I purchased the LG G2 on its release day for the Verizon network, and I have owned it a little over a week now. I upgraded from the Galaxy Nexus that I had also purchased on the Verizon network on its release day about 2 years ago. So far I am really enjoying the G2. There are definitely some oddities that I do not approve of, but the pros of the device far out weigh those cons. I am not going to present you with a bunch of benchmark graphs as there are already numerous articles out there covering the technical numbers. This Verizon LG G2 Review is based off of my personal experience with the phone, and geared towards what I feel is most important in modern smart phones.
The CDMA variant of the G2 (Verizon) is vastly different than the GSM version. Before we get into my opinions on the device lets look at the specs of the CDMA variant.
LG G2 CDMA Specs
- Camera – Rear facing full HD 13 MP camera, with optical image stabilization (OIS), sapphire crystal glass, multipoint autofocus, and a LED flash. A front facing full HD 2.0 MP camera. The camera software has multiple modes: Shot & Clear, HDR, Panorama, VR Panorama (which is basically photosphere for stock android), Burst Shot, Beauty Shot, Dual Camera, Intelligent Auto, Cheese Shutter, and Time Catch Shot.
- Video – HD video recording in 1080p HD at 60 fps. The video software consist of Tracking Zoom, Dual Recording, Pause & Resume Recording, Audio Zoom, Live Shot, Video Screenshot, and Live Zooming. The video player supports DivX®, WMV, MP4, 3GP, and 3G2 Formats.
- Bluetooth 4.0
- Music – Comes with your standard 3.5 mm headset jack. Audio formats supported for playback are MP3, AAC, AAC+, M4A, and WMA formats; 24-bit, 192 kHz Hi–Fi playback for FLAC and WAV files.
- Internals – 2.26 GHz Quad–Core Processor, Qualcomm® Snapdragon 800 MSM8974 Chipset / 2 GB RAM. Runs on Android™ 4.2.2 which is Jelly Bean. Has 32 GB of internal memory storage. 3,000 mAh SiO+ battery. Near field communication, Micro USB 3.0, wireless charging, and a speakerphone.
- Display – 5.2” Full HD IPS Display: 1920 x 1080 resolution, 16:9 aspect ratio, and 423 pip. Zerogap Touch has precise touch response by reducing the space under the surface of the display. It has an ambidextrous, multi–purpose use of Power/Lock and Volume Keys placed on the back of the device.
- Notification LED – Colored and patterned light for alerts like alarms, calendar reminders, new messages, missed calls, etc.
- Dimensions – 5.45” (H) x 2.79” (W) x 0.35” (D) – Weight: 5.04 oz.
- Network – CDMA, GSM, LTE
- Usage Time – Up to 18.2 hours or standby up to 11.4 days
As you can see from the specs the device is quite the little package of technology. The snapdragon 800 paired with 2 GB of RAM can handle any task you may encounter on your daily usage. It is the first commercial phone to ship with the snapdragon 800, and to date it is one of the fastest phones consumers have had access to. I have yet to experience any lag on this device. I had my doubts thinking that the heavy skinning of android LG has done would slow the device down, but that has not been the case. When I used my Galaxy Nexus and I was installing new/updated apps it basically crippled my phone. I had to wait until they were done installing/updating or my phone would pause, stutter, and sometimes lock up for more than a few seconds. Not the case with the G2. Just swiping through home screens and the app drawer is noticeably faster and more responsive to my touch. The call quality also appears to be decent; I have talked on it a few times and have not had any trouble with hearing anyone clearly. The sound out of the speaker on the bottom of the phone is not bad, but not anything overly exciting. They are loud enough to jam out to, but they do not produce high fidelity sound. I usually have my headphones in, have the phone hooked up to my AUX port in my car, or I am chrome casting it to my TV. You will not be disappointed with the G2’s performance.
The battery in the G2 is nothing short of great. The 3,000 mAh SiO+ battery will give you plenty of on screen time. I consider myself a power-user and I average 3-3.5 GB of data each month, 400-600 text messages, and around 150-250 minutes a month. I am frequently streaming music, browsing the web, using a handful of social media applications, and watching videos on youtube. When I was using my Galaxy Nexus (with the extended battery) I would check my social media accounts – twitter, facebook, google+, and instagram – during my commute to work. My commute is roughly 35 minutes, and during that time, I would frequently see my gNexus battery drop to 60% with the screen on 50% to 100% brightness. With the G2 I can check all my social media apps, browse the web, all at 100% brightness and still be at 100% battery by noon at work. I often rarely drop below 80% the entire time I am at work. I put the battery to a complete charge and drain test a few days after I purchased it. From 100% battery to 5% I was able to squeeze out 28 hours and 9 minutes without a single charge! That is using varying brightness levels sometimes at 100%, 50%, and 0%. I often use it at 50% brightness. It is also with GPS usage, about an hour of game use, and of course all the social media and web browsing that I normally consume during my day. This device also charges insanely fast when using the LG charger included. If you are using a standard USB cord it will recognize it, and charge much slower than the LG charger.
