The LG G2 is the spiritual successor to the Optimus G, a device that we looked at last year and eventually went on to become the Nexus 4. LG dropped the "Optimus" branding this time, but the G2 is without a doubt still LG's flagship smartphone, and includes a number of unique LG features – stacked 3000 mAh (11.4 Whr) battery with SiO+ anode, 5.2-inch 1080p LCD from LG Display, and 13 MP rear facing camera with OIS (Optical Image Stabilization). It's an impressive combination of features that make the G2 a standout device. At the same time the G2 is our first chance to get a look at the 2.3 GHz bin of Snapdragon 800 inside a shipping device and get a look at performance and battery life. 

We took a quick look at the G2 at the announcement event, now we have our hands on a G2 and have been putting it through its paces, benchmarking it, and running battery life tests on it for a little under a week and wanted to share some thoughts.

Hardware Impressions

The G2 marries a curved backside shape with front glass that slightly curves at the edges and has a very narrow side bezel. The G2 also opts for on-screen buttons rather than the discrete capacitive kind or physical buttons that went out of favor a while ago. The reality is that Google does have a fair amount of input into at least this part of the Android ecosystem, and its guidance seems to be that on-screen buttons which use display real estate to draw the buttons is the recommended way to go. The G2 does afford the ability however to add Quick Memo buttons or the notification shade pull down/pull up buttons to the bar, but oddly enough there's no multitasking button option available. 

The G2 manages to include a large display without width that's much different from other devices I've been using lately, like the HTC One. Part of getting the edge bezel small was a reduction in volume required on the sides for volume and power buttons, which are instead moved to the back of the G2, perhaps its most striking and initially even alarming design change.

Holding down the volume down button launches you into the camera, pressing the center button powers on the phone, and holding down the top button launches QuickMemo. Up and down are volume up and down otherwise. There's a hard raised lip on both sides of the button too, so the G2 when laid backside down on a surface makes contact there instead of on the button – it won't inadverntely turn on when pressed against a table. I found the backside buttons easy to adapt to after my first few interactions with the G2, and they actually become second nature after a day or so. The raised bump for the power button makes it easy to locate with the index finger, and I haven't smeared or accidentally put my finger on the sapphire camera cover yet. If the power button on the back is still difficult to get used to, the G2 has a double tap to turn on feature it calls "knock knock" – double tap on the display, and the G2 will turn on, repeat the double tap on the status bar or in an empty part of the display when it's on, and it turns off. I find myself using the double tap gesture quite a bit to turn the G2 on and off. I believe this functionality uses the sensors onboard and the DSP inside 8974 to detect when the taps occur. 

Gallery: LG G2

The G2 I was sampled is a dark blue color which has a slight pinstripe on the back as shown in the photos above. The material is however the same kind of glossy plastic I'm used to seeing out of the Korean handset makers of note, and picks up fingerprints and hand oil very quickly unfortunately. I like the shape of the device and LG's innovations, it's just puzzling to me that materials hasn't picked up yet, I'd even take glass from the Optimus G over plastic. I'll save you the huge discussion on device size as well, I'm fine with the larger smartphones that aren't quite phablets, and the G2 for me is totally usable and I appreciate the increased display size. It definitely isn't phablet size, but it is on the larger high-end smartphone side of things. 

  LG G2
SoC Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 (MSM8974)
4x Krait 400 2.3 GHz, Adreno 330 GPU
Display 5.2-inch IPS-LCD 1920x1080 Full HD
RAM 2GB LPDDR3 800 MHz
WiFi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, BT 4.0
Storage 32 GB internal
I/O microUSB 2.0, 3.5mm headphone, NFC, Miracast, IR
OS Android 4.2.2
Battery 3000 mAh (11.4 Whr) 3.8V stacked battery
Size / Mass 138.5 x 70.9 x 9.14 mm
Camera 13 MP with OIS and Flash (Rear Facing)
2.1 MP Full HD (Front Facing)

 

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  • ijozic - Saturday, September 7, 2013 - link

    Would love to see some audio quality tests and a comment on the volume levels (maybe in the full review?) as LG usually goes below average in this area.. Reply
  • Impulses - Saturday, September 7, 2013 - link

    Seconded Reply
  • BoneAT - Saturday, September 7, 2013 - link

    It's interesting that the G2 either slightly over-exposes most situations, or the dynamic range is tighter than on the S4 Octa's Exmor RS and or the Lumia 1020, this applies to photos and videos alike. Otherwise I'm highly impressed with the camera performance, very natural, even slightly under-saturated results like the S4 Octa (which in the 808 comparison shows that it's everybody else over-saturating), I'd only set half a step lower exposition correction and let everything else done by the device.

