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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?

And then there are the features — and boy, there are a lot of 'em. Most are forgettable: There's QuickMemo, which lets you scribble notes on your screen with your finger and save the resulting images into a gallery. There's Plug and Pop, which causes a bar of recommended apps to appear anytime you plug a headphone into the device. And there's the dynamic duo of Voice Mate, a shockingly inferior version of Google's native Android Voice Search tool and Slide Aside, a complicated and confusing version of Android's native app-switching setup (which is also present on the device).

The G2 does have a couple of legitimately useful add-on features, like QSlide, which lets you open certain apps in movable, resizable windows that float on top of whatever else you're doing. It's a great idea but is limited by the fact that it works only with a small handful of preinstalled LG apps.

The phone also features Guest Mode, which lets you create a limited environment for friends or family to use the phone, and QuickRemote, which lets you configure your phone to function as a remote for IR-based electronics.

The G2 has ample bloatware, too: Both the AT&T and Verizon models have close to 20 preinstalled programs baked into the operating system for your displeasure — everything from carrier-branded garbage like AT&T Locker and VZ Navigator to random nonsense like NFL Mobile and Life Square. The apps can't be uninstalled, but most can at least be disabled and hidden from view.

Bottom line
The LG G2 is a phone with lots of excellent pieces that don't form a complete whole. Its best qualities are those that revolve around components: The phone has an outstanding HD display, top-of-the-line performance and great battery life.

Its physical design leaves something to be desired, though, and its rear-facing buttons can be a tough pill to swallow. The device also has a bloated and messy UI with no must-have elements to set it apart.

That's the real problem with the G2: It's a good phone that performs well — but there are a lot of good phones that perform well. And after numerous days with the G2, I'm honestly not sure what makes it special. The phone has some great internal ingredients but no real recipe — no grand plan of how to put it all together into a compelling dish that commands attention.

For users interested primarily in specs and hardware, the G2 has plenty to offer. But for most smartphone shoppers, this phone is going to have a tough time standing out in the crowded menu of enticing Android options.

 

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