I am not sure how to review this area since the design of a product is purely subjective. It looks like your standard smartphone these days, has a camera, 3.5mm headset jack on the bottom of the device, speakers on the bottom of the device, and physical on/off/volume buttons on the back of the device. It is a sleek, all black, and a glossy plastic back panel design that won’t stand out in the crowd of smartphones until you turn the display on of course. It has a small speaker grill on the front near the top of the device , the CDMA variant has a small Verizon logo near the front top right-hand corner (we all know how Verizon loves to put their logos on every available area on their devices), the front facing camera is located in the top left corner, and it has a small LG logo on the front panel bottom bezel. On the back of the device, there is the rear facing camera, the LED flash, volume/on/off buttons, a Verizon 4gLTE logo, and another LG logo near the bottom. The device is completely flat, and the outer edges on the back of the device are tapered off to the display on the front. I find the tapering of the edges to be really comfortable in the hand and helps your hand reach around the entire device. I love the feel of the front glass. It makes me want to swipe my fingers across it all the time. The screen is ultra smooth to the touch.
I would also like to note that I had concerns about working out with this device. My concerns were quickly turned away as it was actually easier to work out with the G2 than my gNexus. Even though it is a bigger device than my gNexus it was also lighter and thinner which means I could barely feel it in my pocket while running and lifting weights.
What I really dislike about the design of the device is the glossy back panel. Not so much because it is a fingerprint magnet, but because the device becomes excessively slippery when holding for long periods of time. I have pretty much gotten used to it by now, but I could certainly see this device sliding out of my hands accidentally simply because of the glossy back panel. This can easily be bypassed by using a case, however, I prefer my devices naked.
Another important issue is how hot our devices get while multitasking and pushing our devices hard. I am glad to say that the device does not get that hot. It heats up just slightly, but you will barely notice it. It certainly will not fry my hands like the gNexus did.
Regarding LG’s decision to move the on/off/volume rocker buttons to the rear of the device was not a bad idea. I think this comes down to personal preference, because you will talk to numerous people who hate it and love it. I personally like it with one caveat. I absolutely hate Verizon’s version of the buttons. They are terrible when it comes to usability and design. They are about 1/4th the size of the GSM variant. I have two theories about this: 1. The CDMA variant has wireless charging and might have something to do with the different design of the buttons. 2. Verizon and their idiotic thinking about their devices has butchered the original idea and design behind the buttons for no reason other than they thought it was cool.
I really wish LG took notes (actually every manufacturer) from Motorola in how they designed the UI/UX on the Moto X. Something subtle and mostly stock android would have probably made the G2 the best selling device in android history even on Verizon! For some reason, manufacturers will never get that through their thick ass marketing heads. If any LG higher-ups are reading this then listen – You do not need to make yourself stand out by providing your own custom uniquely skinned version of android because it creates fragmentation and alienates users from your brand. Google has done the research and made android the way it is for a reason. – With that being said the UI on LG is not terrible, but it certainly will not make the die-hard vanilla android fans happy.
Unlike Samsung’s touchwiz UI you actually have some customization with LG’s UI. You can change the button layout on the soft keys, as well as the appearance of the buttons (which Verizon has also taken the authority to customize even further). LG also allows you to change your icons which you could not do on other phones like HTC or Samsung unless you installed a 3rd party launcher from the play store (i.e. nova launcher).
LG has changed the stock font of android which I do not at all understand why. They give you the option to choose your font and change it back to Roboto, but the font still renders wrong because LG does not include the full font family of Roboto in the system files.
Probably the worst thing LG has done is changed the recent apps soft key to the overflow action in android. So in some apps you do not see the stacked dots that represent the apps overflow menu items because it is now a soft key at the bottom of the device. The consistency in this across apps is absolutely terrible, and is very confusing for someone who knows stock android. LG’s custom keyboard is also terrible, and I have replaced it with android’s stock keyboard from the play store (thanks google).
