LG G3 vs Sony Xperia Z2

July 15, 2014
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We’ve already taken a look at the LG G3 pitted against the Samsung Galaxy S5, and now it’s time for another popular flagship to enter the ring against LG’s latest and greatest.

Sony has followed a strategy of small steps over the past year or so, and has done so quite successfully. Building on what was a fantastic base with the Xperia Z, the Xperia Z1 had a lot to offer, with the Xperia Z2 taking things even further. With a more refined design, a far better display experience that addressed all the issues faced by its predecessor, and of course, top of the line specifications, the Sony Xperia Z2 is definitely a major contender for the top spot in the Android smartphone world.

Then came the LG G3. While the general theme for flagship smartphones this year has been evolution, and not revolution, LG managed to push the envelope to some extent, by offering one of the first mainstream devices to boast a 5.5-inch Quad HD display, packed in a body that isn’t much larger than other premier smartphones.

It’ll be very interesting to see how these two top devices fare against each other. Here’s an in-depth look at the LG G3 vs Sony Xperia Z2!

Design

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The two contenders show LG’s and Sony’s quintessential design traits, making for highly distinctive appearances that are guaranteed to catch the eye.

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When it comes to the LG G3, there was a lot of talk about a possible metal body before its launch, that ultimately failed to materialize. Instead, we got a solid polycarbonate material, that has been treated to have a brushed look and feel. This results in a back cover that isn’t a fingerprint magnet, and has a slight curve to it that adds to the overall handling experience.

On the other hand, the angular design of the Sony Xperia Z2 is flattened on all sides, with subtle rounds in the corners that helped tame the rigidity of the Xperia Z1. While the dual glass panel construction can get really smudgy under constant use, it’s still a very attractive build that has become the staple design for Sony’s entire roster of high-end smartphones.

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The button layout is where the distinct styles of these two companies really shine through, even if the Sony Xperia Z2 has a more conventional button placement, compared to the radically different positioning of the buttons on the LG G3. The Xperia Z2 features Sony’s signature button construction, with the large silver power button above the volume rockers, along with the useful addition of the dedicated camera shutter button.

Meanwhile, LG has further refined their signature rear button layout, that puts the power button flanked by the volume rocker near the rear camera optics, accessible with your index finger. A small learning curve is definitely required, but it’s easy to get over, and moving buttons to the back made possible to have completely clean sides.

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The Xperia Z2 comes with an IP58 rating for protection against dust and water, which means that there are flaps covering the various ports and slots around the sides of the device. The LG G3 does not feature dust and water resistance, but you do get the advantage of a removable back cover, for access to the microSD card slot and the replaceable battery.

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While LG continues to evolve its distinct style, Sony has stuck to this angular aesthetic for some time now. What we do love about the LG flagship is that it brings a large screen to a body that is comparable to the rest of the flagship devices. The Xperia Z2, is in fact, a little bit taller than the LG G3, while only slightly narrower. LG definitely deserves praise for this feat, considering that the G3 features a display that is 0.3-inches diagonally bigger than the screen of the Xperia Z2. Ultimately the handling experience is similar, with the curve of the G3 helping it feel a little more comfortable, while the flatness of the Z2 makes it very easy to grip.

At the end of the day, both of these phones are incredibly attractive, and are sure to turn heads.

Display

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Display quality is ultimately about size in this comparison. Sony finally put an IPS screen on its flagship, with a couple enhancements, while LG’s sticked to its own IPS panel for the G3, while increasing its size by half an inch compared to the G2.

The screen of the LG G3 is certainly a sight to behold. It manages to be very easy on the eyes, despite there being a couple concessions, with warmer tones all around and a slight loss in fidelity at steep viewing angles.

Poor viewing angles has been an issue that has plagued previous Sony flagships, but that issue has finally been addressed with the Sony Xperia Z2. Not only are the viewing angles better, but the colors are also really nice, with the Live Color LED technology enhancing the overall color gamut. We definitely like the direction Sony has gone with their display technology.

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Side by side, we see a pretty similar color output from both smartphones, though the contrast on the Sony Xperia Z2 is just a little more defined. Look hard enough and you’ll find that the LG G3 is just crisper though, due to its 2560×1440 resolution that yields an incredible pixel density of 534 ppi. It has to be said that the 5.2-inch 1080p display of the Sony Xperia Z2 is still fantastic, with the slight difference in pixel density becoming noticeable only you put both phones side by side.

