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LG G3 Initial Thoughts and Impressions

LG G3 header

Finally, after weeks and weeks of leaks and hypebeasting, the LG G3 is official. Kellen and I were on hand in San Francisco, where we were able to spend quality time with LG’s latest flagship device. Naturally, we have had a lot of people asking for our thoughts on the device, so here they are in one big post.

With its 5.5″ QHD display, 13MP OIS+ camera with laser auto focus, and a ton of sweet proprietary software from LG, you would think the G3 is the phone of the future. Well, it most certainly could be.

Have a look below to read Kellen and I’s initial impressions on the LG G3. 

Tim:  I have been very open this year about my optimism for the LG G3. I adored last year’s G2, with its slim body, awesome camera with OIS technology, and the outstanding performance delivered from the Snapdragon 800. It was easily the year’s most underrated device, and didn’t receive as much praise as it should have, thanks to the Moto X taking all of the 2013 glory.

Putting my fondness for the G2 aside, I must say that the G3 from LG doesn’t look to disappoint. We spent a few hours with it at LG’s press conference in San Francisco, where they live streamed the London event which was taking place simultaneously. Afterwards, we were allowed to play with the G3, however, they were all Korean and overseas variants; no American carrier models were on hand.

My takeaway from the phone is that I am very excited for LG to release this device to the public here in the US. A few people are saying it is either too big or that they had hoped to see a Snapdragon 805 processor inside, but I feel that once people have the device in their hands, they will instantly fall in love with the phone. With a 5.5″ display, Kellen and myself were turned off at first based solely on the number, but with LG’s design and the overall ergonomic feel of the device, I don’t think I will mind this size of a device for my daily driver one bit.

With the QHD display (2560 x 1440), it was as if I was looking at a crispness of display I had never experienced before, which is always a plus for me, since I spend a lot of time with the latest and greatest devices from all other OEMs. To see a company try something different, and to show that the massive display shouldn’t hinder overall performance of the device (or battery), I am hoping that other companies will look to incorporate the QHD technology into their devices.


The top thing I am looking to really test out is the camera. From the time we spent with it, I have very high hopes. The auto focus was just as responsive as they marketed in the livestream, which was actually quite surprising. No idea how photos taken on this phone will translate into social networks such as Twitter and Instagram, though, both of those services destroy picture resolutions when uploading from an Android device. Given the quality of the photos you can take on the G3, folks may have to start looking into sharing their masterpieces elsewhere.

As for the custom skin that LG bakes in, I would place it close to Samsung’s TouchWiz in terms of scale. It seems quite refined, probably the most appealing skin from LG I have seen to date. While it sometimes seems a bit overwhelming, I usually find myself installing a third party launcher which fixes all of those issues for me.

Kellen:  As you all know, I’m not a fan of the current smartphone trend of bigger is better. Manufacturers seem to think that the only way they can innovate is by making phones that are larger than their predecessors. It sucks. My hands are done growing; they quit stretching long ago. Yours probably did too. Phones, though, may not have even reached a peak yet. So when rumors for the LG G3 started popping up over the last couple months, with talk of the device featuring a massive 5.5-inch Quad HD display, I immediately became concerned. I like what LG has done recently, especially with the minimal bezel job they performed on both the G2 and Nexus 5, but 5.5-inches of glass? That’s scary. And then today, I had a chance to play with the G3.

While I only spent around an hour with the phone (review units are coming much later), I can tell you right now that I’m ready to give it a legitimate shot. In fact, I want this phone, in white. I can’t exactly explain why either. It’s huge. It’s a big phone – bigger than the HTC One (M8) and Galaxy S5, two phones I told you were too big. It goes against everything I have ranted about to the DL community. So why the G3 then?

