LG G2 smarphone

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LG has lost its mobile mojo in the past five years as the market has become something of a two-horse race. But will the firm’s new G2 smartphone – a shot at Samsung’s Android crown – help make ‘Life Good’ again?

As you get used to the LG G2 you may find yourself asking “why isn’t this thing bigger?”

We don’t mean literally bigger, as the 5.2-inch display has more than enough space for any task you could ask of a smartphone. But it’s evident that, in the G2, LG has tried to bring us a top device, and it succeeds – if only in some ways.

LG hasn’t exactly been leading the way in the smartphone game, despite its successes with Google’s Nexus 4. The South Korean manufacturer has survived thanks to brand recognition and reliability, but the company has lost the plot in the UK in recent years with a lack of competitive products. Why doesn’t LG get mentioned in the same breath as Samsung and Apple anymore?

Will that change with the G2? Possibly. This is a phone that is working its hardest to gain your attention. But a few glitches and stiff competition are ultimately going to hold the G2 back from reaching its full potential.

Display

The 5.2-inch display is one of the G2’s best features. With its 1,080 x 1,920 pixels, the screen looks great.

YouTube videos are as clear as you need. They can be replayed at 1080p and at 60fps, which is better performance than the G2’s competitors. Playback looks great on the screen’s large size too. If you like streaming movies to your phone then the G2 is definitely worth your consideration.

On the Android 4.2.2 Jellybean OS, many apps can be loaded at the same time so you can keep them all on your home screen instead of selecting a few for display. At its brightest setting the screen accurately tracks finger movement for handwriting and it can be a serious note-keeping device.

An optional stylus would have been a perfect addition.

Design

So much of the G2 is dominated by the display. Otherwise it resembles other modern smartphone designs and fails to set itself apart.

It’s coated in a rubbery texture, helping to maintain a firm grip. It would have been nice to see it use aluminium like the HTC One to make it feel more expensive. Volume and power buttons can all be found on the back of the phone rather than the traditional sides.

This may cause accidental activations depending on the way you hold the phone. Our natural grip managed to avoid any accidental bumps, but you may not be so fortunate.

Big buttons on the back feel like LG has implemented change for change’s sake. It doesn’t help that they can get in the way when you are trying to take a photograph or switching between horizontal and vertical views.

It also comes in at about a millimetre thicker and slightly heavier than some of its competitors. This isn’t very noticeable in practice but it is a shame it doesn’t measure up to what’s possible.

Software

The G2 has some unique features. Instant app switching is handled with a three-finger swipe across the screen. This ability to juggle apps without returning to the home screen or digging around the various menus is certainly appreciated even though the maximum number of fingers that can comfortably swipe along as screen is two.

Clipboard holds various files, pictures or text for pasting into another document or app. This eliminates the need to jump back and forth when multitasking around the web and using social networks.

It’s useful to be able to copy multiple items such as links and images and keep them in the clipboard for as long as you need.

Pre-installed apps like emails compatible with a range of options and accounts position the phone as a work device so chances are it will cover whatever you need for work.

However, a lot of these are unnecessary, and clog up the phone before you’ve had the chance to install your own apps.

User interface is another issue. A confusing design means the G2 doesn’t use its screen to its full potential. The notification bar tries to include an array of options but ends up being very cluttered.

The double-tap screen-locking system is good idea on paper. But you’ll soon find yourself unlocking the phone unintentionally, such as when putting it away or turning the screen off while using it. It’s much better to stick with the usual power-button lock, although its position on the back doesn’t help.

Performance

The Snapdragon 800 2.2GHz quad-core processor handles the device’s software without issue. The G2 is a powerhouse in this regard. Loading apps and switching is instant and processor-hungry games hold up well. Web-browsing is fast and fluid, while the phone manages multiple tasks without a hitch.

While you’ll hardly ever notice any issues on screen, the device’s heating is another story. The G2 generates heat after just a few minutes of web browsing making it quite hot to hold.  This warmth soon becomes off-putting.

Full article in Mobile News issue 550 (October 21, 2013).

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