LG G2 Review - man are we in for something good

Just take this thing out of the box and immediately you're met with something very cool.  It's quite large, with very little bezel.  Add in full HD and it's AMAZING!

It's a guilty pleasure I have to show this to someone else and see them fumble trying to figure out how to turn it on.  It is quite awkward at first, but you quickly adjust to the setting.

If the rumours are to be believed, then this is the predecessor to the next Nexus.  Now, it would be slightly smaller, no back buttons... but we'll have to see for sure.  That aside, here's the TL;DR version:  the display is amazing and is hard to go back to anything after you've used it; the device is the same size as my Nexus 4, but without any bezel we get a larger screen size; and the device runs like a charm

Turning it on we're faced with an LG phone and it's very apparent.  Reminiscent of how Samsung immerses the user in  a TouchWiz world.  Several features are straight from the Samsung play book (stay on, video pausing while looking away) and there are several that are unique to their own as well.

Let's explore this device.  It's a lengthy trip, but it's worth it.  I find myself echoing the same things I said while reviewing the Optimus G, and the promise that the Nexus device can bring.

LG G2 specifications


  • 5.2" @ 1080x1920
  • 2.26GHz x4 Snapdragon 800 w/ 2GB RAM
  • 32GB storage
  • 3000mAh
  • 13MP/2MP
  • 4.2.2


Overview
The simple bare look of the device is wholly attractive.  The back of it is unremovable and again is plain except for the unique back button, which again helps to remind of it's uniqueness.  Getting used to the buttons on the back is only a matter of time.  I was really curious how my hand would meld into the position to be able to use the buttons, and it is a little awkward, but it works.

1080p is quite the treat.  You really do notice the difference between that and something like the Nexus 4, it makes the 5.2" screen even larger.

Turning the device on (after getting used to the button and/or the knock on) you'll notice that it is not only 'skinned', but contains a lot of enhanced features added in by LG.  Some good, some novelty.

The biggest annoyance about it is that the notification tray is littered with settings.  For a new user to the smartphone realm you'd be overwhelmed with the options presented.  For a user of a Nexus device it's almost an affront.  With QSlide on, and the power toggles, throw in 2 notifications and it's a cramped screen.



Watch my full review video below.  After which, I'll try to describe some of the specific enhancement apps it includes.

Unique Features
Much like Samsung, they've packed the device with some enhancements.  Some may not like them, may never even use them, but as +Cass Morrison always tells, she rather prefers these enhancements as it saves her having to separately download said app.

There's several on this device, in fact there's a whole screen on the home screen devoted to reminding you about them.


Thankfully there is still the slide up for Google Now, but you're also presented with Voice Mate or Quick Memo
I'll describe them below and then have some videos to showcase them.  There was no way I could put all of them into the one review video and not have it become a super long boring video.  So I've broken it up some.
  • Knock On/Off
Find the power button a little hard to use all the way back there?  Well, just tap your device to wake it up.  It takes some getting used to to figure out what the actual cadence is, even still, about half the time I'm still having to do it a second time before it registers.

  • Voice Mate
No self respecting device seems to want to go on  without their own version of Siri.  Google has "now", Samsung has S Voice and now LG has Voice Mate (not sure if it was already in previous versions or not.  What's neat about using Voice Mate over others is it does allow for the 'hover' mode, where it can be placed on a top layer of the device ready for more search queries as you continue to use your phone in other apps.

  • Cloud / WAN connections
You know me, I'm a cloud guy.  The fact that it has dropbox integration built into most of its apps is pretty nice.  Add in the fact that it can connect to my home network and start watching videos and view pictures and listen to music without really having to do anything on the device, is stellar.

  • Quick Translate
This REALLY impressed me.  Seeing as my son is starting French immersion, I've really been using Google Translate a lot.  What's nice about this app was the camera integration (sure, Google's has that as well, but this really beats it out).  You can have the camera pinpoint words, a line or even a block of text.  It's really quick on picking up words, sometimes too quick, and the OCR can be a bit off (really off in others), but it's amazing how fast it works.


