The last LG phone I owned was the LG Shine in 2008 and I never thought I would want an LG phone after that. Since then I’ve owned mostly Samsung devices, but after using LG’s new flagship phone for about a week, I’m ready to switch back.
- Display: 5.5-inch Quad HD IPS (2560 x 1440, 538ppi)
- Chipset: Qualcomm Snapdragon™ 801 Quad-Core processor up to 2.5 GHz
- Connectivity: Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.0 LE (APT-x), NFC,
- Memory: 32GB eMMC ROM (up to 24GB usable)/ 3GB DDR3 RAM / microSD support up to 2TB
- Price: $598 off contract
See the full specifications here.
- Gorgeous display
- Great camera
- Good battery life
- Slippery back
LG G3 SD Slot + Battery
LG G3 Screen Closeup
LG G3 Back
LG G3 Front Profile
With its ultra thin bezels and gorgeous 5.5-inch display, you’ll find yourself staring at the large display for long periods of time. The phone looks better than its successor with its curved back and slightly rounded edges. The brushed-metal design on the back adds to the phone’s design, but it is still plastic (polycarbonate to be technical).
The phone is big, but 5.5-inch phones are becoming a dime a dozen these days, so it’s not surprising to see LG releasing a phone of this size. The G3, weighing at 149.8 grams, fits comfortably in my hand (bear in mind that I have large hands) mostly because of the curved back, but it will definitely be too big for a lot of people. The size of the phone and the texture on the back makes it feel rather slippery and I had a few close calls where the phone slid out of my grasp.
One design feature recognizable from the G2 that I’ve grown to like is the volume and power buttons on the back of the phone. It took me a day or two to get used to the button placement, which won’t work well for everyone. I still mistakenly hit the volume up button instead of the power button sometimes, but I think continued use of the phone would fix that.
The phone comes in five different colors: Metallic Black, Shine Gold, Silk White, Moon Violet and Burgundy Red.
You would think the Quad HD screen would sacrifice performance on the G3 but apart from some minor lag when opening and closing apps or returning to the home screen, the 2.5GHz Snapdragon 801 processor and 3GB of RAM keeps the phone running just as well as other flagship phones on the market.
The phone does tend to overheat when using it excessively, but most of the time this was moving through apps and playing multiple games for a while. Few others have also reported issues of overheating, but it’s unclear if it is an issue specific to certain models. Running less-intensive apps such as Gmail and Chrome didn’t affect the phone’s temperature at all.
The G3 has a 13MP Optical Image Stabilizer Plus camera with a clean user interface — following LG’s motto that “Simple is the New Smart.” The camera uses Laser Auto Focus technology that shoots out an infrared sensor that helps it find the focus point quicker, which in turn helps take faster photos.
The photos are pretty impressive and pick up a lot of detail, but they sometimes do look a little washed out, depending on the lighting. The low-light shots came out surprisingly well with little noise. You can shoot up to 4K video, but it’s pointless if you have nothing to view it on.
The 2.1MP front-facing camera, or the “selfie” camera as LG calls it, greets you with a beauty filter that tries to make your face look smooth and clear, but It ends up giving your face a glowing and glossy look, which can look strange. LG has a neat feature where, if you’re taking a selfie, you can bring your hand into the shot and make a fist, which will snap a picture.
After living through TouchWiz for about four years, I can say I’m a fan of stock Android. But on the G3, the skin is decent and lightweight. Some sections such as the Settings page still look ugly, as is the case on most Android skins, and is a pretty poor way to navigate settings. LG’s keyboard also doesn’t look the greatest, but allowing users to adjust the keyboard’s height will be appealing to some.
While the G3’s theme is “Simple is the New Smart,” there are still a lot of features LG has packed in and some of them are actually quite useful. My favorite, which was also available on the G2, is the clip tray. This feature lets you save multiple texts or images that you copy so that when you go to paste it, you can open up the clip tray and pick up to 20 saved entries. It’s helpful when you need to copy and paste from different texts and it’s strange this hasn’t been implemented in most smartphones.
