LG G2 deep-dive review: Extraordinary hardware in an ordinary phone

The new LG G2 Android smartphone has an outstanding screen and top-notch performance, but is that enough to make it worth buying?

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Speaking of carriers, I found voice quality to be perfectly fine on both the AT&T and Verizon models of the device. I could hear people loud and clear, and those with whom I spoke reported being able to hear my voice distortion-free as well. The G2 is an LTE-capable device; 4G data speeds were in line with what I've come to expect from both networks in my area.

The Verizon model, by the way, is the only G2 model that offers wireless charging. It works with Qi-compatible chargers; I tested the phone with the Nexus 4 Wireless Charger and had no trouble making a connection.

And finally, the audio: LG says the G2 is the first smartphone with 24-bit, 192kHz Hi-Fi sound playback. For most people, this won't mean much -- in listening to regular MP3s and streaming music, it's impossible to detect any difference between audio played from the G2 and audio played from another comparable phone. (I did several side-by-side tests using Bose noise-cancelling headphones.) But if you're a hard-core audiophile who keeps lossless music files on hand, it's something to keep in mind.


Like its bigger brother, the plus-sized , the G2 has a 13-megapixel rear-facing camera with optic image stabilization. And as with the Optimus G Pro, I found the phone's image quality to be good -- more than sufficient for everyday use -- but not exceptional, particularly compared to some of the excellent cameras on other high-end phones.

The G2 has a 13-megapixel rear-facing camera with optic image stabilization.

The G2's imaging performance is really a mixed bag: My outdoors shots had realistic colors and good detail but also occasionally looked a little dull and washed out. Indoors, I often had trouble getting the camera to focus on close objects, even with multiple tries, but managed to get some solid-looking results in the end.

I noticed a visible amount of noise in images when viewing them at their full resolution as well. With the way most people use smartphone images -- for casual online sharing or small-sized prints -- that won't be an issue. Imaging enthusiasts, however, may want to take note.

In low-light conditions, the G2 did better than average: The camera was able to pick out more detail than a device like the could, but wasn't anywhere near the superb low-light performance of the HTC One. Then again, few phones are.

On the software side, the G2's camera interface is easy enough to use: You tap anywhere on the screen to focus and then, to snap the photo, tap a shutter button at the bottom or side, depending on how you're holding the phone. You can also press either of the phone's physical volume buttons as a shutter if you prefer.

The G2 Camera app has a number of special shooting modes, some of which inspire an eerie sense of déjà vu -- like the highly gimmicky "dual camera" mode, which lets you add a small floating photo of your face from the phone's 2.1-megapixel front camera onto an image you capture simultaneously with the rear camera.

Silly stuff aside, the phone does have several useful modes, including a "burst shot" option that lets you take up to 20 rapid-fire shots by holding down the shutter. It works well enough, but it'd be far more useful if that functionality were enabled by default instead of only when you go out of your way to activate it. There's also an HDR mode, a panorama mode and a version of Google's 360-degree Photo Sphere feature, rebranded here as "VR Panorama."

The G2 can capture 1080p-quality HD video at either 30 or 60 frames per second. The phone's video mode has an interesting feature called "Audio Zoom" that claims to let you "focus on what you want to hear" -- in short, when you zoom into an area while recording video, the phone is supposed to amplify the sound coming from that area and lessen any surrounding noise.

I found the feature actually worked fairly well, so long as the targeted sound was loud enough and the background noise wasn't overwhelming. It's the kind of thing that may be more novel than practical for most people, but one could certainly imagine circumstances where it could come in handy.

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