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LG G3 Smartphone Review: A Plethora Of Pixels And A Laser!

The LG G3 combines cutting-edge hardware, including a 5.5-inch WQHD screen and laser autofocus system, with a lightweight body and slim bezels to create a phone that was ahead of its time. Is it still worth your consideration? Read on for our impressions.

Camera: Hardware

The G3 is equipped with a 13MP rear camera, which is the same resolution as last year’s G2. In fact, when you look at the specifications in more detail, the G3 uses the same sensor as its predecessor, the Sony IMX135 Exmor RS. While it certainly is a little older compared to the sensors found in other 2014 flagship phones, it is still quite capable of producing good photos, especially when combined with good optics and camera software.

The IMX135 is a stacked CMOS design that helps capture more light and supports HDR video (more information about this sensor is available on Sony’s website). Its 1.12µm pixel size is nearly ubiquitous for flagship phones—the iPhone 6 Plus, HTC One M8 and Xperia Z3 are notable exceptions. And while 13MP was common for flagships in 2013 and the first half of 2014, many of the competing models from Samsung and Sony moved on to higher-resolution sensors.

LG G3 Camera Specs

It’s disappointing to see that the optics in front of the G3’s rear sensor has only a f/2.4 lens, which lets in less light. However, the use of Optical Image Stabilization (OIS) does help compensate by allowing the camera to leave the shutter open for a longer interval. The focal length for the G3’s camera is comparable to all the other phones in the chart above apart from the Xperia Z3, which does have one of the widest rear camera lenses of any current smartphone.

Other hardware includes a dual LED flash, similar to the True Tone flash in the iPhone 6 Plus, which should create more natural colors under illumination, and an adequate 2.1MP front-facing camera.

Laser Autofocus and OIS+

The G3’s defining camera feature is its Laser Autofocus system. It’s an infrared rangefinder that uses a tightly focused IR laser beam to help the camera focus. It measures the time from the beam’s emission to its reflection back to the phone to quickly and accurately gauge the G3’s distance from the subject so the lens can be focused to that range. If the laser detection fails, then the camera falls back to the much slower contrast detection autofocus method, which has been the standard in smartphone cameras until just recently.

With this system, LG claims that the G3 can focus on something faster than the blink of an eye, or about 276ms. While we weren’t able to measure the actual focus time to verify its claim, in practice we did find that the G3 focused on its subjects very quickly. Compared to the phase detection autofocus (PDAF) used by the Galaxy S5 and iPhone 6, we found the G3’s laser system to be as fast or faster in low-light situations. In brighter light, the PDAF system in the iPhone 6 proved quicker.

The G3’s rear camera also uses OIS+ (Optical Image Stabilization Plus), which is an upgraded version of the OIS found on 2013's G2. OIS reduces the effects of camera shake to produce sharper images when shooting stills and video from your hands, which is 99 percent of the time when using a camera phone. It does this by mechanically moving the lens to compensate for motion. The G2’s system was able to stabilize the lens on the x- and y-axes, while the upgraded OIS+ system on the G3 stabilizes the z-axis too. Whether you’ve had too much caffeine or are shooting pictures in less than optimal lighting conditions, the G3’s OIS+ feature helps capture useable, in-focus images, even with slower shutter speeds.

  • Vorador2
    At this point, i wouldn't bother. Rumors have surfaced than a successor will be launched in March.

    Tom's, you're almost at the point of self-parody. I would rename the site to "The Slowest Authority on Tech"
    Reply
  • wtfxxxgp
    For once I must agree that THW has dropped the ball on a very important phone review - it was too late - and the "better late than never" gesture never applies to a Review of something. My sister has just purchased this phone a week ago, had I had sight of a THW review then I'm sure I could have convinced her to rather wait for the next model that would surely have better support for that gorgeous screen - I played with it, it really is amazing watching video on that thing.
    Reply
  • zodiacfml
    It's quite late and learned little except the voice activated shutter feature. Most of the information are subjective and benchmarks are quite of little use since the database is quite few.

    Tom's, here is a suggestion. Since you're good with gaming benchmarks, why not just make reviews of smartphones as portable gaming machines? There's plenty of information to be gathered from such and plenty of debates/discussion could be created just from that.
    Build a database of old games and phones to be compared to new devices. Higher benchmark numbers encourages upgrades (*wink*).
    Reply
  • Shaft_32
    Mamory 3GB LPDDR3 1GB LPDDR3

    Mamory? Really? So we aren't spell checking now?
    Reply
  • Cryio
    Absolutely no Lumia in the photo shoot comparison? I thought. A Lumia 1020 or Lumia 930 with Denim should have photo sampling comparisons in the next list. Also an iPhone 6+.
    Reply
  • bujcri
    Suprised not to be mentioned about LG's Lollipop update for LG G3. At least worth mentioning that this update pretty much ruined some funtions on G3 like silent mode (now DND) and brought a lot of useless notifications on lockscreen like for example whatever you wanna have permanently on the notification bar (I used to have the date there). In a nutshell I really hate Lollipop.
    Reply
  • stevessvt
    Man! I can't wait for the new Samsung Galaxy S4 review!
    Reply
  • kiniku
    I sold this phone on Ebay and bought a Sony Xperia Z3. I went from 8-10 hours of battery life to 48+, brighter screen, water resistant, and amazing sound.
    Reply
  • glasssplinter
    I had to look at this article several times to confirm that you really just published this. New phone models are just around the corner and you're barely pushing this article out. Why did you feel the need to compare so many features to crapple tech also? The whole reason I'm interested in the phone is because it isn't crapple so people don't care how it stacks up. We want to know how it compares to other android phones. It's like putting the newest icrap review out and then saying but the icrap 10 still doesn't have a removable battery but this android and windows phone does in some hope of swaying them. Tom's has hit new lows...you would have been better off just not publishing this.
    Reply
  • MobileEditor
    Man! I can't wait for the new Samsung Galaxy S4 review!

    Don't buy it. Review done :)

    - Matt H.
    Reply