LG G3 Look And Feel
As mentioned, the G3 is an all-plastic, but well-made, phone. It doesn’t suffer from the cheap feeling that plagues many of the competing plastic phones. It is also quite an attractive device, with a very convincing faux brushed metal finish on the back, and a front that focuses all of your attention on the star of the show, the WQHD display.
As with the most recent flagship Android phones, the G3 follows the trend of increasing screen size over the previous generation, in this case from 5.2 to 5.5 inches.
The front of the phone is almost all display, with super-thin bezels at the side—LG claims the front is 76.4-percent screen. Since it uses on-screen buttons for navigation, the lower bezel, devoid of physical buttons, is minimized, which helps make the G3 compact for a phone with a 5.5-inch display.
Located within the thin bezel along the top is the earpiece, ambient light sensor, proximity sensor, a notification LED and the 2.1MP front-facing camera.
The thin lower bezel is slightly textured, with circular ridges and the LG logo smack-dab in its center. We would have preferred to see the corporate branding kept to just the back of the phone, and for this bezel to be black so it blends into the screen.
In the picture above, we see the brushed metal pattern and curved shape of the back (what LG calls a “Floating Arc” design), which makes the G3 feel smaller than it actually is and very comfortable to hold. It’s a design feature also found on the HTC One M8, another phone with great ergonomics. There are no buttons on the sides of the G3; all of its controls are relocated to the back, just under the camera.
Like the G2, the G3’s volume rocker and power button are on the back of the phone, just under the camera. And while this placement at first seems awkward, once you get used to where they are, it becomes more natural. However, until your finger is trained, it is easy to accidentally touch the camera, which usually leaves a nice big smudge across the glass. In addition, their location is part of the reason LG can keep the side bezels on the front so narrow, since there is no internal button hardware on the sides taking up space. The rear buttons also act as shortcuts to launch applications when the phone is locked or off; the lower one activates the camera and the upper one the QuickMemo+ note-taking app.
The redesigned buttons feature a raised, circular power button sitting in the middle of a concave volume rocker. Contrasting textures help differentiate them by touch. A color-matched plastic accent surrounds the buttons and camera lens, tying these elements together in an alluring way.
To the left of the camera lens is the sensor for the G3’s big innovation, a laser-assisted autofocus. On the camera’s right is a dual LED flash that projects a more natural color onto your lit subjects than the single white LED flashes other phones use.
At the bottom-left corner is the one-watt mono speaker. While it is quite loud for a smartphone speaker, it is still disappointing that LG did not equip the G3 with stereo drivers. Then again, given a compact design, it would have been hard for LG to squeeze in two speakers and a 5.5-inch screen without increasing the phone’s overall size.
In the close-up shot above, we see that the brushed aluminum aesthetic on the G3’s plastic back is quite convincing—at first glance it really does look like metal. It also has a nice satin finish that resists fingerprints well. Strangely, the G3 does not have the self-healing, anti-scratch finish of the G Flex.
On the top, there's an IR port for the LG Quick Remote software that comes with the phone, along with one of the noise cancelling microphones. In this view, you can see the G3’s “Floating Arc” design theme again.
On the bottom of the G3 is another microphone, a headphone jack and the USB charging port. It’s still microUSB 2.0, so Samsung remains the only Android OEM to use USB 3.0 on its flagship phones. At this point, the benefits of USB 3.0 are negligible; the additional wired transfer speed only matters when transferring larger video files off of the device. Many users now use cloud services for this anyway.
The plastic back of the G3 is removable, revealing the replaceable battery, SIM card slot and microSD slot. There are also four pins at the top-left that connect to the back cover for NFC and Qi wireless charging. Note that the default cover of the North American G3 does not support wireless charging. If you want to cut the cord, then you’ll have to buy the LG Quick Circle Folio Case that attaches by replacing the stock back cover.
The G3 still uses a micro-SIM, which is both a blessing and a curse. If you are upgrading from an older phone, that means that you do not need to get a new SIM. However, if you are someone who switches between multiple phones, and one of them uses a nano-SIM, you’ll need to buy an adapter. The microSD slot is above the SIM card, and is designed in such a way that you can insert and remove it without having to remove the phone's battery, which is nice.
The G3 has a removable 3000mAh battery, a feature than many users say is important to them. However, in some ways this is a step back from the battery found in LG's G2. Because the G2’s battery was sealed in the phone and didn’t need to be user-accessible, LG better utilized the available space and increased its capacity, a missed opportunity on the G3. Since the G3’s WQHD display has higher power requirements than the 1080p screens of other flagship Android phones, the G3 would benefit from any additional capacity, even if it were just a few hundred mAh.