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LG G3 deep-dive review: A phone with great specs, but real-world issues

JR Raphael | July 31, 2014
The LG G3 Android smartphone has some impressive features, but during real-world use, problems can emerge.

All in all, it's just a bloated and overwhelming mess. The good news is that if you're reasonably tech-savvy and willing to take the time to dig through the phone's labyrinth of options, you can disable enough of the redundant elements and bad design decisions to make the phone pleasant to use. But the vast majority of consumers aren't going to do that -- and out of the box, the G3's software just doesn't provide a great user experience.

To its credit, LG has added a few legitimately useful touches to the OS. Like on past LG devices, you can double-tap the screen to turn it on or off (and unlike on past devices, that gesture now works consistently well). The G3 also has a new security option called Knock Code, which is a specific pattern you can set and then input anywhere on the display while the screen is off to unlock the device.

Another handy shortcut is the ability to long-press the phone's volume-down button to quickly launch the camera or -- slightly less useful -- to long-press the volume-up button to launch LG's note-taking app. (You can disable those shortcuts if you want but can't remap them to other apps.)

At a Glance

LG G3

LGPrice: $200 with a two-year contract from AT&T, $200 with a two-year contract from Sprint, $598.80 with a two-year payment plan of $24.95 a month from T-Mobile or $100 with a two-year contract from VerizonPros: Spacious, outstanding display; sleek and attractive design; comfortable to hold; decent battery life; removable battery; expandable storage; some useful features like tap-to-wake and guest modeCons: Large compared to other phones in its class; imperfect performance; no native wireless charging; inconsistent camera quality; convoluted software; unclear upgrade path to upcoming Android "L" release

The G3 also has a limited-use guest mode in which you can create a separate environment where only certain apps (and no settings) can be accessed. It's a bit confusing to configure, but I can envision several circumstances where it'd be quite useful -- like for a mom who wants to let kids play specific games on her phone without being able to get on the Internet or mess anything up.

Beyond that, there's a plethora of gestures, options and settings baked into the G3 that you'll probably never use. And the carriers have really larded the phone up with bloatware of their own, too: I counted nine added apps on the T-Mobile model and a ridiculous 22 items on Sprint's device. Some of them can be easily uninstalled while others cannot.

Bottom line

The G3 boasts no shortage of compelling qualities. The device has a big, beautiful display in a sleek and nicely designed body. It has decent battery life, expandable storage and some genuinely useful features like a tap-to-wake option and limited-use guest mode.

 

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