphone divebombing headfirst into the kerb. But, since the G2 is a big ‘un, you might still struggle – as we did – to access the buttons one-handed. Which sort of defeats the object.
CNet says the buttons on the back feel unnatural when compared to other phones:
This worked when we could find the buttons, but all three keys are small and hard to locate blindly. We also feel it’s odd to press the back of the device to activate the camera. The twisting motion on Motorola’s Moto X, or even tapping a button on the side, is more natural to us.
Despite the button issue, the G2 is a fast, if not revolutionary, new smartphone:
Based on our limited time with the G2, we can attest that it certainly handles like a speed demon. Menus flew by with almost blinding swiftness while apps and home screens opened and closed in the blink of an eye… LG’s G2 isn’t a game changer by any means, but its specs meet current expectations, and it is certainly LG’s most ambitious smartphone to date.
Who’s it for?
At least on paper, the G2 compares favourably with many competitors in the market, and could be the device that gives the Samsung Galaxy S4 a run for its money.
However, because of the unusual button layout, it’s probably a good idea to see whether the device is comfortable for you in person before you buy one – especially if you have small hands.