LG is not one to let other devices dominate the playing field. The company recently released its newest flagship smartphone, the Optimus G. The specs alone are something to drool over, and if you’re particular about your display, it’s something worth craving. If you haven’t seen our full review of this phone yet, check out our in depth-review of the LG Optimus G to see why people can’t wait to get their hands on this device.
How does the Optimus G stack up against the current King of the Android Hill, the Samsung Galaxy S3 GT-I9300? Find out in our comparison of the two phones below (or jump to our phone comparison video near the end of this post).
Physical build and design
Dimensions and weight
|Samsung Galaxy S3||LG Optimus G|
|Length||136.9 mm (5.39 in)||131.9 mm (5.19 in)|
|Width||71.1 mm (2.80 in)||68.9 mm (2.71 in)|
|Thickness||8.6 mm (0.34 in)||8.45 mm (0.33 in)|
|Weight||133 g||145 g|
Plastic has been Samsung’s trademark for everything, including its high-end phones. The Galaxy S3 is no exception as the phone’s chassis is primarily made of plastic. The device’s rounded corners make it comfortable to hold. Its smooth and polished polycarbonate back cover, however, may be a challenge to people with oily and sweaty hands.
This device measures 136.9 x 71.1 x 8.6 mm (5.39 x 2.80 x 0.34 in) and weighs 133 grams. This is by no means a small phone, and some may even consider this to be pushing the limits of what they’re willing to hold.
The LG Optimus G is also made of plastic but its unibody chassis seems to be more solid than the Galaxy S3’s. However, some users may find the blocky and slightly more angular build of the Optimus G a turn off compared to the rounded corners of the Galaxy S3.
The Optimus G has measurements of 131.9 x 68.9 x 8.45 mm (5.19 x 2.71 x 0.33 inch) and weighs 145 grams. It is slightly heavier than the Galaxy S3. This may be perfect for users who like to actually feel their phone in their hands. The Optimus G is also smaller, overall, than the Galaxy S3, in terms of length, width, and thickness. If you found the Galaxy S3 pushing the limits of what you’re willing to carry, the Optimus G might appeal to you.
Both the Galaxy S3 and the Optimus G have minimalist looks, but both devices have different inspirations.
The Galaxy S3 is rounded in a lot of places, giving no hard edges and even resembling a smooth-worn rock. The Galaxy S3’s front has a physical Home button and the colored bezel around the screen clearly shows you where the screen is located. The earpiece grille is located at the top-center of the phone, with the LED notification light to the left of the Samsung logo and the 1.9 MP front camera to its right. On the left of the Home button is the capacitive Menu button and on the right is the capacitive Back button.
The Optimus G, on the other hand, has a truly minimalist front. With its glass and metal edging, the phone appears to be more industrial compared to the S3’s nature-inspired look. There are no physical buttons and all that pops out at you is the LG logo at the top of the device.
The LED notification light is located to the right of the logo, together with the 1.3 MP front facing camera. Once you power on the device, you can see the Back, Home, and Menu capacitive buttons at the screen’s bottom. Because the Optimus G’s capacitive buttons are not physical, you cannot quickly tap on them to see your lock screen. You’ll need to reach for the Power button if you want to see the time or how much your device has been charged.
The Galaxy S3’s display is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 2, whereas the Optimus G’s own display is protected with Corning Gorilla Glass. LG, however, has introduced its Zerogap Touch Technology to its touchscreen panel, which reportedly makes the panel thinner and more sensitive to touch.
The placement of the physical buttons of both phones is similar. On the left side of the phones, you can find the Volume rockers and on the right, the Power button. The difference, however, is how accessible these buttons are to your fingers.
The Optimus G’s side physical buttons are placed a bit higher than those on the Galaxy S3, which means that reaching for the Volume rockers with your index or middle fingers will be a little difficult. Reaching for the Volume Down button is okay, but you’ll need to stretch your finger a bit to reach the Volume Up button. The Power buttons on both devices, on the other hand, are easy to get to with your thumb.
If you’re really meticulous with details, you’ll notice that the Optimus G’s physical buttons are not the same color as its chassis. The Power button and Volume rockers are slightly off white, more pearl-colored than the bright white of the phone’s body. While others may say that this difference in color helps the physical buttons pop out, I personally found the physical buttons to look as if the paint had been rubbed off of them. The Galaxy S3’s physical buttons, however, are of the same color as its body.
The back of the LG Optimus G is glossy and smooth, except for the 13 MP camera that juts out. Under the Optimus G’s camera is its LED flash and on the lower right corner, you can find the loudspeaker grille. Owing to its position, the loudspeaker grille is less likely to be covered up if you’re right-handed, but if you’re holding the Optimus G with your left hand, you might end up covering it.
