LG G3 review: Dream catcher
What's in the box?
The LG G3 comes in a slick retail box with a special tilted cover that slips on nicely. Inside, you get the usual set of peripherals including an A/C adapter rated at 1.8A, a microUSB cable and a standard set of QuadBeat 2 headset with some extra earbuds.
LG G3 360-degree spin
The LG G3 measures 146.3 x 74.6 x 8.9mm, which is about 8mm taller and 3.5mm wider than last season's flagship, while being able to retain the same 8.9mm of thickness. The weight comes in at just shy of 150 g, falling right in between the Samsung's Galaxy S5 flagship and Sony's Xperia Z2.
Minimal screen bezels aside, the area below the screen is taken up only by a textured pattern and the LG logo, while the navigation buttons are onto the screen itself. The space above the display is also minimal and is just large enough for the earpiece and sensors.
Design and build quality
The LG G3 has many similar design traits to HTC's One (M8) flagship - with the exception of the front-facing speakers each side of the display. Otherwise, the rounded corners and brushed aluminum look make the devices very similar at first glance, but obviously the faux-aluminum on the G3 can't quite stack up to the real thing the HTC device is made of.
The rear panel is removable, however - a fact that comes as somewhat of a surprise given how snugly it rests on the chassis. LG did a great job of providing unibody looks while making it easy to remove the back panel and access the battery and various card slots. This let them keep the sides of the device clear of any buttons or slot bays. There are also white, gold, violet, and red colors available.
On the back rests the proprietary control deck, which is basically the power/lock button and volume rocker placed directly below the camera lens. While the larger and more pleasantly-textured buttons are an improvement over the first generation found on the G2 and G Pro 2, it can take some getting used to if you are a newcomer to the LG. While looking head-on at the device, it's easy to hit the volume rocker instead of the power/lock button and vice-versa, or accidently smudge the lens.
The device is larger and thicker than crosstown rival Samsung Galaxy S5, but it does manage to squeeze in a larger screen with minimal additions to its dimensions.
Compared to the G2 you see a much more striking increase in size, although the company does well to retain the 8.9mm thickness.
LG have opted not to equip their flagship with an IPX rated dust and water protection chassis. The primary reason, according to LG, is that quality standards set by the IP board are not clear. For example, what happens when a device rated for 30 mins of water resistance is submerged for 29 minutes, taken out, then immediately submerged again? Does a new 30 minute period begin, or do you really only have one minute left? How long after submerging does the period reset?
LG also argues that the force you impact the device with water with is also not specified. Certainly, you're talking about vastly different needs if you're trying to build a device to withstand a small splash of water or one to withstand a high-pressure jet.
Both of these arguments are valid points from LG, but we still would have liked to see some sort of protection from the elements - after all, we're not talking about a small investment.
Controls and handling
Unlike most manufacturers, the controls of the LG G3 have been moved away from below the display or on the sides of the device, and are instead found on the display itself as well as the rear .
Above the display resides the earpiece flanked by a series of sensors, while below the display you have just a blank area with a centered LG logo.
The left and right of the device are bare, save for a small nail crevice used to open the back panel.
At the bottom you'll find a USB port flanked by a primary microphone pinhole. Oddly, LG has decided to put the 3.5mm audio jack here as well, given that on most devices it is in a more out-of-the-way location at the top of the device.
Speaking of the top, that's where you'll find an IR-port flanked by a secondary microphone. Our Korean G3 model also came with a telescopic antenna along the right edge, but that won't be available on the international units.
Around back is LG's proprietary control deck that's been around since the LG G2. It's been refined since its initial implementation and both the volume rocker and power/lock button feature pleasant textures. As we said the unusual key location does take a day or two of getting used to, but once you are there you'll really appreciate the out of the box thinking that LG demonstrated.
Enabling far slimmer bezels, the keys are still comfortable enough to use. And the best part is that you can double tap to unlock and double tap to lock the smartphone, so searching for the power key is going to be a rare occurrence regardless of its placement.
Here you'll also find the 13MP primary camera lens, flanked by a dual-LED dual-tone flash and a first-of-its-kind phase detection/laser autofocus sensor. For more on this last bit, check out the dedicated camera chapter.
Towards the bottom you'll find the speaker grille. Otherwise, the panel itself is (easily) removable, and underneath you'll find the user-replaceable 3,000 mAh battery and the microSD and microSIM card slots.
LG has built in support for Qi wireless charging into the back panel, which makes the device compatible with any wireless charging adapters that also share the same Qi standard. Certain carriers, like AT&T in the US, have shipped their G3 with support for the less widespread PMA standard instead, so be sure to research which standard your device supports before buying a charging pad.
Handling the LG G3 is perhaps where the only real issues may arise for users - particularly those with smaller hands. Comparing the device to the G2, an increase of just under 4mm in width may not seem like much, but is a difference that can be felt nonetheless. Add to that the almost 8mm increase in vertical, and it becomes fairly difficult to handle the G3 with one hand - not the case with the G2.
Still, the curved back and adequate thinness make up for its size deficiencies, and the solid build coupled with the pleasant brushed faux-aluminum texture of the plastic lend a premium feel.