LG G3 vs Samsung Galaxy S5 vs HTC One (M8) vs Sony Xperia Z2
The LG G3 is pitched against the HTC One M8, Samsung Galaxy S5 and Sony Xperia Z2 in a mamouth face off!
Freshly unveiled, the LG G3 is the latest Android flagship smartphone from LG. It sports a massive 5.5-inch display which has a resolution and pixel density unmatched by any other handset on the market.
As it is their top of the range model, the G3 will be clashing head on with the HTC One (M8), Samsung Galaxy S5 and Sony Xperia Z2. There will be a full group test next month, but for those that can’t wait here’s a little taster of how things might go, the result of a few hours of comparison between the four Android leaders.
It is getting tougher to differentiate between the smartphones, with very little between the most powerful, and the weaker models. This means that the market leading spot is increasingly hanging on design. HTC took the early lead on the change from plastic to aluminium, with Sony hot on its heels, and now LG joining in. The only one still using that fake chrome and plasticky gloss is the Samsung Galaxy S5.
Rather like the HTC One (M8) the LG G3 finishes with a brushed metal, but instead of going for actual aluminium on the chassis, the LG uses a plastic that feels and looks exactly like metal. By doing this LG’s phone weighs less than other phones, is just as slim, but still has the look and handling of a premium model.
Sony doesn’t fare so well in terms of heftiness compared to the LG, and it could also learn from the G3 when it comes to fitting in a big screen to handset-size ratio.
Putting the four phones side by side and you’ll see immediately they’re all about the same. But LG manages to fit in the biggest screen into a format factor that’s actually smaller than the Sony, matches the HTC, and is a little longer than the Samsung. It is impressive that the screen is half an inch bigger but the phone is the same size as HTC’s One (M8).
As with the G3 we saw in 2013, the latest LG has rear buttons for turning the phone on, and volume. It uses Knock Code to wake up and unlock the phone. This is a pattern on the screen when the phone is asleep so you don’t need a readily accessible power control. It is also goodbye to the home button, making the G3 look rather minimal.
When it comes to the screen, the LG G3 knocks the other three phones for a six. You can’t beat the 5.5-inch display, with its resolution of 1440 x 2560 and the pixel density of 535 per inch. The crispness and clear detail just isn’t matched on any other phone. Or even on tablets. This is Quad-HD, and as a result you get 200 more pixels per square inch than you’ll find on a iPhone 5’s retina screen.
Is this really necessary on a phone? You’re not even going to get this pixel density on a television or Retina-screened MacBook Pro. However, LG are sure that an image quality that is far beyond its rivals is what people want. Until we review a G3 we can’t refute this. Even so, with just a couple of hours use we can see why LG are so sure. The display is simply superb.
Whereas on the Galaxy S5, One (M8), and Xperia z2 you get screens with resolutions of 1920 x 1080, and a pixel density of about 430 per inch. We thought that the S5’s display was the brightest, and even with slightly over saturated colours it is still better than any other Android screen available although the One (M8) is a close second. The Z2 lacks brightness sadly, which isn’t great when the sun is out.
But, from what we saw, the LG G3’s display is just amazing. Can’t wait to see how it does in a full review in a group test.
Through the lens
The camera is one area where all four handsets really fought it out. You’ll get fantastic photos from the Samsung and the Sony, but the HTC’s Duo depth sensor produces some excellent results.
In the G3, LG has opted for a 13-megapixel sensor. Fewer pixels than you’ll get with Sony’s phone, which has 20-7 megapixels. And Samsung, which gives you 16-megapixels. The HTC is looking rather miserly at 4-megapixels. However, these are Ultrapixels – larger pixels for better light capture producing excellent low-light results.
Not to be outdone, the feature that LG has included with the G3 is optical image stabilisation (OIS). With a combination of a floating lens, and software, you get buttery smooth video, and also superior photos taken in low-light conditions.
Unique to the G3 – and not just in this foursome but in smartphones overall – is the laser infrared autofocus. Think of a police speed gun. The technology works on the same principles. The phone shoots an infrared beam, this then bounces off objects in front of the lens back to the phone. By timing how long this beam takes to come back, the G3 can adjust the camera lens and focus on the object. This takes 300 milliseconds. To give you an idea of how short this time period is, it takes longer for your brain to send a signal to your hand.
Except for the HTC, the other three handsets can record 4K or Ultra HD video. Overheating issues with the Z2 limits use of this to 2 minutes at a time. LG reckons you’ll get five minutes of video but then, it says, your 16GB of storage will be almost gone.
Under the hood
There’s a Qualcomm quad-core Snapdragon 801 processor with speeds of 2.3 to 2.5GHz in the Sony, HTC and Samsung. The LG has a speed of 2.5GHz. In use you won’t actually notice the difference between the four handsets. Differences might be apparent in the varying implementations of Android.
There’s 2GB of memory in three of the phones. Sony was more generous giving the Z2 3GB worth. When it comes to storage there’s 16GB in all four with microSD upgrades available. There are plans for LG to offer a version with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage, but you’ll have to wait a few months down the line in the UK for this.
So in terms of performance you get a similar deal from all four. HD video, intensive 3D gaming, and more are handled with no problems. When it comes to the group test we’ll be testing the LG fully so make sure you watch out for the review.
SIM-free you’re looking at around £550 for the Samsung, Sony and HTC smartphones. We don’t have a price from LG for the G3 yet, but there is an expectation it will be priced lower. Possibly available for free on contracts of just £38 per month. The G Watch will be out soon and retailers should bundle the two together.
Look out for the G3 in UK shops on the 1st of July, with the G Watch hitting shelves at around the same time.
This is a good time to buy a top of the range Android smartphone. We’re only six months into 2014 and the four manufacturers have brought out their A teams.
Overall, Sony came out the weakest of the group. Not that the Z2 is an awful phone. In fact it is really quite good. But it is against tough competition and it just isn’t quite as comfortable to use and the display has a lot of usability issues when it comes to sunshine.
For performance and the quality of the display there’s a tie between the HTC and Samsung. HTC though edges ahead of Samsung on build quality, beaten by the aluminium chassis on the One (M8).
It is still too soon to say where the G3 from LG fits in. We only had two hours so can only give our first impressions. Which are that the design and style are gorgeous, the screen is superb, and we were impressed with the camera’s performance. There’s the 5.5-inch screen but no compromise on size. For a smartphone of this class it is a compact handset, which was a surprise. Especially as it felt comfortable to grip, and came with a user interface that’s been improved it makes it more user friendly and easier to use than other LG phones.
It is no simple task to pull all four together but we will do just that, and decide on a winner. The grouptest will be coming to a screen near you soon!
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