The LG G3 has finally been revealed – so how does it stack up against one of our favourites from the current crop of flagship smartphones, Sony’s Xperia Z2? Read on and we’ll tell you.
Design and build – plastic vs glass
The Sony Xperia Z2 is one of the best built phones on the market – in fact, if it were not for the existence of the HTC One M8, we’d say it’s the classiest-looking Android phone ever made. It’s lightweight and waterproof, while its all-glass back and aluminium edges are elegant in the extreme. The problem we have with it is its shape: it’s just too darn square and angular for its size, which makes it uncomfortable to hold.
You couldn’t say that for the LG G3 which, while it boasts a bigger screen than the Z2 (5.5in versus 5.2in), manages to feel far better in your hand thanks to its balanced weight and curvaceous shape. It’s over 10g lighter than the Z2 too. But it’s not all roses and kittens: some will find the plastic build a disappointment; its back panel may look like brushed metal, but it’s all a big ruse.
This is a tough one to call. The G3 is the more ergonomically sound of the pair, but the Z2 is more handsome – and its waterproofing has the potential to save you a lot of bother. We’re leaning towards the Sony overall.
Winner: Sony Xperia Z2
Screen – the pixels have it
The LG G3 is currently in a class of its own when it comes to resolution: its 5.5in LCD screen packs a 2K pixel count of 2,560 x 1,440, which equals 538 pixels-per-inch. No other phone on the market matches that resolution. It’s insanely sharp, and despite being bigger than any phone bar a phablet, LG has made the bezel so narrow that it doesn’t feel freakishly large.
The Sony Z2’s 5.2in 1920 x 1080 LCD (424ppi) is lovely, it’s true – its Triluminous technology means the images it produces are some of the boldest and punchiest we’ve seen on a smartphone. And it remains to be seen if 2K is really necessary for a display this size.
But the sheer level of pixels on the G3 mean it’s got this round sewn up – for now.
Winner: LG G3
Performance – a pair of Snapdragons
Both the G3 and Z2 are powered by a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 CPU, but there are subtle differences in performance specifications: the Z2’s 801 is clocked at 2.3GHz, while the G3’s goes up to 2.5GHz; the Z2 offers 3GB of RAM, the G3 “just” 2GB.
In real-world use, it may be that the handsets perform equally as ably – it’s hard to tell until we’ve had more time with the G3. The Sony, we know for certain, is a real flyer when in use, only eliciting the tiniest bit of lag on very rare occasions. The G3’s 2K screen means it has a lot more pixels to wrangle, so that may impact performance too.
On the battery life front, we have high hopes for the G3. Its predecessor the G2 was – or rather, still is – the king of smartphones when it comes to longevity, and the company claims the G3’s 3,000mAh battery offers a similarly lengthy lifespan, despite the larger, sharper screen and more powerful processor. We await a review unit to put those claims to the test.
The Z2 sports a 3,200mAh battery and its longevity is probably slightly above average – but it can’t match the G2, so if LG is correct about the G3, it’ll have Sony’s handset beaten when it comes to going the distance. It’s also removable, so you can always pack a second one if you think you’ll need it.
Both phones offer 16GB of built-in storage bolstered by a microSD slot, so on that count they’re even.
We’re going to call this round a draw for now. If the G3’s screen doesn’t dramatically reduce battery life and overall speed, it may just top the Z2 on the performance front – however, we can’t shake the sneaking feeling that the Sony’s extra gigabyte of RAM might make it a little less laggy in everyday use. But it’s something we can’t call until we’ve had a chance to review the LG G3 properly.
Camera – features vs raw power
The LG G3’s camera offers a respectable 13MP sensor and backs it up with three features that should improve photo quality quite dramatically: first, there’s optical image stabilisation (and apparently an improved version over the G2’s, at that) which compensates for shaky hands when shutter speed is slower; second, a two-tone LED flash that’ll keep skin tones looking natural; and third, an all-new laser autofocus system that LG says helps the camera lock onto subjects more accurately and swiftly, particularly in dim conditions.
The Sony Z2 has a 20.7MP, 1/2.5in sensor with an f/2.0 lens, and has the potential to deliver some truly stunning results for a phone – in the right conditions, it’s probably the best smartphone camera around. We have found that getting these results can take a bit of work, however, and if you’re more of a quick snap type of photographer you might find it’s not living up to its specs.
Both phones can capture 4K, 1080p and 120fps slow motion video.
We suspect the G3’s camera will provide better photos for most people, especially in low light conditions, but more patient snappers might well prefer the Z2’s snapper.
Winner: LG G3
OS – subtler shades of Android
Both the G3 and Z2 are Android 4.4 KitKat phones, but as is customary both manufacturers have tinkered somewhat with Google’s operating system.
Sony’s customised interface is fairly light on big changes, with much of the standard Android menus and apps remaining essentially untouched. It does add some nifty gestured-based tricks (tap the screen to wake up the phone, lift it to your ear to answer a call), and the ability to run some apps and widgets in a windowed mode over the top of other apps. On the downside, Sony has chucked in rather a lot of bloatware, and we find its nagging “What’s New” suggestions a tad irritating.
As far as we can tell from our time with the G3 so far, LG has taken a step in the right direction. The G2’s interface was too busy, too colourful and too choked with bloatware, but the G3 appears to have adopted a cleaner, lighter approach. Bloatware has been reduced by 30 percent (giving you an extra 2GB of free space off the bat), while new software like Smart Clean (which identifies those apps you don’t use and encourages you to delete them) and Smart Notice (a Google Now-style app that tells you, for instance, if you’ll need an umbrella on a particular day) seem genuinely useful.
Both UIs seem well thought out, but neither strikes us – at this stage – as particularly better or worse than the other. Another draw for now, until we get a chance to live with the G3 for a while and work out its interface foibles.
Until we’ve properly reviewed the LG G3, we can’t say for sure how good it is, but given the specs and the quality of its predecessor we’re very hopeful that it’ll end up proving an all-round better smartphone than the Sony Xperia Z2.
The Z2 remains one of our favourite phones, however, and we won’t jump to any conclusions before time. Judging by specs and features alone, though, we’re going to say the LG G3 is shaping up to be a superior handset.
Winner: LG G3