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Samsung Galaxy S7 mini Android smartphone. Not announced yet.
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Quick Overview
  • This Mobile runs on Android 6.0 (Marshmallow) powered with Quad-core (2x2.15 GHz Kryo & 2x1.6 GHz Kryo).
  • This Mobile has and has Secondary camera
  • This Mobile has 4.6 inches, 58.3 cm2 inches display Super AMOLED capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors.
  • This Mobile has 32/64 GB, 3 GB RAM of internal memory.
  • This Mobile has
  • This Mobile has Single SIM (Nano-SIM) or Hybrid Dual SIM (Nano-SIM, dual stand-by) sim
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GENERAL
2G Network GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 - SIM 1 & SIM 2 (dual-SIM model only)
3G Network HSDPA 850 / 900 / 1900 / 2100
4G Network LTE
Sim Single SIM (Nano-SIM) or Hybrid Dual SIM (Nano-SIM, dual stand-by)
Status Cancelled
BODY
Dimensions 9.9 mm thickness
DISPLAY
Display Size 4.6 inches, 58.3 cm2
MultiTouch Yes
Protection Corning Gorilla Glass 4
SOUND
AlertTypes Vibration; MP3, WAV ringtones
LoudSpeaker Yes
3.5mm jack Yes
MEMORY
CardSlot microSD, up to 512 GB (uses SIM 2 slot) - dual SIM model only
Internal 32/64 GB, 3 GB RAM
DATA
GPRS Yes
EDGE Yes
Speed HSPA 42.2/5.76 Mbps, LTE Cat4 150/50 Mbps
WLAN Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, Wi-Fi Direct, hotspot
Blue Tooth 4.2, A2DP, LE, aptX
NFC Yes
USB microUSB 2.0, USB Host
CAMERA
Camera Features LED flash, auto-HDR, panorama
CameraVideo 2160p@30fps, 1080p@60fps, 720p@240fps, HDR, dual-video rec.
FEATURES
OS Android 6.0 (Marshmallow)
CPU Quad-core (2x2.15 GHz Kryo & 2x1.6 GHz Kryo)
Sensors Fingerprint (front-mounted), accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass
Messaging SMS(threaded view), MMS, Email, Push Email, IM
Browser HTML5
Radio No
GPS Yes, with A-GPS, GLONASS, BDS
Colors Black, White, Gold, Silver
BATTERY
MISC

IN DEPTH: Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge vs LG G Flex 2

Battery, camera comparison

Smartphones have reached the point where designs are more iterative than innovative. While the look and feel changes only slightly on new models each year, manufacturers haven't done much to wow consumers beyond the traditional rectangular slab of glass, metal and plastic.

LG attempted to shake things up last year with first G Flex, a 6-inch smartphone with a curved display and slightly flexible frame, and Samsung soon followed with their own take on this concept, courtesy of the Galaxy Note Edge, a phablet-sized model featuring a display that wraps around the right side.

These Korean tech titans wasted no time announcing all-new versions of these devices for 2015, and we sat down with both in an effort to determine whether curved and flexible displays actually enhance the experience or are little more than a marketing gimmick.

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge display

Screen

Although it won't hit stores until April 10 (with preorders now available in 20 countries), the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge is little more than a variant of this year's Samsung Galaxy S6, featuring nearly identical specs with one notable exception: The Edge's display gently wraps around both sides of the front.

Otherwise, the Galaxy S6 Edge offers the same 5.1-inch Quad HD Super AMOLED display as its less curvaceous sibling, with a resolution of 2560 x 1440 that packs in a whopping 577ppi.

The new LG G Flex 2 one-ups Samsung's latest with a 5.5-inch Full HD P-OLED display which curves slightly from top to bottom, and like its predecessor, can handle a bit of bending without breaking.

Despite the larger screen, the G Flex 2 tops out at a resolution of 1920 x 1080 with a pixel density of only 403ppi, but LG attempts to make up for this shortcoming by comparing the curved display to its high-end televisions, offering a more cinematic viewing experience in landscape mode with three modes (Standard, Vivid or Natural) to make any content look great.

LG G Flex 2 profile

Design

Weighing only 4.66 ounces (132 grams), Samsung's curved Galaxy S6 Edge offers a premium feel that's slightly less ergonomic along the edges, but the aluminum frame and 7mm thickness make the device feel lighter than the Galaxy S6.

Roughly the size of an iPhone 6, Samsung borrowed a somewhat annoying trait from Apple's latest flagship handset: The rear camera protrudes from the back ever so slightly, presumably a design compromise to keep the device slim and trim.

Instead of curving around the edges, LG's G Flex 2 bends the entire case inward vertically, and because of the larger display size, its contoured body weighs slightly more at 5.36 ounces (152 grams) with a 5.87 x 2.96 x 0.37-inch (149.1 x 75.3 x 9.4mm) frame.

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge both sides

Processor and Storage

Just because it looks so nice on the outside, that's no reason to be a slouch when it comes to what's on the inside.

The Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge obliges with an octa-core, 64-bit Exynos 7 Octa 7420 processor clocked at 2.1GHz capped off by a Mali-T760 MP8 GPU and a whopping 3GB RAM and up to 128GB of storage for good measure.

LG mostly made up for the lack of oomph on the first G Flex by slapping an octa-core, 64-bit Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor into the sequel, clocked at 2.0GHz with Adreno 430 GPU and the same 3GB RAM.

Unfortunately, the built-in storage on the G Flex 2 maxes out at 32GB, but up to a totally insane 2TB of additional storage is available from an optional microSD card – a feature sadly lacking on the otherwise hardware-rich Galaxy S6 Edge.

Battery, cameras and features comparison

LG G Flex 2 back cover removed

Battery

If you love the flexibility of swapping in a new battery when the current one runs out, neither of these curvy smartphones are likely to make you smile.

It's too early to know what the battery life will be like on the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge, but the 2600mAh power pack doesn't offer a whole lot of encouragement on this front.

By comparison, the G Flex 2 packs a 3000mAh battery (reduced from 3500mAh in the previous model), but before LG can boast about having more power, there's the matter of that larger 5.5-inch display to consider.

Thankfully, the fast charging capabilities of both models should have you back in action quickly – our own review of the LG G Flex 2 topped up from a complete discharge in just over an hour and a half.

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge camera

Cameras

Samsung hasn't held back when it comes to the Galaxy S6 Edge camera: Rocking a 16MP, f1.9 aperture sensor with dual LED flash and optical image stabilization capable of shooting 4K video up to 3840 x 2160, the rear camera is no slouch.

By comparison, the LG G Flex 2 borrows liberally from the LG G3 to provide a 13MP sensor that otherwise checks off the same feature list above on the Galaxy S6 Edge, although the laser auto focus is one noteworthy addition.

Neither model breaks much new ground with the front camera, however: Samsung touts a "best-in-class" 5MP sensor with 120º wide angle lens, while LG's tops out a 2.1MP, which the manufacturer claims is enough to use it as a "full HD camcorder."

LG G Flex 2 in hand

Features

The remaining feature checklist is relatively the same for both handsets: Each ships with Android 5.0 Lollipop out of the gate, with the usual Bluetooth 4.1, NFC and 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac wireless on board.

Aside from curved edges, the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge also offers built-in Qi and Powermat-compatible wireless charging.

LG instead opted to include a selfie-friendly "Gesture Shot" mode on the G Flex 2, which provides a three-second timer on the front-facing camera that can be activated with a gesture; tilting the camera down allows the user to review images instead.

Like the original G Flex, the sequel also features that bizarre self-healing back, which didn't do all that much to impress in our own review of the G Flex 2. More impressive is the Glance view, which offers a peek at what's happening without the need to actually turn on the device.

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge connected

Galaxy Edge 6 vs G Flex 2 Verdict

This two-horse race ultimately comes down to just how curvy you want: Along the edges of the handset with the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge, or on the entire smartphone with the LG G Flex 2.

LG has a slight advantage since the handset is already available from two carriers for early adopters to take home, but to be honest, the whole concept of curved displays on a smartphone still causes us to scratch our collective heads more than be impressed.

Samsung isn't likely to woo many potential Galaxy S6 buyers away from the flagship device in favor of the Galaxy S6 Edge either, but those in search of a more premium edition worthy of making friends envious will want to wait it out a bit longer – assuming you can afford it, that is.








IN DEPTH: Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge vs LG G Flex 2

Battery, camera comparison

Smartphones have reached the point where designs are more iterative than innovative. While the look and feel changes only slightly on new models each year, manufacturers haven't done much to wow consumers beyond the traditional rectangular slab of glass, metal and plastic.

LG attempted to shake things up last year with first G Flex, a 6-inch smartphone with a curved display and slightly flexible frame, and Samsung soon followed with their own take on this concept, courtesy of the Galaxy Note Edge, a phablet-sized model featuring a display that wraps around the right side.

