| || |
Review: I had the G2 and Maxx. The Maxx won.
The G2 and Maxx are both great phones. Ill do my best to weigh the Pros and Cons.
MAXX: The Maxx has a solidness to it that stands out. The second I picked that phone up for the first time it simply felt right. I feel like if the Maxx got in a fight with the ground...the ground would lose. It is very well put together. No creakiness whatsoever. Personally, I LOVE a phone with some weight to it. I like being able to feel a little girth in my pocket and know that its there without me having to reach down and search. If anything, I suppose I could say the Maxx is a little too much on the "weighty" side. One knock I suppose I have against the Maxx's build is that I will always have to keep a slim case on it. Anything bigger (otterbox) would feel TOO big, and would take away some of the experience of the phone and its pocket-ability.
The touch buttons on the bottom always perform. The screen looks great. By the way, the whole 1080P vs. 720P arguement...whatevs. In our day-to-day the average human eye cannot tell the difference between 1080 and 720 on a smartphone. A tablet or big-screen...maybe. I think both screens look fantastic. The only issue I really have with the Maxx is sometimes the color representation isnt terribly accurate. There are a number of variables at play in these regards, but whites hold more of a "greyish" tint to them and colors in general are slightly over-saturated. It isnt necessarily bothersome to me, but its noticeable.
The processor on the Maxx is more than suitable. I want to remind people that quad-core vs. dual-core is somewhat of a variable advantage when it comes to smartphones. Though the Maxx is dual-core, the X8 processor was specifically designed with an architecture to match the OS and maximize efficiency. The Maxx does not lag in any way. In fact, I feel a buttery-ness with it that I didn't get from the G2. For instance, in running something as simple as Nova Launcher, I got a split second-more response time than I felt from the G2 when using certain gesture commands, or launching particular apps such as Plume. However, if you are into mobile gaming (which I am not) the G2 will have some particular advantages for you.
The keyboard on the Maxx is your standard Google keyboard, but it works incredibly well. I do not have the need to download an additional keyboard (though I have used them all), and I do speech to text the rest of the time.
G2: The G2 feels fine. It is less weight, and slightly easier to handle with one hand. I felt if I dropped it that it could take the heat. The CONS, however, as you will read in most reviews, is that the plastic back gives it a "cheaper" feel. I never felt as if it would fall apart in my hand, but it just doesn't have the build the Maxx does. Not that I expected it to. The rear buttons are a common source of contention among most reviews. They really didn't bother me that much. I recommend that anyone who gets the G2 gets a case immediately. For one, it improves durability. Secondly, the cut-outs in the back of the case help you find the buttons more easily. I really hate the Verizon version made the buttons so much smaller and more flush. Poor design choice there. The screen size of the G2 is great, but its not drastically different in a way that makes it seem leaps and bounds beyond the Maxx. The 1080P resolution looks fantastic, but again, I wasn't noticing a superb advantage over 720. The G2 does a much better job at color representation than the Maxx. Colors simply look more natural. This was VERY prevalent in camera photos in low-light situations (more on that later).
The processor on this phone DOES fly. I never really lagged at all. Whatever "lag" I did experience was more in how the animation was designed and performed...not that the phone couldn't handle it. No matter what, for what the average person does, I think both phones will perform to everyone's standards. Nobody will consider either phone slow by any means.
MAXX: I didn't realize how much I like stock Android as much as I did until I didn't have it. The active notifications feature on the Maxx is subtle, but became one of the facets I missed most when I switched to the G2. Yes, there is the app "Dynamic Notifications", which I have. But there is a simplicity to the stock notifications that I appreciate. I really, REALLY like the "always listening" feature that ties in with the Maxx's OS. Walking into the room and clearing your throat, or just the subtle sound of your footsteps, and your phone saying "Oh, there you are"...and breathing the screen partially on to you...that rocks. This will sound mildly cheesey, but that feature alone makes you feel more of a relationship with your phone. I suppose Im just weird like that.
