I bought my LG G2 smartphone in April 2014 because I had lost my previous phone (a Motorola RAZR i) on a trip abroad. After reading some online reviews, I decided that it was the best phone I could buy at the time for £300. The G2 had all the right features I was looking for: a good camera, very good battery life, a large(r) screen, and an efficient processor running a relatively recent version of Android.
Since I’ve recently updated to Android 5.0.2, I thought I’d write a short review based on my last year of usage. Before I begin, I have to mention that user experience is far more important to me than the spec race; this is what I primarily look for when I buy a new device and this is what I’ll base my review on.
The first thing that caught my eye when I initially started browsing through reviews was the quality of the camera. Features like HDR (high dynamic range) or OIS (optical image stabilization) really influence a buying decision for me since I’ve used really terrible phone cameras in the past. Having the ability to capture good looking images in low light conditions is another item high on my checklist; I go to a lot of shows and events where sunlight (sadly) is but a dream so I need a camera that can capture a reasonable amount of detail in weird colored lighting.
I was also extremely impressed by the LG G2’s amazing battery life. There is a lot of talk today about improving battery life in mobile devices but LG really walked the walk when it came to the G2. One new technology that really makes a difference is the so-called stepped battery, which stacks two modules together to form the final battery capacity. This technology also leads to reduced production costs compared to other batteries that just stack modules on top of each other.
The new stepped tech increased the G2’s battery density by 16%, resulting in more than 3 extra hours of juice; a new king of battery life tests was born.
For a 5.2” smartphone, the G2 can easily take on an entire day of heavy real world usage and still leave you with about 20-30% battery life. Let me describe what I mean by a day of heavy usage: I’m not much of a gamer but I do use my phone regularly to check multiple social media accounts, do some light web browsing, write email and stream music. Usually I would rely on a Wi-Fi connection at work or in the gym and use my 3G data plan when I’m on the go.
LG G2 features a great 5.2” LCD touchscreen built using a True HD IPS panel. For those wondering what the hell True HD or IPS means, Google (or DuckDuckGo if you’re a paranoid anti-capitalist) is your best friend.
TL;DR? I’ve used AMOLED and IPS and I can say the latter easily outmatches the former in terms of color accuracy and brightness; moreover, a study reveals IPS delivers improved battery efficiency too (624 mW vs. 1,130 mW for AMOLED) which is great since the greatest consumer of electro-juice is definitely the screen.
Processor and performance
Finally, it wouldn’t be a phone review if I didn’t touch on the processor. A year ago, the only 64-bit smartphone you could buy was an iPhone 5s; most high-end Android offerings were based on Qualcomm Snapdragon designs and that wasn’t going to change for a while. After careful consideration, I decided to go for the G2 instead of waiting for the Snapdragon 801-powered G3 because the feature set was mostly similar; paying an extra £200 for a slightly faster CPU and a higher resolution screen didn’t make much sense.
Although benchmarks provide an easy way to compare devices, they usually run synthetic code that is not really representative of what I personally use my phone for. So instead of producing a list of synthetic benchmark results like you see on every other website, I will compare the quad-core Snapdragon 800 inside my G2 versus a dual-core Intel Atom Z2460 processor, the chip inside my previous phone.
I immediately noticed a significant performance boost for many of the apps I often use (NAVIGON, Spotify, YouTube, Google Maps, Opera). UI responsiveness and app launch time were also two important areas of progress although I did notice multitasking got worse when I updated to Android 4.4.2.
However, flashing the latest Android 5.0.2 distribution seems to have fixed the problem.
My next phone
I’m currently thinking about my ideal next phone and the way I see it, I really have only two credible options: ASUS Zenfone 2 or LG G4. Whenever I put them side by side, I feel the Zenfone 2 is currently ahead on price, performance and build quality although the G4 has a better camera, is more compact and features better LTE connectivity.
(First world) decisions, decisions.