Verizon and LG has also stuffed this device with their bloated software apps. You have QuickMemo, QSlide, Slide Aside, file manager, richnote, and a lot more. With a long press of the volume up button or swipe up from home button you can get into QuickMemo, and a long press of the volume down gets you into the camera. Also swiping up from the home button you can get into google now or voicemate (LG’s siri copy). The notification tray has a variety of QSlide apps that hover on your screen as little modals where you can change the transparency and still work in the app while doing something else in another app. Slide Aside has you use a 3-finger swiping gesture to the left side of the device while in an app to hide it for later access. You stack up to three apps off to the left side of the device while accessing them again with a 3-finger swipe to the right. It mimics the android stock multi-tasking switcher which makes no sense at all. You can access the stock android app switcher, thankfully, by long pressing the home button. You can also use your phone as a remote for your TV. I have used this and while it works you sometimes have to move your device around to get the TV to see the IR signal. All in all the software, UI, and UX is not fantastic like a stock vanilla android experience is, but it is not terrible and I can live with it for now. I may end up rooting and throwing a stock android ROM on it later. Right now I have no desire to root and ROM. When using the GPS it was quick to find its location which is nice compared to the long wait I was putting up with on gNexus. There are a ton of software and gestures packed into the G2 that I will not cover. You can search those out and watch them at the G2’s website.
One of the big features of the software LG has been advertising is called Knock On/Off. I absolutely love it and it was a no-brainer for smartphones. 95% of the time it works as intended, but a few of the times I have had to repeat my knocks to turn it on or off. I have noticed it is a little buggy when you have a 3rd party launcher running like Nova Launcher. Still not a big deal though. You tap on the screen twice to turn it on, and then tap twice near or on the notification bar to turn it off.
Besides the internals running this device the screen has got to be the next best thing that I absolutely love. This screen is a stunner in person. Supporting a 5.2″ full HD IPS display it is something you will never get tired of looking at. It has the smallest bezel around the entire display for any device on the market making this device almost all screen and such a delight to look at. Being an IPS display it will accurately represent colors for images unlike the super AMOLED displays that a lot of android devices seem to run. You can also see this display in direct sunlight with much ease. I live in Florida where it is always sunny, and I can see the screen very easily at 50% brightness in direct sunlight. Some people might think the 5.2″ is to big for their hand. I have found it to be pretty much the perfect size. I do not need anything bigger and I do not want anything smaller. It is easy enough (for me at least) to hit every corner of the screen with one hand. With a resolution of 1920×1080 and 423ppi, accuracy of color, viewing angles, and sharpness/clarity are unmatched to any smartphone I have ever used and tested.
The camera is probably my number three favorite feature about this device. It has a 13 MP rear facing camera with a Sony IMX135 Exmor sensor and optical image stabilization, LED flash, and a 2 MP front facing camera. The shutter is instant upon the press of a button, and the camera also has a 9-point autofocus that will suit any smartphone photographer. The iPhone probably still is and will always rule in the camera hardware, but the G2 is a close second and frankly has the best camera I have seen in an android phone to date. The G2 has different software features for the camera such as Shot & Clear, HDR, Panorama, VR Panorama (which is basically photosphere for stock android), Burst Shot, Beauty Shot, Dual Camera, Intelligent Auto, Cheese Shutter, and Time Catch Shot. The camera also records video in 60 FPS which is really nice and it works well. Although I personally have not used the video recording extensively. The OIS feature will help to keep those photos tack sharp by offsetting any hand shaking problems some of us have with our cameras.
The device will not disappoint the average consumer. If you are strictly wanting a vanilla android experience then it is probably not for you. I am the latter, but I have found that I can accept the device for what it is and accept the quirks that are not so much android. Reason being is that the quirks are not necessarily on features that are deal breakers for me. In the end, if you are on the fence head into Verizon and test drive the device for awhile. I was in the Verizon store for 2 hours before I bought the device contemplating whether or not I wanted to continue with Verizon for another 2 years on this device or wait for the rumored LG nexus 5 coming in October. In the end, find the device that best suits you.
- Knock On/Off
- Speakers on the bottom of the device
- Fast GPS acquisition
- Great camera
- Amazing 5.2″ IPS display
- Long lasting battery with a quick charge
- Incredibly fast device and reliable performance – future proof technology specs
- Small screen bezels
- Ability to customize LG’s UI to some extent
- Moving the on/off/volume buttons to the back of the device (GSM design only not the CDMA design)
- Wireless Charging
- Video recording at 60 FPS
- RGB LED Notification
- Android 4.2.2 (not up to date with android 4.3)
- Glossy/Slippery plastic back panel (no texture at all to help hold the device)
- Not a true stock android experience (LG’s UI/UX)
- Speakers could be better (the GSM variant actually has another speaker grill and sounds better and louder)
- Verizon’s numerous logos, and oddly designed on/off/volume buttons as opposed to the original design with the GSM variant. The Verizon version feels like a cheap knock off to the original GSM variant.
- The redesign of the android overflow button to a soft key
- Some people may not like the idea of a non-removable battery or no SD card slot