LG G3 review

The year's best innovations undermined by one fatal flaw

LG G3
  • LG G3
  • LG G3
  • LG G3
  • Expert Rating

    4.50 / 5

Pros

  • First 1440p smartphone in Australia
  • 5.5-inch screen in 5in smartphone body
  • Innovative laser autofocus camera
  • Intuitive Android 4.4 overlay
  • Wireless charging pad included
  • Powerful innards

Cons

  • Below par battery life

Bottom Line

Almost everything about the LG flagship represents an improvement. The design and screen put LG in a league of its own, while LG’s laser autofocus technology brings genuine innovation to the stagnant smartphone camera. Unfortunately, the G3 is too powerful for its own good. The 3000 milliamp-hour battery isn’t large enough to offset the 1440p display’s hunger. Those with piqued intrigue should consider living with a phone that has half to almost one day battery life. If the sacrifice isn’t too much, then buy the G3.

Would you buy this?

Powerful hardware, but at what cost?

Beating inside the LG G3 is a 2.5GHz quad-core CPU, 2GB of RAM and 16GB of internal storage. Prop the rear cover open for access to a microSD slot compatible with a 128GB card and a removable 3000 milliamp-hour battery. Charging has been eased with the inclusion of a wireless charging pad — a supporting Qi standard charger is needed — found lining the back cover.

Here lies the down point in an otherwise glowing review; the one reason why some people shouldn’t commit to the LG G3

Here lies the down point in an otherwise glowing review; the one reason why some people shouldn’t commit to the LG G3. A 3000 milliamp battery in today’s climate is competitive, but that screen — that resolution rich and luminous affair that puts the G3 a step ahead of its rivals — heavily taxes the battery. Over the course of a week the Good Gear Guide test G3, provided by online retailer UniqueMobile, struggled to hold charge for one day.

LG’s senior marketing manager, Brad Reed, previously told Good Gear Guide the higher resolution screen demands approximately 20 percent more battery life than the equivalent Full HD panel. Reed added LG had offset this through software magic.

Over the course of a week we tested the G3 with the ‘battery saver’ mode both disabled and enabled. We toggled between the most efficient settings and the most demanding. The G3 was our primary device for the week and handled our calls, texting and emailing; our web browsing and social networking, and; some video consumption and music playback. We would describe our use throughout the week as moderate to heavy.

Our highest recorded battery life reached a commendable 22 hours, but the promising one-time result is undermined by an average battery life of 12 hours. (We hit 9 hours on a few occasions.)

Update, 15 Aug: Good Gear Guide has been testing an Australian G3 for a week now and we have found the battery life differs. Our highest recorded battery life with the Australian G3 is 27 hours and we achieved an average battery life of 15. Regardless, the battery life remains a concern.

The battery saver mode will only deliver results to users who flippantly leave the screen brightness really high and have superfluous functions, such as Bluetooth and GPS, enabled when not in use. We found it did little to extend the battery life based on our usage patterns.

The poor battery life delivered by the G3 makes us question whether today’s smartphones are ready for such high resolution screens. The perk is undeniably desirable, but we’d rather a Full HD panel in exchange for not having to charge bi-daily.

LG pushed out an update during our testing period for “power optimisation”. We hope the company continues to improve the battery life of the G3 in future updates.

Real photographic innovations, UHD recording

LG has introduced a worthwhile camera innovation with its G3 flagship. The rear 13 megapixel camera works with an infrared laser in order to improve autofocusing times. The contention is the camera will miss fewer moments by taking quicker photos.

Point the camera at a scene and multiple points of focus will be marked. A single tap registers the point of focus you’re interested in and takes the photo simultaneously. Capturing high-resolution photos quicker is an improvement we can get behind.

The camera UI is as attractive as it is easy to use. Only one submenu icon rests on the screen when the laser autofocus is at work. Tapping it will enable a manual tap-to-focus and require the soft shutter key to be tapped when ready. Other points are gained for featuring a pause option during video recording and for never feeling cluttered.

Using a smartphone is a lot more fun when it’s thinking a step ahead

Overall camera performance is good enough to rely on the G3 daily. Photos at native resolution are characterised by a negligible amount image noise and little feathering. Colour isn’t as vibrant as the Nokia Lumia 930, but the G3 edges ahead by featuring a clever HDR mode, which will breathe detail into shadowy landscapes when the Nokia Lumia 930 won’t. The higher megapixel count puts it ahead of HTC’s One (M8); however, G3 photos don’t have the same colour vibrancy as Samsung’s 16 megapixel Galaxy S5.

Taken with the LG G3
Taken with the LG G3

Panorama captured with LG G3
Panorama captured with LG G3

Taken with the LG G3
Taken with the LG G3

Taken with the LG G3 - cropped image
Taken with the LG G3 - cropped image

Photo above at 100 per cent native resolution
Photo above at 100 per cent native resolution

Videos recorded in Ultra high-definition (UHD) resolution are overall good, bar a few small gripes. Camera aficionados may notice little ghosting and frame jarring when at motion, with an increase in image noise in dimly lit environments.

Playing the UHD content on the G3’s 1440p screen is a bit of a ‘wow’ moment. Trying to spot an individual pixel when 534 of them are crammed into each inch is a tall order indeed. Only the little signs of image noise in a UHD video ejects us momentarily from the otherwise fantastic experience.

Endorsing UHD recording is tough, however. A 63 second UHD recording required 227MB of internal storage. Worse yet, the battery dropped approximately 10 percent during 20 minutes of camera usage. A Full HD — or even HD — video remains the resolution we recommend when capturing videos with your smartphone.

Final thought

The smartphone flagships from LG and Samsung couldn’t be further apart. The G3 makes simplicity a priority by eliminating redundant steps in how you unlock the phone, take photos and reply to texts. Using a smartphone is a lot more fun when it’s thinking a step ahead.

Almost everything about the LG flagship represents an improvement. The design and screen put LG in a league of its own, while throwing in a wireless charging pad makes it that much easier to use everyday. Furthermore, LG’s laser autofocus technology brings genuine innovation to the stagnant smartphone camera.

Unfortunately the G3 is too powerful for its own good. The 3000 milliamp-hour battery isn’t large enough to offset the 1440p display’s hunger. Those with piqued intrigue should consider living with a phone that has half to almost one day battery life. If the sacrifice isn’t too much, then buy the G3.

Otherwise we have to concede this sore point: LG may have bitten off more than it can chew.

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Read more on these topics: Apple, Android, lg, samsung, galaxy, KitKat, 4.4, LG G3
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