The LG G2, a new smartphone from the Korean manufacturer of smartphones like the LG Optimus G Pro and the Nexus 4, was released today at an event in New York City. International Business Times was there to cover the event and get a hands-on with the LG G2.
The official specs released by LG show that the G2 did not have a couple of features that gadget fans were looking for -- namely a fingerprint scanner on the rear of the device and 3GB of RAM. In a brief hands-on with the device, I found that the phone will likely not contend with the iPhone 5 or Samsung Galaxy S4. It might just give the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 a run for its money, however.
While LG unveiled the specs and features of the G2, the company was more tight-lipped about the LG G2’s price and any possible release date for the phone. Representatives from LG also refused to comment on whether they were working on the next Nexus device for Google, or if such a future device would share any of the G2’s features.
LG G2 specs
The LG G2 features an “edge-to-edge” 5.2-inch Full HD 1080p IPS display, runs Android 4.2.2 and boasts a 2.26GHz quad-core Krait CPU on a Snapdragon 800 SoC. On the specs side, the LG G2 also features 2GB of RAM and a 13-megapixel main camera with optical image stabilization (OIS), a 2.1-megapixel front-facing shooter and a 3,000mAh battery. As for wireless service, the LG G2 will run on 4G LTE.
The LG G2 screen is where LG's display technology really shines, with a resolution of 1080 x 1920 and 423 pixels per inch (ppi). At only 2.7-inches wide, LG touted the ease of one-handed use with the G2. I found it to be as easy to hold as smaller devices like the company’s Nexus 4 for Google, which is the same width. The bezel (2.65mm or less than 1/10 of an inch) is a lot smaller on the LG G2 than the Nexus 4, which gives the phone more screen real estate than similarly sized devices.
LG also stressed the audio capability of the G2, mentioning that it was capable of 24-bit, 192kHz audio playback, which is higher than CD quality (16-bit, 44.1kHz). The problem with offering the LG G2’s higher audio resolution as a standout feature is that most audio -- whether it is streamed or downloaded to the device -- is not offered in a high enough bitrate to make much of a difference. LG is trying to cater to audiophiles with the feature, and most consumers (especially those who stream music more often than storing it on their phone) will not hear much of a difference.
New features found in the LG G2
One of the most standout hardware features of the LG G2 release is the absence of standard power and volume buttons on the front or sides of the device. The LG G2’s Back Key is located on the rear of the device, with a power button surrounded on top and bottom by volume keys. Pressing the power button to turn on the screen causes it to light up, and a long press on either of the volume button also brings up an app. A long press on the LG G2’s rear “volume down” button brings up the phone’s camera, while holding “volume up” brings up LG’s QuickMemo app.
To power up the LG G2 when it is laying on its back, the company has incorporated Knock Knock, a double-tap gesture that powers the phone up from sleep, and can turn the screen back off again. LG touted other features of the new user experience (UX) of the G2, which include several features like Answer Me, which answers phone calls automatically when a user puts the phone to their ear, and Plug & Pop, which brings up a list of suggested options when a headphone or USB cable is plugged in. The LG G2 will follow the Samsung Galaxy S4 and HTC One with QuickRemote, a software-controlled IR sensor to control home theater devices and TV sets.
The LG G2 will also feature Slide Aside -- a three-finger swipe gesture similar to “Show Desktop” on a Mac. Slide Aside moves open apps into a smaller windowed form on the side of the LG G2’s home screen. Another new feature on the LG G2 is Guest Mode, where a secondary unlock pattern brings up a series of “pre-selected apps” instead of the original home screen. LG touts the feature as a child-proofing and privacy measure.
LG G2: hands on
The LG G2 has a screen that feels huge, and super sharp. The phone is technically a “phablet” at 5.2-inches, but I found the G2 easy to hold in one hand. Also, despite the ultra-trim bezel on the G2, LG has incorporated rounded edges that are smooth and easy to grip in the absence of a volume rocker or power button.
The Back Key, on the underside of the LG G2, will take most users some getting used to. It also will prevent the LG G2 from lying perfectly flat on its back, which could annoy some users. The Knock Knock gesture that the company offers in lieu of a side power button – for when the phone is laying down – also took a few tries before I got the hang of it, but is a clever compromise on LG’s part.
Here is a video of Knock Knock on the LG G2 at its announcement event today in New York City. It does not work on every attempt.
The LG G2 is a finely crafted device, and the QuickWindow case works nicely – even if the idea behind it was lifted from the S View Flip Cover for the Samsung Galaxy S4. The QuickWindow case offers protection for the LG G2 while still allowing a view of the screen, for quick access to often used apps like a clock, alarm and music player. Knock Knock also works on the LG G2 when it is in QuickWindow mode.
The new features that LG is introducing are nice, but do not seem to be absolutely necessary in a phone. The Guest Mode takes a feature introduced to Android tablets with Google’s release of version 4.3 and relays it into the smartphone -- which makes sense.
Overall, LG has included an incredible screen and powerful processor in the G2, and the Back Key and software features are a nice touch – even if they take some getting used to. The LG G2 should compare favorably to the upcoming Samsung Galaxy Note 3, but with the innovations expected from competing manufacturers, the LG G2 seems less than revolutionary.
The LG G2 will release within the coming months, although the company did not offer a specific release date for its latest flagship smartphone.
Thomas Halleck is a tech reporter for the International Business Times, covering Google, wearables, product reviews and mobile news....