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LG G2: Great features in a flawed smartphone

JR Raphael | Sept. 19, 2013
he new LG G2 Android smartphone has an outstanding screen and top-notch performance, but is that enough to make it worth buying?

The G2's imaging performance is really a mixed bag: My outdoors shots had realistic colors and good detail but also occasionally looked a little dull and washed out. Indoors, I often had trouble getting the camera to focus on close objects, even with multiple tries, but managed to get some solid-looking results in the end.

I noticed a visible amount of noise in images when viewing them at their full resolution as well. With the way most people use smartphone images — for casual online sharing or small-sized prints — that won't be an issue. Imaging enthusiasts, however, may want to take note.

In low-light conditions, the G2 did better than average: The camera was able to pick out more detail than a device like the Galaxy S4 could, but wasn't anywhere near the superb low-light performance of the HTC One. Then again, few phones are.

At a Glance
Price: $200 with a new two-year contract from AT&T, Verizon Wireless and (later this year) Sprint; $100 and a two-year payment plan from T-Mobile
Pros: Excellent display; great performance; commendable battery life
Cons: Uninspired design; awkward rear button setup; deprecated Menu button; bloated and messy user interface

On the software side, the G2's camera interface is easy enough to use: You tap anywhere on the screen to focus and then, to snap the photo, tap a shutter button at the bottom or side, depending on how you're holding the phone. You can also press either of the phone's physical volume buttons as a shutter if you prefer.

The G2 Camera app has a number of special shooting modes, some of which inspire an eerie sense of déjà vu — like the highly gimmicky "dual camera" mode, which lets you add a small floating photo of your face from the phone's 2.1-megapixel front camera onto an image you capture simultaneously with the rear camera.

Silly stuff aside, the phone does have several useful modes, including a "burst shot" option that lets you take up to 20 rapid-fire shots by holding down the shutter. It works well enough, but it'd be far more useful if that functionality were enabled by default instead of only when you go out of your way to activate it. There's also an HDR mode, a panorama mode and a version of Google's 360-degree Photo Sphere feature, rebranded here as "VR Panorama."

The G2 can capture 1080p-quality HD video at either 30 or 60 frames per second. The phone's video mode has an interesting feature called "Audio Zoom" that claims to let you "focus on what you want to hear" — in short, when you zoom into an area while recording video, the phone is supposed to amplify the sound coming from that area and lessen any surrounding noise.


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