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.

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. model
2 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 4
Samsung 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, Videotron

U.S.: AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, Verizon
Canada: Bell, Fido, Koodo, MTS, Rogers, SaskTel, Tbaytel, Telus, Videotron, Virgin Mobile

U.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 Mobile

U.S.: AT&T, T-Mobile
Canada: Bell, Rogers, SaskTel, Telus, Wind, Videotron

U.S.: AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, Verizon
Canada: Bell, Rogers, SaskTel, Telus, Wind, Videotron

U.S.: AT&T, Cricket, Metro PCS, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, Verizon
Canada: 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.