If you dislike the power button’s placement on the back of the phone, double tapping the display brings you to the lock screen. I’ve been using this to get to the lock screen for a while and now I find myself double tapping my Nexus 7‘s screen to my disappointment. The G3 also has a feature called Knock Code where you don’t have to use the rear power button. You set up certain points to “knock” to unlock the phone after you double tap it to get to the lock screen, but make sure no one’s peeking so that they can’t memorize it.
There’s also Smart Notice, a feature that mimics Google Now, but it’s more tailored to what you do on your phone. It analyzes the time, location and phone status and learns your habits to give you relevant tips and reminders. So if you create a grocery list with LG’s Memo Reminders app at home and tag your favorite grocery store, the list will pop up when you are near the store.
When you swipe to the right from the home screen, you reach a page that is occupied by LG Health and Smart Tips. LG Health measures how many calories you burn by counting the number of steps you take when you walk with your phone. It’s not limited to walking, as you can change it to track running and bicycling, among others. It’s not as powerful as other fitness tracking apps but for a built-in app it’s pretty neat and easy to use.
The bottom part of this screen is shared with Smart Tips. Tapping it gets you to a list of features the G3 can perform, such as Voice Shutter, where you can say key words to snap a photo with the camera. I would rather have the option to customize what apps I want in this screen, as I find Smart Tips to be pointless once you figure everything out, but at least you have the option to disable it completely.
You can’t really go wrong with choosing any smartphone these days and so design and other factors become a key influence in a customer’s decision to purchase a phone. The G3’s key factor that distinguishes it from its competition is the Quad HD LCD display. The 2,560 x 1,440 (534 pixels per inch) resolution is beautiful, but you won’t really notice the difference to other high-end displays unless you put them next to each other. The screen can look a little washed out when you look it from different angles. Some apps aren’t optimized for the G3’s resolution so they will look a little stretched, but as the G3’s popularity soars, you can be sure that developers will be updating them.
I used the G3 extensively this week by playing games, messaging, browsing the web and the battery dipped below 20 percent after around 8 or 9 hours. The 3000mAh cell should last you an average day without having to plug it in for a recharge. You don’t have to worry too much here.
With the only prior experience of owning an LG phone being the LG Shine, I wasn’t sure what to expect. But the G3 is a pleasant surprise and has a lot going for it with very few weaknesses. It has a great camera, a stunning display and the ultra thin bezels make it look attractive. The G3 is definitely my favorite Android phone this year so far and you won’t be disappointed in moving to LG if you’re coming from a new manufacturer. If you’re coming from the G2, there’s still a lot to appreciate in design and software.
IMAGE BY Steve Long (IMAGE HAS BEEN MODIFIED)
Another milestone for Google’s Android in its unstoppable march to mobile dominance: the operating system accounted for 85% of all smartphones shipped in Q2 — its highest ever proportion, according to a new report from Strategy Analytics.
Google’s win comes at a loss for everyone else, and interestingly for the smartphone market overall. Apple, Windows Phone and BlackBerry all declined, and while there were nearly 300 million (295.2 million, to be exact) smartphone units shipped for sale in the quarter, smartphone growth has nearly halved compared to a year ago.
And it could come for a loss for Google, too — Android is likely to start getting investigated in Europe over its dominant position, according to a report in Reuters. An investigation could get triggered if Android is found to have more than 80% market share in the European market.
However, it looks like, for now, Google may still be clear of that. Strategy Analytics says that Android accounted for 73% of all smartphones shipped in Europe in Q2. A report from Kantar Worldpanel that was released earlier today noted that Android has a 74% share in Europe at the moment based on sales surveys (not shipments) that Kantar takes in five key markets in the region. In tablets, Android now stands at some 70% of all tablet shipments globally as well, too.
