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LG G2 Review

lg g2 review

We knew that when the LG G2 arrived, it would be a smartphone more powerful than any we had seen before it. LG teased it for weeks, even announcing the phone’s Snapdragon 800 processor, display tech, and name before it ever took the stage to make the phone official. So when we finally got our hands on it, our concerns weren’t about the display quality or performance, they were going to be about the ecosystem that LG was trying to create with its new app suite, whether or not the camera could live up to its fancy spec list, and if those oddly placed volume and power buttons could win us over.

For the most part, I can easily say that LG has won us over on a number levels with the G2. The display is insanely good, the camera might be our favorite to date, and the UI over the top of Android isn’t as awful as we thought it would be. Let’s talk about all of that and more, to help you decide if the G2 is your next phone. 

The Good

Display

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The 5.2″ IPS LCD display on the LG G2 is gorgeous. At a resolution of 1920×1080 with 423ppi, the sharpness, accuracy of color, above average viewing angles, and clarity are unlike almost any other smartphone display I have ever seen. When you first boot the G2, you will more than likely be blown away by its beauty. Videos look like true 1080p on a small screen should, games are full of amazing detail, and to the touch, it feels almost soft as you swipe, gesture, and tap. The panel itself leans slightly to the cooler side of display temperatures, whereas the AMOLED in a device like the Moto X clearly comes off warm. In the shots below, you can see how the 1080p display reproduces a variety of colors when compared to that of the Moto X, Nexus 4, and Galaxy S4. It’s viewing angles aren’t quite as good as those with AMOLED displays, but it’s whites are certainly whiter.

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MACRO SHOT

What takes the experience even further over the top, is the absence of bezel around the front of the device. When you talk about a full-screen experience, the G2 beats everyone, and it’s not even close. The side bezels are almost non-existent, the top and bottom areas are small enough, and you truly feel like you are holding nothing but one giant smartphone panel in your hand without any extra fuss.

If you were looking for the best display a smartphone has to offer at the moment, I’d say that you can stop looking now that the G2 is out.

Specs

LG tried to create the ultimate powerhouse with the G2 and succeeded. To power it all, you have the latest quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor from Qualcomm clocked at 2.26GHz with an upgraded Adreno 330 GPU. Then you add on the 5.2″ FHD display, 2GB RAM, 13MP camera with OIS (optical image stabilization), 4G LTE, 32GB of storage, and 3,000mAh battery all tucked into a frame that is only 8.9mm thick, and you have a smartphone that few will come close to matching for months (which is an eternity in smartphone terms).

We talk a lot about “future proof” phones that can last you the life of a contract without slowing or becoming obsolete or behind-the-times – the LG G2 may last three or four years before it shows signs of aging. The screen is as good as it gets, the processor is the most powerful on the planet, and the camera includes the next movement in mobile photography. When you think about the ultimate specs list, LG checked all the boxes with the G2.

Performance

Thanks to the quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor clocked at 2.26GHz and 2GB RAM, the G2 is buttery smooth no matter what you are doing. While running a suite of benchmarks that tested out items like GPU performance, you rarely see the phone’s frame rate dip below 50 fps, even on the heaviest of virtual 3D environments. If you want to multi-task, the G2 won’t even hiccup. If you want to shoot pictures in an instant, you can without hesitation. And if you want to out-duel your friends with benchmarks, they’ll struggle to keep up. It’s a beast, folks.

Camera

lg g2 camera

So far, Tim and I have had nothing but great things to say when it comes to the 13MP Sony IMX135 Exmor sensor in the G2. In my testing, I’ve found the camera to be quicker than any other smartphone camera to date, while still being able to produce completely acceptable results. We’re talking instant shutter with very few reasons to ever need to re-take a photo. At 13MP and with 9-point autofocus, you should see plenty of detail and not the over-processed and de-saturated photos we saw the Moto X take during our testing period.

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With the G2’s camera, you have options for most manual settings like focus, brightness, ISO, and white balance, but LG has also included pre-set modes for Burst, Beauty, Dual camera, etc. Unlike the Moto X where the game is all about simplicity, LG has tried to combine a simple UI with features that will satisfy both photogs and casual users. While I’m still a fan of Motorola’s incredibly minimal approach to smartphone camera UIs, I still like to have some of the options that LG and Samsung include in their camera suites – manual settings for one.

