LG G2: Two Month Review

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The LG G2 has been called innovative.
It has won design awards.
However, it has failed to become a mainstream phone.



I did a review 2 months ago comparing the HTC One and the LG G2. In this review I went over the basic differences between both phones. I didn't give a conclusion because I had the phone for two weeks and I had not customized it the way I wanted. This included rooting the phone and doing several tweaks.
I will note the stock and tweaked versions of the review.

Screen:

Well, I'm two months in with the phone and this will be a full on review of the device. The first thing you'll notice about this phone is the 5.2 inch screen. It is a full HD 1080p IPS display with 423 ppi resolution. This is housed in a 5.45 x 2.79 x 0.35 frame. The G2 is one of the thinnest if not the thinnest bezel smartphone in the market. This makes the screen look rather large compared to same sized phones with larger bezels.

The colors of the screen are overly saturated. This is something that has become common practice. It makes images pop and also makes images brighter at the cost of losing real life image quality. In no way is this phone supposed to replace a tablet or E-Reader, but as a commute reader, it will be more than adequate.

The screen is also part of a new technology called Graphic RAM (GRAM), which caches an image when the screen is static. This means when the screen is not being refreshed on a new image, the CPU and GPU do not have to be used. This can enhance battery life, according to LG. 

The Bad:
It's not the screen. However, their Auto Brightness doesn't work properly. The calibration needs to be fixed with an update.

Pros:
1. Amazing screen to bezel dimensions.
2. Good viewing angle.
3. Good under sunlight

 Cons:
1. Over Saturated colors
2. Auto Brightness calibration

Battery:

The phone's non-removable Li-Po 3000 mAh battery is one of the main reasons I switched from the HTC One. I often go out of my provider's reach. This causes the phone to search for a signal and drain the battery rather fast. Not only that, but I also leave the GPS, data sync (GMail, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, tumblr, LinkedIn, Google Offers, TuneIn Radio, DropBox, Box, Google+) on, while using the MP3 player.
On a regular 6 hour outing with reception coming in and out, using the camera,editing photos, uploading stuff to social media and listening to music, I would drain the battery about 40%. So the phone still has 60% of battery life left.

Battery Tweaked:

After rooting the phone I used a couple of ROMs and MODs.
Currently, I am using furnace-0.0.7 kernel. This kernel has different optimizations which include tweaks to the voltages, CPU overclocking, fast charge, and battery extender among the many.
While using all of the software above, I have managed to drain the battery 30% in 13 hours. Leaving the phone with 70% battery life.


Pros:
1. 3,000 mAh
2. Need I say more?

Cons:
1. Not removable. Then again, you won't need to.

Camera:

No camera is perfect. In fact, all cameras have a compromise. This is especially true when it comes to mobile phones.
I don't know if some of you have seen this.


The bad:

The OIS on the 13-megapixel camera is not this good. In fact, the camera has had several issues. First of, the camera depends too much on software stabilization and denoising, it then uses the two-axis optical image stabilization and multi-point auto-focus to help produce a stable picture.
Here is where the problem lies. Rather than using the hardware stabilization more and then the software, the pictures at times come out as if they were painted. This is more evident in night time photos. The over processing and software stabilization makes the pictures come out oddly Van Gogh-esque, which is not a compliment.

Modes:

The phone's software is very much like Samsung's Galaxy line. Click on Mode and it will give you a graphic example of what it does and an accompanied text explaining it.
The best mode for daylight photos is Intelligent Auto (IA). However, for some reason, LG made the software default to normal.
Now my questions is, if you taut IA as being a great feature and the best of all the camera settings, why not make it the default mode?
Another issue with the way the camera software is that it doesn't keep the previous mode selected.
For example, I'm at a sporting event and choose the Sports camera mode. I take a shot and go back to my home screen. If I want to take another photo, I have to go to Mode again because it goes back to Normal as default mode.

Night mode and image stabilization are a problem on this phone. As stated above, since the phone depends on denoising software and stabilization first, and then the physical OIS, it softens the photos to a degree where it looks drawn.Click on the photos below to enlarge.


Focus: Not for the rapid photographer

One thing you'll notice is that the focus on this takes a while.  If you try to hurry the shot you will get something like this. 

This is just unacceptable performance from a high end phone's camera.
However, don't let this discourage you. 

The Good:

The rear volume - acts as a camera activator when the phone is on standby, it also lets your capture a photo once the camera app is up and running. I found this useful for taking candid shots. 

Multi-point Auto-focus

This is something I wish more companies would use. By letting the camera have multi-focal points you get a cleaner picture. And yes, some companies have used the multi-face tracker, but not on random objects.

Daylight

When there is a good amount of daylight, this camera is amazing. The shots are clean and clear. The colors are very accurate. It doesn't help that the screen also accents those opaque colors at times. Depending on the scenery, I usually pick between Dynamic Tone Range (HDR) or IA. The only time I pick Normal is when I don't have time for the menu. 
Either way, here are some shots: I use the Wide Angle setting which is 10 mega-pixels.








Since you get 13 mega-pixels (10 for Wide Angle) you get a lot of details per shot. This enables you to crop and edit a photo without much loss of definition. It also allows details in depth.

Camera Pros:
1. 13 mega-pixels
2. Quality under good lighting
3. Intelligent Auto setting
4. Volume (-) camera launcher and shutter.
 