These Korean tech titans wasted no time announcing all-new versions of these devices for 2015, and we sat down with both in an effort to determine whether curved and flexible displays actually enhance the experience or are little more than a marketing gimmick.

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge display

Screen

Although it won't hit stores until April 10 (with preorders now available in 20 countries), the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge is little more than a variant of this year's Samsung Galaxy S6, featuring nearly identical specs with one notable exception: The Edge's display gently wraps around both sides of the front.

Otherwise, the Galaxy S6 Edge offers the same 5.1-inch Quad HD Super AMOLED display as its less curvaceous sibling, with a resolution of 2560 x 1440 that packs in a whopping 577ppi.

The new LG G Flex 2 one-ups Samsung's latest with a 5.5-inch Full HD P-OLED display which curves slightly from top to bottom, and like its predecessor, can handle a bit of bending without breaking.

Despite the larger screen, the G Flex 2 tops out at a resolution of 1920 x 1080 with a pixel density of only 403ppi, but LG attempts to make up for this shortcoming by comparing the curved display to its high-end televisions, offering a more cinematic viewing experience in landscape mode with three modes (Standard, Vivid or Natural) to make any content look great.

LG G Flex 2 profile

Design

Weighing only 4.66 ounces (132 grams), Samsung's curved Galaxy S6 Edge offers a premium feel that's slightly less ergonomic along the edges, but the aluminum frame and 7mm thickness make the device feel lighter than the Galaxy S6.

Roughly the size of an iPhone 6, Samsung borrowed a somewhat annoying trait from Apple's latest flagship handset: The rear camera protrudes from the back ever so slightly, presumably a design compromise to keep the device slim and trim.

Instead of curving around the edges, LG's G Flex 2 bends the entire case inward vertically, and because of the larger display size, its contoured body weighs slightly more at 5.36 ounces (152 grams) with a 5.87 x 2.96 x 0.37-inch (149.1 x 75.3 x 9.4mm) frame.

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge both sides

Processor and Storage

Just because it looks so nice on the outside, that's no reason to be a slouch when it comes to what's on the inside.

The Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge obliges with an octa-core, 64-bit Exynos 7 Octa 7420 processor clocked at 2.1GHz capped off by a Mali-T760 MP8 GPU and a whopping 3GB RAM and up to 128GB of storage for good measure.

LG mostly made up for the lack of oomph on the first G Flex by slapping an octa-core, 64-bit Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor into the sequel, clocked at 2.0GHz with Adreno 430 GPU and the same 3GB RAM.

Unfortunately, the built-in storage on the G Flex 2 maxes out at 32GB, but up to a totally insane 2TB of additional storage is available from an optional microSD card – a feature sadly lacking on the otherwise hardware-rich Galaxy S6 Edge.

Battery, cameras and features comparison

LG G Flex 2 back cover removed

Battery

If you love the flexibility of swapping in a new battery when the current one runs out, neither of these curvy smartphones are likely to make you smile.

It's too early to know what the battery life will be like on the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge, but the 2600mAh power pack doesn't offer a whole lot of encouragement on this front.

By comparison, the G Flex 2 packs a 3000mAh battery (reduced from 3500mAh in the previous model), but before LG can boast about having more power, there's the matter of that larger 5.5-inch display to consider.

Thankfully, the fast charging capabilities of both models should have you back in action quickly – our own review of the LG G Flex 2 topped up from a complete discharge in just over an hour and a half.

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge camera

Cameras

Samsung hasn't held back when it comes to the Galaxy S6 Edge camera: Rocking a 16MP, f1.9 aperture sensor with dual LED flash and optical image stabilization capable of shooting 4K video up to 3840 x 2160, the rear camera is no slouch.

By comparison, the LG G Flex 2 borrows liberally from the LG G3 to provide a 13MP sensor that otherwise checks off the same feature list above on the Galaxy S6 Edge, although the laser auto focus is one noteworthy addition.

Neither model breaks much new ground with the front camera, however: Samsung touts a "best-in-class" 5MP sensor with 120º wide angle lens, while LG's tops out a 2.1MP, which the manufacturer claims is enough to use it as a "full HD camcorder."

LG G Flex 2 in hand

Features

The remaining feature checklist is relatively the same for both handsets: Each ships with Android 5.0 Lollipop out of the gate, with the usual Bluetooth 4.1, NFC and 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac wireless on board.

Aside from curved edges, the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge also offers built-in Qi and Powermat-compatible wireless charging.

LG instead opted to include a selfie-friendly "Gesture Shot" mode on the G Flex 2, which provides a three-second timer on the front-facing camera that can be activated with a gesture; tilting the camera down allows the user to review images instead.

Like the original G Flex, the sequel also features that bizarre self-healing back, which didn't do all that much to impress in our own review of the G Flex 2. More impressive is the Glance view, which offers a peek at what's happening without the need to actually turn on the device.

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge connected

Galaxy Edge 6 vs G Flex 2 Verdict

This two-horse race ultimately comes down to just how curvy you want: Along the edges of the handset with the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge, or on the entire smartphone with the LG G Flex 2.

LG has a slight advantage since the handset is already available from two carriers for early adopters to take home, but to be honest, the whole concept of curved displays on a smartphone still causes us to scratch our collective heads more than be impressed.

Samsung isn't likely to woo many potential Galaxy S6 buyers away from the flagship device in favor of the Galaxy S6 Edge either, but those in search of a more premium edition worthy of making friends envious will want to wait it out a bit longer – assuming you can afford it, that is.








Review: Updated: LG G3

Introduction and key features

Update: We're just waiting for Android Lollipop to drop on our review device, then we'll do a big update to this review. It's coming soon!

With the LG G3, we saw a brand release a phone ahead of time in order to grab a foothold in an industry that could be spiralling away from its grasp.

It's an odd thing to say considering we're talking about a manufacturer that launched one of the critically acclaimed phones of 2013, with the LG G2 impressing far more than most expected.

But that was last year, and LG realised that with Samsung, Sony and HTC all bringing out far superior models it couldn't wait until later in the year to catch up, so it's tried to race to the front of the pack with a previously-unseen step forward in screen technology.

It's now finally rolled out Android 5.0 Lollipop to some users on certain networks in the UK, with the final set of users getting ready to receive it in the very near future.

If you need more evidence that this is a phone that LG has accelerated to launch, check out the changes it's made: removable battery, microSD slot, metallic frame and new, mature interface; in short, everything that was wrong with last year's model in the eyes of many.

And here's the other good news: this thing is cheap compared to the rest of the market. Where others are costing a huge chunk of cash, the G3 can be picked up for 75% of the cost of a new iPhone, with far greater spec. That's not bad at all.

So with that in mind, is the LG G3 the perfect smartphone?

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Key features

There are a number of key features that LG is touting as new and improved this year with the G3, but none sticks out as prominently as the QHD screen. Some might think that this is four times the pixel count of an HD screen, and you'd be right to a degree.

But only if you're talking about 720p screens – if you're comparing the G3 to something like the Galaxy S5, that packs in two million pixels to the G3's 3.6 million. It's a lot sharper, sure, but anyone thinking it's going to be mindblowing will be disappointed.

LG G3 review

The big question here with the screen is: why do it? The official reason LG told me was it had done some research and had realised that Steve Jobs was wrong.

While it agreed he was right there was a limit to what the human eye can see in terms of sharpness, LG reckons that the way sight works means the Retina display isn't the top end. That's obvious anyway; the display on the Samsung Galaxy S5 or HTC One M8 is significantly sharper than that on the iPhone 5S or iPhone 6, so there is more headroom.

But apparently there's another level still to attack, and that's just what it's done with the QHD screen. Where Samsung's offering 440ppi sharpness, the G3 has 538ppi, which is equivalent to high end glossy art books, which LG used as the benchmark of sharpness to aim at.

Dr RamChan Woo, head of smartphone planning for LG, told me that the idea was you need pixels to fill in the space between lines, to make something that sorts out the 'dead space', which is why it went for the upper limit to make everything look premium.

Now, here's the quandary: the screen is brilliant, no question. Internet browsing, looking at pictures, watching high-end video, is all awesome. But that's the exact same feeling I had with the G2, which also had a simply stunning screen.

It feels like the QHD screen is great to look at because LG knows how to make an amazing display, rather than offering a next level of sharpness that blows me away. I didn't feel that I was looking at something superior to the G2 in terms of screen quality, and with the larger heft and hit on battery life, I believe LG has gone too early with the technology just to make an impact.

Or possibly its not even early. Perhaps we just don't need QHD screens in our phones. The display isn't without problems either: tilt it left or right and the brightness drops off sharply, which makes sense when you consider how many pixels are packed in there.

