LG G3 – Long Term Review

When it comes time to get a new phone there are so many options out there that it can be a bit baffling. I’d been a long-term iPhone user and had grown a bit tired of the “ecosystem” and the tiny screen. I’ve got pretty big hands and typing on the iPhone was a burdensome affair. I knew that the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus were on the way, but I was just personally done with Apple’s ecosystem, so I went looking for Android handsets.

In my research I landed on the LG G3. Let’s dive into why.

 

LG G3 Specifications

CPU Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 801 Quad-Core Processor up to 2.5 GHz
Operating System Android 4.4.2 KitKat
Battery 3,000mAh / Removable /
Optional Wireless Charging
Display 5.5″ Quad HD (2560 X 1440) IPS
Camera
Rear-Facing Camera 13MP Optical Image Stabilization+
with Laser Auto Focus
Dual Flash
Front-Facing Camera 2.1 MP
Sound
1W Speaker with Boost Amp
Connectivity
Bluetooth 4.0 LE (APT-x) A-GPS, Glonass
USB 2.0HS HDMI supported through SlimPort
Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac NFC
Memory
Total Internal 3GB RAM / 32GB Memory
(24GB user memory)
External microSD

On paper things look pretty great, so how does it all stand up? Let’s go item by item.

CPU:

The Snapdragon 801 is pretty much the standard “premium” CPU in Android phones right now. There are a handful of phones out there with the 805 model which boasts higher clock speeds, but most mainstream premium phones are running the 801, which is plenty fast! The architecture between the two isn’t all that different and performance gains on the 805 are usually relegated to the single-digits or tens of percent over the 801 – for my use the 801 is more than sufficient.

OS:

Android 4.4.2 “KitKat” is very mainstream and well supported. Approximately 40% of Android devices are running KitKat in some form or another.

Battery:

3,000mAh is actually a tad small for a phone with the display size and CPU speed the LG G3 is packing. It gets the job done, but if you’re a heavy user you may need to plug it in mid-day to ensure it lasts until you run out of energy at night.

Display:

Here is where the rubber meets the road. The LG G3 has a gorgeous display with higher pixel density than the Apple devices. The color balance and blacks aren’t quite at the same level of quality as the Apple devices, but this can be resolved with some clever tweaking, which I not only anticipated the need to customize this phone, I actually chose an Android in large part for the ability to do so.

I am also running a Blue-light reduction application called “Twilight” which if you’ve ever used f.lux on your PC or Mac, you will be right at home with. As the sun sets the screen gradually shifts from a blue dominant scheme to a red dominant scheme. It does this over a stretch of time, so the results are smoothly applied, you likely won’t even notice it unless you pause the app and then un-pause it.

The effects of blue light (which simulates sunlight to your brain) have been well documented to affect sleep patterns. The effects of the app on my phone have not been vetted by science, but I’m prone to wonky sleep patterns already, so I figure it can’t hurt.

In all regards the screen is one of my favorite features of this phone – I can watch 1080p video on it – ’nuff said. Do note however that some games which aren’t made for such a high resolution can have issues, “World of Goo” is the first one that pops to mind; though others are just fine, such as “Goat Simulator” which I picked up for under a buck. Who doesn’t want to head-butt cars and generally be the bane of gas stations for 99 cents?!

Cameras:

The front facing camera is passable. Since I don’t do a lot of video chatting or snapping photos of myself, I didn’t do extensive research on this, but it works and isn’t horrible.

The rear camera is actually quite good. The laser auto-focus actually seems to work very well in most cases and the colors and resolution are of good to great quality depending on lighting. The biggest issue here is the zoom capabilities since, like most phones, there is no optical zoom.

The dual-LED flash is extremely bright, and that makes this a decent performer in lower light, though the LED is going to mess with the colors in a low-light photo, just like any other. The best thing about the LED flash is that this phone makes an amazing flashlight. Leave it to me to answer the tough questions like “Is this phone a good flashlight?” Yes. Yes it is.

Audio:

Here’s one of my biggest gripes about this phone. The rear-facing speaker, yes that’s singular, is very loud but the quality of that volume is not what I expected when I read it had “Boost Amp”. What exactly is “Boost Amp”? I have no idea. It seems like SEGA’s old “Blast Processing” to me. Snake oil? Maybe not, but it didn’t live up to expectations based on the feature name. The other big complaint about the speaker is the positioning. Say you’re listening to some music on the speaker and also using the phone to browse the web or use some other app; unless you cup your hand in an odd way, most of the sound will be smothered or distorted by your hand position. The headphone jack is on the bottom and sounds good no matter what headphones I have used, with no static or distortion to be found.

Connectivity:

This phone is LTE compatible and so the 4G speeds are very good, when I have it available. I don’t live in a 4G area, but most of the places I frequent are covered with 4G and it’s great when its available.

Wifi connectivity supports up to 802.11ac, but I haven’t had a chance to test out speeds on an 802.11ac router – as I’m still on an “N” router at home. I have found “N” to be more than sufficient for my needs – since the most bandwidth intensive thing I do with this phone is stream Plex to it from a media server I have.

Bluetooth works quite well, which was a relief after my old iPhone’s audio quality issues with my car stereo. The G3 paired up and works pretty much flawlessly.

GPS, USB and HDMI all work as expected, NFC is useless to me at this point, so remains untested. Since my particular handset is on T-Mobile this phone also features WiFi calling and I’ve not had a problem with it yet apart from the device occasionally failing to register on the WiFi calling network, but a quick cycle to airplane mode and back has cleared that up; this has happened 3 times in 5 months, so not even an issue as far as I’m concerned.

Memory:

The LG G3 is ahead of a large portion of the pack when it comes to RAM – as it comes with 3GB. I’ve not had a single issue running a multitude of applications at once and one of the features of this phone allows split screen multitasking – allowing you to watch a video and browse the web at the same time, for example, which is very handy.

In the storage department you have about 24GB free for storage and I’ve popped another 32GB micro-SD card in as well. 56GB of storage is more than I need even with a large portion of my music collection loaded onto the phone.

Userland:

LG G3 Home Screen

The news here is mostly positive, with a few minor gripes. The UI is fluid and intuitive overall, with the soft buttons being where you expect them, screen transitions being smooth and very polished, on the whole. LG includes a pedometer app which records steps, some calorie calculation (which cannot be terrible accurate, as it never asked my height and weight, but I digress), and distance walked.

The UI overlay that has been chosen is nice – the word “classy” comes to mind. They didn’t try to make it a big flashy event getting from screen to screen, which is a welcome discovery. Additionally, the weather widget that comes on the main home screen is actually pretty decent – and who doesn’t love to be told by their phone to take care of themselves because it’s going to be cold / rainy / windy? The “smart cards” feature will alert when there are storm warnings or other severe weather on the way which is very handy as well.

All things considered, I find the daily use of the device to be quite pleasant and intuitive.

Summary

I’ve been using this phone since Q3 of 2014 (5 months as of this writing) and I have very little to complain about. The LG G3 is not a perfect phone, but it is very, very good. My main complaints are mostly minor quibbles and don’t detract much from my assessment. I’ve found my time with this phone to be overwhelmingly positive and would recommend this phone largely without reservation.

Rating: 92% – Not flawless, but pretty great.

If you’re interested in the phone it can be had at Amazon.com – if you purchase via my link you can help support this blog!

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