In most situations, you’ll find yourself in full auto-mode, which will get the job done. Taking the G2 from extreme low-light to sunsets to macros returned impressive results (at least to our eyes) without having to adjust a thing. Thanks to OIS (optical image stabilization), you’ll snap photos in the darkest of areas, but also see much less shakiness and blur during video recording or when zoomed in. Other than a bit of artifacting here and there in our low-light shots, OIS shined as an important piece of smartphone camera tech that will be tough to live without.

We have a handful of samples below, but hope to continue to test out the G2’s camera. It just feels like a 2-week period is enough to fully appreciate what LG has done here.

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Full resolution: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8

Battery Life

Thanks to a 3,000mAh battery tucked inside the svelte 8.9mm frame of the G2, I ran into zero battery scares. The day I pushed it the hardest, I easily cleared 13+ hours and still had 20% or so left. The rest of the days, with 4G LTE only and light-to-medium use, I almost always cruised through 15 hours with another 10+ to spare (according to the device). If you aren’t hammering on the device, you’ll have the opportunity to get through more than a full day’s use – I’m talking 24 hours. If you are putting in heavy work (gaming, lots of messaging, video watching, etc. with 3+ hours of screen-on time) you should still see 14-18 hours of battery life.

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Availability

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The trend in mobile for 2013 has been the release of flagships by the top manufacturers on all of the major U.S. carriers. We saw Samsung do it with the Galaxy S4, Motorola with the Moto X, and now LG with the G2. As of the posting of this review, you can currently buy the G2 on Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile, with Sprint availability coming in late October. Availability may seem like a small thing that most consumers won’t care about, but it’s a big deal for LG. It’s a hell of a lot easier to sell phones and hammer home your brand when you can produce a single design, and then make it available to almost everyone. Even Verizon couldn’t completely botch the G2. They are one of the first to sell it, and have also only made a couple of minor changes to the design. The Big Red variant has wireless charging, and a slightly tweaked button arrangement that keep the G2 very G2-like.

Software Suite

lg g2 quickmemo

LG is trying to turn the G2 into the ultimate productivity tool. They have included apps like QuickMemo, QSlide, and Slide Aside that all want you to be able to accomplish multiple tasks at once. With the long press of the volume up button or the quick swipe up from home, you can get into QuickMemo to take down notes. With the pulldown of the notification tray, you can jump into a variety of QSlide apps that hover as mini apps over whatever you are doing. You can change their transparency to see through to your background task and even open more than one at a time. With Slide Aside (my least favorite of the three), LG wants you to use a 3-finger swiping gesture while in an app to hide it off to the side. You can stack up to three apps to the side, accessing them again with another 3-finger swipe. It’s unnecessary since Android already has a multi-tasking app that can be accessed with a long-press on Home and shows much more than your last three apps.

The apps aren’t all great, but the inclusion of them shows that LG is attempting to innovate and continue to make your smartphone smarter. A lot of this stuff reminds us of what Samsung is doing, but when you are the underdog trying to catch someone like Samsung, sometimes copying or closely mimicking is the way to go. Just ask Samsung how that worked out.

We’ve demoed all of these features in a video included below that I highly recommend you check out. It’s a solid 13-minutes of G2 software goodies.

Somewhere-in-the-Middle

LG’s UI

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You can see Samsung’s influence in LG’s Android skin before you even leave the lock screen. There are water effects, a crowded notification pulldown, and a cartoonish design that probably makes minimal design enthusiasts queasy. With that said, it’s actually a lot prettier than the Gingerbread-ish scheme that Samsung has chosen to continue to use with its TouchWiz. LG has instead taken the Android color scheme of blues and greys, and then incorporated swiping gestures, mostly useful software add-ons for enhanced multi-tasking, and even gone with on-screen navigation buttons to give you the full Android experience. While LG has skinned everything from the dialer to the calendar to the calculator, most of it doesn’t look terrible. Sure, it might not be as pretty as HTC’s Sense 5 or stock Android, but again, it looks like a beautiful cityscape compared to the junkyard that is Samsung’s TouchWiz.

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Plus, LG lets you customize almost everything. We’re talking full control over icons, colors in folders, the settings menu, navigation button arrangement, lock and home screens, and more. You can almost think of LG’s skin as a fully-equipped 3rd party launcher that you may find on Google Play. There is no OEM out there doing customization like LG, which we will gladly applaud them for.