It's unfair to criticise the QHD screen on the G3 – there's no doubt all high end smartphones will be using this technology in a year or so and in the months since the G3 launched Samsung's joined the club with the Galaxy Note 4, and Google / Motorola have repeated the trick with the Nexus 6.

But as a headline spec, it doesn't seem to add a huge amount to the G3, which is a shame as I was hoping to be looking at the next generation of picture quality on a phone.

New interface

When it came to listing the criticisms of the LG G2, the biggest problem was the interface. It was so cluttered that if you had the remote activated and received a message you had to scroll down to see it.

Compare that to the HTC One M8, and you've got nothing but the missive to check. On top of that, the G2 went for a really garish and cartoony look too, meaning it was hard to evangelise about a phone that was otherwise brilliant.

LG G3 review

The new interface on the LG G3 is a big improvement. Gone is the skeumorphism in favour of a new flat tile look. The icons are redesigned. The different applications have their own colour scheme for easy recognition and the colour palette is more muted than before.

It's a much more fluid system that shows LG has grown up, taking the problems of before and making it into a more intuitive way of navigating through the handset.

LG has definitely taken touches from HTC, Samsung and Apple with the new interface. The home screen features a separate section for the pedometer and tips videos (where Samsung's pointless magazine option is on the Galaxy S5), the colours are very similar to HTC's on the M8 and the flatter design owes more than a tip of the hat to Apple.

The interface is still a little cluttered, but overall it's a tick for LG updating something that sorely needed a new look.

Metallic shell

As mentioned the other big problem with the G2 was the fact it had a really glossy plastic shell. The phone was well packaged, but still didn't offer the same premium quality as the HTC One, iPhone or Sony Xperia Z1.

So with the LG G3, the South Korean brand has gone for the best of both worlds. It's created a 'metallic skin' that supposedly looks and feels premium, but offers the lower weight and added connectivity benefits of polycarbonate.

LG G3 review

The problem is, LG hasn't really managed this lofty goal. The G3 certainly looks the business, bringing a more iconic look of brushed metal and some cool colours (black, silver and gold) to make it stand out on the shelves, which makes sense given it's mostly screen otherwise.

But the second you pick it up, the plastic nature jars with the look of the phone, which is a disappointment. It actually feels cheaper than the G2 thanks to using a removable back, which lowers the tightness of the packaging and makes it feel more hollow.

The upside of this is you've got a removable battery and microSD slot, both of which are a big win for a certain section of the customer base. That said, there are better ways of doing this, as you can easily have a slot for a microSD card without needing to remove the back.

LG G3 review

And I know a few people disagree, but a unibody phone feels better in the hand and a portable battery pack is much more useful than being able to swap in a new battery - it's easier to charge, for one, and 98% of users will never swap the battery in and out anyway, so why bother when an integrated unit can offer more capacity and better design?

So again, LG has stepped forward with the G3 – but it's still not quite got all the pieces together when it comes to design.

Health chops

The LG G3 doesn't have the heart rate monitor that the Samsung Galaxy S5 packs, which means some will see it as less of a phone for being able to keep you on track.

That's not true though, as it features a fairly in depth stride sensor and some other elements to help you maintain a healthy lifestyle.

And when the Android 5 Lollipop drops, the G Watch R will be able to automatically take your heart rate at intervals throughout the day (as well as being able to unlock your phone through proximity to the smartwatch) which should give you a fuller picture of what's happening to you health-wise.

Simple camera with laser autofocus

The 13MP camera on the LG G3 is also another big talking point, both in terms of the new look to the interface and the additional technology on board.

I'll start with the latter point: the laser auto focus, which is designed to make it the fastest-focusing smartphone on the market. It seems to be true at times, but I'm not sure shaving another 100 milliseconds off makes that much of a difference when boot-up speed is more important..

It's possibly a bit unfair to say that the extra speed isn't warranted – if the system worked perfectly, chances are you'd take 10-20 more high quality pictures that capture the moment compared to the competition, but without being able to fully test the system it's hard to comment.

The laser works by sending out a conical infra-red signal (using technology nabbed from a robo-vacuum cleaner from LG's home appliances division) and absorbs information from the surroundings to create an instant and clear picture for the camera to use.

This means it doesn't have to look for contrast shifts like before, and offers a sharper image.

The interface is really scaled back too: it's nothing more than a back button, a menu icon and the viewfinder. Tap the screen and it focuses and takes the picture, designed to be simple and effective.

LG G3 review

It also doesn't let you focus to check the shot composition before taking the photo, which would be nice – but then again, tap that menu icon and you get all you need in terms of shutter, options and video recording.

The G3 is all about simplification, and this kind of technology really works. It's a little too scaled back for the camera, but it's the right idea.

The front 2.1MP camera is now cringingly called the 'selfie' camera – it seems that dreaded word is here to stay, at least for a few years. The lens is a wider angle, so you can get more friends into the photo (or more actors at the Oscars) and features clever gesture recognition to take the photo.

Hold your hand out, make a fist and it'll start the G3 self-portrait timer. It's a clever system and it works, which is great for those moments when you can't use both hands and don't want to tap the screen.

Another cool feature is the ability to have a front-facing flash, although it's not an LED light. Instead, part of the screen goes white, which illuminates faces and takes better pictures. LG has even white balanced this screen to correct skin tone imperfections – and it really gives some nice front facing snaps.

Design

LG, as I've mentioned, was keen to tout a number of features of the new design that make the LG G3 a real upgrade over the G2. One of the big elements, and something that was seen a number of times in the leaks leading up to the launch was the metallic skin that now adorns the new phone.

Considering the all-plastic unibody of the G2 was one of the main issues I had with a phone that was pretty close to 5 stars, the leaks showing a shiny metal body to the G3 got me pretty excited. We're all friends here - I'm OK admitting that to you.

But then when the phone was displayed for the first time, it was a plastic shell painted to look like a brushed metal case. LG was almost apologetic about this, saying it wanted to deliver a metal phone that felt as premium as possible, but the mechanics simply didn't allow for it.

LG G3 review

The result is somewhere between the two, as LG has created a special film that takes away the plastic feel somewhat while still looking the part in a world where consumers are crying out for a high-end design.

And to look at it on a table or on the shop shelf, it's a great-looking phone. And LG has done something else that I was crying out for: made the backplate removable, allowing you to swap the battery and add in a microSD card.

I'm not convinced that the world needs to be able to remove a battery in a phone, but I always think a microSD card is a good option to have. Despite internal storage being a better thing in terms of phone function, the LG G3 comes in only 16GB and 32GB options and most will buy the former, which doesn't give a huge amount of room for all the larger apps on offer these days.

LG G3 review

Anyway, the fact that the battery is removable might be a big win for some, but it comes at the cost of feel in the hand, as the LG G3 doesn't feel as nicely packaged as the G2, which is the design sacrifice necessary when you add in a backplate like the one here.

The result is that despite being made of a more refined material, the LG G3 actually feels cheaper in the hand than the G2. Not by much, but enough for me to long for this metallic plastic to be used on the older version.

And then there's the issue of the screen. Not the actual display itself, which I've already said is excellent – but the size of it.

The term 'smartphone' is constantly evolving; where once we thought anything over 4 inches in terms of display size was enormous, it's now tiny. So we're now seeing phones with a 5-inch screen as a normal option at the high end, and I get the feeling that's the limit of what's acceptable.

LG G3 review

Actually, perhaps that's a little harsh, as the LG G3's screen size isn't overly cumbersome, thanks in part to packing really thin bezels around the side, which means a large amount of the front of the phone is dominated by the display.

But 5.5-inches is just too large to be considered a smartphone – we're definitely at the bottom end of phablet territory here. This means it's not as fluid to navigate around the screen with one hand, and combined with the more angular corners it's not a great experience when using the G3 day after day.

I do like the rear buttons though. The principle gets burned into your muscle memory much faster than you'd expect, to the point where I keep tapping the camera on other handsets I review to turn off the screen.

LG G3 review

And LG's upgrades here, making the power button more rounded and the volume keys ridged, means it's even easier to operate without looking. If you're thinking this is something that's a reason not to buy the phone, then disregard it – it's actually a really neat feature and one that I'm surprised hasn't been copied yet.

In summary, LG has both improved the design of its flagship phone and taken a couple of steps backwards. The G3 certainly looks more premium, and offers the removable battery and microSD slot some people believe they simply cannot live without.

LG G3 review

But in making the backplate a separate piece, the tight packaging has been negated, and as such I found holding it less pleasant than I did with the G2.

If you're going to make a phone look metallic, then it has to have the same pleasant weight seen on the excellent HTC One M8 or iPhone 6 Plus, where this is more like the Samsung Galaxy S5 in feel, albeit with a coat of paint and no weirdly dimpled back.

True, the new design is much less drawn to fingerprints than the predecessor, but that doesn't change the fact that those who don't want a phablet will see the G3 as a touch too large.

