Review: The LG G2 from Verizon Wireless

LG G2 Home

With its impressive spec sheet and unique and useful software features, LG’s G2 is one of the most talked about Android smartphones around today. But a lot of smartphones these days have powerful hardware and nice software features. So does the LG G2 have what it takes to compete with the other high-end Andrid out there? Is the LG G2 worthy of all the hype and your hard earned money?

Well, Verizon Wireless was kind enough to send over a shiny, new G2 for me to play with and I have used it constantly over the last few weeks. So read on and we’ll try to answer those questions in our full Verizon Wireless LG G2 review.

LG G2 Unboxing

LG G2 Unboxing

What you see is what you get. The Verizon Wireless version of the LG G2 (LG-VS980) ships with a USB wall adapter, a Micro USB cable for charging and transferring data, and a handful of user manuals to help you begin using your new Smartphone.

LG G2 Screen Protector  LG G2 Rear Protector

The LG G2 arrives with a Verizon Wireless Micro 4G LTE SIM card pre-installed and is covered in a healthy amount of plastic film to keep it protected during shipping.

LG G2 Design & Hardware

LG G2 Home Screen

Overall, I was impressed with the LG G2’s design once I had finally removed all of that protective plastic, and got a chance to take a good look at it. I think the design is sleek and rather attractive. The G2 not only looks nice, but also feels nice in the hand. Although the device is constructed out of plastic, it doesn’t have a cheap feel to it. Instead, everything feels solid like a high-end smartphone should.

Another surprising aspect of the G2’s design is how well it takes advantage of its size. A short time ago, having a 5.2″ display on a smartphone meant dealing with using a bulky device everyday. Not so with the G2. Although its display is noticeably larger than the 4.7″ display on my Nexus 4, the two devices are practically the same size. That is possible because the bezel surrounding the G2 is tiny. It is narrowest bezel we’ve seen on a phone yet and helps make the G2 an easy to manage, 5+ inch smartphone. The LG G2 measures 5.45 x 2.79 x 0.35 inches (138.5 x 70.9 x 8.9 mm) and weights in at 5.04 ounces (143 g).

The only downside I can find when it comes to the design of the Verizon Wireless LG G2 is the ultra glossy rear. Like any high gloss surface, it looks great when clean, but is a fingerprint and smudge magnet. Another concern I have with the rear is that it makes the device slippery to hold onto. I had a close call where my demo unit nearly slid right out of my hand while I was standing on concrete. For those two reasons, I strongly recommend using a case with the LG G2. You should probably be using a case with your smartphone anyway, it is cheap insurance.

LG G2 IR Blaster  LG G2 Rear  LG G2 Speaker

Going around the LG G2, we find an IR blaster and noise cancelling microphone up top. Along with a 13 megapixel camera and an LED flash, the rear of the G2 features all of the buttons you’d normally expect to find on the sides, including a volume rocker and a sleep/power button. The LG G2’s main speaker, a 3.5mm headphone jack, micro USB port and microphone are all on the bottom edge of the device.

LG G2 Front Facing Camera  LG G2 SIM card slot  LG G2 Android Buttons

The front of the LG G2 is dominated by a beautiful, 5.2″ display. A multi-color notification LED, 2.1 megapixel camera and the phone’s ear piece are all located directly above the display, while a row of customizable, on-screen Android buttons are at the bottom.

Internally, the LG G2 is filled with industry leading hardware including a Snapdragon 800 quad-core processor that is clocked at an incredible 2.26GHz, a Adreno 330 graphics processing unit and 2GB worth of RAM. The G2 also features every connectivity option a person could hope for including USB-OTG host mode, NFC, Bluetooth 4.0, A-GPS with GLONASS support, DLNA, Miracast, 802.11 a/b/g/n/AC dual-band Wifi, Wifi Direct and of course, it also has Verizon Wireless 4G LTE.

LG G2 Rear Buttons

LG G2 Rear Buttons

One of the most talked about features of the LG G2 is the rear buttons. This is the first time someone made an Android phone with the buttons back there instead of on the sides and while the feature is unique, I neither love nor hate it. The buttons on the rear work fine and after a bit of practice, I didn’t have any problems locating or using them, but it doesn’t really add anything meaningful to the experience of using this phone.

