With smartphones hitting their maturation pount, it's getting harder for manufacturers to distinguish their products from one another. It's yet another way in which phones are mirroring computers - they all pretty much do the same thing now, so choosing one really comes down to a matter of personal taste. The LG G2, launching in Canada through just about every mobile carrier on Sept. 27, is designed with that fact in mind. Like many phones rolling out these days, it's premised around that "one big thing," with all the other expected bells and whistles packaged around it. In LG's case, the big thing is a unique control system that places all of the phone's buttons on its back, rather than on its side. The lock button and the volume buttons are located just below the 13-megapixel camera, and purposely so.
At a briefing last week, LG representatives pointed out that the growing size of screens – the G2, for instance, has a 5.2-inch display – is changing the way people hold their phones. Rather than simply cradling them in their palms, people are now using their index fingers to support the back of the device itself. Putting the buttons where those fingers are naturally going is supposed to add inconvenience.
Some users might perhaps find this to be the case, but after a few days of playing with the G2, I know it’s definitely not a feature for me – I don’t think I could ever get used to the scheme. A few other reviewers have said the same, so I’m betting LG will return to side buttons with the next iteration of its flagship Android phone. The change is just too jarring.
The G2 does have an alternative activation method, where a double tap launches the lock screen, but I didn’t find this any more helpful. Having to tap twice, then swipe, just to get into your phone is actually an inconvenience. The extra tap is minor on its own, but when you do it many, many times a day, it adds up. I’d rather just push a button and swipe, or even better, simply tell the phone what I want it to do, as with Motorola’s Moto X.
Other than that, the G2 is a fine phone. The screen – which boasts 1080 by 1920 resolution and 423 pixels per inch – is absolutely brilliant and great to read on. The battery life is also very impressive. I got through two full days of moderate use without having to recharge. It’s also got a 2.26 GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor, which means it’s super-fast.
One of the other big differentiators when it comes to smartphones, at least for me, is the quality of the camera. Here, it’s generally Apple and Nokia that are heads above Android phones. The G2 is actually pretty good, both in bright and low-light conditions (as good as it gets in this case), although its colours aren’t as brilliant as what you might find on an iPhone.
As much as I like the Moto X, its weak camera is what keeps it from being my primary phone. The G2’s camera is good enough that I wouldn’t consider it a big step down from the iPhone, but it’s just too bad about the buttons. Some might like the different layout, but as a matter of personal choice I think I’d rather stick with the tried-and-true.