Interface and performance

LG's theme for the G3 is 'Smart is the new Simple' and one of the key factors in this is the all-new interface it's put together for the new handset.

One of my big criticisms of the LG G2 was that the interface was simply awful: cartoon-like, hard to understand, cluttered and simply not up to the standard the HTC One M8 and friends offer.

So it's great to see that the brand has gone back to the drawing board and made something that's more fitting with a top-end handset. The garish colours are replaced with more muted 'mature' hues, meaning out goes the bright yellow and purple to be replaced with softer greens and autumnal burnt reds.

LG G3 review

Each core app, such as contacts and messaging, has its own colour to help you discern where you are in the phone – if that was a confusing problem for you – and the notifications bar has been stripped right back to simply pack a row of quick settings and the stuff you want to know about.

By default you do have a brightness bar and the option to control volumes (which is useful when you're using the phone in landscape) but these can be toggled on or off, depending on your preference, which allows for a very clean notifications zone.

If you think of it as somewhere between Samsung's new TouchWiz and native Android 4.4, you'll be pretty close. It's not as close to standard Android as some would have you believe, as the notifications area and menu systems are different, but the ethos is there and it's very similar.

That closeness has allowed LG to be the first non-Nexus brand to bring its software to a flagship phone, with the new interface taking a lot of the visual cues already added in from the first G3 interface iteration. The good news is this will speed up the flagship phone even more, which should make sweeping around the home screen a joy.

The interface is visually a triumph for LG, a new look that brings a freshness that sends a statement that the South Korean brand is finally looking to make the step up to top-tier manufacturer.

To that end, there have been a couple of extra features added in to help with day to day living – these include helpful video tips that alter throughout the lifetime of the phone (so start-up tips in the first few weeks, app tutorials for the programs you're not using a bit later on and then telling you about new LG products as the G3 nears the end of life).

LG G3 review

The idea is clever, but one you'll not really use that often. The same can be said of Smart Notice, a constant label that hangs beneath the weather widget on the home screen.

This is meant to be the companion in your phone, allowing you to see the truth behind the weather by prompting you when you'll need an umbrella or offering to save a contact that you call multiple times but isn't in your phone book.

The thing is more often it tells you when there's a new video to watch, or adding helpfully that when it's foggy outside 'it's very foggy'. The idea is cool, but it's more annoying than helpful, at least in the first month of ownership.

I also got a number of shipping forecast-style updates when in New York. Helpful.

So, onto the performance of the LG G3; as you can guess with the Snapdragon 801 CPU on board and up to 3GB of RAM (if you buy the 32GB iteration of the phone) this handset performs well on standard benchmarks.

However, in day to day use it's not great. There's a definite lag under the finger that's simply not present when using the HTC One M8 or iPhone 6, and it's quickly noticeable.

In side by side tests opening and closing apps was markedly slower on the LG G3, and while we're talking nanosecond differences it does all add up. I definitely felt the G3 wasn't as slick as other handsets on trial, and the problem didn't resolve itself between getting the European version of the software and the pre-production Korean handset.

It's not deal-breaking, but I'm confused as to why a firm that prides itself so much on engineering would let something like this slip through. There were also a few freezes here and there, but nothing that you won't see on most other smartphones.

The benchmark GeekBench 3 results could give a clue as to why - the LG G3 doesn't perform as well as the rest of the competition, which could be partly down to the extra pixels needing to be driven. It's surprising, given LG usually bosses these tests, but Geekbench is designed to replicate real life use as much as possible, and the results tally with the way I found using the phone.

LG G3 review

App compatibility is still an issue as well: some of the top apps simply aren't there, such as Real Racing 3, making it hard to properly test some elements of the phone. These will probably come in time, but be warned that if you're using the LG G3 from launch you won't be overly happy with some of the limitations.

Knock On / Knock Code

LG's proprietary way of unlocking the phone is back for a second round – and it's as good as it was before.

The notion is simple: you tap the screen twice when turned off to unlock the phone (if you've not got lockscreen security set up) and can then tap the notification bar twice in quick succession, or any empty area on the home screen, to shut it down again.

It worked really well on the LG G2 to the point where, like the rear buttons, I often tried the same trick on other handsets. Others are coming on board now, like the Sony Xperia Z2 or the HTC One M8, and of course it was Nokia's idea in the first place to invent the technique.

LG G3 review

But none do it as well as LG, and it's a real boon.

And that's where the brand reached a little too far in my opinion by adding in Knock Code. It's a clever system where you can simply tap the right quadrants of the screen with the screen turned off and it works the same as an unlock code or pattern.

The issue I had was that it didn't register 80% of the time. This was often down to the fact you pick the phone up holding a portion of the screen, which seems to register as an early tap to add into the code.

This means the screen still lights up, but prompts you once again to enter the code. If you must have security then it's OK, but tapping the display twice to wake it and entering the pattern is a little simpler.

That said, if you opt for the simplest pattern first and really try at it, you'll get some joy more often than not, and when it works Knock Code is second only to the iPhone's TouchID in terms of a simple way to open the phone.

Battery

Battery life on the LG G3 was an area I was really interested in checking out, as you'll have noted in the hands on review of the handset.

With its 3000mAh battery, the power pack on the G3 is certainly big enough, but it has to fire all those extra pixels, which could limit things. But then again, it's also got the ultra-efficient Snapdragon 801 CPU that even made an HTC phone last through the day without giving up the ghost.

Well, let me let you wait no longer: the battery life is great. It's not quite as impressive as other LG phones, but given the extra power that's needed as well as other brightness controls, it's a stellar effort and one that will easily see you through a day or so of medium to hard use.

LG has worked all its magic to get the power efficiency of the G3 to the maximum possible, and you won't see a lot of the stuff that's going on under the hood in day to day use.

LG G3 review

It all depends on what you're doing. The frame rate of the display will slow down if not needed, as will the clock speed of the 2.5GHz quad-core CPU, and the LCD controls themselves also adapt to your usage, and it all works well together.

The result is that I never really noticed the phone getting overly warm either, which usually hints at strong power efficiency. However, what's interesting here is that the LG G3 performed very badly in our video rundown test, coming in lower than even the HTC One (2013) which was one of the worst at running video at a higher brightness.

So while the day to day use isn't terrible, clearly firing all those pixels is causing the G3 to melt a little even with full HD video. This only matters if you're constantly using the screen to look at myriad things on the phone, and even then the G3 is intelligent enough to slow power use down when jumping between apps.

The graph below shows the G3 to have poor battery when it comes to using the screen in our looped 90 mins HD video, with a lot more battery life lost than the competition, proving that firing the pixels isn't a treat for the phone - although when you're not watching video or internet browsing it's a lot more robust.

LG G3 review

It's interesting to note that LG doesn't seem to have the same Ultra/Extreme power saving mode as seen on the HTC One M8 and Samsung Galaxy S5 – I've not been convinced of their need to be a headline feature, but if you're in a pinch these modes can turn the phone down to the minimum power drain possible.

It's not needed, but such is the synergy between what Samsung and LG do with their flagship phones I'd have expected to see it there.

It's also great to see the LG G3 coming with wireless charging out of the box, although not all models will have this feature. It's frustrating that it's not a standard feature on more handsets, as it would help with the proliferation of the method of charging a phone.

LG says this wireless charging is based on the Qi standard, and while it seems to be a little confused over which charging pads it uses, it's ace to see it there from the start.

Overall, battery life is good enough on the LG G3, and as something that most people look for in a new smartphone, this is a real recommendation.

LG G3 review

There's a small, wistful, part of me that almost wishes that the QHD screen wasn't added into the G3 – which I appreciate borders on the hypocritical given it's something we've been looking forward to for a long while in a phone.

But given LG's ability to eke the most out of the battery, this could have been a record breaking phone, especially if the battery had been sealed in. The LG G2 had a battery that was morphed around the internal components, so if we could have feasibly had an even larger capacity on a phone that didn't draw as much power, meaning you genuinely wouldn't have to charge more than once every two days.

It's not fair to criticise a brand for pushing the boundaries of technology in everyday devices, but it perhaps hints that longer battery life would have been a better selling point than the first QHD display, especially now that it's not even the only phone with a QHD screen any more.

The essentials

One of the big selling points of the LG G3 is the fact the company thinks it's sorted the onboard keyboard, making it into something more useable and better than the wealth of third party options out there.

It's certainly taken some dramatic leaps forward, as the keyboard is both resizable and able to learn from your typing action, meaning it becomes more accurate the more you use it.

LG G3 review

The resizing option is pretty good, although increasing the height of the keys does limit the space you can see what you're actually typing, which isn't great when you're trying to enter text into fields on the web browser.

