LG launched the LG G2 – the latest in their premium line of G Series phones, this morning at an event in New York. Ausdroid was impressed by the original Optimus G, but a late arrival to the Australian market saw it compared unfavourably to newer model phones, long after it launched internationally. LG has no intention of repeating that unfortunate history with the G2, however – it intends a pretty aggressive rollout over the next 2-3 months to over 130 countries, which should see this latest superphone shine in a market where its features are promising to make it a star.
Ausdroid was given a tour of the product’s headline features, as well as some hands-on time with early hardware today in Sydney.
The big news for Australia is that we’ll see a 16 GB version when it launches exclusively on Optus in October/November. While plans have not been announced, we expect Optus will share details closer to launch. At this stage, LG has advised the RRP on the phone will be $699. LG hasn’t ruled out bringing the 32 GB model to the open market at a later stage, but there’s no immediate plans to do so.
Power to go
The G2 is the first phone to be launched with the Snapdragon 800 System on Chip inside, one of the highest-powered SOCs seen so far. It offers compatibility for both Time-Division Duplex (TDD) LTE and Frequency Division Duplexing (FDD) LTE, so the G2 can cover the complete range of LTE frequencies available in Australia – this means it covers the 900/1800/2100 and the 2300MHz frequencies, so customers on the Optus network in Canberra will finally be able to get their hands on a 4G LTE smartphone.
Complementing the Snapdragon 800 is 2 GB of LPDDR3 800MHz RAM making the phone very responsive – it’s extremely quick, touch response is almost instantaneous and opens applications in the blink of an eye.
The G2 comes with a 5.2″ Full HD IPS display. We were fond of the screen in the original Optimus G, and the G2 looks to be of similar – if not better – quality. It has absolutely minimal bezel, and this makes it extremely easy to hold. The phone is designed to be held securely with your thumb and the last three fingers of your hand, leaving your index finger to operate the uniquely-positioned volume up/down and power button below the camera on the rear of the device. When holding the phone, it feels secure and your index finger falls into what feels like a fairly natural position.
An exciting feature on the G2 is a double tap the screen to wake. The feature will only work reliably when the phone is completely still – i.e on a desk – and rather than a feature of the screen actually relies on the accelerometer to activate it. An interesting but subtle feature that is fairly useful to the everyday user.
The saying goes ‘the best camera is the one you have in your hand’ and with the 13 MP rear camera on the G2, this camera could be one of the best. LG has included Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS) on an f2.4 lens covered in sapphire crystal glass, giving you excellent quality shots in low light. A shootout between Jason‘s HTC One and the LG G2 saw a very similar overall photo, but the G2 had the edge when zoomed-in with better definition and less noise. The G2′s 13 MP sensor shone in our brief time with the deivce, and we’re looking forward to testing this further.
LG has also revamped the camera software. The G2 offers nine focus points on the screen (more like a “proper” camera), and makes it easy to access the settings. They’ve also included a PhotoSphere equivalent called VR Panorama which tries to be a little easier to use than Google’s original by helping you line the shot up.
Video on the G2 can captured at full HD 1080p resolution at 60 frames per second – an amazing feat again made possible by that Snapdragon 800 CPU.
The G2 comes with a world first for audiophiles – High Definition Audio. Delivering studio-quality 24 bit/192kHz Hi-Fi playback, we were treated to a blast of a FLAC version of Hotel California which contained some of the best sound quality I’ve personally heard come out of a phone. It should be noted that this applies to headphone usage rather than the built-in speakers.
The G2 comes with a massive 3000 mAh battery that’s ‘stepped’ to fit inside the curved edges at the back of the device rather than just being a single rectangular block – this means that LG has managed to fit an extra 400mAh of battery power into the device. LG is a world leader in battery technology, offering a higher cycle rate than other manufacturers and this promises to be a great advancement.
