LG G2 First Impressions

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LG Optimus G2-0036

The Android marketplace today is filled with a few phones, but the most powerful are limited to just two devices as of this month: the Samsung Galaxy Note III, and the LG Optimus G2. We’ll be looking at the former soon enough, but the latter is the latest in LG’s push to take some marketshare from either behemoth Samsung, or from the diminishing likes of HTC, Sony, and others. And after a short time with the G2, I can safely say that they’ve done a great job.

A 5.2-inch smartphone, the G2 is posh with the latest Snapdragon 800 series processor, boasting a ridiculous quad-core 2.26GHz (for comparison, the iPhone 5s is a 1.3GHz dual-core chip, and the Samsung Galaxy S IV uses a quad-core 1.9GHz chip). All that power runs the 1080p display (at 5.2-inches, that’s 423ppi) on the bright, crisp IPS LCD panel. 2GB of RAM and 32GB of onboard storage (24GB accessible), a 13MP OIS camera, and a 3000 mAh battery…all these components is a clear message that LG means business.

But go ahead and forget all about the specs. That’s pudding on this cake. While LG’s software has typically been at worst troubling, and at best a slight nuisance, the hardware giant’s design team has really done an outstanding job. Give the G2 a once-over and you won’t find any physical buttons except on the back. And you would think that they aren’t even buttons, but a slider to protect the camera. In fact, that’s the volume rocker and power/standby button, which are on the back because, thanks to some nifty software, you’ll never have to press them. Unless you want to turn off the phone, that is.

For volume, you already know that all mobile OS’s support software-side volume adjustment. Every app that supports audio has some way of changing the volume, meaning physical buttons for that function aren’t really necessary except for convenience, so users don’t have to activate the phone when listening to music, or so they don’t have to have an ugly menu overtake the video to make it louder. Again, those buttons are available if you really need them, they’re just on the back. But what about the power/standby button? We all know that one as how to wake up our Android phones.

LG has done something very cool for that thanks to a creative use of sensors and some clever thinking. How do you activate the G2? Just tap on the screen twice. It’s so easy and so…right, that it’s actually incredible that no one thought of it before, and if they had that they didn’t implement it. The function isn’t flawless, but it works well enough to not have an issue. Heck, it works more often than the fingerprint reader on the iPhone 5s. And to put it back to sleep, just double-tap on the screen where there isn’t anything. That part is a bit trickier, because if you’re viewing a web page or in an app, it’s impossible to double tap and render the phone inert. The only way is to exit to the homescreen and to find some dead screen space.

Of course, LG can play around with this much more and use other gestures like tapping two fingers to sleep. The point is that, even with around just 5% of the US smartphone marketshare, LG is thinking of things in a creative way that should earn them some more customers. Most of the other software improvements are minor, stemming more from speed and efficiency bumps thanks to simpler software and better hardware. From the few days of use, I’m liking the LG Optimus G2 a lot. It’s definitely a phone worth checking out. Stay tuned for the full review, coming soon.


 


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James Pikover

 
Spawned in the horrendous heat of a Los Angeles winter, James was born with an incessant need to press buttons. Whether it was the car radio, doorbells on Halloween or lights, James pushed, pressed and prodded every button. No elevator was left unscathed, no building intercom was left un-rung, and no person he’s known has been left un-annoyed.


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