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LG's new G3 smartphone: Simpler is better

Matt Hamblen | May 28, 2014
LG Electronics emphasized a simpler user experience during its unveiling of the new G3 smartphone that could prove to be a lot more than marketing noise.

LG Electronics emphasized a simpler user experience during its unveiling of the new G3 smartphone that could prove to be a lot more than marketing noise.

The company on Tuesday used a tag line of "Simple is the new smart" in describing the G3 device with a 5.5-in. quad HD display that runs on Android 4.4.2 (KitKat).

LG's new smartphone, the G3, has a 5.5-in. screen with quad HD. (Photo: LG)

Sales of the G3 will begin in the summer or later this year with the four major U.S. carriers — AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless. Pricing wasn't announced, but is expected to be competitive with top-of-the-line smartphones like the iPhone 5S or Samsung Galaxy S5, which U.S. carriers typically offer for $200 with a two-year contract.

While Samsung's pitch of greater simplicity for users of the G3 might sound like the latest marketing mumbo jumbo, there is something to the theme, according to IDC analyst Ramon Llamas.

"I think the G3 will be simpler compared to those smartphones that came before," Llamas said. "Features have been expanding in so many different ways that it's hard to keep track of them and harder to use. We've seen a bunch of incremental features, most of what we won't use. Now the pendulum is swinging back and the vendors are dialing it back."

LG said its simplicity theme evolved from consumer research. Some of the changes in the product involve hardware updates over the G2, including a 13-megapixel rear camera with a laser auto focus that helps users quickly capture the best shot even in low light. It's believed to be the a first laser beam used in a smartphone. Image stabilization technology is also upgraded by 20% over the G2 to reduce jitter for better shots the first time.

LG also cut out a step in the photo-taking process for greater user simplicity. Instead of having to focus on a subject with the phone's camera and then pressing the shutter button, users of the G3 can tap on the subject in the display that needs focus, which immediately triggers the shutter. For taking selfies, the user clenches a hand into a fist that is recognized by the G3, which begins an automatic three-second countdown to taking the photo.

The upgraded user interface seems to incorporate the biggest of LG's simplicity features in three areas: security, the keyboard and what LG calls Smart Notice.

Smart Notice works like a personal assistant but seems to go a step further than other devices by providing recommendations based on a user's behaviors, phone usage and location. Users can be reminded of a call declined earlier in case they want to call back. The function also asks if the user wants to delete or uninstall unused files or apps. While LG didn't demonstrate Smart Notice's natural language capability during a live webcast event, LG officials said the phone can track weather and inform a user to "take an umbrella today since it will rain this evening."


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