It’s not all amazing, though. You do feel at times as if you are a bit overwhelmed by all of the things that LG is trying to accomplish. They take multi-tasking in far too many directions, remove easy multi-select in things like the gallery, have an excessive amount of sound and vibrate options that will certainly confuse the average consumer, and try to push a really terrible voice-action system called Voice Mate as a Siri and S Voice competitor. Everything just seems so excessive when you look at something like the Moto X, which clearly took the opposite approach to enhancing Android.

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Design

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I personally am not a fan of the design of the G2, as it comes off completely uninspired and frankly, boring. Last year, we saw LG create an innovative design technology called Crystal Reflection that was featured in both the Optimus G and Nexus 4, yet they moved completely away from it in 2013 as if it never existed, instead choosing cheap plastic backsides that are glossy, fingerprint magnets. The G2 is really nothing more than a big black slab with no distinctive design characteristics or memorable pieces outside of the display. For many, that may be enough since the display is that good, but in 2013, I think we should be doing more with smartphone designs than simply copying Samsung’s oft-criticized plastics. We’ve talked a lot about the design of the Moto X over the last couple of months, praising it for its in-hand feel. The G2 doesn’t feel bad by any means, thanks to its subtle outer curves. However, the combination of gloss, plastic, and size can’t help but leave us feeling that it deserves more, especially with the rest of the premium parts used. I’ll get into the rear button arrangement in a minute, but it’s certainly not something LG should be bragging about either.

The Not-so-Good

Physical Button Arrangement

Before I get into this, let me just say that there are few faults with the G2. Two of the “not-so-good” items here are simply my personal opinions and preferences that you may completely disagree with. With that said, I cannot stand LG’s decision to move the volume and power buttons from the traditional side placements and stuff them in the middle of the backplate under the camera lens. Pressing them often feels completely unnatural and regularly confusing. Most of my griping is directly attached to the Verizon version, though. Big Red changed up the button setup from being a subtle bump for the power, with flush volume buttons above and below it. They chose to make separate buttons out of the whole situation, which leaves you unable to tell by touch which button you are trying to press. In fact, I’ve now resorted to flipping the phone over each time before use to make sure I’m hitting the correct button. Thankfully, LG included KnockON, so you don’t necessarily need to press the power button in order to wake or sleep your phone (assuming it works regularly). The international and AT&T variants are also much easier to figure out.

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This is something that almost anyone could more than likely get used to if this phone became theirs for a 2-year period. It’s just such a drastic change for someone like me that uses a traditional button setup after traditional button setup, that I couldn’t get over it. By no means should this setup deter you from considering the G2, I’m just making sure you are ready for a semi-frustrating opening experience.

If you want some positives for the button setup, I’ll give you three – LG made long-pressing volume down a quick launch shortcut for the camera, and long-pressing of volume up a quick launch shortcut for Quick Memo. They also made volume down a shutter button or zoom for taking selfies or regular pics.

Glossy Plastics

Ugh, glossy plastics. Look, I get that plastic is probably much easier and cheaper to work with than glass or metal, but if you are going to use it, at least go with a matte finish. The G2 and DROID ULTRA are now battling for champion in the 2013 “Fingerprint Magnet of the World” competition. There is nothing redeeming about a black slab of shiny plastic that needs to be wiped a minute after using it so that it doesn’t look like the Cookie Monster’s buttering slab. And trust me, during this review, I’ve had to wipe the phone at least a dozen times in order to make it presentable enough for the camera. If you buy the G2, invest in a case…like, now.

Holy Bloatware

I counted at least 20 bloatware apps on the Verizon variant of the G2. Tim found at least 18 on his AT&T variant. I think the G2 is now the record holder. Thankfully, their app drawer allows you to hide unwanted apps and Android at a system level lets you disable most.

