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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.

Our Verdict

The LG G3 is one of our favorite 5.5-inch or larger phones. The WQHD screen is the only significant flaw in an otherwise phenomenal phone.

For

  • Stylish design, slim bezels make it the smallest 5.5-inch phone, attractive and functional UI, great hardware with generous RAM and storage, good camera with OIS, microSD and removable battery

Against

  • Performance/overheating issues when pushed hard, screen/image quality (max brightness, color accuracy, sharpening filter), battery life trails competitors

LG G3: A Plethora Of Pixels And A Laser!

At the end of May, LG announced its latest flagship Android phone, the G3. We were at the New York event and spent a small amount of time with a pre-production Korean model. Two months later, the G3 was made available for North American consumers to buy through all five major U.S. carriers: AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, US Cellular and Verizon. It was also released in Canada at the beginning of August on Bell, MTS, Rogers, SaskTel and Videotron.

(Ed.: We realize our review of the G3 is rather late and, for that, we apologize. However, the G3 is still LG’s flagship phone and will likely be available even after its successor arrives. So, this review is still relevant.)

As the successor to 2013's well-received (but not exactly popular) G2, the G3 was the first smartphone released in North America with a WQHD (2560x1440) display and the final device of the mid-year Android flagship release schedule, which started back in March with the HTC One M8 and was followed by the Samsung Galaxy S5 in April.

LG was Google’s go-to partner for several of its Android reference devices, such as the past two Nexus phones and the Android Wear G Watch. Consequently, we assumed that the G3 would be the basis for the next Nexus phone, just as the G2 was for the Nexus 5. However, Google surprised us and decided to partner with Motorola instead to build the Nexus 6, a super-sized Moto X with a six-inch WQHD screen.

Like the G2, the front of the G3 is almost all screen. And its power and volume control buttons are on the back, a layout that works surprisingly well once you get used to it. The G3 remains an all-plastic phone, but has the look and feel of a premium device.

LG also decided to make its newest flagship more flexible. No, not flexible in a G Flex kind of way. Rather, the company provides the options to expand storage capacity through a microSD slot and swap out the battery.

LG G3 Tech Specs

(Note: Camera specifications will be compared later in the camera hardware section)

1 Included on international models, but requires optional cover for U.S. model2 Requires optional Sony wireless charging cover

The G3 has all of the hardware we expect from a flagship device: a Snapdragon 801 SoC, 3GB RAM, 32GB NAND, 802.11ac, Cat 4 LTE and a large display with high resolution. We’ll see how all this hardware comes together later in the review and how it compares to other flagship phones.

Options And Availability

Both of the G3 models we tested were what LG calls Metallic Black, which is really more of a gunmetal gray. The G3 is also available in the United States in Silk White and Shine Gold (the ubiquitous color that nearly all of 2014’s flagship phones are available in). In other markets, the G3 is available in Moon Violet and Burgundy Red, too. Canadians have to make do with only one color, Metallic Black.

Customers in the U.S. have two additional colors to choose from: Blaze Red and Steel Blue. The red color is a Verizon exclusive (its Metallic Black model is also blacker than the others), and the blue color is a Best Buy exclusive, although it's still available for the three major carriers.

ProductsLG G3iPhone 6 PlusOnePlus OneSamsung Galaxy Note 4Samsung Galaxy S5Sony Xperia Z3
Retail Price$580 - $700$750 - $950$300 - $350$750 - $800$600 - $730$680 - $700
Contract Price$0 - $200$0 - $500N/A$0 - $300$0 - $230$0 - $200
CarriersCanada: Bell, MTS, Rogers, SaskTel, VideotronU.S.: AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, VerizonCanada: Bell, Fido, Koodo, MTS, Rogers, SaskTel, Tbaytel, Telus, Videotron, Virgin MobileU.S.: AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, Verizon(Only sold unlocked from OnePlus)Canada: Bell, Fido, Koodo, MTS, Rogers, SaskTel, Tbaytel, Telus, Videotron, Virgin MobileU.S.: AT&T, T-MobileCanada: Bell, Rogers, SaskTel, Telus, Wind, VideotronU.S.: AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, VerizonCanada: Bell, Rogers, SaskTel, Telus, Wind, VideotronU.S.: AT&T, Cricket, Metro PCS, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, VerizonCanada: Bell, Rogers, Telus, Wind, (unlocked from Sony)U.S.: T-Mobile, (unlocked from Sony)

As you can see, the LG G3 is available on a wide variety of North American carriers just like the other flagship phones—the notable exception being the OnePlus One. Strangely, it is not available on Telus in Canada, even though this carrier did sell the G2.

The G3’s retail cost is in line with that of all the other flagships shown above, apart from the OnePlus One, which is one of the best deals in mobile. Contract pricing is something that is hard to compare, since, while the G3's "normal" pricing on a two-year term seems to be $200 on all carriers, different limited-time promotions can reduce the contract price of the phone substantially. Also, T-Mobile skews contract pricing, since its phones are available for $0 up front.

  • 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