LG has just unveiled the G2, its new flagship Android phone and a concerted attempt by the Korean company to enter the smartphone big leagues. But how does the G2 size up against three of its chief rivals: the Samsung Galaxy S4, the HTC One, the Sony Xperia Z1 and the mighty Apple iPhone 5? We break it down for you below.
The LG G2 is the first smartphone to sport Qualcomm’s quad-core Snapdragon 800 chip, here clocked at 2.26GHz. It’s teamed up with 2GB of RAM. That sounds like an awful lot of processing power.
The only phone here that matches it on paper is the Sony Xperia Z1, which also packs the Snapdragon 800 at 2.2GHz and 2GB of RAM.
The iPhone 5 has a proprietary dual-core 1.3GHz A6 chip and 1GB of RAM, and the HTC One rocks a quad-core Snapdragon 600 running at 1.7GHz and 2GB of RAM. The Samsung Galaxy S4 also sports 2GB of RAM and a Snapdragon 600, but it’s clocked slightly higher than the One at 1.9GHz. All, on paper, lag behind the LG G2.
In practice, the G2 wipes the floor with the above opposition (with the exception of the Xperia Z1, which we haven't tested yet but expect to run it very close). In our review, it garnered an AnTuTu benchmark score of almost 34,191, while the HTC One managed "only" 25,651. It's the most powerful phone we've used to date, and more than beefy enough to handle anything you throw at it.
The LG G2 has a 5.2in 1920 x 1080 (423ppi) screen that runs almost edge-to-edge on the front face; despite its giant dimensions, this means you can still hold the phone (reasonably) comfortably in one hand. It uses IPS LCD tech and offers better brightness (if not sharpness) than the HTC One’s 4.7in 1920 x 1080 LCD. It also has wide viewing angles (not hugely important for a phone but nice all the same) and deep, inky blacks.
The Samsung S4’s 5in Super AMOLED matches G2 for resolution, while the iPhone 5’s 4in LCD Retina display features 1136 x 640 pixels, putting it at the bottom of this particular pile.
The Sony Xperia Z1's LCD offers the same 1920 x 1080 resolution in a 5in size, so it's slightly sharper than the G2. We have yet to test it out fully, so can't say with certainty which offers the better colour reproduction and contrast. Sony has crammed new picture-enhancing technologies (Triluminous Display and X-Reality) into the Z1, however, which may give it the edge.
The G2’s outer body is mostly constructed from plastic, but unlike the S4 doesn’t have a removeable backplate, so it’s less creaky than Samsung’s phone. It’s sleek too, thanks to the only physical buttons being the rear-mounted power and volume keys.
The metal-bodied iPhone 5 and HTC One are a level above the G2. The One in particular, with its beautifully machined, seamless unibody, feels like a phone apart in this group. The Sony Xperia Z1 is also a sleeker, more sophisticated-looking handset than the G2 and comes with the added bonus of waterproofing.
LG has equipped the G2 with a 13MP camera and optical image stabilisation (OIS) to combat the blurriness that can occur when taking photos with unsteady hands. It’s the only phone here to offer OIS, but the feature is available on certain Nokia Lumia models (like the excellent 1020).
The Sony Xperia Z1 features a 20.7MP sensor, while the Samsung Galaxy S4 comes with a 13MP sensor, the iPhone 5’s snapper offers 8MP and the HTC One musters 4MP. Of course, the One’s sensor has an “UltraPixel” design that cuts down the number of pixels in order to make each individual pixel larger and more effective in low light. So it’s not really helpful to merely compare megapixel counts when discussing which camera is best. There’s also the quality of the lens, colour reproduction and contrast to consider. The iPhone 5, for instance, is widely regarded as better for photos than the Galaxy S4 despite its smaller number of megapixels.
In testing the G2's snapper proves as impressive as it looks on paper. It's particularly adept in low light, even with the flash turned off, delivering far sharper shots than the Samsung S4. The colours pop more too.
The Xperia Z1 seems most likely to prove a formidable opponent when it comes to camera quality (although the G2 still holds the optical stabilisation card). We'll update this article once we've given it a proper review.
The G2 comes with a giant non-removeable 3,000mAh battery that combines snugly with the Snapdragon 800’s power-saving capabilities to deliver a lot of use: we got 19 hours of normal level use out of it before it dropped to five percent battery, which is pretty immense. You won't get similar longevity from the iPhone 5, HTC One or Galaxy S4.
The iPhone 5 has a 1,440mAh battery, the HTC One 2,300mAh and the Samsung Galaxy S4 2,600mAh. The S4 is the only model here with a user-swappable battery, however, so you’re able to carry a spare around with you in case of power running low.
What we are interested to see is how the Sony Z1 matches up. It also sports a Snapdragon 800 and 3,000mAh battery (and a slightly smaller screen) so in theory it should last about as long.
The G2 comes with either 16GB or 32GB of non-expandable storage. The Sony Z1 comes in 16GB only. All the other models offer up to 64GB built-in – the iPhone 5 comes in 16GB, 32GB and 64GB options, the HTC One in 32GB and 64GB and the Samsung S4 in 16GB, 32GB and 64GB. The Samsung S4 and Sony Z1 also feature a microSD slot supporting up to 64GB of additional space.
There’s no IR port on the G2, something you’ll find on both the One and S4. But it does sport a 24-bit, 192kHz DAC, which can mean better audio quality through headphones (you’ll need to have compatible files on the phone, naturally).
The LG G2 has impressive hardware, and on paper is the equal or better to all of these other flagship devices when it comes to almost all specs, storage excepted.
In the flesh we've found it to be the best smartphone currently on the market, and you can read exactly why we think that in our full review. We have yet to give the Sony Xperia Z1 a full review, though, so it's entirely possible that it could knock the G2 off its perch when it goes on sale.
The G2 runs on the Android 4.2.2 operating system, over which is layered LG’s own UI software. While the Snapdragon 800 keeps everything fast and lag-free, and LG has dropped in a few unique tricks of its own design (the ability to turn on the screen by knocking on it twice, a restricted-access “Guest Mode” for when you’re handing the phone to kids or friends), we can’t help but feel we’d much rather have Google’s stock Nexus Android interface.
The HTC One, Samsung Galaxy S4 and Sony Xperia Z1 also use their respective manufacturers’ own UIs, but the former two are available with the stock edition of Android too. Perhaps LG, which enjoys a good working relationship with Google, will go down the same route a few months from launch?
The iPhone 5 comes with iOS 6 (soon to be updated to iOS 7), which offers a much tighter, slicker and friendlier user experience than any of the manufacturer-tweaked versions of Android.