Strategy Analytics says that while smartphone sales continue to grow, it’s at a significantly slower rate than in the past. The 295 million units shipped in Q2 represents yearly growth of 27% compared to 49% a year ago. Why? In part, it’s because, while emerging markets are still growing strong, and have large populations, they are, at this point, still not making up for the slowing sales in more developed, large markets like Europe and the U.S. which came earlier to the smartphone craze.
Emerging markets mean more price pressure and consumers that may have significantly less disposable income, and think their very basic feature phones do a good enough job, apps or no apps.
“Global smartphone growth in the current quarter is at its lowest level for five years, and there are wide variations by region,” Linda Sui, a director at the research firm, notes in a statement. “Africa and Asia are booming, while North America and Europe are maturing.” Nevertheless, the changing tides have played squarely into Google’s hand. OEMs have been producing low-cost smartphones based on Android for years already, buoyed by the OS being free to license and the growing ecosystem of apps and services to use based on Android.
Yes, Microsoft has more recently also moved to make its Windows Phone platform free to license, and Nokia has been pushing low-cost Lumia smartphones for a while now, but this looks like it’s too little, too late: Strategy Analytics notes that Windows Phone share of shipments was only 3%, down from 4% a year ago, because of sluggish growth in the two huge, key markets of China and the U.S.
Indeed, a lot of the competitive fight has moved very much into the low end of the market. Apple and its iPhone, Strategy Analytics’ Woody Oh notes, also lost a percentage point “because of its limited presence at the lower end of the smartphone market.” Apple accounted for just under 12% of smartphone shipments (which is not the same as sales but is related in that it points to what retailers believe will be selling well, based on what has already sold well).
What we have shaping up, as research director Neil Mawston describes it, is effectively a one-horse race:
“Like the PC market, Android is on the verge of turning smartphone platforms into a one-horse race,” he writes.”Its low-cost services and user-friendly software remain wildly attractive to hardware makers, operators and consumers worldwide. Rival OS vendors are going to have to do something revolutionary to overturn Android’s huge lead in smartphone shipments.”
What could that revolutionary move be? Mawston believes Apple’s “push into the big-screen phablet market” and Mozilla’s continuing efforts in low-cost Firefox mobile devices “are the only major threats to Android’s continued growth at this stage.” Given that Firefox has yet to set the world on fire, and phablets are just larger screens but little more in the way of functionality, it seems like a pretty feeble fight, if that’s as revolutionary as it’s going to get.
Beats Music has updated its iOS, Android and Windows Phone applications with a few new features, including a way to tune the Beats recommendation engine manually for better suggestions, a new history view for The Sentence, the Songza-like Madlibs playback engine, and Verified Badges, which add a checkmark to celebrity profiles so you know they’re the real deal.
The Beats Music app also has some player improvements that deliver better playback and general performance, as is often the case with software updates.
This is the first significant update to the music app following the announcement that Apple would be acquiring the Beats Music brand along with Beats Electronics. The changes seem to address feedback provided by users and make available some functionality that reviewers thought was potentially missing.
The app has also received the same updates across all mobile platforms, as mentioned, and not just on iOS. While the company isn’t yet officially owned by Apple and therefore probably not on any Apple product roadmap, this is potentially a promising sign for those on non-Apple hardware who are users of the service and hope to see their software updated in time with the iOS release.
The TouchPico projector is launching today on IndieGogo. Announced at this year’s CES, it’s about as powerful as a mid-range Android phone, and has a camera that sees when you draw on the surface it’s projecting on — it basically turns any surface into a giant tablet-like display.
The TouchPico was a surprisingly quick performer when we tried it out in our offices last week. While you have to use the included stylus to get the most accurate control of the “screen,” it was responsive to taps and swipes and didn’t take too long to switch between apps. The interface is stock Android, though it’s running an older build.
In our demo with the TouchPico, we tried it out with a few games that would be fun for kids, playing a video on YouTube, and a PowerPoint presentation. The projector had no trouble keeping up with games like Fruit Ninja or drawing apps, though the trailer of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes that we tried to watch didn’t show up very well, even in low-light conditions. The PowerPoint presentation, which we tested using a free app from Google Play, was a bit too slow compared to hooking your laptop up to a traditional projector.
