Meet the LG G3, the first U.S. phone with quad-HD display

lg g3 woo phone

The basic specs of LG's new flagship smartphone, the G3, have been leaked over and over again. By now, if you have had any interest in this phone at all, you know what to expect from the hardware, but LG's announcement gave us our first good look at the phone's unique software features.

The G3's hardware specs put it comfortably in the same company as other top-end smartphones.

  • Display: 5.5 inch, 2560x1440, 538 pixels per inch
  • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 @ 2.46 GHz
  • RAM: 2GB or 3GB
  • Storage: 16GB or 32GB
  • Size: 146.3 x 74.6 x 8.9mm
  • Battery: 3,000 mAh
  • Rear Camera: 13 megapixel rear camera with optical image stabilization, laser autofocus
  • Front Camera: 2.1 megapixels
  • Audio: 1 watt speaker with booster amp

LG spent a good deal of time in its press conference trying to convince everyone that a quad-HD display is worth it, that the eye can totally distinguish the difference between a screen with over 400 pixels per inch (PPI) and one with over 500 PPI. The company claimed that the G3 utilizes several techniques to minimize battery-draining impact of this higher resolution display, while falling short of actually claiming that the display only uses the same power as a more typical full-HD screen. The techniques mentioned are adaptive frame rate, adaptive clocking, and adaptive timing control: the last two techniques sound an awful lot like those already employed in most modern smartphones today.

lg g3 trio

The G3's laser autofocus feature is a first for smartphones. LG says it takes only 0.276 seconds to focus on a subject. A focus speed of just under 1/3 of a second is really quite good, and we'll put that to the test when we review the phone.

But as we've seen time and again, most recently with the HTC One (M8) vs. Galaxy S5, the general specs don't tell the whole story. 

"Simple is the New Smart"

The tortured marketing tag for the G3 is "Simple is the New Smart", so most of the software features are focused around making things work better and more simply, rather than simply piling on features. In today's market where every phone has a dozen half-baked features that don't work well, this seems like a great idea.

The camera, for example, features a simple "tap to focus and take a photo in one step" feature. The selfie mode recognizes when you raise your hand in front of the camera to start the countdown before it snaps your photo.

lg g3 selfie

The phone's user interface is simpler and flatter than before. Typefaces are light and crisp, with warmer and less "bright and bold" colors. It looks like a step forward for LG's interface, but interfaces are the sort of thing you really have to spend some time with to know what's there and what's missing. 

Keyboard, notifications, and security

Obviously, we spend a lot of time typing on our phones. LG's new smart keyboard has three major features designed to make typing easier and faster. The G3's keyboard aims to make choosing suggested words and editing typos faster, allows you to change the height of the keyboard and customize frequently-used symbols, and uses adaptive keyboard touch targets to reduce typos.

Notifications are another key point of differentiation among phones. "Smart Notice" tries to turn your phone into a personal assistant. It offers up tips based on your usage, like reminding you to return a phone call that you didn't answer. Forget about files and apps you never use? The phone will remind you from time to time to clean out your junk. Location-based tips will alert you to weather changes and tell you when to bring an umbrella.

lg g3 smart notice

There are a few new security features in the G3, aimed at making it easier to keep your phone safe. Custom "knock codes" combine wake-up and unlocking in one step, allowing you to set up a custom set of taps to wake up your device and go straight to the home screen. Of course, the basic "double tap to wake up and show the lock screen" still works, too. Content Lock keeps the specific photos and videos you choose hidden and encrypted. Someone steal your phone? The G3's new Kill Switch goes beyond remote lock and remote wipe by allowing you to permanently disable your phone if it's gone for good.

The G3 is certainly a really good-looking premium smartphone, with top-end specs, the first quad-HD screen in the U.S. market, useful new camera features, and what appears to be a very streamlined and simple user interface. But phones always look great on stage, don't they? We'll have hands-on impressions of the phone later today, and a full review of the LG G3 in the coming weeks. Exact pricing and release dates for the U.S. were not mentioned, but we expect the phone to cost about $600-700 off contract, and rumors have it hitting shelves here in late June.

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