Now, there are times when I do wish the active notifications would do a little bit more. For instance, it only displays the last message or email that came in that you can directly go to. I suppose I would like it if I could press the notification icon and drag in various directions that led to email, text,or Facebook. But it is not that big of a deal. One thing I don't like about the Maxx is partof the notification panel. When you slide down your notification panel, and flip the board around to BT, wifi, and other such controls...I do not like how you click them and it then takes you to a separate screen with more toggles. I would prefer to toggle it simply and quickly from the panel (like the G2 does). Fortunately there are plenty of notification panel apps that can cover this deficit.
One feature that pleasantly surprised me was Motorola Connect. You can install a motorola extension into chrome browser on your computer, and as long as your phone and computer are on the same wifi you can text from you computer. All of your threads display, and messages come in realtime without delay. If you get a call your computer will ring and give you the option to ignore or reply with a message. Kind of convenient and I am using that feature daily.
G2: After a few days with the G2's bubbly interface I felt uncomfortable. The software looks and feels sort of cartoony to me. Its hard to describe. It does its job, and I could see how it would appeal to some. It simply does not appeal to me. Oh, and the default notification sound is about the dumbest thing Ive ever heard in my life. There is a lot going on, and you can customize a whole lot of it, but its all too much. If you plan on getting the G2 and aesthetics are important to you, consider a different launcher or rooting.
Half of the goods in the G2 OS I will never use. Some of the best parts..."quick-note" is awesome. I did, and would use that a lot. I liked the ability to layer apps and store 3 off to the side. I did use that more than I thought I would. I REALLY like some of the notification settings. For instance, if I had the phone open and I was in the middle of a task, an incoming phone call would not blanket my entire screen. LG put in a good idea and made a pop up window that drops from the bottom of the notification panel and is essentially a mini-call-answer screen. They do the same for text. I really like that feature. As far as layering in mini-windows of a constant video playing, or a mini calculator layered upon whatever else you are doing...meh. I will never use that, as will most people. There are some gems in the software, but everything seems so slammed together and there is no real flow to the OS. I would recommend that if you know what you are doing, the G2 OS should be fine for you. If you are a first time smartphone user, or first time Android user, you might want to give the G2 an extra thought.
Though I could have made this part of the software section, I did not, because voice control was a HUGE deciding factor for me between these 2 devices. The Maxx has much, MUCH better voice functions than the G2.
MAXX: The "always listening" Google now feature of the MAXX is much better than the G2s voice mate. However, neither are as good as SIRI in many regards. I hate to admit it, but SIRI is pretty functional and has some necessary features that trump some of Google's stuff. Actually, I am surprised Google has not figured out how to automatically read your text to you, and allow you to respond immediately. Also, when I would have a bluetooth connected to my iPhone, and sent a text with Siri, she would read the message back to me before she sent it. Why hasnt google done this yet? The Maxx does something similar, but not nearly the same.
When initiating Google now on the MAXX, it works most of the time. I am talking when the phone is sitting on the table and I say "Okay Google Now", it registers me probably 80% of the time. You can also just say "Okay Google" and it will work as well. "Okay Google Now" seems to work better, though. As far as completing tasks, it works pretty well. I use voice functions A LOT. And I do mean A LOT. The Google Now feature of the Maxx is pretty good, and it will only get better. Furthermore, the same software and functionality that Google now provides is also initiated when using the "call button" on a bluetooth. This is a must-have for me. Going back to the part about reading text to you. The maxx has a feature when you are driving it will read your text to you, but only allow you to respond via voice with a preset message (Im driving right now). You send it by saying send text or something along those lines. I really wish you could just reply with whatever you wanted. Im sure it will come eventually.