Take note that the Optimus G’s loudspeaker is mono, which is disappointing for music lovers. The back is also adorned with crystal or diamond patterns, thanks to LG’s “Crystal Reflection” design, which is topped with a clear glass cover. We are not quite sure, though, if this glass cover can withstand deep impacts on the floor.
The Galaxy S3’s smaller 8 MP camera, on the other hand, slightly rises from the backplate. On the left of the camera is its flash and on the right is its speaker grille, which is less likely to be covered by your hand when you hold it. You can easily remove the Galaxy S3’s backplate and even subject it to some bending without it breaking. If your device falls, you can expect your backplate to go flying off.
Screen and display
The Galaxy S3 has more saturated colors, thanks to its HD Super AMOLED display. The colors look dense and strong on the screen, giving you richer and deeper colors. This screen type would most likely appeal more to artists and to the color-specific. The Optimus G, on the other hand, packs a True HD IPS Plus LCD display which shows truer-to-life colors. Some of my colleagues here at Android Authority liked the realistic colors and the sharp display on the Optimus G more than they do the display on the Galaxy S3.
It all depends on what you intend to use your screen for. If you’re using your device for color-sensitive work, such as for art and design, then you may want to use the Optimus G for its True HD IPS Plus LCD display. If you’re a gamer or you use the device primarily for media consumption, you may want the more vibrant colors of the Galaxy S3’s HD Super AMOLED display. As for reading, you may notice a slightly bluish tint on the Galaxy S3’s screen, even if the document’s background is white. It is slightly warmer on the Optimus G, which may appeal more to heavy readers.
In terms of screen size, the Galaxy S3 has a 4.8-inch screen with a 16:9 aspect ratio, while the Optimus G’s own screen is 0.1 inch smaller, at 4.7 inches, but with a 15:9 aspect ratio. There’s a difference between the two screens’ pixel resolutions. The Galaxy S3 has 1280×720 but the Optimus G has slightly more pixels at 1280×768. Though the difference is small, the higher pixel density of the Optimus G means that you can enjoy a crisper display. If you hold the Optimus G closer to your face, you may not see the individual pixels as clearly.
Regardless of what your tastes are regarding displays, the Optimus G comes with one media disadvantage: its mono loudspeakers, which could be a large disappointment for music lovers.
|Samsung Galaxy S3||LG Optimus G|
|SoC / Chipset||Samsung Exynos 4412||Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro|
|CPU||ARM Cortex-A9||Qualcomm Krait|
|CPU Clock Speed||1.4 GHz||1.5 GHz|
|CPU Cores||4 (quad)||4 (quad)|
|GPU||ARM Mali-400 MP4||Adreno 320|
|RAM||1 GB (international version)||2 GB (international version)|
|Internal Memory||16, 32, or 64 GB||32 GB|
|External Memory||up to 32 GB||none|
The LG Optimus G has pretty impressive insides. It’s powered by a Snapdragon S4 Pro quad-core processor with 2 GB of RAM. It has 32 GB of internal storage but, unfortunately, cannot be expanded via microSD card. That might be a dealbreaker for some who like being able to backup important data on an external SD card.
On the other hand, you do get to enjoy more space with the Galaxy S3, thanks to its microSD card slot. It uses the Samsung Exynos 4412 quad-core processor and has 1 GB of RAM (international version).
When launching apps on the Galaxy S3, there is a slight delay. On the Optimus G, however, the delay is less noticeable. Browsing through the app drawer is also snappier on the Optimus G than on the Galaxy S3.
In benchmarks, the Snapdragon S4 Pro proved to be snappier than the Exynos 4412. Check out the benchmark results comparison in “Benchmarked: Snapdragon S4 Pro (Optimus G) vs Exynos 4412 (Galaxy S3).”
Though both the Optimus G and the Galaxy S3 are packing 2,100 mAh batteries, these two batteries are not alike. The Galaxy S3’s removable battery is Li-ion, whereas the Optimus G’s battery is Li-polymer. LG is trying to one up the competition by giving its battery “prolonged charging cycles.” Where most Li-ion batteries on the market have only up to 500 charging cycles, LG claims that its battery lasts up to 800 charging cycles.
LG claims that the Optimus G can provide up to 15 hours talk time and 335 hours standby time, or up to about 8 hours on 4G LTE (with power-saving mode activated). The Galaxy S3, on the other hand, promises about 12 hours talk time and 790 hours standby time on 3G.