 
  • TV Mode
I really liked the HTC implementation of the IR port, and using the net to get you your schedules... but what I like about this, whereas it's a simple remote for your devices, it does it almost flawlessly.  After having to spend a near decade selling universal remotes, I can truly say that this is the way they all should be done.  Simple and to the point.

Having the settings in the notification tray can be a nuisance, but if you're watching a show and using your phone at the same time, it's simpler to access than going to a separate app.

  • Multi Tasking
Now here's where things are a little redundant, but also cool.  Several ROMs have offered us dual or floating apps.  Sony and Samsung spring readily to mind.  What sets this apart is that you can adjust the window's opacity.  Which is helpful while having it act.
 

 You can also use a 3 finger gesture to 'slide' apps into an 'aside' (from right to left).  It stores 3 apps there.  You slide with 3 fingers back (left to right) to show the apps.  But... you could have just used the task manager (hold home).


  • Guest Mode
Let's face it, we use our phones to do EVERYTHING these days.  Just about every private thing we do is contained in it, and usually without a secondary password.  Someone asking to use your phone could get sketchy.  Well, there's a guest mode.  Put your phone security to a pattern lock.  Just tell them to do a lock pattern style and they're in a harmless "use basic apps, but don't go snooping" mode.
  • Life Square
Essentially a 'life logger'.  This, when turned on, logs how you've used your phone.  Days you took pictures, took phone calls, posted statuses etc... I imagine it would be essentially horribly overflowing in a short amount of time, but could be nice to have a 'days glance'.

  • Capture Plus
This lets you take a picture of a WHOLE webpage as a picture.  Kind of nice if you want to grab some long site that has a bunch of information, but copy/paste won't work... this will take a snapshot of the whole site.  No matter how long, and save it as a jpg.



Camera
The camera, although LG enhanced, I'm saving here as a separate feature unto itself.  The photos can be at 13MP at the conventional 4:3 ratio, but you'll probably like using the 16:9 (i.e. so it fits your TVs and device screens appropriately), and for that you only get 10MP.  Sad that I have to say 'only' for 10MP...  the pictures have been quite clear.  You have all the standard features others do (still like the 'cheese' feature to take a photo).


I haven't noticed much difference with the optical image stabilizer (OIS) on, but maybe it's just the shots I'm trying.  I also haven't been able to get into a situation to use the Audio Zoom feature - a feature that narrows the field of the mic to one 'area' (i.e. eliminate the noise around you).

 Here's some of the samples I've got.  All were pretty much taken with the 10MP 16:9 mode.
Usage
Absolutely ZERO observed lag.  Benchmarks through the roof (if you trust those).




Battery life has been stellar (started to put some push sync accounts on it, and hasn't dented the battery).


The UI is a little clunky and takes some getting used to after having come from a Nexus device, but there are some things I do like.  Like the keyboard.  It's a full keyboard.  An extra row for the numbers.  Sure it's higher than a standard keyboard, but you have 5.2" and at full 1080p, so it doesn't feel like it's obscuring the view.

 Just like the Samsungs, it recognizes accessories or inputs, like headphones or USB cables and popups come up to assist you with it (headphones shows you a list of 'listening apps', and the USB cable pops up with how you want to handle it).  Sure, you can disable these, but for any 'new user', it would be helpful.  I can't tell you how many times I remind my dad about specific features.  So a constant reminder for him might be good.

Using the device on Ingress, I'm finding the GPS isn't quite as able to lock in.  If you're standing still, Maps works just fine, whereas while my wife would drive and I'd load up Ingress it just would not 'follow' the position nearly as well as other devices.   Maybe it's a safety feature.

 Now there's probably a ton of other features that I've failed to mention, and that's a meant as a treat for you when you get one to discover.  But, really it's just that's SO MUCH in this phone to be able to put in a single post.

Overall
I really like this device.  Absolutely.  Sure, it's a clunky looking UI, and any simplistic looking loving user would have a fair bit of tweaking to get it back to something easier on the eyes, but I honestly think I'd get used to it. It's not been quite 2 weeks, and I'm used to the back button and the features.  I'm finding myself using some of those switches.  Tack in the fact that it's a supreme device where I've not seen it stutter even once it makes the experience super fluid.

I'm going to give it a 9/10.

Really, go try it out!
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