The buttons being on the rear don’t make using them any easier or harder, it just makes using them different. In my opinion, a button is a button and if everything else was equal, I would have been just as happy using the LG G2 if its buttons were on the side.

LG G2 Display

LG G2 Display

“Wow, it looks like it is 3D!”

I heard that statement several times while showing the LG G2’s display to my friends and family. It is hard to explain, but when looking at the G2’s display for the first time, it really does have a 3Dish look to it. The above photo doesn’t do this display justice. To fully appreciate the display on the LG G2, you’ll need to use one in person. I recommend going into the gallery app and watching the preloaded HD demo videos. They perfectly demonstrate just how stunningly gorgeous the G2’s display is.

The display itself measures 5.2 inches and has a screen resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. That equals a pixel density of 424 pixels per inch. As for display technology, we have an In Plane Switching (IPS) panel here. I personally prefer IPS displays over OLED or Super AMOLED and this is the best example of an IPS display I’ve ever had the pleasure of looking at.

Colors look true to life even across a wide range of viewing angles, brightness levels were great and content is viewable even while the screen is in direct sunlight. LG hit a home run with this display.

LG G2 Software

LG G2 Software

The G2 is about more than impressive hardware, it also has some nice software. For starters, we have Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean with all the great things that come along with it and LG’s Optimus UI custom skin runs on top. Those of you who have read any of our recent LG Smartphone reviews will probably be familiar with the software found on the LG G2. Optimus UI hasn’t changed all that much since we reviewed phones like the LG Enact and the LG Optimus G, but what has changed was for the better in my opinion. LG’s software feels more mature on the G2 and offers a few welcome additions and tweaks.

LG G2 Software Home Screens

Out of the box, the LG G2 offers 5 home screens worth of space for application icons and widgets. Along with the default theme, which is shown above, the LG G2 can run user created themes. These custom themes can be used without rooting your smartphone and include new application icons and wallpapers to enable users to easily change how their phone looks.

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My personal favorite theme recreates the look of vanilla Android and was originally created for the Optimus G. Surprisingly, it works perfectly on the new LG G2. Evidently, LG themes are backwards compatible, so that means there is already a huge collection of user created themes available for the LG G2.

LG G2 Apps 1  LG G2 Apps 2  LG G2 Apps 3

All of the applications you’d expect to find on an Android 4.2.2 smartphone are here, including Google apps such as Gmail, Maps, Hangouts, Keep, YouTube and Google Now. You’ll also find several pre-installed and non-removable applications from Verizon Wireless, including My Verizon, Messenger, Verizon Tones, VZ Navigator, VZ Security, Viewdini and a Verizon Wireless accessories shopping app.

Several of LG’s in house applications are here as well. You’ll get LG Qslide which makes multitasking easier, a Video Editor app for easily creating high quality videos directly from your phone and the incredibly useful Quick Memo for capturing screen shots and scribbling a memo on top of them. Other exclusive features and apps found on the LG G2 include:

Knock On

LG G2 Knock On

One of my favorite software features of the LG G2 is also one of its simplest. It is something so simple yet so useful that I’m surprised it took so long for someone to think of it. I am referring to a little something called knock On, which allows users to turn the G2’s display on or off with a quick double tap on the screen. Knock On acts like a traditional sleep button does, but is easier and more natural feeling to use. Knock On is the best way to wake up a sleeping phone ever and is so intuitive to use that I keep catching myself mistakenly knocking on my personal smartphones and waiting for something to happen. In a perfect world, every phone would have this feature.

LG Quick Remote

LG G2 Quick Remote TV  LG G2 Quick Remote Comcast

The Quick Remote app uses the IR blaster on the top edge of the phone to allow the LG G2 to replace your universal remote. No more searching for the remote. As long as you know where your LG G2 is, you’ll be able to control your television, cable or satellite box and home theater system. Setting up Quick Remote is fast and easy, and the usable range is actually further than the universal remote I normally use.

