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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

10 Things You Need To Know About LG's New G3 Smartphone

The South Korean tech maker unveils its newest flagship phone. Is it a contender? See how it measures up here.

On Tuesday at a London press conference, LG officially announced its highly anticipated, incredibly leaky new flagship smartphone, the G3.

Whether that’s good news or bad news depends on your point of view.
Owners of the company’s previous generation smartphone, the G2, might be
miffed that their device just became old hat in less than a year.
Everyone else, however, has a sleek-looking new phone to ponder.

I didn’t count the number of times the company used the word
“simplicity” in its presentation, but it was a lot. The company didn't
hype up the phone's beefy technical specs, including quad-core
Snapdragon 801 processor, up to 3GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, and
expandability via microSD card slot. Instead, it focused on features and
how people would benefit from LG's take on simplicity.

Topping the list are these 10 facts about the new G3.

1. The G3 feels good in the hand

“When you hold G3, it feels perfect in your hand, because there’s no
button on the sides,” said Ramchan Woo, head of smartphone planning for
LG. The design ethos was to offer modern minimalism without ostentation.
As pretentious as that sounds, the company may have just succeeded.

Like its predecessor, the device relocates the wake/sleep button and
volume rocker on the back of the phone. And the whole gadget felt fairly
comfortable in my hand—which is saying something, because I have really
small hands. The reason for that is the curvature of the back, as well
as the “metallic skin”—which really isn’t metal at all, but plastic made
to look like brushed metal.

I asked a LG rep about the design choices, and apparently the company
wanted to offer the sophisticated look of metal without the extra

2. The device offers a beautiful 5.5-inch Quad HD IPS display

The “quad” part of this spec refers to a quadrupling of the standard
720p HD screen’s pixel resolution. LG has some expertise in displays,
and it figured out how to shrink the pixels down (by as much 44 percent,
the company claimed) to pack more into the space. End result: A
great-looking, high-definition screen (at 2,560 x 1,440 resolution) that
packs 538 pixels per inch.

The display measures 5.5 inches, which means we’re in phablet
territory. But, while its overall dimensions (146.3mm x 74.6mm x 8.9mm)
are still bigger than the G2, it somehow manages to fit fine in a
one-handed grip. Basically, the company minimized the bezel around the
display so it could cram in a big screen without super-sizing the whole
phone. Indeed, the entire front face is almost all screen.

3. The phone was optimized for battery life

HD displays can use a lot of power, so something that multiplies that
by four should result in a massive loss of juice. Knowing that, the
company paid attention to battery optimization. Like the G2, this
version includes a 3000 mAh battery and features optimizations so that
the display performance won’t zap the battery dry. Speaking of the
battery, LG bowed to user feedback and has now made it removable.

4. LG revamped the cameras: The front for quality, the rear for speed

LG claims to have improved the speed of its 13 megapixel camera so
that people don’t miss important moments on the fly. Toward that end,
the company integrated a laser auto-focus that zeros in as fast as 0.276
milliseconds. These are more common in DSLRs than smartphones, but if
it works as described, it should make snapping images very quick indeed.
Along for the ride is an improved OIS (optical image stabilization)
feature and a new camera trigger that auto-focuses and snaps the shutter
with a single tap of the screen.

On the 2.1 megapixel front camera, the company wanted to enhance
selfies, so it enlarged the image sensors and put in more of them. The
selfie cam also does an interesting trick now: If you raise your hand,
the action can set off the shutter (on a time delay) to take your pic.

5. The Smart Keyboard lets you adjust the keys

The Smart Keyboard lets users customize the height of the keys, to
appeal to people whether they have delicate texting tappers or big
sausage fingers. There’s also predictive text input—just swipe up on the
keyboard to select the suggestion—and the ability to move the cursor by
swiping along the space bar, instead of lifting the fingers up and over
the screen. Frequently used symbols can also be placed at the bottom of
the keyboard.

6. LG tweaked the interface with flatter design, more subdued colors and circles

Like so many smartphone graphics, this one also uses a flat,
simplistic design. But to differentiate itself, it also used a less
common graphical feature: circular folders and icon shapes. It’s
interesting how a simple little change can make the grid feel less boxy
and more fluid. The company also eschewed primary, carnival colors for a
more sophisticated pallet and implemented a judicious use of animated
motion effects.

7. The G3 can tell you what you need before you ask

Thanks to what it calls “Smart Notice,” people can get various cards
that notify them of things before they need it. This isn’t really new
these days—Google Now does a pretty good job of offering information,
like weather, directions or traffic—so really, a lot depends on

LG claims that Smart Notice can remind you of tasks you’ve put
off—like responding back to someone who called when you were busy—or
releasing processes to optimize your memory or battery life when you
don’t need it. (The underlying Android operating system already does
something like this, although LG has apparently tweaked those
functions.) The company calls the latter “smart cleaning,” and as long
as the recommendations don’t become annoying or intrusive, I could see
that being really handy.

8. You can Knock for security.

The G2’s knock-to-wake feature proved popular, so the G3 took that and expanded on it with “Knock Code” security.

Essentially, the feature does away with pin codes, fingerprint or
pattern unlock by letting users tap the device to unlock it. I wondered
if somehow accidental access could be a problem—like keys in your pocket
hitting the device. But the user sets a pattern, and then can unlock
the phone by tapping that physical pattern anywhere on the screen.
According to LG, there are more than 80,000 security combinations. Not
sure that this will be a big improvement over typical pattern or
fingerprint unlocking, or pin codes, but hey—at least it’s different.

Beyond that, LG also offers a “content lock” so users can sync to
their desktops or let others make phone calls while also keeping their
data locked down. To be honest, I’m a little baffled about the problem
this feature is supposedly solving. Much more practical, at least for
me, is the new kill switch—LG's beefed-up variation of Android Device Manager.
The feature allows users to remote wipe or remote lock their phone … or
even completely brick it if they want, which ADM won't do.

9. The G3 has an entourage

The new phone, which will be available this summer in the U.S., will
work with a group of companion products, including the Quick circle
case, a wireless charger—which works, even with the Quick circle case
on—and the Tone Infinim wireless Bluetooth headset. In addition to
accessories, people will also be able to answer calls on their G Pad
tablets or G Watch Android Wear smartwatch.

10. It will be available practically everywhere

LG’s G3 goes on sale in South Korea today, and will come to the U.S.
later this summer, likely in the latter part of June. When it lands, it
will come to all the major carriers—Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and
Sprint—as well as Best Buy and its mobile specialty stores. No specific
launch date or pricing was announced, but it will be available in
metallic black, white, gold, "moon violet" and burgundy red when it does

Color range image courtesy of LG; all others by Adriana Lee for ReadWrite

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