Review by Andrew Kameka on Friday September 27, 2013.
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Rarely does a phone like the LG G2 arrive. The G2 draws obvious parallels to other devices and wades in familiar territory because of its build and its software. However, the recently launched Android phone has plenty of aspects that fundamentally move away from the standard way that phones operate. Everything from external hardware to internal specs and upgrades in its software illustrate that the LG G2 is unlike anything you've ever seen. Is the flagship LG Android device dynamic or just different?
Design and Hardware
The LG G2 bends the mold of what we can expect of the modern smartphone. It's not a full break from the cast because it's still another slab of glazed plastic with a long rectangular face and curved edges. The gloss is appealing visually and unwelcome physically because it's tolerable rather than tantalizing.
Despite the fingerprint-attracting skin, the LG G2 feels oddly engaging for a completely different reason - the rear control buttons. When I first held the G2 at the LG press event, I was immediately put off by how foreign it felt to have volume and power buttons running directly down the middle of the phone's back. Years of holding the phone in cup-like fashion made it feel odd to suddenly turn on the phone by resting my index finger northward to guide my actions.
After nearly three weeks with the G2, I'm a full-fledged convert. Not only did I learn to feel perfectly fine resting my finger along the volume up button and quickly powering the device on or adjusting volume, I came to prefer it. I even started holding phones besides the G2 in the same manner. My excitement is geared more toward the AT&T model. The buttons are larger and have clearly differing textures to ensure you'll never mistake the power button for the volume keys. The Verizon model has three buttons made of similar feel and requires feeling for specific grooves to provide a better sense of direction. I still found the Verizon version useful, but I prefer the AT&T/international button set-up.
Neither the AT&T nor the Verizon models have particularly distinguishing design aspects aside from its control placements. The phones have subtle honey hive (Verizon) or diagonal line (AT&T) patterns along the back and simple bodies. Verizon continues its annoying habit of plastering its logo in the top corner, and its model has a more gray color compared to the navy of the AT&T model. Both phones have notification lights at the top, USB charging ports and a well-balanced speaker at the bottom, and SIM ports along the top right. Were it not for the logos, one could say that the G2 is rather unassuming.
Virtual controls are my favorite feature of the G2's design. There are no capacitive or physical buttons to navigate the device. Users get around by controlling Back, Home, Menu, and Notification buttons. Yes, there's a button specifically to bring down the notification feed. Pulling down the notification saves the trouble of swiping up all the way from the top. If you want to access a specific notification rather than the standard controls and QSlide apps, this lazy man's gift is a small gesture of good will. LG even includes options for changing the order of the front touch buttons, omitting Notification, and changing the theme.
The G2 has a stunning 5.2-inch IPS display. The colors look fantastic and have the ideal balance of brightness and saturation. While AMOLED screens are known to have more dramatic color tones, the IPS on the G2 has hues just as appealing without any off-color tints. It seems like LG did some tuning to make the colors appear sharper and still have the benefits of an IPS display. The 1080p HD resolution makes it even better because the high 423 ppi count ensures that HD content looks great. The G2 is beautiful even at 65 percent brightness.
Qualcomm's Snapdragon 800 has been a beast on paper since the moment it was introduced. The 2.2 GHz quad-core processor solidifies that reputation by being incredibly fast. Benchmark scores are through the roof and the 2GB of RAM ensures that performance is up to par. Beyond par, actually. The only negative is that even today, many apps perform the same whether it's a dual or quad-core device. However, the Snapdragon 800 and high amounts of RAM make the phone feel like it's moving quicker than normal when navigating standard aspects of Android and playing intense games like Riptide. I've seen quad-core processors still manage to seem sluggish because the bloated software and poorly-managed resources bogged the device down. None of that is present with the G2; the phone is just too dang fast.
- Processor: 2.26GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 800
- Display: 5.2-inch Full HD IPS (1080 x 1920 pixels / 423 ppi)
- Memory: 32GB (25GB accessible)
- RAM: 2GB LPDDR3 800MHz
- Battery: 3,000mAh
- Size: 138.5 x 70.9 x 8.9mm
- Weight: 5.04 oz.
Andrew is based in Miami, Florida.