The high-end of the smartphone market isn't an easy fortress to penetrate. LG has made some solid phones over the years, including the fraternal twins known as the Nexus 4 and Optimus G. But the company isn't usually mentioned in the same breath as Samsung or Apple. Will any amount of hardware or software features be able to change that? Let's try to find out, as we compare the new LG G2 to the Samsung Galaxy S4.
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The G2 is the bigger phone, but LG managed to squeeze a larger screen onto a surface that's only slightly bigger. It's only one percent taller and wider than the GS4, making the difference basically null and void. The G2 is, however, 13 percent thicker.
The G2 is also ten percent heavier than Samsung's flagship.
LG ditched the glass from last year's Optimus G for Samsung's favorite, plastic. But the real story here is the G2's button placement. The only physical buttons on the phone sit on the back, just below the camera. It's easy to snicker at LG's marketing this as an innovative breakthrough in smartphone design, but it is a move that could potentially be handy in real-world use.
What we're much more interested in, though, is the G2's display. Moving the buttons from the sides to the back helped LG to trim the bezels down to a minimum. We aren't quite swallowing LG's "edge-to-edge display" description here, but it is the closest thing to that we've seen so far.
Both phones have 1080p resolution, which will be razor sharp on either display, though the GS4's is technically a bit denser.
Interested in just how much bigger the G2's display is? Well, the Galaxy S4 gives you 92 percent as much screen area. Just don't forget that, unlike the GS4, the G2 has persistent onscreen navigation buttons, voiding some of that advantage.
The G2 is among the first batch of phones to pack Qualcomm's Snapdragon 800 processor, probably the cream of 2013's CPU crop. But make no mistake, both phones provide much more horsepower than 99.9 percent of the smartphone buying public will need anytime soon.
Both phones pack 2 GB of RAM.
LG's website only lists a 32 GB model for the G2, but the company's press release also mentions a 16 GB version, so we'll go with that for now. Unlike the Galaxy S4, there's no microSD slot in the tightly-sealed G2.
The G2 supports LTE-Advanced, which you probably don't have access to yet, but potentially could sometime during the lifespan of your next phone. Samsung is also rolling out an LTE-Advanced version of the GS4, but the standard version doesn't support the speedier LTE.
If you have to "settle" for standard LTE, though, there's really nothing to worry about. As long as your carrier supports it, it will likely be plenty fast for anything you'd need while away from Wi-Fi.
LG's engineers squeezed a pretty high-capacity battery into the G2. We'll have to wait for the official word on battery life, but LG is touting it as "more than ready for a full day’s work or play."
This is another area we're eager to learn more about. The G2's camera has impressive resolution, but also throws some Optical Image Stabilization into the mix to help avoid the effects of camera shake.
Both phones run Android 4.2.2, and each also has its own custom UI dominating the Android experience. We weren't over the moon for LG's UI in the Optimus G, but the company did add at least one very cool feature this time around: KnockOn lets you turn your screen on or off by tapping twice on the screen. Sometimes it's the little things like this that make smartphones fun.
Among other software features in tow on the G2 we have Audio Zooming, which lets you control which audio source(s) the three built-in microphones amplify when recording video. Text Link supposedly makes it easier to transfer text from one app to another, and Guest Mode lets you set up a restricted profile for, say, a child borrowing your phone.
Google Play Edition
We love the marriage of stock Android with the Galaxy S4 and HTC One on their Google Play Editions, but LG hasn't announced anything on that front. If last year is any indication, though, the G2 may end up serving as the blueprint device for the Nexus 5. Rumors have suggested this, and the Nexus 4 was basically a modified version of the Optimus G.
Yep, both phones have IR blasters. Most likely, the only thing you'd use this for is to turn your phone into a remote control for your TV. Handy, but probably not game-changing for most customers.
Both phones also have Near field Communication chips, for whatever that's worth. Maybe it will be just the excuse you were waiting for to back that groovy NFC Ring on Kickstarter.
We'll throw LG a bone here, since it's boasting about the G2's 24-bit, 192 kHz Hi-Fi playback. This could be handy, but remember that unless the audio files you're playing are of equally high-quality, this probably won't make any difference.
The G2 will be gradually rolling out globally within the next month or two. The Galaxy S4 has been around since April.
Pricing, by the way, will vary by carrier, and we don't know anything more about that just yet.