LG moved closer to stepping out from Samsung’s shadow today with its new LG G2 smartphone. The 5.2-inch handset which is set to launch in the Q3/ Q4 time frame, will be among the first smartphones to be powered by Qualcomm’s new quad-core Snapdragon 800 CPU. But it’s not just the G2′s processor that makes it stand out. LG has also crammed this 0.35-inch thick smartphone with myriad features that the company believes will one-up anything you’ve seen on one of Samsung’s Galaxy devices. We spent some hands-on time with the LG G2 following its unveiling and were intrigued with its unique design and software elements.
The first, and most unique, thing you’ll notice about the G2 is its “Rear Key” control. This three-button setup combines the power button and volume keys in one easy-to-reach location. LG says the new button setup will help prevent users from dropping the phone, as they can now access the volume and power buttons without having to loosen their grip on the the sides. During our hands-on we found the Rear Key to be slightly off-putting at first, as we had to feel around the back of the handset to find it. But after a few seconds we became more comfortable with the concept and were able to use the button without looking at it.
The company has also equipped its latest handset with a new “Knock On” function that lets you tap the phone’s display twice when it’s in sleep mode to quickly wake it up. Conversely, tapping the home screen when the handset is on locks it up tight. Unfortunately, the feature was extremely buggy during our hands-on and on several occasions refused to work. The feature finally lived up to LG’s promise when we placed the G2 on a flat surface. LG’s reps said the issue was likely a result of our demo phone running pre-release software, and we were assured that there would be no such problems when the G2 hits the market later this year.
The LG G2′s new Answer Me feature gives users the ability to answer phone calls by simply lifting the phone and putting it to their ears. No button presses required. We tested Answer Me during our hands-on with the G2 and it worked on the first try without issue. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen a feature such as Answer Me. Samsung’s Galaxy S4 has a similar function that allows users to look up the contact information for a person they want to call and raise the phone to their ear to place a call.
If you want to multitask on your smartphone, the G2 may be the phone for you. In addition to the standard Android Recent Apps button, the G2 includes LG’s popular QSlide feature. The function, which was available on both the original Optimus G and Optimus G Pro, allows users to open up to two of seven apps on screen at once in their own individual windows.
What’s more, those windows can be resized, moved and even have their transparency adjusted. For the G2, however, LG has added the ability to minimize and dock these apps. Tapping a QSlide app’s window and dragging it to the side of the screen automatically shrinks it down to the size of an app icon and docks it to the side you dragged it to. This allows you to keep your Qslide apps open without having them get in the way of your other apps.
Beyond QSlide, LG has also loaded the G2 with the company’s new Slide Aside function. The feature lets you open up to three apps and, using three fingers, individually swipe to them left side of the screen where they are saved until you want to access them agian. Three-finger swiping in from the left pulls out the apps like playing cards, letting you choose the one you want to open or close. We found the feature to be extremely useful during our hands-on with the G2. We were also glad to see that it can be used with any app you have saved on your phone, rather than the seven apps that are useable with QSlide.
Need to look up directions to a restaurant your friend mentioned in a text message? Text Link has you covered. Debuting on the G2, Text Link lets you tap on any text message you’ve received, extract the data and plug it into your Web browser, text messaging app or calendar. The feature can be extremely useful and should eliminate the need to tediously copy and paste information from your text messages. We found the function rather easy to use during our hands-on, as we quickly saved an appointment for a lunch meeting a friend sent to the G2′s calendar without skipping a beat.
The G2′s 13-MP rear camera has been equipped with a sapphire crystal glass lens that LG says will help deter fingerprint smudges. The lens also features LG’s Optical Image Stabilization, which helps prevent images from blurring if you happen to move the camera a bit while taking a photo. The handset’s camera is also expected to be more proficient when it comes to shooting photos in low-light settings.
We got a brief taste of what the G2′s camera has to offer and were relatively impressed with what we saw. In addition to a standard shooting mode, the phone includes several pre-sets similar to what LG included with the LG Optimus G and LG Optimus G Pro.
One of the newer features that we tried out, Tracking Zoom, allows you to capture a video and move the focus around the screen as you see fit. A secondary image live streams the new point of focus on your display, giving you two live images at the same time. We’re not quite sure how practical the feature is, but it’s nice to see LG is attempting to offer new and interesting ways to use your smartphone.
From what we’ve seen, the LG G2 improves on the previous generation Optimus G Pro in every conceivable way. Not only is it faster, thanks to its Snapdragon 800 processor, but it offers a slew of new an innovative ideas that could help catapult it past the likes of Samsung’s Galaxy S4 and HTC’s One to help it take the Android smartphone crown. For now, however, we’ll have to wait until we can put the G2 through its paces during our review process.