Other Notes

  • KnockON:  I couldn’t find a proper spot to mention this, but one of my favorite features on the G2 continues to be KnockON. A simple double knock or tap on the screen quickly wakes the device, while another knock with the screen on will put it back to sleep. Since I can’t stand the button arrangement, KnockON has become my best friend on the G2.
  • Call quality:  I’ve had no issues with calls on the G2 (Verizon’s version), but have already received emails from readers and forum threads where users are experiencing a hissing noise. Something to keep an eye on.
  • GPS issues:  This could be my location and the lack of a Verizon tower, but I noticed regularly that the GPS on the G2 was flagging Google Now to give me directions to my “work.” It other words, it had issues pinpointing my “work” location, which is actually my house since I work from home. No other phone has ever put me a mile or two away on a regular basis like the G2 has. That said, I used it a couple of times with Google Maps navigation and it performed just fine.
  • Buttons:  Not sure if I made this clear or not, but the rear-placed buttons of the Verizon version are far worse than the international and AT&T G2 variants. The gentle slope of the AT&T version makes it fairly easy to figure out which button you are about to press. Since Verizon had LG separate both volume keys and the power button into 3 separate buttons, it’s a disaster.
  • Wife test:  The G2 did not pass the wife test, as it was too big, greasy, and the button arrangement was confusing.

Gallery

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Video

Unboxing and Hardware Tour

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Software Tour

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The Verdict

I can safely say that the LG G2 should be on your short list of devices to consider for the foreseeable future should you find yourself in need of a new smartphone. With some of the best specs a smartphone has ever seen, an unmatched 5.2″ display, impressive 13MP camera, and availability on all major carriers, there is so much to like here. My only negatives for the G2 are pretty minor, and can easily be overcome. Cases can cover cheap plastic, and your fingers can learn to adjust to buttons. If you can get past those two things, you are looking at one hell of a smartphone.

Nice job, LG.


Links:  LG G2 deals at eBay | Amazon

  • rod_z

    What about the Xperia Z1? Do you guys have plans to review it?

  • Louis

    Verizon LG G2 Sale (11/07/2013) today! 49.99 for upgrade/new and $449.99 off contract. Limited Time offer. Not a bad deal, I just pulled the trigged on it, I was looking at a couple of days earlier when it was $549.99. So, $100.00 off, oh yeah!

  • RavnosCC

    Loving my G2. Thank you VZW for letting me keep my unlimited data plan ;-) Only installed 2-3 MODs and it’s pretty decent… patiently waiting for PA to be a bit more stable/finished. **fingers crossed** What I find most amazing, coming from Gnex, is that 6 1/2 hours after taking it off the charger, it’s still at 100% battery.

    • http://mamorgan1.tumblr.com/ Matt Morgan

      How is the developer support for this phone? I see PA, have you tried AOKP?

      • RavnosCC

        I haven’t revisited the situation in a while, but it seems to be growing at a pretty good clip, ie, # of roms available. And with the advent of continual price cuts from VZW on the G2, I’d say it’s a good bet that you will be satisfied with the ROM/MOD selection, but it probably will never be as large as a nexus device. I have not tried anything else as of yet, but I’ll get around to it :D

  • Jillxz

    I like the placement of the buttons. No problem. I always had to remove my phone from my ear to use the side buttons. Now they are in a convenient location . At least 4 me. Also this phone is on sale at Amazon for $99. You can return it if you don’t like it.

  • aha

    Initially i cannot even open camera application on my LG G2 . it keep saying “try again after scanning media files”

    Use Media Library Repair Scanner

    https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.azend.refreshmusic

    You do not need to root phone just click on refresh button and let media scanner start scanning and finished.

  • kkk

    really a nice phone there!

  • pubasnacks77

    I’m pretty much waiting to hear if this is getting Kit Kat (which I’m pretty sure it will) then I will probably pick it up

    • Jacob Brown

      The LG G2 is supposedly getting the Android 4.4 KitKat update in late November or early December.

  • Robert Stedman

    Love..love…it..

  • MaciQuatl

    Went from GNEx to LG G2 and I do not regret it. I am an urban school administrator and I need battery life–I had 3 batteries for Gnex however for LG g2 i go from 5am to 8pm with 32% left on battery and on weekends i go sat–sun with 1 charge. NO REGRETS

  • Vasim Tamboli

    Nice..!!!

  • Praveen Kumar

    Nice device and i read the news from http://www.gadgetride.com/news/this-month-lg-and-samsung-may-be-preparing-to-announce-curved-display-smartphones.html , so now Lg is busy for working with its flexible model.

  • kinghill

    This phone is worth it for the battery life alone. The first day I had it I loaded all my apps, synced 3500 contacts from BCM, talked and texted, surfed the web and at 11:00 p.m. it had 50% battery left. Simply unbelievable. I love the u.i., call quality (no hiss) and control buttons on the back. The display has to be seen. Phenomenal. I recommend it to business users who can’t afford to be worried about battery life.

