Can LG's rebranded flagship win new fans?

It's the third quarter of the year and new smartphone announcements are coming in waves. Aside from last week's Motorola, in the next three weeks we can expect the Samsung Galaxy Note III, HTC One Max, and the next generation iPhone along with the rumoured budget iPhone 5C.

This week's feature will be on LG's G2, a 5.2-inch Android phone with a not-so-typical layout.

Coming from the very smart Moto X with a somewhat inferior hardware, the LG G2 is nothing like that.

The G2 is the Korean manufacturer's new flagship to take on a very saturated and challenging Android market.

With impressive hardware specifications and gimmicky tweaks to the software, LG is hoping to take a bite out of the Samsung's Galaxy S and Note line, while being a direct competitor to the HTC One.

Hardware

The G2 is the latest phone to have the fastest processor with the Snapdragon 800 clocked in at 2.3 GHz, coupled with 2GB of RAM. The RAM is managed using a system LG calls "GRAM" which is a dedicated allotment of memory specifically designed for handling graphics. So it should be a given that the G2 will be pretty good at handling graphics intensive games.

Of course, to play games you need a nice screen, and LG has equipped the G2 with a 5.2-inch 1080p display.

What's also niceis that the bezel is barely there, especially along the side (just 2.65mm thick). This means the screen occupies just a little more than 75 per cent of the phone's front facade, and with that thin bezel, you'll probably be using the phone a lot in landscape mode.

In portrait mode, LG expects you to be holding the phone in one hand, wrapped around the slightly curved back.

With this thin bezel design in mind, LG has moved all the phone's usual buttons to the back, right under the camera, and no buttons on the sides.

So you have an up and down button, with a power button in the middle.

LG said that a majority of users will have their index finger right around the back when they have the phone in one hand, and hence will move the buttons that way.

The company also claims that this helps even if the user is left or right handed. That way, no matter which hand you hold it on, you'll be able to access the buttons naturally, something I've never thought of.

Optics-wise, it has a 13-megapixel camera at the back, protected by an anti-fingerprint coating sapphire glass lens, probably for when you first get the phone and you're learning to unlock it but can't find the button.

The accompanying flash is an LED, and the camera also has optical image stabilisation (OIS), which LG claims will let you take good pictures up to 8x the zoom (although I'm nnot really sure OIS is the key to good picture taking with digital zooms).

The camera also has a nine-point multi focus and on the video side, it has up to 1080p in 60 frames per second (FPS).

On the audio side, LG is dubbing this as the first "Hi-Fi Smartphone" with 24-bit, 192kHz audio support (normal phones are limited to 16bit/44.1KHz support).

LG also includes new QuadBeat earphones out-of-the-box to take advantage of the better quality audio, but it'll mean that your music files may take up a larger chunk of storage.

Also included in hardware is an Infra Red (IR) blaster to control your television.

LG's Quick Remote app also includes settings for home automation, such as your air conditioning, blinds, automatic lights and so on. But this would mean that you live in a very new smart/advanced house.

Battery on the G2 is a very generous 3,000 mAh, which is custom-made for the G2. It features a "stepped" construction, so imagine a flat square normal battery with a hump to fit in the curved back of the phone, giving it a little more juice. The battery is good for a 12-day standby.

Software

No Android 4.3 on the G2, but you get 4.2.2 with a light LG custom skin.

My favourite feature is "Slide Aside" which is something like a full-screen multi-tasking of your three most recent applications.

I like this for WhatsApp, Browser and Emails because personally, those are the three that I use the most. So when you slide three fingers across the screen, those three apps are "stored" on the left side of the phone on a tiny bar.

You can then store up to three applications that you can slide in between quickly without going into a multi-task selection screen.

Other software modifications are quick shortcut keys, where holding the volume button down while your phone is asleep, will unlock the camera directly.

And if you hold the volume button up while the phone is locked, it gives you immediate access to the phone's note taking app, allowing you to quickly write down memos on the go.

In the drop down notification bar, you get another set of handy apps, for example the calendar and a small memo.

These apps can have their sizes and transparency adjusted, so you can have them running concurrently side-by-side.

With these quick applications, you can use your phone's functions fully, such as the web browser or messaging application. That's about three apps that are usable at once.

It is quite similar to the Galaxy's line of quick applications, but much neater and faster to use.

Other tweaks include Text Link, which is a detector that looks for words that may be related to apps. An example is an event with a date that you can immediately push to your calendar application, or an address that you look up in Maps.

Another is Guest Mode, which will hide certain apps from anyone who is not you, but sets up a different passcode for them.

In short

So there you go, a brief look at the LG G2. However, bear in mind that there are a lot more phones to come as mentioned earlier, and my guess is that they will only get much smarter and faster than this one.

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