Well, it has almost zero bezel. When you hold it, it is as if it does not feel as big as it really is. Its curves hit your palm gently, you can almost reach the top of the display without much of a shimmy, and it does not come off as slippery or uncomfortable. There is no wasted space – this phone is all display, but with a slight chin. It doesn’t have the massive chin/forehead/unnecessary-black-bar combo of the One (M8) or the added all-around bezel of the Galaxy S5. LG did not mess around with this phone’s design. It is gorgeous.

LG G3 back plate

With that said, I am still a bit skeptical. Large phones still frustrate me, but if done properly, which the G3 may be, I would hope that I could adapt to one. I’m not making any guarantees, but this phone is looking very promising.

Outside of the size, the rest of the package is super exciting. The QHD display is absolutely stunning. The 13MP camera with its laser autofocus might be game-changing. Plus, you have a micro SD slot, 3GB RAM, a removable battery, and a brand new LG UI that doesn’t look terrible.

Give me one now, LG. I need more time with the G3.

If you have any questions about the G3, please don’t hesitate to drop it below in the comments section.

  • Higher_Ground

    And better still, they’ve finally adopted the standard 3 on-screen buttons 🙂
    It’s a big phone, but if the moto X+1 disappoints it’ll definitely be on my radar.

  • RXG9

    What’s the battery life like compared to the G2?

  • Joe LaFreniere

    “…read Kellen and I’s initial impressions” definitely isn’t proper grammar.
    Not sure what actually would be correct. Maybe “read my and Kellen’s initial impressions” ?

    • Higher_Ground

      “our” 🙂

  • Bigwavedave25

    Hopefully LG fixed the “phantom screen touches” issue with the G3… my G2 is starting to experience this and it is a huge nuisance! Would love to replace my current G2 with one of these new G3 bad boys.

  • joejoe5709

    Now that I’ve heard much of the press and their take on the phone, it’s obvious this is a very very impressive phone. I’m not worried about the size anymore. I think my only real concern now is the battery.

    So if you have a G2 and an early upgrade coming with some money to burn, this is a significant upgrade to the G2. Do it.
    If you have an “older” phone, especially one from Samsung, you’ll feel right at home and this phone will blow your mind.
    If you’re thinking about the S5, the G3 is probably overall better. Unless you need water resistance.
    If you’re new to Android, LG’s UI isn’t too bad but the phone might be a little overwhelming as a whole. I’d recommend something from Motorola to start off.

  • RGiskard

    I have to respectfully disagree with Tim on the QHD issue. Of course, I can see the improvement going from 150 ppi to 300+ ppi, no argument there. But if we are talking about 300+ ppi to 500+ ppi, what possible visible difference could there be? It seems logical that increasing the pixel count can only hurt battery life. So, we have a non-improvement in picture quality that results in a detriment to usability. Seems like a terrible trade to me, and I’m a videophile. You want to give me better contrast, wider color gamut, and cool tricks like active notifications? Great. Those all have real positive impacts. Going above 500 ppi seems stupid by comparison.

    • 213ninja

      i’m asking this honestly, do you have hands on experience with a 5.5 inch UHD screen? or are you just assuming there is a “non-improvement in picture quality”? even if the perceived improvement is negligible to most human eyes, isn’t 65% greater pixel density still technically an improvement on paper? the tech bloggers all seem to agree that the picture quality is trump…i’ll have to judge for myself. the comment about it hurting battery to the point that it’s a “detriment to usability” is a blatant assumption. what if LG baked in other optimizations that get you 24hrs of gas?

      i feel like some conclusions may have been lept to just now…

      • RGiskard

        Ninja, since you asked, I can tell you that I have compared the Nexus 4 (318 ppi), recent iPhones (300+ ppi) and Nexus 5 (445 ppi) side by side and been unable to see (at any realistic viewing distance) any improvement stemming from the increased pixel density. Please note that I didn’t say I like the Nex 4 screen better, there are many other aspects to screen performance, but the increase in pixels didn’t do anything for me. I don’t use a magnifying glass to look at my phone’s screen.