  • A.Miller

    Is it worth it for me to purchase this device at full retail or an S4 off of Swappa?

    Camera is a huge concern to me, followed by closest possible choice to stock.

  • RedBeaVeR

    Awesome display and bezel. Superb internals. Great battery. But bloated software.

    COME ON NEXUS 5!!!! TELL US WHAT MAKES YOU TICK!

    …or else I’ll grab a Moto X..

  • Solid_State_Drive

    Well, yesterday I got my G2 for AT&T from Costco ($129 w/2yr contract with accessories) and I could not be more happy, it makes my Galaxy Nexus looks so old and tired. Initially I was going to get me a HTC One but after comparing both phones the G2 blew me away! Very happy with this one, can’t wait to root it…

  • Smeckle

    Just got this today as part of the “glitch.” Cannot figure out how to access Google Now. When I swipe up or go to the Google search screen I consistently get a message telling me there’s a network error and to check my settings (everything is working fine so not sure what’s up with that) and then it has a button saying, “Get Google Now.” When I press it the screen refreshes and nothing has happened. Back where it started on the white search screen.

    Has anybody else had this problem or can somebody tell me what I’m missing here? Based on the review it sounds like Google Now is still present despite the LG voice assistant.

    • jrfergy

      When I first got my G2, swiping up from the home key briefly displayed the Google Now keys. If I long press the Google key, the Google Now menu will appear after releasing the key.

  • AcemanX AcemanX

    16gb of onboard storage, and no sd card expandability? Fail…The note 3 trumps this phone

  • cknight91

    Just picked up the G2 yesterday and I am loving it so far!

  • tasha

    how do you listen to music if it doesn’t have an sd card slot

    • ratnok

      You’re joking, right?

  • SB

    After having the stock Verizon G2 for a week now I have a few unmentioned in the review pros and con’s (I may highlight a few mentioned here in all the comments)

    Hardware Pros++++++

    1. The backside button placement allows for easy one finger screen capture, because if you angle your finger just right, which I will admit takes time to master, you can press both power and volume down simultaneously.

    2. Save for the HTC one, most other phones have the speaker grill on the back of the phone, where as the G2 has it on the bottom next to charging port. Again this takes some time to get used too, but for right handed users the speaker placement on the G2 allows your palm to amplify the sound, albeit slightly, but it is noticeable when holding the phone in your right hand.

    3. To expand on the speaker placement, I would guess most people place their phone on a bed or couch from time to time while listening to music. With the bottom placement, the volume won’t be decreased vs. traditional rear placement. Also the placement allows for easily covering the ENTIRE speaker with your right thumb as a substitute for muting the volume if someone asks u a question…its a quick way to muffle the sound to have a quick conversation and then get quickly back to listening.

    Hardware Cons——

    1. The charging port is a bit stiff. What I mean is sometimes and especially at night with low lighting its difficult to know if you are putting the cable in the right way or upside down. I feel like I am going to literally break the charging port by guessing if I am putting it in the right way. Most people may like the secure feel once it is plugged in, as do I, but at the expense of potentially ruining your port in the above mentioned example is not a good trade off IMO.

    2. While we are on the subject of volume, I noticed that unlike most other phones, with the G2 you can not hold down the volume buttons to adjust the volume. You have to manually press the up and down buttons for each increase or decrease in volume (think of it as a semi auto trigger vs full auto for most phones). This is a huge pain when the phone is in your pocket and trying to adjust volume. It probably takes an extra full second to go from none to full volume and vice versa.

    Software Pros++++++
    This was highlighted in the review but I just want to highlight the ability to switch around the on screen software keys. Particularly moving back to the right of home and menu to the left of home (for right handed folks) I don’t get why Google defaults their keys the opposite way. We all use the back button a lot more than the app switcher /task manager and for a phone with a 5.2″ screen its much easier for your thumb to hit back on the right side of the screen.

    2. Being able to have 7 icons in the bottom row of the screen. One of them has to be the app launcher but at least you can move it around. Note: 6 is the maximum to retain the name of the app below the icon, when you add a 7th you lose the app names.

