LG’s had a rough couple of years trying to break into the Android big leagues. For quite some time now, not many took them seriously when it came to premium handsets. I count myself among those people. While the company has managed to release offerings which were comparable spec for spec, they somehow lacked the premium look and feel, something companies like HTC, Nokia and Samsung have always managed to nail. When LG announced the G2 at IFA 2013, we were still a bit sceptical of how it would stack up against today’s crop of premium smartphones. Specifications aside, is the G2 dressed to command a premium?
Design and Build
LG has stuck to a simple candy bar design with sculpted edges and a lacquer finish around the back. Despite the 5.2-inch display, the phone doesn’t feel ungainly to hold and the slight curved back gives you good grip. The G2 loves fingerprints and will grab one every chance it gets. We liked the black version a lot more than the white. The handset is devoid of buttons on the side as everything has been moved to the back. We feel this was done in order to offer an additional differentiating factor from the competition rather than an actual design choice as LG claims but on the flipside, it’s not terribly inconvenient either.
The Quick Window cover wil be bundled as part of LG's introductory offer
There’s a microSIM tray on the side, an IR port on the top and the speaker, microUSB and headphone jack down at the bottom. No LG phone would be complete without some chrome highlights and we have some running along the edge. The buttons take their place just below the 13MP camera. Overall, the G2 is a marked improvement from what we’ve seen from LG in the past. The phone feels solidly built, has good ergonomics and feels premium. It has a reassuring heft which we quite liked.
A pretty rear end
Display is one area where LG nails it and the G2 is another shining example of this. The Full HD IPS panel is incredibly bright for good sunlight legibility and produces punchy colours that aren’t oversaturated like AMOLED panels. This is easily on par with HTC’s SLCD 3 panel on the One or Apple’s iPhone 5. There’s barely any bezel on the top and bottom and even lesser on the sides which gives the illusion of all screen.
Slightly tweaked Optimus UI
In terms of software, there’s Jelly Bean 4.2.2 along with their Optimus UI, although I don’t think they call it that anymore. The interface has all the tricks of the Optimus G Pro along with some new ones thrown in. There are a whole mess of them which would take too long to write about so it’s best I just show them to you.
The G2 is powered by Qualcomm’s finest Snapdragon 800 SoC. This quad-core beast can scale up to a scorching 2.2GHz and has 2GB of RAM to keep it happy. Despite the speed, the G2 never gets hot even after using the camera, GPS or gaming. The rear portion gets slightly warm but nothing more, which is pretty impressive.
The audio and video player are skinned differently in the G2 and one big enhancement is support for 24bit, 192kHz audio, which is studio quality. This lets you get the most out of your FLAC audio files and the difference between them and MP3s are very noticeable given the right earphones. The speaker is also fairly loud although it’s best left for alerts. There’s a 16GB and 32GB version available but sadly none of them has a slot for memory expansion and we fail to see why. The G2 clearly has enough girth for a microSD card slot so we don’t get why LG would leave this out when their previous flagship had it.
Very good media playback
The video player plays back most video formats including MKV. A new addition is Audio Zoom which lets you selectively listen to audio from parts of a video and drown out the rest. The problem with this is in order for it to work, you need to use digital zoom and that ruins the quality of the video. As much as we tried, the effect wasn’t too convincing.
The model India gets is the D802, which is LTE-capable but not TDD-LTE. However, there is a version of the G2 (D802TA) which supports TDD-LTE so perhaps once 4G actually kicks off in India, LG could seed this model in to the market. Apart from being quad-band 3G ready, there’s also Wi-Fi ac, Bluetooth, NFC, Miracast, GLONASS, Infra-red and TV-out via MHL. Call quality is very good and the volume from the earpiece is loud enough to be audible even in noisy environments.
Some useful and some gimmicky features
Wireless storage is a very handy addition which lets you access your phone wirelessly through your laptop. Provided everything’s on the same network, you simply punch in the IP of the phone and you can view and edit your files without having to connect it physically.
The G2 boasts of the first 13MP sensor to have Optical Image Stabilization or OIS. This feature is similar to what the Lumia 920 had, the stabilization works well for very slight hand movements but isn’t as capable when it comes to recording from the moving vehicle. Nokia still rules the roost in this arena. The camera performs admirably in good lighting conditions. The level of detail captured is good in macros as well however; we noticed that the post-processing tends to create unwanted artifacting around edges which is only noticeable if you zoom in all the way. The same goes for landscape shots where the details in distant objects aren’t as clear as they should be. We feel a software update should fix this. Night shots are thankfully not as bad as the Z1 as there’s no colour noise noticeable in the dark areas.
Good macros but the details around the edges of the flower aren't great when zoomed in
Landscape shots are good but once again, it lack details in distant objects
Manages motion capture very well
Low-light is not as bad as the Z1
Video recording is handled well and goes up to 1080p at 60fps. Besides dual recording, there’s also Live effect which morphs your subject's face and tracking zoom which records video with a window overlay.
The 3000mAh battery puts on a really good show as it easily pulls the G2 through two full days of usage. After sailing through our 8-hour loop test, we still had about 43 per cent battery to spare. It’s been a while since we’ve seen such good battery life from a droid that wasn’t larger than your hand.
The 16GB version of the G2 is priced at Rs 41,500 while the 32GB sits at Rs 44,500. Of course, you can find them for cheaper online which makes the G2 one of the most value for money flagships in the market. The lack of expandable storage is possibly the only major downside to this phone but if you make your peace with it, the G2 has all the bases covered. It’s very well built, blazing fast, has a gorgeous screen, has more gestures and features than you’ll ever need and very good battery life. Between this and the Sony Xperia Z1, I’d pick the G2.
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