        Anyway, I think it is safe to assume that driving a QHD screen requires more processing power than a FHD screen, so there is a hit to battery life. That seems inescapable. I’m not saying it’s a huge hit and the phone is unusable, but when you’re comparing any hit to the lack of any visible improvement due to screen resolution, any hit is unwise, IMHO. LG might have “other optimizations,” that would be great. But the bottom line is that LG can’t change physics – that screen sucks up more juice than it has to.

        I totally agree that “on paper” that 500 ppi is *more* than 400 ppi. Personally, I don’t use a phone “on paper.” I care about what I can see and what I can use. That’s why I don’t like pen-tile displays, or ones with low gamut. I hope that the 5.5″ screen is great in many ways other than pixel density, as it should be. I’d rather that manufacturers spend their hardware budget on parts that offer more than a bump that you agree may be “negligible to most human eyes,” like better batteries, cameras with lower noise, better industrial design, better radios, etc. Heck, I’d take a screen with 100% Adobe RGB gamut before I would take an insane pixel density. But we as gadget buyers seem to be obsessed with specs. A company made a 5.5″ QHD screen, and so a manufacturer felt compelled to use it. That’s our fault.

        My Nokia 8210 had a 650 mAh battery and could last for days. Obviously, it offered a tiny faction of a smartphone capabilities, but I mention it because the battery had about 20% the capacity of the G3’s. If LG (and other companies) weren’t in a specs arms race, we might have phones that don’t need 3000 mAh batteries to get more than a day’s use. That would make them smaller, or lighter, or give the power budget for other sensors that we can’t even imagine yet. Maybe I’m just getting old, but I want off this ride.

        • 213ninja

          i see and respect your points. much of my response was focused on this line: “So, we have a non-improvement in picture quality that results in a detriment to usability”, and having read your explanation, i still believe this statement to be misleading. even if the spec is mostly on paper, we do have an improvement to picture quality, which at least a few people will notice and appreciate (many tech bloggers seem to fit in this category so far)…and if the battery life is just as good if not better than the G2 or competing devices, then we haven’t compromised overall usability. the device will still be just as usable, if not more usable, which is what matters to average joe. again, i see your points, but they are quite technical. you’re essentially challenging the design team at LG to make better decisions regarding their threshold for what constitutes “enhancement”, when as you stated, the market is driving them in this spec-crazed direction.

          • RGiskard

            I don’t disagree with much of what you say. The only thing I take issue with is whether that screen really provides *any* benefit. I know the tech bloggers seem to like the screen, and I’m sure it’s great. But is it great *because* it is QHD? Would a bezel-free 5.5″ FHD with identical contrast, brightness, etc. be any less great? I think it would be just as good, because I think we are beyond the limits of the human eye.

            I’m reminded of my stereo, which for me was a big investment. Still, I see people with systems that cost 10 times as much, and involve products (like $2500 power cables) that have never been shown to confer an audible benefit. It’s all jewelry, “feel good” stuff, and spec chasing. Money that could have been spent on other gear. I’m not upset with LG, just sad about the power and cost savings the G3’s designers gave up to use that screen instead of an equal or better quality screen that doesn’t have as quite as many pixels.

            BTW, I think this is the most cordial back and forth I’ve seen on this site. Thanks for having a real discussion and not just flaming…

          • 213ninja

            i think there are two sides to that coin. i can find lots of “internet tech pros” that say you can visually see a difference, but just as many if not more that say humans cannot detect the difference. i’m not sure which boat i’m in, because i haven’t had the opportunity to compare two identical displays with totally identical specifications other than one being FHD, and the other UHD. for those reasons, i can’t negate the argument for it. i read a few comments about LG addressing this very point in their announcement in London, but i haven’t seen it.

            i prefer quality debate over mindless flaming any day, but this site does get the better of me at times 🙂

        • Eddie Spageddie

          Mentioning the battery of a Nokia 8210 and comparing it to a battery on a smartphone is hardly a valid comparison – although I do realize you acknowledge it has only a fraction of a smartphone’s capabilities. It’s an endless debate regarding whether or not you can “see” a difference with such a higher ppi, but I can personally tell you that you can…yes even on a 5.5″ screen and yes from a “realistic viewing distance.” Regarding your comments about a “specs arms race,” it is simply advancement in technology…like it or not. I see these sort of back-and-forth debates all day long in various forums and sites like this, but at the end of the day it really just boils down to personal preference.

