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

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3DMark's Ice Storm Unlimited benchmark shows how powerful the G2 is.

You could argue that a phone doesn't need such unbridled power at its fingertips, but the upshot with the G2 is that it boots up faster than any other phone I've used and never, ever stutters or slows down. Regardless of how much I threw at it and no matter how many applications I had running in the background, the phone was totally unflappable. Moving between apps is a breeze and the rare moments when you are left waiting are usually because your mobile network speed is the limiting factor.

Benchmark tests reveal just how terrifyingly powerful the G2 really is. Quadrant Standard gives the phone a score of 19,944, which leaves the Samsung Galaxy S4 and HTC One in the dust. When I ran Ice Storm Extreme -- a gaming benchmark with a focus on glitzy 3D visuals -- I was surprised to see that both the Standard and Extreme tests were deemed too light to test the handset effectively.

Ice Storm Unlimited -- the most demanding test offered by the app -- awarded the G2 a score of 14,263, which is just below the Nvidia Shield but above Samsung's Galaxy Note 3.

Software and connectivity

Android 4.4 -- also known as KitKat thanks to a deal with confectionary manufacturer Nestle -- is due to arrive with the Nexus 5 in tow any day now. Like so many new phones which are running custom user-interface skins, however, the G2 ships with 4.2.2. Given that the promised improvements in 4.4 are relatively minor in scope -- and taking into account that 4.3 wasn't exactly a game-changing update -- the fact that LG's flagship blower is two software iterations behind the curve isn't as big an issue as you might expect.

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A whole host of gesture commands and shortcuts await you.

LG's UI skin is pretty easy on the eye, and doesn't alter the core appearance of Android as much as Samsung's TouchWiz or HTC's Sense. A smattering of custom apps -- such as a file manager and LG's own data backup service -- give you plenty of unique options, and LG has imitated Samsung with its smart screen functions, which basically use the phone's front-facing camera to detect if you're looking at the display.

QSlide is another feature which owes a pretty big debt to the creator of the Galaxy line of devices -- it allows you to run two applications side-by-side, just like the latest version of Samsung's TouchWiz UI.

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QSlide allows you to multitask to your heart's content.

The raw power under the bonnet of the G2 means that when you run two apps in tandem you see little to no drop-off in performance, but just as was the case with Samsung's phone, you'll find very few reasons to use this feature. It's good for showing off the potency of the handset, but is too fiddly to be practical in everyday use.

With 4G LTE included, the G2 is well covered. You'll also find Bluetooth v4.0, dual-band Wi-Fi and NFC functionality, the latter of which allows for contactless transfer.

Camera and video recording

The G2's 13 megapixel camera has an LED flash and optical image stabilisation as standard, and is capable of snapping some impressive images. While it still falls short of the kind of results you get from dedicated photographic hardware, the G2 performs well in low-light environments, has a suite of different shooting modes and doesn't ruin photos with overzealous compression techniques.

LG G2 camera test
LG G2 camera test (click image to enlarge).

The High Dynamic Range mode works especially well, and the additional power of the phone means post-processing doesn't take as long as it does on other phones when using this feature.

LG G2 camera test
LG G2 camera test (click image to enlarge).

Video recording is offered at 1080p, and the results are just as encouraging. The camera deals with rapid changes in light and tracks moving objects relatively effectively.

Battery life and storage

LG has made a big deal about the 3,000mAh battery which resides in the G2's casing. Its claims appear to hold water, because I was incredibly impressed with the G2's stamina.

When you have a handset which is packing a monstrous 2.26GHz quad-core CPU, you'd expect it to drain its battery like a hungry dog at a water bowl after a four-hour jog in the baking sun. Even after a day of relatively heavy use though -- email, Internet, video recording and gaming -- the G2 still had juice left in the tank and didn't need charging until the following day.

Unlike the Samsung Galaxy S4, the G2 doesn't have a microSD card slot, which means you may wish to pick up the 32GB model if you're keen on downloading lots of music, grabbing a shedload of apps or taking loads of photos and video. Cloud services such as Google Drive, Google Music and Dropbox mitigate this issue somewhat, allowing you to upload data to external servers and access it using your mobile or Wi-Fi connection.

Conclusion

In terms of pure technical specifications, the LG G2 is the leader of the Android pack right now. The processor is blisteringly fast, the IPS+ screen is a joy to behold and the battery life is a cut above what we've seen in other handsets. Android has come a long way since the slow and jerky days of single-core 1GHz processors but even so, the G2's smoothness and speed is striking. Whether you're viewing HD movies, playing intense 3D games or multi-tasking like crazy, the G2 doesn't even break a sweat.

That 5.2-inch screen means that it's a rather large beast, but this is by no means a unique situation in the world of Android, and LG has done a good job of keeping the phone a manageable size, despite the massive display. The main sticking point with the G2 is going to be its design and appearance. It's not as alluring as some of its rivals, and while the odd placement of the power and volume buttons does eventually make sense after a few days of use, it's sure to raise eyebrows.

The imminent release of the Nexus 5 -- which is supposed to be a close match to the G2 from a specification perspective -- should give potential buyers another reason to wait, but right here and right now, Android doesn't really get any better than this.

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