The ongoing IFA 2013 also saw LG showing its latest flagship Android smartphone, the G2. Announced back in August, the G2 was touted as a smartphone that is “learning from you”, and is the first product in the company’s new G-series lineup.
Featuring top-tier specs such as a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 chipset and a 5.2-inch Full HD display, we managed to take a quick look at the LG G2 smartphone at LG’s exhibition hall at IFA 2013 for some first impressions of LG’s answer to the Samsung Galaxy S4.
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The first thing that you’d notice about the LG G2 is its screen. It’s gorgeous. The 5.2-inch Full HD IPS display, made by the company’s LG Display division, has virtually no side bezels. This, in addition to the ever so slightly curved glass on top of the display, gives the impression that the screen flows from one edge to the other.
All of the G2’s physical buttons are located at the back, a prominent shift in design that is sure to split opinion. While LG states that the change in button locations was done after thorough R&D, what LG perhaps do not realise is that smartphone users have adapted to having the power/unlock button at the side or on top of the device. It has become somewhat a reflex action, and one which became a problem as soon as I tried to unlock the G2.
Of course, in my mind I knew that the power/unlock button is located at the back, but old habits die hard, and each time I picked the phone up, my thumb instinctively reached for a non-existent power/unlock button on the right side.
But, perhaps as a workaround to the shift in buttons, the LG G2 will also wake when the screen is tapped twice, just like on the Nokia Lumia 925. Called Knockon, the feature allows users to wake the device with a simple double tap of the screen.
And that’s a good thing, because the buttons at the back themselves aren’t of the best quality. The volume buttons have very little travel to them, while the power button needs to be pressed deeper than usual before it registers. Then again, this is a demo unit, which may have been in worse condition than it probably will with normal use.
The back cover as a whole leaves a lot to be desired. I’ve mentioned before that the Samsung Galaxy S4‘s back cover – just like its predecessor the S III – suffers from an unmistakably cheap-feeling back plastic cover. While the LG G2 has been touted as the company’s answer to the Galaxy S4, wielding a similarly cheap-feeling plastic rear cover will not help its cause to be the better phone. It’s shiny and catches plenty of fingerprints, and also somewhat resembles the S4’s “textured” design (though they are slightly less pronounced than on the S4).
Now that that’s out of the way, it’s worth mentioning about the camera. The G2 sports a 13MP rear camera sensor with its own implementation of Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS) – the buzzword of smartphone imaging these days. On top of that, the sensor also feature a sapphire crystal lens, which is one of the hardest materials known to man. We managed to sneak a sample image using the G2, and can be found below (click for full-res image):
Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough time to try out the G2’s other camera capabilities, such as the Tracking Zoom feature in its video recording, as well as the OIS capabilities.
On the software front, the powerful Snapdragon 800 chipset ensures everything runs exceptionally smoothly on the G2, with animations as zippy as they can be. LG’s also added its own UI skin on top of Android 4.2.2, and there’s the interesting feature called the QSlide multitasking window. With a three-finger swipe, users can swipe away an active app into the background. A second three-finger swipe will return the app to the main window.
Overall though, the brief time spent with the LG G2 still managed to leave the impression that this is one of the better smartphones in the market. The 13MP camera definitely left me wanting to use it a lot more, while the hypothesis that users will prefer the physical keys placed at the back and not just another marketing gimmick would definitely be voluntarily tested further. However, LG has still not confirmed any details regarding the G2’s local availability, so we may be seeing a rather long wait – after all, the Optimus G Pro only just made its way to Malaysia back in July.