Like other manufacturers, LG has included an IR port on the top of the G2 to allow you to control almost any device in your house – including your air conditioner and vacuum cleaner(!). A number of important remotes will be pre-programmed for the Australian market, including Foxtel.
LG will launch the G2 with a skinned version of the almost-latest version of Android – 4.2.2. Disappointingly, there likely won’t be an update to Android 4.3, but when the next version of Android comes out LG will of course evaluate the update for a possible release – nothing firm can be promised until the code is available. It’s worth noting though that the original Optimus G still doesn’t have an upgrade for Android 4.2 available.
It’s been nearly a year since the Optimus G was released, and LG has taken the time to improve on their software in nearly every way. The G2 has been improved from previous releases on the Optimus G and the more recent Optimus F5.
LG’s QSlide system has been expanded with more applications available to be used as floating overlays, and Q-Memo – my favourite feature from past LG phones – is also still present. Better yet, Q-Memo can be operated either from a swipe up gesture from the bottom of the screen, or by holding the Volume Up key when the phone is locked. While QSlide has seen a number of welcome improvements, the system still sadly won’t allow developers to add their own applications.
The G2 forgoes a physical home key or capacitive buttons, instead embracing Android’s onscreen soft keys. Unlike other manufacturers however, LG offers customisation of these buttons and you can choose a number of different layouts (back button on the left, on the right, a dedicated QSlide button, etc). Unfortunately, they’ve decided that a multi-tasking button isn’t necessary – you multi-task by double tapping the home button in all cases. The rest of the customisations are fairly notable – you can change the position of the keys and also the colours and opacity of the keys. It’s great to see features like this make their way from custom ROMs into the mainstream.
The G2 includes a “guest mode” feature, so parents can allow their kids to use their phone without any worries about having them access any content or applications you don’t want them to. The notification panel and the app drawer are disabled in guest mode so your guests can only access applications you want them to.
Plug and Pop
When you plug things into the microUSB or Headphone jack, both of which are located at the bottom of the phone, a new service called ‘Plug and Pop’ shows software which can be complimentary to that connection. Plug your headphones in and the system will offer a (customisable) list of apps you can launch. USB-OTG also allows you to plug in a keyboard, mouse, USB thumbdrive or even a portable hard drive and suitable apps like LG’s file manager will pop up. Given power restrictions on a smartphone, you can only use low power (sub-500mA) portable Hard Drives, but this seems like an acceptable caveat.
SIM and Micro SD cards
A leaked manual recently pointed to a NanoSIM and expandable memory via a microSD card being hidden under a removeable battery cover. Unfortunately,
while a NanoSIM is indeed present LG have advised that it’s actually a microSIM, a microSD card is not – there’s no expandable memory on the Australian G2.
Quick View Cover
The G2 will launch with a Quick View cover, the only one they’ve announced at this stage and seemingly the only one they will announce. The Quick View cover has magnets built in to enable “smart mode” – when closed, a clock is displayed in the window but phone calls can be answered and music can be controlled from this window as well. With a non-removeable back, the G2 simply slips into a plastic back which holds the phone securely. Of the seven colours announced it’s not clear at this stage which ones will be available and it’ll be up to retailers to order the colours they want to sell.
Also present on the table today was an LG USB battery which provides an extra battery charge when needed. Handily, it also doubles as a stand for your phone – useful for watching movies on a long flight, for example – and can fit the G2 with or without the Quick View Cover.
After spending an hour with the LG G2, I’m impressed. The hardware feels wonderful, and the uniquely-positioned buttons are an intriguing development that feel quite comfortable to use. The G2 doesn’t feel like a 5.2 inch phone, mostly because of the minimal bezels around the screen. The additions to LG’s software customisations appear to be well thought-out, and add value to Android’s base functionality.
Edit: Almost forgot, at this stage there is no Google Play edition of the LG G2 coming.
We hope to run the G2 through its full paces in a review as soon as LG can get one to us – quite frankly, I can’t wait.
Are you interested in the G2? Have you already started saving? Let us know in the comments!