G2: The voice assistant on the G2 is deflated to say the least. One particular thing I disliked about the G2's voice function was the bluetooth connection. With a BT connection, pressing your call button does not launch voice assistant. Instead, a secondary "call only" voice command prompt would happen that seemed to not run the same software as "voice assistant". I used to have the Spectrum 1 and 2 for my work phone and can attest to this function. The resulting voice command software never successfully registered my commands. I tracked this inconsistency on paper. I attempted 38 voice initiated commands by pressing my BT call button, and 46 were unsuccessful. If you are wondering how that math works...8 attempts timed out on me before I was even done speaking the command. And yes, I know that I can initiate the command by dragging the icon on my homescreen. However, this negates a large necessity and function of bluetooth. This was not an option for me. I need voice control, and if you do as well, the G2 is not a great candidate. Yes, there are apps (vlingo) that can help you bridge that gap. But the last time I used Vlingo I was less than impressed. The Maxxs voice control is further ahead (IMO), but still has a ways to go.
G2: I made this its own section because a smartphone has one primary component that exists (or should exist) among all other features. Phone calls. This is the top reason I chose the Maxx over the G2. I think the G2 call quality is terrible!! I suppose there is a possibility it is clear to some, but I cannot attest to its clarity. On that note, it is not that I got a bad signal on the G2. I never dropped a call in the 400+ hours I spend on the phone that week. It is the actual tonality that rubbed me the wrong way. The G2 has a very mid-range to trebbly quality to the earpiece audio. Yes, the phone can get loud, but I think that is only because it has inherent audio properties that make it cut through surrounding noise. I honestly felt like people were talking to me through an old transistor radio, or walkie-talkie. Even with the volume turned down it felt screechy. I really, REALLY disliked the call audio on the G2. I disliked it A LOT. Apparently this is a common observation on many android forums across the board so I am not the only one. I can honestly say that within the first few seconds of the very first call I took on the G2, I had doubts. I told myself I just needed to get used to it, but never did. On the other end, people I spoke to said I was a little bit crunchy to them. I even played with the programming on the phone by dialing "##program980" and messing with the "Voice-SO" settings. This helped maybe marginally. I am not sure LG can patch this deficiency. Also, if you are thinking that I had a bad unit? No. I was able to get my hands on 4 other LG demo units within the week I had mine. All of them were the same.
Now, the data speeds and actually signal strength were great on the G2. On that note, please don't ever measure your signal based off of "bars". Bars are somewhat of a gimmick. Don't get me wrong...there is a usefulness to them. But you want to look at the actual DBM readouts in your settings, and not the animations on the front screen. Those are only designed to give you a ballpark of where your signal is at. In comparing my G2 to the Maxx, my G2 often got better stats than my Maxx, but neither ever dropped a call or lost data connection.
MAXX: The Maxx's call quality is fantastic. Until I tried the G2, I did not realize the well-roundedness the Maxx had in terms of audio properties. The Maxx and G2 are a night and day difference in terms of the earpiece properties. The Maxx has a well balanced amount of bass, mids, and treble in its earpiece. If anything, I would say the Maxx possibly has a little too much bass, but that is debatable. With that, however, there is some opportunity. The Maxx could use a little more volume. I did feel at various times that I was pressing the phone to my ear harder than normal to hear the other person. Now, this could have, and probably did, have something to do with the other person. To other callers people stated they heard a noticeable difference on my Maxx. Overall, the Maxx call quality is outstanding and "meaty". And if the actual earpiece volume is not enough for you...get a Bluetooth. I use the Blueant Q3 with the Maxx and it works great.
Maxx: I made this a separate section because a lot of us use our phones as music players these days. Call audio and music audio are two different things. The Maxx's bluetooth audio could use some more volume. I have a pair of LG Tone+ that can simultaneously pair with 2 devices. I pair the Tones with my Maxx and G2, Maxx and iPad, and Maxx and S3 and I got the same results. The Maxx has volume deficiency in each scenario. I like to listen to my music loud, and the Maxx does not deliver what I necessarily look for. I listened to the same audio track side by side, and the Maxx was okay. I want to point one thing out. The Maxx technically has better all-around sound. The base, mids, and treble are great. I just want there to be more of them.