    3. KnockOn feature is great. Every phone should have this. It works as advertised 95% of the time.

    Software Cons——

    1. KnockOn feature. The sensor for this apparently is in the middle of the screen. That being said the further you are away from the center the less accurate the feature is. Additionally i have not been able to figure out a way for “knockoff” to work besides when you double tap on an empty space on the home screen. You can not double tap to turn off the screen with a icon in the way (and definitely not when you are in any apps). This has lead to me leaving an empty space in the middle of my home screen to be able to use knockoff. Which means you lose real estate for an app on your home screen. LG should have put more thought into this, while having the feature not work while in apps makes sense (even though it would be nice), having the feature not work anywhere but an empty space on the home screen is unacceptable. The whole point of the knockOn and off feature is to be able to quickly check something and the lack of knockOff support is a let down.

    -SB

    • Bald_Sasquach

      I completely agree with you about the navigation keys, but for the opposite reason. I must have a long thumb, but I like the back on the left a lot more. Go LG for letting the purchaser decide. I can’t figure out any rhyme or reason for my knock on when the screen is locked, so I’ve had best results triple tapping anywhere on the screen. It seems like mine only senses the double tap regularly if I’ve just locked the screen.

      • Mike

        I knock off at the top left of the screen on the notification bar and have had excellent results.

    • HarvesterX

      “While we are on the subject of volume, I noticed that unlike most other phones, with the G2 you can not hold down the volume buttons to adjust the volume. You have to manually press the up and down buttons for each increase or decrease in volume (think of it as a semi auto trigger vs full auto for most phones). This is a huge pain when the phone is in your pocket and trying to adjust volume. It probably takes an extra full second to go from none to full volume and vice versa.”

      To clarify: you CAN hold down the volume up and down buttons and it will automatically keep incrementing/decreasing as long as you are holding down the button. On a long press of either the volume up or down buttons though, it will not instantly move to either mute or full volume.

      Good review. I’ve been loving my G2 and love how the display feels so silky when sliding your fingers over the screen (coming from a Gnex).

      • SB

        My apologies, I didn’t clarify that I was talking about when the screen is off, the volume buttons only work in the “semi-auto” way that I mentioned. I thought that was implied because I used the example of your phone being in your pocket.

        • HarvesterX

          No apologies! :) Was just expanding on the matter.

  • Frenchie

    Wait, the Verizon version has wireless charging? EXCELLENT! That’s a good trade off for crappy buttons.

    Does it have NFC? I haven’t seen that mentioned anywhere (assume it does since most do now).

    • JediAlan

      Yes, it does have NFC.

  • Jeff

    I don’t like the ‘get a case’ solution to cover up ugly or cheap phone construction, especially when the phone is already big to start. Maybe I just need bigger hands…

  • lars46

    Is it just me or is my verizon variant of this phone missing software…stock browser (so much for qsliding that), capture plus, fm radio??? All not here :(

  • Philip Myer

    Whats the deal with Verizon’s buttons getting changed?

  • Bigwavedave25

    Hahaa, LOVE that “wife test” is a bullet point. Mine already told me she would not be seen in public with me if i got the GN3… but I kind of want it regardless

  • Jeff F

    I ordered this on launch day from VZW with the verizon30 code for $139.99. Just waiting on the Fedex guy to get here. I am a bit confused on cases. I would assume the different buttons on VZW would mean a different case? Amazon has some that say all but Verizon other say works with all carriers. Not sure which one is accurate? Also from what I have read the screen appears to be all the same across carriers? This would in turn mean any G2 screen protector will work?

  • Estaban P. Trabajos

    >> The buttons are on the backside to allow for such a minimal bezel.

    “I cannot stand LG’s decision to move the volume and power buttons from the traditional side placements and stuff them in the middle of the backplate under the camera lens.”

  • flosserelli

    After more Googling, I have decided to wait for the Note 3, mainly because of Verizon’s mindless tampering with this otherwise outstanding device. Specifically:

    1. Volume & power buttons. I don’t mind the fact that the Verizon’s buttons are flatter and more cheap-looking than stock. I don’t even care that Verizon removed the light on the back (illuminates only when the phone is powered up, not for notifications). What I do mind is the fact that finding cases and/or skins to fit the Verizon model will be an exercise in frustration. I will be forced to buy whatever crap case is sold in the Verizon store for an outrageous markup. I considered the flip cover style case, but because the backplate is non-removable, the flip cover won’t simply replace it like my Note 2. The G2 flip cover case is just that — a regular style phone case with a flip cover attached. I much prefer the clean, integrated style of the Note 2 flip cover.