I put these beasts under heavy usage in order to find out which battery gives up first. The test consisted of playing HD games, downloading apps, surfing the Net, setting the phone’s screen on all the time with its brightness level maxed out, watching videos, Bluetooth, NFC and GPS on, and all sync options turned on. The Optimus G lasted about four hours before giving up. When it was the Galaxy S3’s turn, it surprised us by lasting 4 hours and 30 minutes. Though the Galaxy S3 may have outlived the Optimus G in our battery test, the results are not conclusive and may differ among users and among different usage conditions.
The Galaxy S3 features a super fast camera, allowing you to snap a shot the moment you press the shutter. Jump shots can now be captured, thanks to Burst Mode and you can automatically choose the best picture in a series using the Best Photo feature.
The Galaxy S3’s 8 MP camera performed well when I took some shots around the office. The pictures were a little bit noisy, though. Taking pictures in a low-light environment will also produce noisy pictures. Taking shots outdoors with ample lighting produced good pictures.
The 1.9 megapixel front facing camera also produces good pictures in bright environments but noisy ones in low-light environments. You will need to turn on the lights if you want to take vanity pictures or video chat with your friends.
The Optimus G’s camera performs well when taking pictures and videos in well-lit environments, especially outdoors. Colors are vivid and the camera could easily pick up textures, such as the ones on Bugdroid’s plastic body.
When taking pictures in low-light, however, the Optimus G’s camera was a disappointment. It got only worse when I took a video indoors. You can barely see anything and the clip is quite noisy. It may be a result of the Optimus G’s noise reduction.
The 1.3 MP front facing camera isn’t any better. Indoors, you can hardly see yourself, which means that it could be terrible for vanity shots and video calls. It’s slightly better when you take it out outdoors, but you end up looking washed out and pale.
The Optimus G has a direct rival to the Galaxy S3’s Burst Shot feature. It’s called Continuous Shot, but the LG phone has another interesting feature called Time Machine Camera, which makes sure that your shot will not be ruined by things like a sudden gust of wind or your subjects’ overpowering urge to scratch their noses. The magic happens seconds right before you touch the shutter button. If by the time you say “Cheese!” and the subject has moved to blink, you can scroll back to frames captured seconds before and select the better pre-captured shot.
Software and UI
The Galaxy S3 has already started receiving official Jelly Bean updates. According to LG sources, the Optimus G will be receiving its share in December yet — for the Korean variant, at least. Both devices have Ice Cream Sandwich out of the box, but the difference lies in their respective UIs. The LG Optimus UI 3.0, developed to be a straight competitor to Samsung TouchWiz 5 and HTC Sense 4, first debuted with LG Optimus LTE 2. Features like Quick Memo, Voice Shutter, Icon Personalizer, and unique unlocking options all came with this UI version.
On the other hand, Samsung’s Nature UX (inspired by nature) in TouchWiz 5 debuted with the Galaxy S3 coupled with a slew of features absent from its earlier version. Features like S Voice, Direct Call, Smart Stay, S Beam, and the pop-up video feature all debuted with the phone.
Unlocking the screens of both devices involve swiping your finger or thumb in any direction on the screen; TouchWiz 5 has its signature ripple effect and water sounds, while the Optimus UI 3.0 has made screen unlocking a delicious piece of eye-candy. A bubble-like circle teases the user of the home screen even without fully swiping it to unlock. Dragging the bubble from one of the bottom apps will immediately launch the app, as well. You can also launch app shortcuts directly on the lockscreen with TouchWiz 5.
The notification bar on the TouchWiz 5 UI can be swiped from left to right and vice-versa. The Toggle buttons on its notification bar are pre-set, you can’t change the toggle buttons nor can you reorder them. On the Optimus UI 3.0 though, you can choose to reorder the toggle buttons that appear on the notification bar. Although adding another item to be displayed on the notification bar is not possible, you can choose to take off as many toggle buttons as you want.
We also made a video review comparing the LG Optimus G and the Samsung Galaxy S3. Check it out below and remember to subscribe to our YouTube channel.
If you want a device that can give you clearer and sharper display, more realistic colors, and a sturdier feel, then the Optimus G might be for you.
If you’re looking for a slightly larger screen with saturated colors, the ability to expand via microSD card, and being able to replace the battery, then the Galaxy S3 might be more your thing.
It all comes down to what you’ll be using your device for. Artists and designers may like the Optimus G because it displays true-to-life colors, but if you’re all about brighter and more vivid colors for media consumption, the Galaxy S3 is your best bet.
Which one of these quad-core giants appeals most to you? Let us know by leaving a comment or voting in the poll.
(with contributions from Dan Evans)