4. LG G3
The G3 had its work cut out for it when it launched. Not only did it have to face the toughest smartphone competition ever, but it had to surpass its excellent predecessor, the G2, which reigned supreme at the top of Stuff's best smartphone list until the M8 came along.
Thankfully, LG was more than up to the task. The G3 surpasses the G2 in almost every way. For starters, it's got a 2K display that's almost sharp enough to cut your eyes on. Sorry if you're squeamish.
While the G2's 13MP camera remains, LG has thrown in laser-assisted autofocus and 4K video. And it now matches the Samsung with a removable battery and microSD slot.
It doesn't have the booming dual front-facing speakers on the One M8, but its rear 1W speaker is no slouch, and can almost match its HTC rival for loudness, if not bass.
While it lacks the Galaxy S5 and Xperia Z2's waterproof powers, its build is much improved, with a plastic, brushed-metal-look finish that will fool your eyes, if not your fingers.
LG's redesigned its UI too, opting for less eye-searing colours and a more muted, subtle look.
READ MORE: LG G3 - the full review
Design: 9/10The G3's faux brushed-metal finish is barely discernible from the real metal rear of the HTC One (M8), and it easily beats the S5 for classiness. Pick it up, though, and its weight (or lack of it) can't fool your fingers. So it's no M8, but that doesn't mean it's not handsome in its own way.
Screen: 9/10 The G3 stands out from the crowd, with a 2560 x 1600 2K screen. That's an insane 538 ppi, though you won't notice any difference in sharpness in normal use. Look closely enough however, and it does throw up more details than its rivals. Its colours are excellent too - even more realistic than those on the M8 - although brightness, black levels and contrast let it down somewhat. Overall though, it's one of the best screens our eyes have had the pleasure of ogling.
Camera: 10/10The G3's 13MP camera is, put simply, fantastic. It's a jack of all trades, and nearly a master of every one. Well-lit shots are packed with crisp detail, and it even beats the light-guzzling M8 in most murky conditions. Its advanced optical image stabilisation, coupled with its laser-assisted autofocus, help keep subjects in focus - and at lightning-quick speeds, too.
OS and apps: 9/10LG has thankfully gone down the same fat-trimming path as Samsung. While its UI still isn't as minimalist as the Z2's, the garish icons are gone, replaced with flat, pastel-coloured icons.
Much of the bloatware is gone too, and LG's done its best to simplify things. The camera app for example, has had almost every little-used feature eliminated, and its bare controls now make for a much more pleasant experience.
LG's new Smart Notice is less useful. It's essentially a Google Now clone, and we can't see any benefit it offers over Google's own well-established offering. Smart Clean is more useful, prompting you to clean up and delete apps to save memory.
Finally, LG's excellent Knock Code feature negates the need for any fancy fingerprint scanners. Sorry, Samsung. It lets you tap out a pattern on the G3's screen (even when it's off),and with over 80,000 combinations, and a higher reliability than fingerprint scanning, LG's hit on a winner.
READ MORE: 7 of the best apps and games for the LG G3
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