LG G2: Australian hands-on

Hand

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.

Optus Exclusive

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.

Screen

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.

Camera

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.

Audio

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.

Battery

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.

Device Control

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.

Software

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.

Guest Mode

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!

About the author

Daniel has been an avid Android fan since the arrival of the HTC Dream. He has been working in IT for the last 7 years and selling IT equipment for 10 years previous to that. He has been interested in... (read more)


  • Jj

    16gb with no sd card and a UI that looks like its related to touch wiz . Not only that, they followed samsung by filling it to the brim with gimmicks.

    Hopefully a 32gb version comes

  • David Anderton

    Phone looks great but 16gb and no SD is lame

  • http://mccarneypt.com Piers McCarney

    Honestly, that price seems outstanding (outright) considering the very high spec hardware! Only thing missing is a minimum 32GB storage (to compensate for no microSD) and it’d be nearly flawless!

    • Fred

      Its difficult to understand how you could go to all that trouble, to create that phone, and not put enough memory in it (or an SD slot) such that you halve the sales before you start.

      Earth to phone manufacturers – 32GB is the minimum expected, then 64 and 128GB versions on top. AND a microSD slot. Chop 0.5 inches off the screen size to pay for it.

  • Duncan_J

    With no 16gb model in Australia on launch we’re all going to buy from mobicity. Bad decision LG Australia. Your local sales figures will be lower now.

    Hifi sound with 16gb storage Standard(before os and bloat) this seems incongruous

    Any info on an google edition rom?

  • ocujos

    Only 16Gb and no SD card. LG need to look up to Samsung, not Google. 32Gb must be a minimum on a high end phone, unless there is SD card. Samsung’s got it right when it comes to storage options.
    My next phone will be Note 3. It’s got everything on G2+missing features like SD card, an extra Gb RAM and a stylus as well.

  • CAPS
    • http://ausdroid.net/ Daniel Tyson

      Exactly which part of the post are you disagreeing with? seeing as we spent an hour with the LG team and the LG G2 yesterday I reported exactly what I was told.

  • Christopher Theofilaktos

    I really like the look of this phone. not sure how I feel about the buttons on the back tho. Depending on the XDA activity for this phone and if it has an unlocked bootloader it may defnitely be my next phone.

  • CAPS

    OPS!!
    well this sucks i readed it again here is the quote:
    The storage capacity is set at either 16GB or 32GB. Supposedly, there is a microSD slot as well, but it seems that will only be available in certain markets and the units LG brought to NYC didn’t have such a thing
    reps can be wrong … no joke i heard a rep telling people the htc one had a 5mp camera lol

    • http://ausdroid.net/ Daniel Tyson

      The microSD Card slot is apparently only on the Korean version as seen in that leaked manual.

      The 32GB version may come to Australia but it’ll be sold as an outright handset only at this stage.

  • No One

    16GB internal storage only??? Good luck with it.

    I don’t need SD but 16GB is stupid decision for an high end phone. It is a good device for taking picture and media playback but hey where can I store my content? Carry an external HDD with OTG USB?

  • Brian

    Very disappointing about the lack of SD storage. That’s the only real weakness with the Nexus 4, but in that case the lack of SD was Google’s attempt to promote their own cloud services. Samsung and HTC didn’t follow suit and if LG want to compete as a manufacturer they need to offer at least 32gb. I was thinking of ways to ‘lose’ my N4 until I heard this.

    • No One

      Until we can have the unlimited data plan on mobile phone, the cloud services are useless.

  • James Z

    well look likes ill be getting one from oversea since the oversea version which i hope have micro sd slot