Similarly shrinking it doesn't do a lot for trying to improve the accuracy, no matter how much I used it. One of the other elements that LG has brought in is the next word prediction, but it's not really got the idea well.

For instance, if you're trying to type 'can't' but accidentally enter 'vant' then it will still go with that option, rather than working out succinctly what you're after.

I always use the test of whether the keyboard makes me want to install Swiftkey Keyboard, and sadly with the LG that was the case after a couple of weeks' use.

The ability to change the layout to your own choices slightly is a big boon though – having the comma key instead of settings is a real win.

But given so many good aftermarket options are so good, I can't say the new keyboard is really a selling point; HTC's One M8 is still the only phone I've not bothered to upgrade the typing experience on.

The call quality on the LG G3 is pretty good though, as it seemed to offer really good connection throughout. It also comes with all the bells and whistles you'd hope, such as being able to message straight from the call if you so need.

LG G3 review

The one issue I did note is that the LG G3 sometimes struggled to get a signal where other phones managed it just fine – it wasn't that the signal was weak, or the reception from the phone poor, it just was stuck searching to find any reception, meaning a restart or putting it in and out of airplane mode to sort.

However, it was decent at flipping in and out of Wi-Fi and 4G – while it doesn't have the download booster of the Samsung Galaxy S5, when it gets a fast connection it didn't let it go.

The internet browsing, as a result, was super slick and speedy whether using the onboard browser or Chrome – the latter isn't obvious, but now that Google's managed to get its mobile internet app up to speed I can't see why you'd use LG's option.

LG G3 review

It's not that it's bad, but it harks back to an older era where the clever notions were from the manufacturers and Google's Chrome offered nothing more than a desktop sync – but that advantage has been eroded now.

Camera

The camera on the LG G3 is a pretty good affair, despite being largely similar in spec to the LG G2. This means the same 13MP sensor, enhanced optical image stabilisation (OIS+) and the same efforts to overly-disguise noisy photos by smoothing them with software algorithms.

But on the software side, LG has stripped things right back to make one of the most streamlined UIs for a phone yet.

Turn on the camera and you'll be greeted with just a back button and small set of dots to signify more features, should you want them. Simply tap the screen to focus where you want, and the phone takes the shot quickly.

LG G3 review

If you want to just take speedy snaps, this is a great method (and the camera is activated by holding the down volume button in standby mode, and can be used as a shutter button too.

If you want a few more options (and I do when taking a photo) then intriguingly the G3 doesn't have much more to play with. You can toggle the HDR mode on or off (it's on by default), enter dual capture, panorama or 'Magic Focus' which is the same re-focus feature that's become popular with all high-end phones.

There's no way to change the ISO settings, exposure or contrast… it's a camera with minimal interaction. It's not a bad thing, but I would like to see a touch more control, even if it's buried down through the menus.

Nokia, Samsung and even HTC have done a great job in starting the education process of how to get great snaps by playing with settings, but it seems LG is more interested in doing the same as Apple and not getting in the way of your pictures.

The actual picture quality is pretty good, with well-lit scenes giving really clear, sharp and well-defined snaps. In lower light the G3 is good, if not as fast at taking snaps, although that image smoothing easily goes over the top – like the One M8, if you're thinking of zooming in or cropping your photos, some will look a bit muddy on the G3.

But the general pictures gained from day to day photography are up there with the best on the LG G3, and it's a real recommendation from me.

The autofocus needs a mention here again – the laser shooting out a conical beam to check out the room leads to blistering autofocus, and does notably out-do the Samsung Galaxy S5 in terms of going from a standing start and snapping the picture..

LG G3 review

The S5 struggles to wake from sleep mode as fast as the G3, and the speed of the shutter is so impressive with the latter – check out the snaps below to see.

The other big change is the front facing camera (and I refuse to use the S-word that LG has named it with) by increasing the angle of the snap, so you can fit more in. You can also open and close your hand to start the countdown, which means if you've framed the photo well you won't knock it out of shot by tapping the screen.

The beauty slider is present too, meaning the photo is smoothed out to make a weird soft-focus on your face (especially weird for men with beards, as they end up looking like a sooty smudge).

I do like the addition of the 'flash' on the front. As I mentioned, this sees the front camera image shrink down and the surrounding area go a skin-friendly white tone, meaning in darker scenes I got much better pics.

Camera samples

LG G3 review

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LG G3 review

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LG G3 review

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LG G3 review

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LG G3 review

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LG G3 review

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LG G3 review

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LG G3 review

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LG G3 review

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LG G3 review

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LG G3 review

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Media

Media on the LG G3 is predictably excellent for a number of reasons: the screen and audio experience being two of them.

The QHD screen is something that has to be seen to be believed – the criticisms of it earlier aren't that it's a bad screen (quite the opposite, it's stunning) but more that the effect isn't that much better than a Full HD screen.

It is better though, and even average movies look a touch sharper than they would do otherwise – plus you've got a much bigger display to look at.

LG G3 review

For instance, I was browsing through some video files I had on a spare SD card, and came across one that was shot in QHD resolution. Well, that was what I thought when watching it back… it was actually a 720p file when I checked it out, which was amazing given the flawless detail on offer.

The preloaded stuff from LG is obviously the most amazing thing, and nobody that I showed off the starry night scenes to wasn't gobsmacked by the detail on show. However, it was the same reaction that I saw with the G2, and with the G3 you'll need to be ready to put up with that larger screen.

LG G3 review

I do wish the Video player was still a separate app, as it's still in there (as the option to use it comes up when you start a video for the first time) as rooting the Gallery isn't that much fun.

Music

LG G3 review

The music player on the LG G3 is both simple and sophisticated at the same time. It can handle really high quality audio (LG had to rewrite some of the core code of Android to facilitate this last year) and the new phone has a built in amplifier to make music sound louder and clearer with less distortion.

This means if you're properly into your tunes, then 50MB FLAC files will be noted with a small 'Hi-Fi' icon next to them, and sound really rather nice. But even the tunes you've ripped in low quality from a CD sound OK – nothing amazing, but team the LG G3 with a decent pair of headphones and you've got a brilliant sound system.

There's not a lot more to say about the music player though, as like with many high end smartphones it's more out of the way than in your face.

You can control the tunes from the notifications bar, or the dedicated widget on the home screen. The Android 4.4 trick of having full screen album art on the lockscreen is there too – it looks awesome and it annoys me it's on every top Android phone bar the HTC One M8.

The speaker on the rear of the phone isn't as good as the competition though. I've come to adore front facing speakers on both the One M8 and Sony Xperia Z2, not to mention the Sony Xperia Z3 and to not have it here is a failure. It's loud, that's for sure, and the internal amplification means it doesn't distort too much, but it's only OK.

The competition

The LG G3 entered a really rather packed smartphone market, and these are the big phones you'll probably be considering over the South Korean's big hitter – take a look to see how it stacks up against the best the competition has to offer.

Samsung Galaxy S6

Samsung Galaxy S6

When the LG G3 first launched the Samsung Galaxy S5 was a key competitor, which worked in the G3's favour due to the Galaxy S5's disappointing design. However Samsung hasn't given LG such an easy ride lately, with the much improved Galaxy S6 proving more of a challenge.

Not only does the Galaxy S6's screen handily beat the LG G3's in quality thanks to Samsung's Super AMOLED tech, but the S6 now matches the LG G3's 1440 x 2560 resolution – something that the Galaxy S5 failed to.

Because of the slightly smaller 5.1-inch screen, the Galaxy S6 has a higher pixel density, giving it the edge in clarity as well.

The Galaxy S6 also has an improved design, ditching the plastic chassis of the S5 for a more premium metal design. This reduces the LG G3s previous lead in this area, though its brushed metal effect still feels and looks good, so don't worry about getting a worse looking smartphone if you go for the cheaper LG G3 – it still holds its own.

iPhone 6 Plus

iPhone 6 Plus

Apple's out the gates with its first phablet and it's got an LG G3-matching 5.5-inch display. It's a strong first attempt too, with a 401 pixel per inch 1080p screen, sporting impressive viewing angles, great contrast and bright colours.

I'd argue that it's not quite a match for the LG G3's display though, thanks to that phone's crystal clear QHD resolution.

The iPhone 6 Plus certainly trumps the LG G3 when it comes to looks though, with a truly premium body and it also gives the LG G3's camera a run for its money.

But despite its high-end appearance, the design of the iPhone 6 Plus makes it more awkward to use one-handed than the LG G3, as it's both taller and wider. Its biggest problem though is its price tag, because with a starting price of £619 it makes the LG G3, which can now be found for under £300 in some places, look positively cheap and it's hard to justify the extra expenditure.

HTC One M9

HTC One M9

The LG G3 was initially pitted against the HTC One M8 – a rather tough challenge considering it was one of the best smartphones we'd had the pleasure of using. Since then the HTC One M9 has been released, and although it is still a better overall smartphone than the G3, LG's ageing handset still puts up a decent fight.

