Over the last couple of years, LG has gone from being somewhat of an underdog to a top tier contender in the crowded Android smartphone market, something that was very apparent with the launch of its 2014 flagship, the LG G3. Released last summer, the LG G3 became an instant challenger for the best smartphone of the year title. Being the first mainstream device to boast a Quad HD display, along with a further refinement of the design language, LG certainly had a winner on their hands, but that was then, and this is the LG G3……now!
LG’s focus on great design really shone through with the G3, with its ultra-thin bezels around the display and impressive screen-to-body-ratio making for a device that much smaller than it could have been. The G3 continues to be very appealing, with some unique design aspects such as its rear button layout, and is still a great looking phone, even when compared to its successor and other 2015 flagships. Being made of plastic, the device may not offer as much of a premium feeling as those made with metal and glass, but the faux metallic finish of the plastic back certainly made a difference, and also helped it avoid being a fingerprint magnet.
As mentioned, the LG G3 was one of the first smartphones to feature a Quad HD display and at the time was considered one of the best in the market. As Quad HD became the flagship standard, releases that followed the G3, including its successor, the LG G4, brought to the fore some of the shortcomings of the G3 display. The high resolution and resulting pixel density meant there were no issues with sharpness, but when compared to the competition, the display is found to be lacking in color reproduction and brightness.
As expected from a flagship, the LG G3 packed the latest and greatest processing package of its time, the quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor, clocked at 2.5 GHz, and backed by the Adreno 330 GPU and 2 or 3 GB of RAM, depending on the storage option of choice. General performance was as good as expected, but it did suffer from overheating issues when pushed to the limit, or while having the screen on full brightness, which resulted in the phone slowing itself down to stay cool.
Following several software updates, including the official one to Android 5.0 Lollipop, a lot of the performance issues that first surfaced don’t seem to persist anymore, and the Snapdragon 801 is still a very capable processor. Granted there are still some instances of lag and stutter, even while performing a task as simple as swiping down to open the notification shade, but that is likely due to a lack of software optimization, as opposed to any limitations of the processing package.
Another big highlight of the LG G3 was with regards to its camera performance. It may not have offered a whole lot in terms of manual controls but it wasn’t particularly required, with the G3 capable of taking some great shots, helped along with the then brand new laser guided auto focus system. It was easily one of the best smartphones cameras of 2014, and while the current crop of flagships pack some really impressive cameras, the G3 should still be able to hold its own and make a lot of people happy.
Upon release of the G3, there were some concerns with regards to how the Quad HD display would affect battery life, which were, unfortunately, justified. Despite packing a large 3,000 mAh unit, the battery life proved to be just about average, which wasn’t enough to satisfy power users that required a lot of screen-on time. Of course, with a removable back came a replaceable battery, a feature that is mostly unavailable nowadays, and you do have the option to carry around a spare.
On the software side of things, the G3 has received an official update to Android 5.0 Lollipop, and while some of elements of Material Design have made its way over, noticeable mostly in the notification dropdown and the Overview screen, the general aesthetic of the G UI remains unchanged. The G UI does feel a little bloated, and despite some useful features like Knock On, Knock Code, and Dual Window, the software experience does pale when compared to the rest of the competition. Those who prefer a more streamlined experience will have to depend on third party launchers from the Google Play Store to get the job done.
So there you have it for this look back at the LG G3! Overall, the G3 has aged very well, and is still a solid smartphone. The upcoming release of its successor will bring about a price drop that makes the LG G3 a great option for those not looking to spend an arm and a leg on the latest and greatest. If you’re looking for a phone that offers features like a great camera, beautiful display, fantastic design and build quality, expandable storage, and a replaceable battery, while looking to save a little bit of money, the LG G3 should definitely be under consideration even today.