With that said, you can also do that with the TouchPico. It has an HDMI input available, so it’s possible to use it as a dumb display for your laptop, game console, or even your phone. Darker content might not show up too well, but colorful apps for kids seem to work just fine.
At $350 on IndieGogo (and $500 later), the TouchPico is in the same ballpark as an iPad Mini in terms of price. Most individual gadget users would best be served by buying a tablet that can use all the same apps for the same price or less, with a better looking display. I think it could be fun for families, as the experience is closer to spending time around a physical game board than passing a tablet around, or even playing a multiplayer game on a console.
Business users who make frequent presentations in many small venues and don’t want to rely on setups at each location might also find the TouchPico to be a useful tool, though I don’t know how many people actually have that use case.
IMAGE BY TouchJet (IMAGE HAS BEEN MODIFIED)
Radio is an increasingly perplexing mode of content delivery as we gain access to more and better streaming services with on-demand programming. But the serendipity of radio is still appealing, the ability to turn on and tune in without having to monitor, tweak and pester. That’s why it’s great that NPR is looking to deliver its public programming in a way that combines the benefits of both streaming and traditional terrestrial radio via a new app called NPR One.
The app is separate from their existing offerings for mobile, and available free on the App Store and on Google Play. It uses a combination of streams of NPR’s public news broadcasts, combined with stories that are curated for your specific tastes. You can get regionally relevant content by letting the device have access to your location settings, and you can also search for podcasts and other content to teach the app about what you want and get it instantly. Marking stories as interesting takes a single click, and that will help inform what kind of content appears in your feed in the future.
App design is clean and crisp, and it features nice animations to transition between screens, but also relatively few features or pages to navigate, which is in the interest of making an app that you can launch and forget about. This software is clearly all about serendipity, but it should deliver something a little more in line with experiences streaming audio users have come to expect from things like Spotify and Rdio’s customizable music stations.
Of course, NPR stands to benefit, too. There’s a “donate” link within the app, but I’m talking about the listener data they can collect through continued use of the app. It requires that you log in via FB, Google+ or your own NPR profile so that it doesn’t repeat content, but this also means they’ll be able to research listener habits and gather feedback that will likely influence future program – which isn’t a bad thing. In fact, this is a sign that NPR is very much concerned with what future iterations of public radio (or its online equivalent) will look like, and being able to contribute to that project is no small thing.
Google has a hit on its hands with Material Design in my opinion, which is why it’s great to see it already making its way into some products ahead of Android L’s general consumer launch. Today, Google updated the Chrome Beta for Android with some new features, including single sign-in for Gmail, Maps and Search so long as you’re signed into Chrome, but also introducing some Material Design looks to the mobile browser.
The simplified sign-in is a great feature on its own, since it means that so long as you’re signed into Chrome on your Android device with your Google account, navigating to Gmail, Maps or Search will show you logged-in versions of each site, instead of asking you to log in again each time. If you have multiple Google Accounts on your device, you’ll have access to any other of those accounts in Chrome for Android, too.
These new features are definitely going to save users some frustration in terms of removing some friction from the process of using Google properties online. Of course, it also means that if you lose your device and you’re signed in on Chrome, anyone who finds your device and gets through any security you have set up in terms of a lockscreen will have an easier time getting access to your various accounts.
On balance, however, Google has introduced a lot of tools that should help with securing your information, including the Android Device Manager, and I’d be willing to trade some increased risk for not having to fuss with passwords repeatedly, especially with the added hump of two-factor authentication.
The new looks aren’t too shabby either. The home page now drops most of the chrome from Chrome, and the Incognito mode looks like the one that recently changed its looks on the desktop. Search also has a more pared down look with bold contrast and edge-to-edge elements other Material Design hallmarks.
Anyone can grab the Beta (a separate app from the stable build) if they’re interested in taking this new version for a spin.
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