The HTC One M9 keeps a similar metal design of the M8 with some choice improvements, which gives it the edge against the LG G3.

However the LG G3 does come with a larger 3000mAh battery, compared to the 2840mAh capacity of the M9, and in our battery benchmarks we saw that the LG G3 does slightly better at holding on to battery life – though only just.

Another thing in the LG G3's favour is that it doesn't get that hot when in heavy use – unlike the HTC One M9.


Of course where the LG G3 really benefits is in price;s not too surprising when you consider that it's getting on a bit, and the HTC One M9 is still relatively new. It does mean that if you don't mind a slightly older handset, you can save quite a bit of cash by going for the LG G3 and still end up with an excellent phone.

iPhone 5S

iPhone 5S

The difference between the iPhone 5S and the G3 is stark – one is compact, the other massive. LG reckons that the Retina display has had its time in the sun, and it has found the ultimate screen resolution – yet Apple stuck with Retina HD for the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.

The iPhone 5S probably has a more robust camera that's a little simpler to use and handle, and the app selection is improved. But everything from a faster OS to a better screen and improved audio experience swings things in LG's favour.

Sony Xperia Z3

Sony Xperia Z3

The Sony Xperia Z3 is also getting on a bit, like the LG G3, but has yet to be replaced – although we expect the Xperia Z4 to arrive in the not too distant future.

The Xperia Z3 has a lower resolution screen than the LG G3, yet it still comes out slightly on top in the image quality stakes thanks to some nifty display tech.

Camera-wise both handsets are very good, with the two smartphones coping particularly well with low light images. Although the Z3's 20.7 megapixel camera looks more impressive on paper than the LG G3's 13 megapixel snapper, in reality the gap is a lot closer.

The Xperia Z3 also wins when it comes to design with it's slimline and waterproof, design that looks and feels more premium than LG's offering.

Verdict

The LG G3 is a phone that shows the South Korean brand knew it needed something better than the G2 to compete with the best Samsung, Sony and HTC have to offer, which is why it arrived less than a year after the G2.

LG G3 review

It's supremely powerful and addresses nearly all the issues I had with its predecessor – so has LG suddenly created the ultimate smartphone?

We liked

The screen on the LG G3, when used properly to display high-resolution content, is immense… LG knew that, and has been rightly making a big deal about it.

The overall design of the phone is vastly improved too, with the faux-metal cover not necessarily feeling great but certainly looks the part when laid on a table.

The camera is powerful too, leading to some great snaps and not letting me down when I wanted to just capture the moment here and there. The size of the phone makes some shots slightly harder, but overall it's a good sensor to pack on there.

I really like the new interface LG has created – it's clean, flat and really shows a maturity from a brand that erred far too much on the side of 'fun' rather than making me feel like I had a phone that was worthy of a significant chunk of change each month.

The battery life is also really impressive – sure, it only matches the competition, but given it has so much more to do with the QHD screen it's a revelation really.

We disliked

So how can a phone that's improved in nearly every area have any flaws? Well, there are a few areas where LG has made compromises that haven't quite worked – and dropped the ball in others.

For instance, the lag in the interface is really irritating – that beat between launching apps and jumping back to the home screen is annoying.

The fact that it's not optimised for some apps isn't cool either – I'm not sure whether it's the screen (although they should scale) or some internal jiggery-pokery… but it's a flaw, no doubt.

LG G3 review

The QHD screen is also a drawback – I know what you're going to say, so let me explain. Yes, it looks great in perfect conditions, but a good smartphone is about balance. There's no point having technology for the sake of it, and that's what the QHD screen feels like right now.

Internet browsing, watching videos and generally using apps looks a bit better, but nothing massive. If you weren't looking for it, you'd just think it was a decent screen, and I've had the same feeling from the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S5, the LG G2 and the HTC One M8.

Without the screen, which does lose brightness when viewed from anything other than straight on, the battery would last longer, the lag might have been removed and the LG G3 could be made to sit in the palm better.

I'm all for advancement, but the screen on the G3 feels like a headline spec rather than something that enriches a great phone.

The camera needs to perform much better in low light too - it's too heavy on the smudges as the software tries to cover up a slight inability to perform in the dark. We've all been there.

Verdict

The LG G3 is a great smartphone – like its predecessor, if you're after power and precision, perhaps over design and form, then this is a winner.

The camera and battery combo is sure to win some hearts, and the improved user interface both will attract new users and give relief to those that were put off by the clutter on the G2.

However, I think something was lost in design in making the backplate removable – I feel that unibody designs just feel better in the hand thanks to being more solid, and I miss that from the G2.

The plastic / metal doesn't feel great in the hand either, and the dimensions are very much small phablet rather than big smartphone, which you'll need to take into consideration if you're thinking of buying the LG G3.

If that doesn't bother you then the G3 is a really impressive, very accomplished smartphone that drops the gimmicks to create one of the most powerful and impressive handsets you can buy right now.

First reviewed: July 2014


Updated: 50 best iPhone games 2015

50 best iPhone games: 1-25

Gaming on iOS is so big that the platform is becoming dominant enough to threaten the likes of Nintendo and Sony, long-reigning kings of the mobile gaming hill.

Yet for all iOS's gaming prowess, there's no escaping the fact the App Store has a lot of dross. Apple's relative openness, in enabling anyone to develop for the system, means there's almost no meaningful quality control. The flip-side is that previously undiscovered indie talent can find an outlet for frequently innovative fare.

Too often, though, people focus only on the negative, mistaking stories about in-app purchases and low-quality clones for evidence that there are no good games on iOS. But there are. In fact, the best games on iOS are among the very best on any platform, mixing traditional fare with titles that could only have appeared on a capable multi-touch device. Here are our current favourites…

1. Asphalt 8 (free)

Some time long ago, the gaming gods apparently decreed that racing games should be dull and grey, on grey tracks, with grey controls. Thankfully Gameloft chose to ignore their foolish omniscient notions - along with a large chunk of real-world physics - with Asphalt 8: Airborne. Here, then, you zoom along at ludicrous speeds, drifting for miles through exciting city courses, occasionally being hurled into the air to perform stunts that absolutely aren't acceptable according to the car manufacturer's warranty.

50 best iPhone games: the greatest free and paid games around

2. Badland ($3.99/£2.49)

This darkly humorous title at its core echoes copter-style games, in you prodding the screen to make your avatar fly. But the hazards and traps are devious and plentiful, imaginative and deadly contraptions in silhouette, ready to eliminate any passing creature. Your retaliation in Badland comes via cloning your flying monster, and figuring out how to manipulate the environment to bring as many clones home as possible.

50 best iPhone games: the greatest free and paid games around

3. Beat Sneak Bandit ($2.99/£1.99)

One thumb is plenty when a game's so cleverly designed. Beat Sneak Bandit is part rhythm-action, part platformer and part stealth game, with the titular hero aiming to steal back the world's clocks from the nefarious Duke Clockface. You move on the beat, rebounding off walls, and avoiding guards and alarms. It's clever, charming and brilliant.

4. Bejeweled (free)

We've lost count of how many gem-swappers exist for iOS, but PopCap's Bejeweled has a long history, its maturity reflected in this iPhone release. Along with a polished standard mode, where you match three or more gems with each swap, there's Diamond Mine (dig into the ground), Butterflies (save insects from spider-ronch doom), and Poker (make 'hands' of gems).

50 best iPhone games: the greatest free and paid games around

5. Beyond Ynth ($1.99/£1.49)

This fantastic platform puzzler stars a bug who's oddly averse to flying. Instead, he gets about 2D levels by rolling around in boxes full of platforms. Beyond Ynth hangs on a quest, but each level forms a devious test, where you must figure out precisely how to reach the end via careful use of boxes, switches and even environmental hazards.

50 best iPhone games: the greatest free and paid games around

6. Bit Pilot ($1.99/£1.49)

A pilot finds himself trapped inside a tiny area of space frequented by an alarming number of deadly asteroids. You must stave off death for as long as possible. Bit Pilot is the best of the iOS avoid 'em ups, with precise one- and two-thumb controls guiding your tiny ship, effortlessly dodging between rocky foes — until the inevitable collision.

50 best iPhone games: the greatest free and paid games around

7. Blackbar ($2.99/£1.99)

As much a warning about digital surveillance as a word-based puzzler, Blackbar is a unique and compelling iOS classic. The game comprises single screens of communications, many involving your friend who's gone to work in the city, which you soon learn is part of a worryingly oppressive society. You literally fill in the blanks, while becoming immersed in a stark dystopian reality that's fortunately still peppered with warmth, humour and humanity.