Performance

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There isn’t much of a difference with regards to performance, as both smartphones contain the same processing package that proved itself capable in the past. You get the quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801, clocked at 2.5GHz for the LG G3 and 2.3 GHz for the Xperia Z2, backed by the Adreno 330 GPU. You get 3GB of RAM with the Xperia Z2 and the 32GB variant of the LG G3, while the 16GB version of the G3 only features 2GB of RAM.

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There is no doubt at all that the interfaces absolutely fly, and loading applications doesn’t put either of these phones ahead. The overly feature-packed G UI of the LG G3 can sometime appear to stutter, but these instances are rare, and the fact that the G3 can keep up, despite the higher resolution screen, should be commended.

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We could say that the Xperia Z2 might perform a little more consistently, solely because it’s not nearly as feature-packed as the LG device, showing once again that when you keep it simple, you keep it fast. Unless you’re truly nitpicky though, you can’t go wrong with either choice.

Hardware

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When it comes to hardware, the playing field is a lot more even this year, with a lot of key features making an appearance on all flagships.

For example, microSD expansion is available with every premier device this year, and the feature is making a return with the LG G3 as well. The card slot is found under one of the flaps on the Xperia Z2, and under the removable back cover in the case of the LG G3. Opening that back cover also gives you access to a removable 3,000mAh battery, something that isn’t possible with the larger 3,200mAh battery of the Xperia Z2.

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As far as connectivity goes, the slew of general tools are available in either handset, though we do have to tip the hat to LG because it will most likely be available across all major carriers, while Sony has maintained a relationship mainly with T-Mobile. Sony does get a nod for connecting the Xperia and Playstation ecosystems, as the ability to connect DualShock controllers easily is certainly a plus for any serious gamer.

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When it comes to the sound quality, Sony’s consolidation of its ecosystems puts the Xperia Z2 ahead once again, as it brings one of the most robust sound experiences available. Despite the loudness of the LG G3, the dual front facing speaker construction just helps the Xperia Z2’s case.

With the right pair of headphones, that may or may not be included with your handset, built-in noise cancelling technology will greatly enhance your media consumption experience, helped along by the slew of audio tweaking tools available.

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Finally, the larger battery of the Xperia Z2 certainly went the distance, blasting past the typical work day, especially when using power saving features. The G3’s battery is no slouch though, and you always have the added benefit of being able to carry around a spare.

LG’s device deserves a nod for offering battery life that is more or less on par with phones sporting smaller, lower resolution displays. We’ll give the Xperia Z2 the edge when it comes to battery life, but it’s not significantly ahead of the LG G3 in this regard.

Camera

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It’s easy to argue that, with the Xperia Z2, we basically have the same camera featured in previous generations, while LG has done more to move forward in this department. But that would be oversimplifying the story.

After all, the 20.7 MP camera of the Xperia Z2 was a good performer last season, and remains so, helped by a slew of modes that make your smartphone photography even more fun. Picture quality is quite good too, and it’s possible to capture a lot of details, both when the resolution is maxed out or in the default 8 megapixel mode. The only real bummer with the Xperia Z2’s camera is that the 20.7 megapixel size is standalone, with all the modes and enhancements being reserved for the default 8 megapixel size.

On the other hand, we have the LG G3 introducing some welcome changes from the original G2, such as a laser-assisted focusing system and the enhanced OIS+ technology. The laser focusing system does make a difference compared to previous LG smartphone cameras, which were often sluggish in the focusing speed department. Focusing on the G3 is much faster, which makes taking pictures incredibly fun.

The software-enhanced optical image stabilization, which LG  launched on the G Pro 2, continues to do its job well.

You will probably take pics on the LG G3 in Auto mode most of the time. While you don’t get much manual control when it comes to setting the shot, Auto mode does a fine job on its own.

The speed of the LG G3 camera is probably its marquee feature, but the camera of the Sony Xperia Z2 isn’t far behind. Comparing pictures, these two performers are actually on a pretty level playing field, with  very similar color reproduction across the board. Though the Xperia Z2 yields only 8 megapixel photos by default, the super sampling of the 20.7 megapixel sensor does yield a little more sharpness.