Camera Negative:
1. Low light capture quality
2.  Focus set time
3. Camera UI's lack of keeping the last Mode setting. 

Tweaked Camera:
I've been using Xdabbeb's Camera Mod. This mod enhances focus times, night time shooting quality, overall image quality, it adds 1600 ISO and it lets hardware stabilization become eminent in the process. For information click on the link.

Video:

The version of the phone I have only has two noise cancelling microphones, which is ok, but could be better with three. Since the third microphone would have been in the back of the phone and capturing the audio from the front.


The video above will go over the different video features.
It's pretty neat that the camera is able to support 60 frames per second in daylight and well lit areas. This gives the recording a more realistic view and flow.This setting will only be available on 1080p.
I wish they would have set it for 720p and lesser quality videos.
By recording in 1080p 60 fps you will soon realize that the files are rather large. So be careful when filming videos that you do not fill the phone's drive.
Asides from that, I noticed the video quality to be quite good. You get Normal, HDR Recording, Live Effect (which makes you have funny faces), Dual Recording (use both front and rear cameras in one shot) and Tracking Zoom, which is explained in the video. 

The Negative:

The video camera lacks a clear focus. In some phones you are able to click on the screen and get a visual mark of where the video is trying to focus. Sadly, this phone doesn't have that. I've noticed that when I zoom in to an object at a distance, the video will quickly lose focus and become useless. This is something I wish they would fix.
There's no slow motion. 

Tweaked:
By using the same Xdabbeb's mod, we get more options in the settings menu. We are able to use 60fps in 720p videos. We also get better focus times and anti-shaking. This is on top of the OIS.

Pros:
1. Good Quality Video
2. 1080p 60fps

Cons:
1. Lack of focus notification
2. Digital Zoom and the lack of focus speed.

Camera Overview:

The camera's quality and details are great. It's a really good 13 mega-pixel camera if you are going to shoot landscapes, have the camera conveniently set up to take a shot, or are taking regular pics. 
The major problem I have with this camera are the focus times. They are horrible. That, and the optimized image stabilization algorithm. I mean seriously... if you have the hardware, depend on that rather than the software which is making most low-light photos come out as if they were oil painting.

Audio:

Phone now days have become more than just phones. They have become point-and-shoot cameras and mp3 players. This phone is able to playback MP3/WAV/FLAC/eAAC+/AC3/WMA files. They make a point in their presentation to mention this is the first smartphone on the market to feature 24-bit/192kHz hi-res audio playback.
At that definition the sound is quite good. Especially if you have a good pair of headphones /earphones.
The only drawback to this is that a regular track can be more than 100mb. The average person has about 3 hours worth of music on their phone. That would be a total of about 8GB-10GB.
Calculations based on this scale.

Storage:

This is a perfect entry into storage. The US version of the G2 has a fixed 32GB hard drive. The drive on this phone is actually quite fast and sufficient for most. 
However, there is no expandable slot. This leads to the issue of why are you going to have a hi-res player when the hard drive space is limited? After all is said and done you get about 24GB of HD space. You add apps and cache storage and that's about 22-20GB left.

CPU and RAM:

The phone has a 2.26 GHz Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 800 Quad-Core Processor, which is the latest on the market. It also has 2GB of RAM. This is enough to power any top of the line phone and tablet.

Buttons:

Having the Volume +, Power On/Off , Volume - on the back of the phone has yet to be a negative. When I use my mobile phone, I usually have my index finger next to the camera lens. I realize it has taken some getting used to, but I like it.

Features:

KnockOn:

The major software feature this phone has is the KnockOn feature. Tap the screen twice with your finger and it wakes up the phone from standby. It's a feature I use quite frequently when I have the phone on my car dock or bike dock.

QSlide:

This feature lets you use defined apps on top of your current screen. It's a feature I really have not used.

QuickRemote:

I found LG’s Quick Remote software to quite complete and easy to navigate. However, the IR Blaster is quite small and you have to point the phone directly into the TV. 

Final Impressions:

The phone feels the same as a Samsung Galaxy S3/S4. It is made out of plastic and nothing on the phone is removable. Since the phone is mostly screen, I would recommend getting a case for it. If it falls chances are the screen will shatter. The G2 I possess has a silicon case that adds a bit of heft to it. This makes the phone feel sturdy on my hands. Also, chose the white version. The black version of this phone is a fingerprint magnet. Plus, the white phone looks nicer in my opinion.

Do I like the phone?

Yes, I do. The phone has many advantages: battery, screen, audio, and image quality.
The two main negatives are the lack of  expanding storage and the camera quirks. 
If you set your phone to create and use high quality media, you have to allow the capacity for it.It would have been easy to allow for a microSD slot like in the Asian markets.

The camera suite leaves a bit to be deserved. In my opinion the HTC One has the best camera suite. The Zoe feature is amazing and something Android mobile manufacturers should imitate. Having said that, the image quality on this phone is amazing. I actually could go out and say it is in the top two in most Android categories. 

Overall, I would recommend this phone and give it an 8.5 out of 10.

Below are pictures taken with the phone and edited with VSCO CAM or SnapSeed, Or PicSay Pro, or Pixrl-o-Matic. For more photographs click here.
























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