8. Blek ($0.99/69p)

Blek is akin to shepherding semi-sentient calligraphy through a series of dexterity tests. Each sparse screen has one or more dots that needs collecting, which is achieved by drawing a squiggle that's then set in motion. To say the game can be opaque is putting it lightly, but as a voyage of discovery, there are few touchscreen games that come close.

Blek

9. Boson X ($2.99/£1.99)

In what we can only assume is a totally accurate representation of what boffins in Geneva get up to, Boson X finds scientists sprinting inside colliders, running over energy panels and then discovering particles by leaping into the abyss. It's equal parts Super Hexagon, Tempest and Canabalt, and it's very addictive indeed.

50 best iPhone games: the greatest free and paid games around

10. Coolson's Pocket Pack ($0.99/69p)

This word puzzler's all about chaining. You drag tiles from the bottom of the well and make short words; do so without swapping any letters from the well's bottom row or the area you create the words and you start amassing huge points. Coolson's Pocket Pack is then a test of nerve, and your ability to not forget every single short word in the dictionary when under pressure.

11. CRUSH! ($1.99/£1.49)

CRUSH! is deceptive. At first, it appears to be little more than a collapse game, where you prod a coloured tile, only for the rest to collapse into the now empty space. But subtle changes to the formula elevate this title to greatness: the tiles wrap around, and each removal sees your pile jump towards a line of death. So even when tiles are moving at speed, you must carefully consider each tap.

50 best iPhone games: the greatest free and paid games around

12. Dark Nebula 2 HD ($2.99/£1.99)

One of the first titles to truly make use of the iPhone gyro, Dark Nebula was a beautiful tilt-based steampunk adventure and dexterity test, with you leading a strange craft through maze-like levels. Dark Nebula 2 ramped up the beauty and complexity, and the HD reissue added iPad and Retina support. The title still feels fresh and is perfectly suited to mobile, rewarding speed-runs and careful exploration of each level alike.

13. David. ($1.99/£1.49)

David. is a game that flirts with the conventional but comes across as half art piece, half brutally difficult action game. The eponymous hero is a simple square, charged with ridding the world of evil shapes. The controls broadly align with platform games, but David. goes all slow-motion when held, whereupon you can unleash colourful blobs of death on multi-angled foes. Tricky level design tests your ability to move, leap, plan, and tackle encroaching enemies while everyone's floating about as if immersed in water.

David

14. Death Ray Manta ($0.99/69p)

Akin to what Robotron might have looked like had its developer managed to recreate a 24-hour sherbet binge on-screen, Death Ray Manta is a wonderful, eye-searing twin-stick shooter. But whereas you initially think KILL ALL THE THINGS, each level contains a collectable 'tiffin'. Death Ray Manta therefore becomes both shooter and puzzler as you attempt to score the maximum 64 — and you've only got one life.

50 best iPhone games: the greatest free and paid games around

15. Device 6 ($3.99/£2.49)

Device 6 is first and foremost a story — a mystery into which protagonist Anna finds herself propelled. She awakes on an island, but where is she? How did she get there? Why can't she remember anything? The game fuses literature with adventuring, the very words forming corridors you travel along, integrated puzzles being dotted about for you to investigate. It's a truly inspiring experience, an imaginative, ambitious and brilliantly realised creation that showcases how iOS can be the home for something unique and wonderful.

16. Devil's Attorney ($1.99/£1.49)

A satirical take on 1980s lawyering, this turn-based strategy has you battling in court by using your legal skills on the opposition, who then fight back after you've exhausted your action points. Wins result in cash that can be spent on goods that boost your materialism, decadence and vanity, which results in new skills. Our verdict? Devil's Attorney is a very silly (or, depending on your outlook, entirely accurate) and compelling take on court-based sparring.

Devil's Attorney

17. Eliss Infinity ($2.99/£1.99)

Eliss was the first game to truly take advantage of iOS's multitouch capabilities, with you combining and tearing apart planets to fling into like-coloured and suitably sized wormholes. Eliss Infinity, a semi-sequel, brings the original's levels into glorious Retina and adds a totally bonkers endless mode. Unique, challenging and fun, this is a game that defines the platform.

18. Frisbee Forever 2 (Free)

We were big fans of the original Frisbee Forever, with its Nintendo-like fling-a-plastic-disc about larks. Frisbee Forever 2's essentially more of the same, but prettier, smoother and with wilder locations in which to fly through hoops and collect stars. It's lovely and costs precisely zero pence, so download it.

50 best iPhone games: the greatest free and paid games around

19. Gridrunner (Free)

Jeff Minter is a shoot 'em up genius, and his Gridrunner series has a long history, starting out on the VIC-20, at the dawn of home gaming. This update riffs off classic Namco arcade machines but also shoves modern bullet-hell mechanics into a claustrophobic single screen. And in this version's survival mode, you have just one life. Argh! The 69p/99c 'Oxtended Mode' in-app purchase adds the rest of the standard game.

20. Hitman GO ($4.99/£2.99)

Square Enix would have been on a hiding to nothing converting its free-roaming 3D game to touchscreens, and so it's great to see the company do something entirely different with Hitman GO. Although still echoing the original series, this touchscreen title is presented as a board game of sorts, with turn-based actions against clockwork opposition. You must figure out your way to the prize, without getting knocked off (the board). It's an oddly adorable take on assassination, and one of the best iOS puzzlers.

Hitman GO

21. Impossible Road ($1.99/£1.49)

A roller-coaster ribbon of road winds through space, and your only aim is to stay on it and reach the highest-numbered gate. But Impossible Road is sneaky: the winding track is one you can leave and rejoin, if you've enough skill, 'cheating' your way to higher scores. It's like the distillation of Super Monkey Ball, Rainbow Road and queue-skipping, all bundled up in a stark, razor-sharp package.

50 best iPhone games: the greatest free and paid games around

22. Leo's Fortune ($4.99/£2.99)

Leo's Fortune finds gruff hairball Leo in search of his gold, which has been dropped in a suspiciously trail-like manner across typically platform-game environments. As he scoops up coins, he finds himself whizzing round Sonic-style loops, solving puzzles by manipulating the environment, and negotiating increasingly complex and deadly pathways. It's a beautiful game, full of character, and well-suited to quick bursts on your iPhone.

Leo's Fortune

23. Letterpress (Free)

What mad fool welds Boggle to tug o' war Risk-style land-grabbing? The kind who doesn't want anyone to get any work done again, ever, that's who. Letterpress is, simply, the best word game on the App Store. You make words to win points and temporarily 'lock' letters from your opponent by surrounding them. The result is a tense asynchronous two-player game with plenty of last-move wins and general gnashing of teeth when you realise 'qin' is in fact an acceptable word.

24. Limbo ($4.99/£2.99)

A boy awakens in hell, and must work his way through a deadly forest. Gruesome deaths and trial and error gradually lead to progress, as he forces his way deeper into the gloom and greater mystery. Originating on the Xbox, Limbo fares surprisingly well on iOS, with smartly designed controls; and its eerie beauty and intriguing environments remain hypnotic.

50 best iPhone games: the greatest free and paid games around

25. Magnetic Billiards (free)

A game that could have been called Reverse Pool For Show-Offs, Magnetic Billiards lacks pockets. Instead, the aim is to join like-coloured balls that cling together on colliding. Along the way, you get more points for trick shots and 'buzzing' other balls that must otherwise be avoided. 20 diverse tables are provided for free, and many more can be unlocked for $1.99/£1.49.

50 best iPhone games: 26-50.

26. Micro Miners ($1.99/£1.49)

Marrying the elegance of digging games like Where's My Water? with the semi-controllable critters from Lemmings, Micro Miners is a superb real-time puzzler. Initially simple, the game is soon complicated by the need to switch the colour of miners, collect objects, and avoid or utilise deadly gas and lava. It's extremely tough later on, but you'll see it through to the bitter end.

50 best iPhone games: the greatest free and paid games around

27. Mikey Hooks ($1.99/£1.49)

If iOS is supposed to be no good for traditional 2D platform games, it's a good job no-one told the developer of Mikey Hooks. The mechanics aren't a million miles away from Nintendo titles starring a certain plumber, but Mikey's also armed with a rope that can attach to hooks dotted about the levels, enabling him to speedily swing to glory. An emphasis on time-attack racing and surprisingly solid controls round out a first-rate title.

50 best iPhone games: the greatest free and paid games around

28. Monument Valley ($3.99/£2.49)

In Monument Valley, you journey through delightful Escher-like landscapes, manipulating the very architecture to build impossible paths along which to explore. It's not the most challenging of games (nor one with the most coherent of storylines), but each scene is a gorgeous and mesmerising bite-sized experience that showcases how important great craft is in the best iOS titles.