    2. External speaker. That’s right, speaker as in singular. Verizon removed one of the external speakers (the international and ATT versions have stereo speakers), and the result is less clarity and obviously less volume. No, I don’t plan to listen to music through the external speakers. But I will watch youtube and other media without earbuds. I also use the speakerphone quite a bit (especially while on hold during a phone call), and sometimes the speakers on my Note 2 are just barely adequate in noisy environments. A mono speaker just ain’t gonna cut it.

    3. Softkey customization (not in a good way). LG thankfully added lots of UI customization options. But Verizon, in their infinite wisdom, removed the classic white-on-black softkey option and replaced it with a hideous white-on-fluffy-stitched-pink one. See for yourself: http://tinyurl.com/krok7ac. It is absolutely appalling and gag-inducing.

    The softkey could possibly be fixed with a future mod/theme, but the Verizon G2 will likely be locked down tighter than a nun’s thighs, so I’m not counting on it. The other issues are entirely hardware related, with no possibility of recourse.

    I really, really wanted to buy this phone. The specs are are absolutely amazing, and the size is perfect. Too bad LG bent over for Verizon and made a inferior version of an otherwise stellar phone :/

    • socarwolverine

      On your second point. Neither the Verizon or the Internaltional/ATT version has stereo speakers. On the International/ATT verison, it is simply a faux-grille that hides a microphone hole. You won’t get stereo speakers no matter which version you buy.

      • flosserelli

        Not according to arstechnica: http://tinyurl.com/k83wfax
        I have not spent enough hands-on time with the G2 to verify this, but if true it is a bitter disappointment.

        • socarwolverine

          While I do like Ars, in this case they are incorrect. I’ve seen multiple times that it is a faux-grille to hide the mic for the sake of symmetry. This is what Android Central states in terms of the differences between the two versions.

          “Things change a little bit on the bottom as well. Instead of what looks like dual stereo speakers with pinhole grilles, you get a three-hole grille on one side of the USB port, and a single pinhole mic (which is disguised in other versions of the G2 with another grille) on the other. So much for symmetry.”

          • flosserelli

            Ok, thanks for clarifying that. I may buy a G2 later, but first I’ll wait and see what the Note 3 brings to the table.

          • socarwolverine

            I actually went back and read the rest of that review. I’m kinda disappointed in Ars, there were several omissions when referencing the VZW version. The power button does light up, as an owner in teh comment states, and he ignores the wireless charging and the changes made to accomodate it (I believe this is the cause for the bad VZW back buttons). That particular reviewer didn’t seem to do his homework and if you’re still trying to make a decision, you may want to break out and read reviews from a couple other sources.

          • flosserelli

            I’m pretty sure the wireless circuitry had something to do with the backplate changes. I don’t mind the altered buttons per se, but I think it will be a real bitch finding a case/skin that I like. Ars is usually a good place to find reliable info & opinion, but perhaps that reviewer dropped the ball this time. I have scoured the net & youtube looking for G2 reviews because I was really hyped for this beast. I only spent 15-20 minutes messing with it in the store, I may go back later this week and give it another shot.

    • OneForTheGoodDays

      1. VZW Corp.is selling a folio case that is as nice as the Samsung ones. It has a little window for a clock and from what I saw when I used it, it works great.

      2. No stereo speakers on either model. The ATT model has dummy holes and is actually just the mic.

      3. That’s an aesthetic preference. The white/white with gradation/black with gradation are all okay options for me.

      • OneForTheGoodDays

        Also, with this phone (and possibly the second strongest pull for my purchase) you get a 5.2″ screen with as much physical real estate as the SGS3…. pretty amazing.

        • flosserelli

          I agree, the screen is probably the best one I’ve ever seen on any phone, on any platform. It is truly amazing how LG shoehorned such a big beautiful display in that frame. But I’m going to wait and see how the Note 3 screen compares. The N3 colors will be oversaturated and you won’t be able to see anything in direct sunlight, but I like AMOLED colors & blacks, and I rarely use my phone in direct sunlight anyway. Again, personal preference.

      • flosserelli

        Yes, I saw the flip/folio case. That is the case I was referring to above. It’s nice in the package, but when I took it out and examined it, I realized that it is simply a flip cover attached to a regular plastic case that snaps onto the back of the phone. I realize that this is the only way it will work on a G2 since the backplate is fixed. But I don’t like it. Personal preference.