    Brian, what is the maximum exposure time you could get automatically or manually off a single shot? What is the highest ISO value?
    Reply
  • Jon Tseng - Saturday, September 7, 2013 - link

    Hmmm. So looks like trade off vs Nexus 5 (2300mah) will be great battery life vs OS updates. Tough one!

    On rear buttons I'm cool w that -used to have atrix w rear power button/fingerprint and no probs at all w day to day use.
    Reply
  • andykins - Saturday, September 7, 2013 - link

    Don't forget the biggest difference (imo): price. The Nexus 5 should be around half the price. Reply
  • Alketi - Saturday, September 7, 2013 - link

    This actually bodes *very* well for the Nexus 5, as it also packs a Snapdragon 800 chipset.

    It's not too much of a stretch to expect better battery life than the Nexus 4, which was already decent. Plus, there's a good chance of an upside surprise, if it also packs the panel self-refresh and gets gains from Android 4.4.
    Reply
  • Spunjji - Monday, September 9, 2013 - link

    One thing worth bearing in mind is that even with ~75% of the battery capacity the G2 would still have class-leading battery life. So, the Nexus 5 is hardly going to stink in that regard! Reply
  • Krysto - Saturday, September 7, 2013 - link

    Great to see those battery efficiency improvements from Qualcomm. You'd following the right path here, Qualcomm. Please don't change.

    Nvidia is stupid for following the "pure performance" path. That strategy has lost them most customers, especially since they followed that strategy to the point where they were making only "tablet chips", which is code-word for "our chips aren't efficient enough for smartphones".

    I've said it before, chip makers should think about making "smartphone chips" first and foremost, and THEN, use the same chips, maybe with a little extra clock speed in tablets, too. If think think about making "tablet chips", they will blow it, because they will make the chip too inefficient and won't be able to "downscale" as easily to put it in smartphones.

    So yeah, Qualcomm please continue doing your own thing. If Nvidia, Samsung and others keep following the "performance/benchmark" path, then the joke is on them, and will ultimately fail (as they have so far, and it's most devices are using Qualcomm's chips). I do hope they wake up to it sooner rather than later though, because I don't want Qualcomm to become another monopolistic Intel.
    Reply
  • UpSpin - Saturday, September 7, 2013 - link

    Qualcomm is the only Android SoC producer which does design their own cores and does not rely on ARM finished CPU designs.

    If you take a close look, you'll see that the Tegra 4 and the Exyons 5 are the only A15 processors at the moment, and it probably took much longer for ARM to release them and for NVIDIA and Samsung to finalize them than expected. They also had no other option than A15 to get some improvement over A9 and to remain competive with future Qualcomm SoCs.

    Qualcomm on the other hand was able to release minor updates the whole time, so processors between A9 and A15.
    Samsung will do the same next year, so expect some larger competition to Qualcomm.
    Qualcomm also has the big radio advantage, which NVIDIA adressed with the i500 and which might make them competive to Qualcomm next year again.

    Neither Samsung nor NVIDIA followed a performance strategy only. They had no other choice than using A15, and Tegra, as always used their 4+1, Samsung had to use big.LITTLE to make A15 usable in a smartphone. But big.LITTLE wasn't fully ready yet, so they had no other choice than using an octa-core setup.

    And also remember that MIPS (a competive contender to ARM, but so far mostly used in low end applications) got bought up by Imagination Technologies, which I strongly believe will try everything they can to push MIPS in the high end sector.

    So I think it's safe to assume that there won't be a monopoly, Qualcomm just had a big advantage for one year because of the A9 to A15 gap and by offering integrated radios. Both Samsung and NVIDIA learned from this, and a new competitior to ARM is coming up, too.
    So it will get really interesting.
    Reply
  • Impulses - Saturday, September 7, 2013 - link

    That one year advantage in design turned into two solid years of device wins for Qualcomm tho... It's gonna get interesting next year for sure. Reply

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