5-inch LG G3 S shrinks G3's specs, keeps laser-assisted camera

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If you like the look of the LG G3 (and who wouldn't? The camera uses lasers!) but your wallet is less keen, then meet the LG G3 S.

The G3 S is also known as the G3 Beat in Asia. It's a mid-range 4G Android smartphone that follows the trend of scaled-down, cheaper versions of flagship phones -- in this case, the LG G3. The question with such phones, like the Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini or HTC One Mini 2, is whether they deserve to proudly bear the flagship name or whether they're just cynically cashing-in on the cachet of their more powerful siblings.

The G3 S shares the G3's curved metallic design, laser auto focus, and software. Aside from that it boasts reduced specs in a smaller body, the screen measuring a slightly more pocketable 5 inches corner-to-corner than the G3's 5.5 inches.

The screen is a high definition 720p display, which gives you 294 pixels-per-inch. That's substantially lower than the G3's 538ppi, but then we found that the extra level of detail in the G3 display was barely discernible over a full HD screen anyway. A more useful comparison would be the Google Nexus 5, another 5-inch phone, which manages a full HD 1080p screen, much better than the G3 S.

Inside the G3 S is a 1.2GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor with 1GB of RAM. That's slower than the original G3's 2.5GHz quad-core chip -- and the Nexus 5's 2.26GHz chip -- but at least it's quad-core. The software is Android 4.4.2 KitKat.

One of the original G3's big selling points is the laser auto focus. Because it uses an infrared laser to pick out your subject instead of available light, the camera should be better in low light. The G3 S has the laser feature too, so should cope better in darker situations like parties, clubs or just indoors.

lg-g3-s-white-comparison.jpg
The 5-inch LG G3 S, on the left, and its big brother the 5.5-inch flagship G3, on the right. LG

You can take photos using the Gesture Shot feature, which fires a snap when you clench your hand in front of the camera -- handy for fist-pumping photos.

There's 8GB of memory for your photos and music, with a microSD slot for extra storage space. It connects to the Web over Wi-Fi b/g/n and other devices via Bluetooth 4.0, NFC and USB 2.0. The battery is a removable 2,540mAh job. All told, the phone weighs 134g, and comes in black, white or gold.

It launches as the LG G3 Beat on 18 July in South Korea. Then, renamed the G3 S, it heads to Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries in the following weeks. The price is yet to be confirmed.

A lot will depend on price -- it'll have to work hard to beat the value of the Motorola Moto G, for example -- but at first blush the G3 S looks like another phone that attempts to cash in on the flagship name with less than stellar specs to back it up. For our money, the best flagship spin-off remains the Sony Xperia Z1 Compact, which shrinks in size without compromising on specs.

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LG G3 S

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