MV

29. Need For Speed Most Wanted ($6.99/£2.99)

Racing games are all very well, but too many aim for simulation rather than evoking the glorious feeling of speeding along like a maniac. Most Wanted absolutely nails the fun side of arcade racing, and is reminiscent of classic console title OutRun 2 in enabling you to effortlessly drift for miles. Add to that varied city streets on which to best rivals and avoid (or smash) the cops, and you've a tremendous iOS racer.

50 best iPhone games: the greatest free and paid games around

30. New Star Soccer (Free)

Starting out as a fresh-faced teen in a lowly non-league side, your aim in New Star Soccer is to make your way to a top-flight club. Along the way, you get chances in each match to win balls and score goals. It's management-lite with fun playable highlights, and although there's a whiff of freemium in the energy model, New Star Soccer's top-of-the-table, if you're willing to put in a few bucks here and there.

50 best iPhone games: the greatest free and paid games around

31. Osmos ($2.99/£1.99)

This superb arcade puzzler is at times microscopic and at others galactic in nature, as you use the power of physics and time to move your 'mote' about. Some levels in Osmos are primordial soup, the mote propelled by ejecting bits of itself, all the while aiming to absorb everything around it; elsewhere, motes circle sun-like 'Attractors', and your challenge becomes one of understanding the intersecting trajectories of orbital paths.

50 best iPhone games: the greatest free and paid games around

32. Plants vs Zombies ($0.99/69p)

Yes, we know there's a Plants vs. Zombies 2, but some dolt infected that with a pointless time-travel gimmick and a freemium business model. The charming, amusing, silly and sweet original remains where it's at. For the uninitiated, you repel zombies with the power of hostile plants. Countless other defence titles exist for iOS, but PopCap's classic, Plants vs Zombies, is still the best.

50 best iPhone games: the greatest free and paid games around

33. PUK ($1.99/£1.49)

PUK reminds us of what someone with a minimalism fetish might make of Angry Birds, before speeding everything up to manic levels. Here, each level lasts mere seconds, as you frantically fling discs at portals; and then just as you've got into the groove, deadly black levels aim to throw you off balance. There are no cartoon squawks here — just pure, adrenaline-fuelled arcade action.

34. Rayman Fiesta Run ($2.99/£1.99)

The iOS Rayman games are considered by some to be reductive, overly simplifying console-style platforming to an instant runner with bells on. We instead consider Ubisoft's games distilled: they take the essence of platforming action — running, jumping, timing — and make it truly fit for mobile. Smart, varied level and character design, along with a well-considered unlock mechanism, ensure Rayman Fiesta Run's an iOS classic.

50 best iPhone games: the greatest free and paid games around

35. Ridiculous Fishing ($2.99/£1.99)

If Ridiculous Fishing is what fishing's really like, we've been missing out all these years. An angular fisherman casts his line into the inky gloom, where you cunningly avoid fish by tilting your device. Snag one and the hero reels the line back in, and you jerk your iPhone from side to side, aiming to catch as many fish as possible. At the surface, the catch is flung into the sky, to be blasted to pieces by powerful weaponry. Longevity's secured by an amusing in-game store and social network parody, along with several fishing spots to visit.

36. Rocket Robo ($0.99/69p)

It's not the most innovative game around, but Rocket Robo makes up for it with bags of character, smart level design, and tight controls. You guide your little floating droid about the place, collecting stars and swiping in and out of the screen. The first few levels are extremely simple, but you're soon introduced to complex, cunning layouts and plenty of gimmicks that add some real bite to the cutesy proceedings.

Rocket Robo

37. Smash Hit (free)

If you find catharsis in smashing things, Smash Hit will leave you in a totally blissed-out state. You float through the void, lobbing metal balls at glass objects, clearing a path and chaining collisions. Over time, the paths become increasingly complex, the camera begins to whirl, and the shots get very demanding, depleting your meagre resources. A single one-time 'premium' in app purchase upgrade exists should you want to start out on any sections of the journey you've managed to already reach.

Smash Hit

38. SpellTower ($1.99/£1.49)

SpellTower is a fantastic word game that starts off easy. You get a grid of letters and remove them by dragging out words. Your only foe is gravity, letters falling into empty space as completed words disappear. But then come new modes, with ferocious timers and numbered letters that won't vanish unless you craft long enough words. And there always seem to be too many Vs!

39. Super Hexagon ($2.99/£1.99)

Ah, Super Hexagon. We remember that punishing first game, which must have lasted all of three seconds. Much like the next — and the next. But then we recognised patterns in the walls that closed in on our tiny ship, and learned to react and dodge. Then you threw increasingly tough difficulty levels at us, and we've been smitten ever since.

50 best iPhone games: the greatest free and paid games around

40. Super Monsters Ate My Condo

Logic? Pah! Sanity? Pfft! We care not for such things, yells Super Monsters Ate My Condo. It then gets on with turning the match-three genre and Jenga-style tower-building into a relentless time-attack cartoon fest of apartment-munching, explosions, giant tantrums and opera. No, really.

50 best iPhone games: the greatest free and paid games around

41. Super Stickman Golf 2 ($0.99/69p)

If you've often thought golf would be much better if it was played on Mars, or in a giant castle, or in dank caverns with glue-like surfaces, Super Stickman Golf 2 is the game for you. Its side-on charms echo Angry Birds in its artillery core, but this is a far smarter and more polished game. It also boasts two equally brilliant but different multiplayer modes: one-on-one asynchronous play and frantic multiplayer racing.

50 best iPhone games: the greatest free and paid games around

42. Superbrothers: Sword and Sworcery EP ($4.99/£2.99)

Apple's mobile platform has become an unlikely home for traditional point-and-click adventures. Sword & Sworcery has long been a favourite, with its sense of mystery, palpable atmosphere, gorgeous pixel art and evocative soundtrack. Exploratory in nature, this is a true /adventure/ in the real sense of the word, and it's absolutely not to be missed.

50 best iPhone games: the greatest free and paid games around

43. Threes! ($1.99/£1.49)

Threes! is all about matching numbered cards. 1s and 2s merge to make 3s, and then pairs of identical cards can subsequently be merged, doubling their face value. With each swipe, a new card enters the tiny grid, forcing you to carefully manage your growing collection, and think many moves ahead. The ingenious mix of risk and reward makes it hugely frustrating when you're a fraction from an elusive 1536 card, but so addictive you'll immediately want another go.

44. Tiny Wings ($0.99/69p)

This sweet endless title stars a bird who loves to fly but doesn't have the wings for it. Instead, she uses gravity, sliding down hills and then propelling herself into the air from the top of adjacent slopes. Meanwhile, in another mode, her offspring are happily racing, bounding over lakes, eager to earn the biggest fish from their mother. Whichever route you take, Tiny Wings is a vibrant, warm and friendly experience.

50 best iPhone games: the greatest free and paid games around

45. Trainyard ($3.99/£2.49)

Trainyard is another devious puzzler that at first seems a cinch. Initially, you merely drag tracks to lead trains between stations of the same colour. But then rocks enter the fray, along with colour-mixing and train-splitting. Before you know it, you've 14 stations, seven trains, hazards aplenty and an aching brain from figuring out how to get all the trains home safely.

50 best iPhone games: the greatest free and paid games around

46. Monument Valley ($3.99/£2.99)

It might not be the most challenging game in the world, but Monument Valley is a short, sweet platformer that everyone should play through at least once. Its beautiful style is very Escher-esque, but even he'd have a hard time making his way through some of these labyrinths. More than worth its price.

47. Walking Dead (Free)

We do like a good zombie yarn, as long as we're not the subject matter, having just had our brains eaten. Walking Dead successfully jumped from comic to TV screen, and it's just as good in its interactive incarnation. The first part of the story is free, and you can then buy new episodes; if you survive, season 2 is also available.

50 best iPhone games: the greatest free and paid games around

48. WaveWave ($2.99/£1.99)

Wave Wave is cut from similar cloth as Super Hexagon. If anything, though, this demanding survival game is simpler and tougher than its forebear. It's a one-thumb affair, with you tapping to alter the direction of your line that zig-zags its way through a gauntlet of triangles as the screen lurches and spins. It's a mesmerising but utterly ferocious experience.

Wave Wave

49. Year Walk ($3.99/£2.49)

Year Walk preceded the same developer's iOS masterpiece Device 6, but is equally daring. It's a first-person adventure of sorts, with more than a nod towards horror literature and, frankly, the just plain weird. It's unsettling, clever, distinctive and beautifully crafted — another unmissable and original touchscreen creation.

50 best iPhone games: the greatest free and paid games around

50. Zen Bound 2 ($2.99/£1.99)

One of the most tactile puzzlers around, Zen Bound 2 doesn't sound terribly exciting, in that you're wrapping sculptures in rope. But the atmosphere and polish combine with a nagging percentage bar, urging you to perfect each level. With no time limit, it's one of the more soothing puzzlers in this round-up, but it also never drifts towards the noodly.

Best free iPhone apps: 90 to choose from!








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