        The black-on-white softkeys would not be my first choice (I’m a inverted/blacked out kinda guy) and it is something that I could get over. But the other issues are pretty much dealbreakers for me.

  • richardar6

    Thank you for calling out Verizon on that button design. I’m constantly turning the phone off when trying to adjust the volume because you can’t tell the difference between them. I do love the phone though. Did you notice verizon deleted the rear facing mic (above and to the right of the camera lens)?

  • Jay K

    So this is what the Nexus 5 is built from right? Obvious differences in camera and button placement but there were the same types of differences in the Galaxy S2 and the Galaxy Nexus. Where is the speaker? The three dots on the bottom? Is the speaker louder than the GN (i.e. audible)?

    Definitely excited about the reasonable battery life (FINALLY) though nervous since I am a swapper and have had two charging ports burn out on me (currently the case with my GN.) If the N5 is on Verizon, and if someone from Verizon acknowledges the hell we went through with the GN, then grovels for forgiveness, then guarantees a true nexus experience, it’s my next phone with big red. And only if ALL FOUR of those conditions are met. If they aren’t, goodbye unlimited data plan, hello prepaid month to month.

    • ROB

      Sell that unlimited plan on Ebay

  • shelnbay

    I bought this phone on release day and I LOVE it. Last phone was the Gnex (rooted, Shiny, Nova), which I loved, and I thought my next phone would be the S4. The 3000 mAh battery lured me away. Since Friday, I’ve charged it fully 3 times (Friday night, Sunday night and this morning), the last charge went for 30+ hours (two overnights and a full work day) with moderate to heavy use. Passed the wife test with me (I’m the wife), it’s not too big for even me to use with one hand. The buttons are weird, but I’m getting used to them. In the LG case, they’re non-existent. The knock-on feature is awesome, but a little touchy. The camera is fantastic. I have no issues with the external speakers, but I haven’t tried a speakerphone call yet. My only complaint isn’t with the phone itself, it’s with the hideous LG charger plug. Shame on you LG. All in all, a great phone, very happy with it!

  • ideamotor

    Why doesn’t anybody do audio reviews on phones? Do reviewers not listen to music or do they just use laptop speakers? I posted mine here a couple days ago….

    http://www.droid-life.com/2013/09/13/verizon-and-att-lg-g2-receive-quick-root-treatment/#comment-1044699597

    • Jay K

      Thanks, I just posted a question about this. How is the external speaker? Is it loud on calls and with music? Can you hear it over background noise?

      • ideamotor

        Just to be clear to everyone, for “audio reviews” there’s audio-out, speakers, call quality. I see occasional reviews for the latter two items.

        It’s loud enough for for alarms/calls for me. You can let it adjust the volume depending on background noise. Listening to music using the speakers is similar to listening to a tin can telephone and it’s not that loud.

        BTW, I noticed a peculiar “feature” of this phone. It disables all equalizer tools when you are playing .flac files “in order to preserve sound quality”. It gives you that message in the native music player (maybe it down-samples – more likely it eats up processor/battery) and then other apps don’t work despite letting you use them. This might be a killer for me in regards to ditching my Cowon Z2 – which by the way sounds better for when you need to play music on a device directly. The bass response is also not quite a detailed and doesn’t go as low as the Cowon Z2, but this might be due to BBE (need to test a CD player as well).

  • Kendall Smith

    If you regularly use your phone for navigation, I bet this is a car-dock nightmare. Good luck changing the volume in most standard setups.

    • Chippah

      Another reason why Im going Note 3 all the way,

      just like the Nexus Devices accessories will be much more scarce, let alone a *good* non-universal car dock. Im willing to bet you wont see anything close to something like this.

      http://www.kidigi.com/upload/product/m_779341080423.png

    • Skittlez

      when you’re using an app that plays audio, apparently the pull down has a volume slider

  • chris420o

    Never been intrigued in an LG device…but this phone has my attention…simly the battery is the one feature i was unaware of and its impressed me along with the total package…now my real question for you Kellex is what phone are u using currently…as appealing as this phone is i think its unencessarily to big(my opinion)…and those buttons oooofff…but the motox in all reality should be 400 bucks outright compared to this….id love to hear your opinion on which phone you prefer for daily use

  • iceburgh

    Does it come with an SD card slot?

    • David Benson

      No