LG G2 review: LG's phone has a fantastic display and a lightning-fast processor

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CNET Editors' Rating

4 stars Excellent

Average User Rating

4.5 stars 54 user reviews
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Fantastic screen; Incredible power; Good battery life.

The Bad Might be too large for some; No microSD card slot.

The Bottom Line One of the most powerful Android phones on the market right now, the LG G2 may not have the looks of its rivals -- its button placement could annoy some users -- but it has a fantastic display, superb battery life and a lightning-fast processor.

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The G2 is LG's attempt to muscle in on Samsung's dominance of the Android arena, and stands out as one of the most accomplished devices ever created by the South Korean company. Everything from the whopping 5.2-inch screen to the insanely powerful quad-core 2.26GHz CPU indicate that LG isn't aiming for second place with this device.

The G2's specs also serve as a useful indication of the power behind the forthcoming Nexus 5 , which is apparently based on the same core components.

The G2 is available from £29 per month on a two-year contract, and SIM-free for £530.

Should I buy the LG G2?

Along with the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 , the G2 represents the cutting edge of Android tech right now. It also demonstrates a desire to create phones with immense proportions, which stretch your fingers. If you've previously used a handset with a 4-inch screen -- like the iPhone 5, for example -- then the G2's 5.2-inch panel is going to seem positively enormous. This alone could prove to be a massive stumbling block for potential buyers.

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That massive 5.2-inch screen will test your fingertips.

If you're already rocking a large-screen phone then the G2's dimensions are likely to cause less consternation. It's still small and thin enough to slip into your pocket and the screen is ideal for surfing the web, playing games and watching HD movies. The sheer amount of power contained within the G2's slim frame is jaw-dropping, and if you're sick of stutter or waiting for apps to load then this could well be your dream handset.

With the Nexus 5 on the horizon -- which it seems likely LG will make -- you may want to hang on, as it's likely to be the cheaper Android option. If money is no object, however, the choice would come down to how keen you are to have the vanilla Android experience. LG's custom user-interface is one of the least offensive we've seen, but purists may wish to hold out for the upcoming Nexus.

Design

Despite the G2's massive 5.2-inch screen, the body of the phone isn't as large as you might expect. Don't get me wrong, it still looks positively gargantuan when placed alongside a device like the iPhone 5S or 5C . Because there's very little bezel surrounding the display though -- and thanks to the complete absence of buttons on the front, capacitive or otherwise -- the actual footprint of the G2 is not much larger than the Galaxy S4 's.

Sadly, it's not quite as attractive as Samsung's best-selling blower, with the screen dominating the front, and the back being relatively featureless. A silver accent runs around the entire circumference of the phone and adds a little touch of class, but the G2 can't match the likes of the HTC One in terms of pure physical attraction.

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The power and volume buttons are on the back of the phone. Crazy!

The phone itself is a totally sealed unit, which has allowed LG to produce an internal battery, which is shaped to the contours of the casing, thus maximising capacity. The case is fashioned from glossy plastic rather than brushed metal, which feels robust but doesn't have the premium feel of handsets like the HTC One and One Max . The only issue I found with the review unit was a slight creaking sound when I held one side of the phone tightly, but there was never any hint that it might fall apart or pop open.

Possibly the most unusual element of the G2's design is the placement of the power and volume buttons. These are located on the back of the phone and rest just under your fingertips. LG insists that this is a more natural arrangement, but in practice you have to carefully shift your grip in order to press them effectively.

After years of being used to buttons being on the edge of phones, I'll readily admit that it took me a while to get comfortable with this configuration -- but as soon as I did, it was second nature. Having the buttons on the rear of the phone means you're less likely to press them accidentally when you pick up the device by its edges.

LG, however, is clearly aware that there's no accounting for taste and just in case you don't find the rear buttons agreeable, you can turn on the screen by simply tapping it twice. Likewise, to power it down all that's required is another double-tap.

Display

The screen on the G2 may not match the 5.9-inch display showcased by the HTC One Max in terms of pure size, but at a still-respectable 5.2 inches, it's certainly nothing to be sniffed out. The IPS+ panel possesses a Full HD resolution of 1,920x1,080 pixels -- that means a pixel density of 424ppi. This is one of the most amazing things about the G2's colossal screen -- no matter how closely you look, it's impossible to discern any individual pixels.

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At 8.9mm thick, the G2 isn't going to cause a bulge in your pocket.

Although it lacks the deep blacks of a Super AMOLED screen -- dark areas look grey rather than black -- colour replication is strikingly accurate, lending the display incredible vibrancy. On full brightness this phone really packs a visual punch -- in fact it's one of the best screens I've ever seen on a mobile. It's worth noting though that at 5.2 inches from corner to corner, it's impossible to reach every part of the display with your thumb -- you'll need to get used to using two hands.

LG is clearly mindful of this problem, and has included a host of options aimed at making it easier for you to come to terms with the phone's roomy screen. You can switch the position of elements such as the keyboard and dialler so that they are easier to use when you're holding the device with one hand.

Processing performance

Not so long ago, it was hard for some mobile users to comprehend that their humble phone was actually more powerful than their laptop or desktop computer, but now this situation is almost commonplace -- certainly in the Android sector.

The G2 takes this frankly absurd situation to the next level -- inside there's a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 chip, which contains a quad-core 2.26GHz Krait 400 CPU, making the tech inside my own laptop look like it should be powering a pocket calculator.

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