Custom Front Touch Buttons

LG G2 Front touch buttons

The LG G2 has on screen buttons instead of the physical buttons found on most Android devices. Since these buttons are completely controlled by software, it is possible to customize their layout. As far as I know, LG is the first Android OEM to actually offer this feature out of the box and I think it is great. Basically, it allows users to set the buttons up however they want. So if you’re old Android phone had the back button on the opposite side, you can change the G2’s button layout to match what you’ve grown used to.

Smart Screen

LG G2 Smart screen

Smart Screen is a feature that uses the G2’s front-facing camera to detect if you’re looking at the phone. If it sees your face, the display stays on, once it notices that you’ve looked away, the display will turn off automatically. This particular software feature isn’t exactly original, but it is convenient and works well, even while in a dimly lit room.

I still prefer pure Android over a custom skin, but Optimus UI has grown on me over the years and isn’t nearly as bad as other custom skins.

LG G2 Battery Life, Performance & Call Quality

LG G2 Battery Life

The Verizon Wireless version of the LG G2 is powered by a non-removable 3000mAh battery that can be charged wirelessly. With my normal usage, I had no problems getting 40 to 48 hours of use per charge out of my LG G2 review unit. On heavy usage days, the battery still easily lasted a solid 16 hours before I needed to plug back in. I’m very satisfied with this device’s longevity.

LG G2 AnTuTu Benchmark  LG G2 Vellamo Benchmark  LG G2 Benchmark

As far as performance goes, the LG G2 is a beast. Benchmarking software confirms that fact, and I could actually feel that the device is a powerhouse while using it. The G2 effortlessly handled every task I could think to throw at it without any stuttering or lags in sight. Applications launched instantly, graphic intensive games played without a hitch, scrolling long lists or swiping between home screens was smooth and fluid and rebooting the phone only takes around 12 seconds. That boot time would have been even shorter if it weren’t for Verizon’s boot animation. Even with that slowing things down a bit, the G2 is still the fastest booting Android device I’ve ever used by a healthy margin. If you want the most powerful Android Smartphone your money can buy, look no further than the LG G2.

Call quality on the LG G2 is also impressive. Audio from both the earpiece and main speaker sounds great and everyone on the other end was satisfied with how I sounded while talking to them with G2. The data speeds of Verizon’s 4G LTE network were as fast on the G2 as they usually are and I didn’t have any problems finding service while out using the device.

LG G2 Camera

LG G2 Camera

Last, but certainly not least, we have the LG G2’s camera, which is actually quite nice. The camera hardware is 13 megapixels with an LED flash, and the camera software includes a great selection of options for taking photos, including Beauty Shot, which makes the color of skin in portraits more natural looking, and Shoot & Clear which allows you to remove objects from pictures as you take them.

Other shooting modes found on the LG G2 include HDR, Panorama, VR Panorama, Burst, Dual Camera and Time Catch. There are also scene modes for Portrait, Landscape, Sports, Sunset and Night and the camera includes an abundant amount of settings options to help users to get the most out of the camera.

Overall, I’m very impressed with this camera. It can’t replace my DSLR, but it is a great camera to have in your pocket at all times. You’ll find sample photos below.

High Resolution Samples: (Click the thumbnail to open 1920 x 1080 version)

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Low Resolution Samples:

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Final Thoughts

LG G2 Logo

I love this phone! It has state of the art hardware specs, useful software features, a very attractive design, amazing battery life and the best display I’ve ever seen on a phone. It is without question the best mobile device LG has ever built and one of the absolute best Android Smartphones available today. The LG G2 is worthy of all the hype it has received and doesn’t disappoint.

I have had the opportunity to use several great smartphones this year and the LG G2 is the only one that has made me seriously consider retiring my Nexus 4. Don’t get me wrong, I still love my current Nexus, but the G2 is simply better than it in every possible way except for software updates. I am tempted to move to the G2 even if that means I won’t get Android updates the moment Google releases them. That is how good LG’s latest smartphone is.

If you happen to be in the market for a new, high-end Android-powered smartphone, you owe it to yourself to visit your local Verizon Wireless carrier store and at least check out the LG G2 in person. In my opinion, it is the Android phone to get at the moment.

The LG G2 is available from Verizon’s website and retail locations for $149.99 with a new 2 year agreement.  And at that price, it’s a bargain.