LG G3 S review
|Review: January 2015|
In a nutshell: The G3 S is a "mini" version of LG's flagship G3 smartphone, although it's still quite large, with a big 5 inch screen. The G3 S costs half as much as the G3, and the spec has been cut to match, but it still manages to outperform all rival phones at this price point.
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The LG G3 has been a huge success and was a runner-up in our 2014 readers' Phone of the Year poll. The LG G3S is a smaller, cheaper version of the G3. In fact, the price of the phone has been slashed by nearly half.
Design & style
The G3S is almost an exact replica of the G3, but in a slightly more compact form. It has the same stunning design features that made us drool over the original. From the front you'll notice that the screen extends almost to the edge of the phone, with hardly any surrounding bezel. This minimalist look with no physical buttons makes the phone look very stylish and modern. The phone isn't superslim, but it has a curved back panel with tapering edges, which makes it feel much slimmer than it really is.
To achieve the ultranarrow bezel and slim edges, LG has moved all of the physical buttons to the back of the phone. Here you'll find a combined volume/power control positioned just where your fingers are. It may take a little getting used to, but with practice it's just an intuitive as putting buttons on the side of the phone, perhaps more so.
The compact size of the phone, together with the rear buttons, makes it perfect for single-handed use, and it will be an ideal size for many. It's still quite a big phone however, so if you're really looking for a compact phone, perhaps the Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini or Sony Xperia Z3 Compact would be better sized, although these do cost more than the LG.
The LG outperforms the more expensive Samsung and Sony when it comes to the all-important screen size. At 5 inches, it's not massively smaller than the 5.5 inches of the original G3. However it has a 1280 x 720 HD resolution, which is a quarter of the G3's. To be fair though, for a phone at this mid-range price, a HD screen is excellent. In practice, the 294ppi pixel density is reasonably sharp, and the IPS screen has pretty good visibility in most lighting conditions.
The phone comes in a choice of 3 finishes - Metallic Black, Silk White, Shine Gold - and looks premium, even though the metallic skin conceals a plastic body beneath.
A special QuickCircle protective case is available from LG.
The G3 S is powered by a quad-core Qualcomm processor, but it's a Snapdragon 400, rather than the 801 used in the G3. That makes it about half as fast, although it's quick enough for a mid-range phone, running at 1.2GHz. Apps sometimes take a long time to load, and features like the camera can be slow.
The RAM has been cut right down to 1GB, which can limit the performance of demanding apps, or sometimes lead to lag when multi-tasking.
The built-in memory of 8GB is also on the low side, although you can fix this to some extent by adding a microSD memory card of up to 64GB.
It's worth putting these limitations into context - the fact is that you won't find a faster phone with more memory for this price.
The LGG3S comes with Android KitKat 4.4.2 installed. Changes from stock Android are minor, although we're impressed by LG's custom Smart keyboard which features adjustable sizing, easy word completion and correction.
A new way of securing your phone is provided too - Knock code. Just select a knocking pattern of between two and eight taps and use the sequence to wake and unlock your phone.
8 megapixel camera
The camera is another area where cost savings have been made. Instead of 13 megapixels, we get 8 megapixels. Still, results aren't all bad. Pictures are sharp and detailed in good lighting conditions, helped by the infrared laser autofocus, which gives fast and accurate focussing. A BSI sensor helps with dynamic range in low lighting, although nights shots can be grainy. The camera holds its own against similarly-price rivals.
The camera is capable of recording video at full HD 1080p resolution, and a 1.3 megapixel front camera is provided for selfies and video chat.
The G3S s a 4G phone, with 3G HSPA and GSM compatibility too. Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, USB 2.0, a 3.5mm headphone jack and NFC are also included. There's also an infra-red sensor, which enables the phone to act as a remote control for an LG TV.
The device is equipped with a 2,540mAh battery, which is significantly larger than other mid-range smartphones. This should keep most users going for at least two days between recharges.
Conclusion - budget price, good all-rounder
It would be a mistake to compare the G3 S too closely with the G3. Athough it looks like a slightly smaller version of the G3, and shares its cutting-edge design, the G3 S has a significantly lower spec. Just remember that it costs half as much.
For £15 a month, or around £200 sim-free or on PAYG, you couldn't ask for more. As well as the beautiful modern design, you get a 5 inch HD screen, typical mid-range performance from the Snapdragon 400 CPU, a decent camera, and excellent battery life.
If you want better than this, you're going to have to reach deeper into your pocket and spend a bit more cash.
LG G3 S features include:
- Android 4.4.2 (KitKat)
- 8 megapixel camera with LED flash, laser autofocus, and digital zoom
- Full HD 1080p video recording plus 1.3 megapixel front-facing camera
- Display: LCD IPS, 16 million colours, 1280 x 720 pixels (5 inches)
- A-GPS, Glonass with Google Maps
- Messaging: SMS, MMS, email, Google+ Messenger, Google Talk
- Processor: Quad-core 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400
- Memory: 8GB, 1GB RAM, microSD card (up to 64GB)
- Connectivity: Wi-Fi a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, USB 2.0, 3.5mm audio jack, NFC
- 4G LTE, GSM/EDGE, multi band 3G (HSPA+42Mbps/HSPA+21Mbps)
- Size: 137.7 x 69.6 x 10.3 mm
- Weight: 134g
- Battery: 2,540mAh
- Talktime: 15 hours
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LG G3 S user reviews
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Average rating from 3 reviews:
Reviewed by Harry potter
on 17th Nov 2016
DO NOT BUY THIS PHONE!!!!! This phone is by far the worst thing ive ever bought in my life. Nothing ever works on it and it is incredibly slow. This phone is the reason im writing this review because im so angry about it i needed to tell people how bad this phone is!!!! The keyboard never works, it can never connect to the internet even though everyone else can and it takes about 20 seconds just to return to the homepage. I admit that the battery is somehow very good but it is ridiculously slow. Ive put an sd card in and cleared out space but it still doesn't work properly. I definitely do not recommend buying this. Yes it might have a good display thats what got me into buying it but trust me you do not want this phone!!!!!
Reviewed by Keith
on 19th Dec 2015
Reviewed by Chris
from UK Devon
on 28th Oct 2015
I bought this as a standby phone in case my Galaxy Note 3 does a wobbly on me. The price as of Oct 2015 is around £150 and for that price its a steal...
It's not the fastest phone around and it's not the slowest. The buttons on the back are a joy to use. The screen, although 720p, is fine and videos look super sharp but can stutter a fraction... It feels super in the hand and the battery is replaceable, Yippee!!!
Memory is only 8GB with 1GB RAM. Ok so you can't have all the apps in the world, but if you need that, save up your pennies for phones with more ram. If you're into selfies and daylight pics, then add a micro SD card, simples...
The camera is good enough for a phone. Go buy a proper camera if you're into low light photography... Who should buy this phone? Well, it does all what the all singing, all dancing premium phones do, just a bit slower. If you can't afford, or don't want to pay out a lot of your hard erned wonger for a mobile device. Then you'll luv it! Cheers!
Reply by Chris
on 31st Mar 2016
I've come back to correct my statement about videos stuttering... I meant whilst watching videos on the likes of YouTube. However I noticed that most videos stutter slightly on Youtube so YouTube is the problem and not the phone. Thanks!