So, snapping pictures with either of these smartphones will be a blast. Some people may prefer the level of control that the Xperia Z2 affords its users, as opposed to the pretty much fully automatic mode of the G3, that does manage to hold its own quite well.

Software

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In software, it’s a matter of simplicity at various levels, and whether or not you need the slew of tools that are included on each device.

Starting with the LG G3, the G UI has certainly evolved a lot since the Optimus days, not only in its looks, but also with regards to the feature set. The look of the new interface does make for a very good update all around, with a flatter aspect that compliments the bright colours.

That said, the latest update was more about hiding elements, than fundamentally changing them. For example, the Q-Slide applications, that I admittedly have never used, are all hidden under another shade in the notification drop down. Welcome additions include dual window and the Smart suite of applications, that allow you to cater the keyboard to your liking or get a minimal amount of notifications through a homescreen widget.  Without all these software features though, we’d still be very happy with just Knock On and Knock Code.

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On the flip side, we have the much more simplistic Xperia UI, which brings to the Xperia Z2 an Android experience that is closer to stock than what is available from most of the competition. You get the homescreen layout with the notification drop down, quick settings, and the app drawer that does have one shade on the side for further control. Multitasking is done via the recent apps screen, though it does come with Small Apps, which are similar to the Q-Slide apps in the G3, and again something that I don’t really use. Various applications that Sony puts into its smartphones return, like the great Walkman media app and the nice Album gallery.

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We do like where LG is going in terms of improving its take on Android, though anyone who prefers the stock Android experience will get more enjoyment from the Xperia Z2. Both operating systems have their holes in terms of usefulness, and the LG G3 might be guiltier here, as it’s simply saturated with features that may ultimately end up collecting dust.

Specs Comparison

 
LG G3
Sony Xperia Z2
Display5.5-inch display with 2560 x 1440 resolution5.2-inch display with 1080 x 1920 resolution
Processor2.5GHz Snapdragon 801 CPU2.3GHz Snapdragon 801 CPU
RAM2GB or 3GB w/ 32GB model3 GB
Storage16GB or 32GB, microSD with expansion16GB, expandable
Camera13MP rear cam with OIS and laser auto focus, 2.1MP front cam20.7 MP rear camera
2.1 MP front cam
Battery3000 mAh removable3,200 mAh non-removable
ConnectivityBluetooth 4.0, NFC, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, USB v2.0, Slim PortWi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Wi-Fi Direct, DLNA, Wi-Fi hotspot, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, USB v2.0
Networks4G LTE support4G LTE support
SoftwareAndroid 4.4 KitKat with LG UIAndroid 4.4 KitKat with Timescape UI
Dimensions146.3 x74.6 x 9.1 mm,
151 grams
146.8 x 73.3 x 8.2 mm,
163 grams

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Pricing and Final Thoughts

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The Sony Xperia Z2 is still not fully available in the States, though we do expect it to hit Verizon in the future, while the LG G3 will be more widely available from all major carriers. In the end, both of these devices will feature high price points, as they are flagship devices from top manufacturers.

And so, there you have it, the LG G3 vs Sony Xperia Z2! It’s possible to go on and on about the high resolution, larger screen of the LG G3, but there is plenty new to talk about underneath the surface as well. We can’t necessarily say the same about the Xperia Z2, which is the first of Sony’s incremental half-year releases. That said, we get a nice refinement of what makes the Xperia line great, both in terms of design and hardware, and especially in the sound department.

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LG has continued to evolve. On the G3, we get one of the first Quad HD screens on the market, and one that’s implemented pretty well. The G3 tries to offer the most out of any phone out right now, and manages to do a good job. Put simply, the G3 stands apart in the smartphone landscape right now.

But the Xperia Z2 is an experience that is quintessentially Sony, and, where Sony has come into its own already, LG is just looking to go.

If you want the best that either of these companies can offer, you don’t have to look any further than these two phones right here. It’s up to you to decide whether the high-resolution screen trumps the high-resolution camera optics, or whether a replaceable battery is more important than  water resistance, or whether you prefer Sony’s ecosystem, over LG’s growing presence.

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