    • joejoe5709

      Personally it’s more about future-proofing. I’m sure the G3 is only the first of several devices over the next 6-12 months that will have QHD resolutions and within two years, 1080p will be entry level stuff standard on mid-range phones. Televisions have *just* started catching on with 4K. It won’t be long before it’s the commonplace especially in larger televisions. Several flagships can already capture 4K video. It’s coming and it’s coming quick and I don’t want to be the guy stuck with 1080p for two years regardless of perceived pixels.

      Granted… that doesn’t mean you have to grab the G3. In fact… I say wait it out. Soon we should have things like the S5 Prime and I suspect LG will come out with a G3 “mini” that might carry QHD. Also, I’d wait for next gen CPU’s/GPU’s. The 801 is fine and will handle QHD with ease, but the tech coming out later this year should be more optimized for QHD. Very exciting stuff.

  • imronburgundy

    K’s first impression is a whine-fest on phone sizes in general. Helpful. :/

    • joejoe5709

      He’s only backtracking because not long ago he unleashed a very long rant about phone sizes and all of a sudden he’s in love with the largest phone this side of a Note 3. So he’s got some ‘splaining to do. But I’ll tell you this much… if Kellen is okay with the size, you will also be okay with the size. So I value his opinion more than most reviewers in this respect.

  • Sean

    Waterproof or dustproof?

  • YEMan0443

    Thanks for confirming it doesn’t feel too big in hand. I had the same worries when I saw 5.5, but now can’t wait to get my hands on it!

  • RoboCop

    The white is actually my favorite, never thought I’d like a white phone. Always had jungle fever with tech.

    • Trysta

      OT: while I know you probably meant no offense (and I mean none towards you) please know that the term “jungle fever” is terribly offensive. You are basically comparing black people to apes in the jungle…

      back on topic. Yes the white looks pretty damn sexy.

      • RoboCop

        Didn’t mean any.. all my gfs have been black. Just think black is sexy.

      • 213ninja

        i wonder how many up-votes were redacted as a result of this helpful explanation….?

        oh yeah that’s funny upvote……..oh sh!t no..it’s not…damn……….undo!!

  • enigmaco

    That is one thing moto does different with the moto x+1 is make it bigger and add wireless charging those are my only two complaints. This LG phone sounds cool and looks great but still feel comfortable with my moto x.

  • Justin Hall

    Anyone know who is getting the dark purple and burgundy colors??

  • chucklehead322

    The G2 has been the best phone I have ever owned and have recommended it to several people who now love it too. I agree it didn’t get the love it deserved when released due to the Moto X hype. The G2 is a beast and I’m sure the G3 is even better.

    I happen to like the stock UI, too. IMO, it’s better than all the others. Enough so that I’ve been using only “stock” ROMs instead of AOSP ones. I’m anxious to see what LG has done to improve upon it.
    Of all the newer phones being released, the G3 is the one I’m most excited for!!

  • RoboCop

    The problem I have is the launch date…if this thing was available now, like HTC did when they announced, it would be mine. But saying “later this summer” means it might be out at the same time as the One Prime or the Moto X+1.

    Also, I don’t go more than 5 hours without talking to my phone. Does the G3 let me do the “ok Google now” voice command at any time or does the screen need to be on

    • a) youth.in.asia

      That’s a Moto X feature unless you install a third-party app

    • 213ninja

      Note 4 will be getting press around that time as well.

  • stupid big…just stupid big