Lots to like about the LG G3, especially that super-crisp display

The LG G3 is set to do battle in the flagship Android(s goog) phone war against the Samsung Galaxy S5 and HTC One M8. Now available in South Korea, the G3 is coming “this summer” to various carriers around the world, including those in the U.S. The phone boasts a super high-resolution 5.5-inch display, fast processor and laser auto-focus system for imaging. So does the handset meet those expectations?

I have a review unit in hand but won’t actually do a full review using this specific phone. Why? Because LG is only providing the Korean model to reviewers at this time, so this isn’t exactly the same phone you’d be buying from a carrier in any other country. That was obvious to me when I pulled out the digital TV antenna; yes, this phone has rabbit ears… or a rabbit ear, as it were.

LG G3 tv antenna

I can, however, share some impressions after using the G3 for the past several days. Long story short: LG has a very worthy competitor in the high-end Android market. I think the company has further closed the gap between it and its peers, if not surpassing them in some ways.

The display is a perfect example. Yes, it’s large at 5.5-inches, but it crams in a ton of pixels: 3,686,400 of them to be exact thanks to the 2560 by 1440 resolution. Another way to look at it: That means you could fit a full 3.6 megapixel photo on the G3’s screen. It’s impressive, colorful and has decent viewing angles; the brightness and colors get a little washed out if viewing the phone from the side. Here’s the screen showing a pic I took with the G3.

LG G3 display

Surprisingly, the G3 isn’t that much bigger than the phones it’s competing against, even though it has the largest screen among them. It helps that the front face is nearly all screen with very little bezel. There’s barely enough room for the LG logo at the bottom, in fact. The phone is a little wide, however, and those will smaller hands may not like that. Here the G3 sits between a Samsung Galaxy S5 and HTC One M8:

LG G3 size comparison

I do like the removable back cover, which looks like brushed metal but is as actually plastic. Remove it and you can swap out the massive 3000 mAh battery or get at the microSD card reader. I doubt most people will need to actually swap the battery: The phone is easily lasting a full day on a single charge for me and Phone Arena’s recent test backs up my thought. For their standard battery test, the LG G3 beat out all other contenders.

LG G3 inside back

LG chose the same Snapdragon 801(s qcom) chip you’ll find in similarly priced phones and on this 32 GB storage model, the phone has 3 GB of memory. That combination keeps the handset’s overall performance with Android 4.4.2 snappy; I haven’t yet seen any lag when opening or using various apps. I haven’t benchmarked the phone’s performance but in general it feels a little faster than the Galaxy S5 and roughly the same as the HTC One M8. That said, I doubt most people would see much performance difference between the three phones.

The G3 has a 13 megapixel rear camera sensor with optical image stabilization and a new laser focusing system. While the auto-focus sounds faster in theory, I’m not seeing a noticeably huge speed boost for either standard auto-focus or tap-to-focus compared to the competition. However, the optical image stabilization (OIS) has definitely improved some snapshots that I purposely took on the move. I’d love to see more high-end phones include OIS. You can also record video in 120 fps slow motion, full HD and even 4K resolution although I don’t have a 4K television to view the output.

Here’s a an unedited photo sample that when zoomed, shows plenty of detail:

LG G3 rose

I can’t speak to the handset as a phone for voice calls, simply because it won’t connect to any cellular networks near me; all of my usage has been on Wi-Fi because of this. That aside, the G3 is a solid choice worth considering when it arrives in your local market; assuming there are no major differences between this phone and your local model, that is.

With an impressive display that doesn’t beef up the phone’s size too much, an all-day battery, reasonably good camera, a light software skin and innovative features such as knocking on the display to wake the phone, the G3 is surely in the mix for anyone wanting a top-performing Android phone and doesn’t mind the power and volume buttons on the rear of the handset.