LG Electronics unveiled its newest flagship phone today, at synchronized events in New York, San Francisco, London, Seoul, Singapore, and Istanbul. The actual event was hosted in London, and streamed live to the other locations.
I was fortunate enough to get an invitation to the New York event and got some hands-on time with this exciting device. Suffice it to say that I’m impressed!
“Simplicity Is The New Smart”
“Simplicity is the New Smart” is the slogan for this device. LG has put a tremendous amount of effort into refining a sleek, streamlined user experience, based on their new development philosophy, “Learning From You”, and hopes that the LG G3 will stand out from the jungle of complex features and tools on the current generation of phones.
The keynote speakers on the stream from across the pond were Dr. Ramchan Wu, LG’s Head of Smartphone Planning, and James Marshall, Head of Mobile Product Marketing. They both spoke of their research having led them to understand that users want more advanced technologies, but only if those are intuitive, simple to use, and provide clear benefits. They point out that users don’t want to have to read a manual in order to be able to use a smartphone.
So, they’ve made “simplicity” their “mantra”, and even quoted Ralph Waldo Emerson: “To be simple is to be great”.
Were they successful? Let’s take a look at main features of the LG G3, from their own press release:
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LG rejects the commonly accepted notion that the human eye can’t really distinguish densities higher than 300 ppi, a notion which they point out that the printing industry understands isn’t valid. The LG G3 boasts a Quad HD display with a pixel density of 538 ppi, at a resolution of 2560 x1440, comparable to print quality.
They’ve accomplished this by reducing the size of each pixel by 44%, resulting in a Quad HD display that contains 11 million subpixels, three times greater than Full HD Amoled.
Of course, this souped-up display will consume a high level of battery usage. To compensate for this LG has developed what they call 3A Adaptive Optimization to regulate frame rate (reduced when viewing still images), CPU Clock Optimization, and adaptive timing control (helps to optimize display energy consumption). I’ll be interested to see how this runs, and what kind of life we can expect to see from its 3000 mAmp battery.
Appearance & Camera
The theme of beauty in simplicity is well played in the LG G3’s design. With goal of keeping the phone from being too clumsy for one-handed use, they’ve given it a front face with a narrow bezel, allowing a large screen to be fitted into its 5 inch phone.
Not surprisingly, there are some advances in the G3’s camera as well. It employs Laser Auto Focus, which uses the same technology commonly seen in police speed guns, to quickly find the distance of an object and focus on it.
The actual photo-taking experience has been streamlined as well. To snap a photo, you no longer need to go through the two-step process of focusing on the subject in preview mode, and then pressing the button. On the LG G3, you only need to tap the area on the screen that you’d like to capture.
Audio / Video Recording / Playback
LG hasn’t slacked off in this area either. Videos, like still photos, are captured in Quad HD on the LG G3.
Sound recording has been enhanced with more and higher quality microphones, and by another adaptive technology: if you’re recording in a noisy environment like a club or a concert, the ambient sounds will be detected, and the G3 will auto set to noise reduction mode.
Audio playback will also be improved with enhanced 1 Watt speakers and a “boost amp”.
GUI (and general design)
Like everything in the LG G3 presentation, this comes back to the same theme, this time with a quote from DaVinci: “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”. I found the interface to be stripped down and elegant. It focuses on flat graphics, a minimum of ornamentation (like shadow or gloss), and light, crisp typefaces, to produce a clean, minimalist look and feel.
While they’ve avoided employing primary colors (which they boldly referred to as “immature”), they have assigned a color to each of the four major apps, to give users further ease in navigation.
Conspicuous by their absence are any side or top buttons. However, like its older cousin, the G2, there is a rear button, which seems to fit nicely in the matte overlay of the back panel.
Finally, Andy Coughlin of LG delved further into the User Experience, and especially additional adaptive optimizations. I particularly liked the Smart Keyboard, which not only has advanced typing and auto correction capabilities (which they say will reduce input errors by more than 75%) , but has a number of user-customizable features, including on-screen size-adjustments, which I got a chance to test out.
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Other adaptive optimizations include Smart Notices, like tips based on user-behavior (a reminder, for example, to return the call you silenced and responding to with a text message earlier in the day), tips based on phone status (like “smart cleaning”: identifying apps and files you haven’t used recently and which could be deleted), and location based tips.
The cool advancement here is called the Knock Code. A user can replace the traditional lock screen by creating a sequence of three to eight taps in particular regions on the screen, which will wake and unlock the phone in one action. For those of us who must occasionally share our phones with others, Content Lock allows photos and other personal files to be kept hidden, even when the phone is connected to a computer. And, and a last line of defense, there’s a Kill Switch, which can disable the phone remotely and permanently delete sensitive data, should the phone ever fall into the wrong hands.
Sadly, also conspicuous by its absence was the G Watch, despite earlier speculation that it might be seen today as well. But there were some nice accessories for the LG G3 on display.
A number of headsets were shown, including the LG Tone Ultra. One of these was sent home with me, and you can expect my review of that here at TechDissected.
Also on display was the Quick Circle case, which exposes only a circular field on the LG G3’s screen. In this space, a number of clock faces can be viewed, as well as a compact launcher from which major apps can be accessed without opening the case. It looks like this will likely tie in with the G Watch when it surfaces, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a similar interface on LG’s smart watch.
While I only had a few minutes of quality time with the LG G3, my first impressions are very positive. It’s been a while since I’ve seen a phone which showed real advances in anything other than specs and benchmarks. This is not to say that the LG G3 is a slouch in that area. It contains a 2.5 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 CPU, 2 to 3 GB of DDR3 RAM, and a 13 MP camera, along with all the other goodies I’ve described above.
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But more than all of this, I get the feeling that LG has really put some effort into developing a simple, sleek, and enjoyable user experience. And, in doing so, they stand to chip away at Apple’s self-proclaimed monopoly in that arena, with an excellent device.
What are your thoughts on the LG G3? I’d love to hear your comments below.