G2: The G2's audio properties, though louder than the Maxx, are also just okay. I wasn't overly impressed by the G2, but I was not really let down either. I will say that neither phone had trouble keeping the audio stream, but certain protocols were slightly flakey on the G2. On my Tones and Jambox, the player controls often stopped working with the G2. I would press the "Play/pause" button on either headset/speaker and nothing would happen. On my iPad, it works each and every time (screw Apple). The Maxx worked fine as well.
One thing I will point out in this camera review is that I base much of a phone's camera quality off of how it performs in low light. I test most of my cameras in how well they do in ZERO lighting, and just flash. I have attached sample pics of such lighting (or lack there of) because I do not feel many reviews do so, and it is important. Personally, I spend a lot of time in dimmly lit dive-bars because I play in a band, and our phone cameras are common gateways to our fans. A good flash means a lot to me.
G2: I can definitely say the G2 has a much better camera than the Maxx. This is one reason I looked at the G2. I need/want a reliable camera. I have a 3 year old and I am constantly using my phone to capture him and his cuteness. The G2's camera is more accurate with colors, more detail, and more options. All of the shooting modes seemed to perform as advertised, and I would definitely put this camera above the S4 or Note 3.
However, in many reviews I feel the G2's faults are somewhat overlooked. Many people are going to shoot in Intelligent Auto mode. When lighting was low,the G2 would often pull in less lighting of the surrounding area than I figured it would. As you will see from some pics below, the center subject is often illuminated, but the surrounding area is rather dim. This is slightly nit-picky, but something I noticed. Also, we are talking about phones here. No smartphone camera (with the exception of 1 or 2) is going to be terribly reliable. I downloaded all of these photos on my computer and there is a noticeable degree of grain to both the G2 and Maxx. The G2 has less of it. The thing I liked about the G2 is its ability to focus. In that, however, is a problem. Depending on the scene and settings, the G2 could take a long time to focus. In a flash-only setting, the flash was often so bright for so long that the subject (mainly me) looked constipated by the time the photo took. A lot of the shots I took listed in this post were using the G2's IA setting. This often left my photos slightly underexposed than I would prefer.
MAXX: I have an unpopular opinion on this matter. The Maxxs camera is not that bad. In some scenarios where I had the Maxx and G2 side by side, the Maxx actually took some better, and more lively photos. In almost every scenario the Maxx took a faster photo. The thing I like about the Maxx camera is that its fast. Another thing I like the Maxx, with its extra RGB pixel, will pick up more light without flash and do it fairly efficiently. The Maxx, though somewhat sporadic, would often pick up more lively and deeper colors than the G2.
What I do not like about the Maxx's camera is its inconsistency. The Maxx just doesn't know what to do with light a lot of the time. The Maxx overemphasizes light to the point that many photos I took would be washed out or blurred with light-streams. In other scenarios, the Maxx would underexpose the photo in completely sufficient lighting. One thing I learned with this phone, if there is a light source directly behind you, do not use flash.
The Maxx's camera is very much an improvement from previous gens, but it is still mediocre to other smartphones. HOWEVER, you can still get great shots from this phone. The thing I have learned of the Maxx is you have to know how to manage it. Basically, when you are in good lighting DO NOT USE FLASH. In most other scenarios use HDR, The camera on this phone is just quirky. Also, be prepared to use your photo editor with the Maxx. Fortunately they make it easily, and quickly available on this phone.
I will keep this section short. The Maxx's battery wins hands down. I podcasted, took photos, texted,browsed the web, videos, and everything you could think of. I generally get a day and a half from the Maxx.
The G2 did very well with the same features I listed above, but 18 hours was the general plug-in time.
MAXX FLASH IN COMPLETE DARK
G2 FLASH IN COMPLETE DARK
MAXX FLASH IN LOW LIGHT
LG FLASH IN LOW LIGHT
MAXX HDR. NO FLASH. MEDIUM LIGHT
G2 HDR. NO FLASH. MEDIUM LIGHT.
MAXX CHRISTMAS TREE SHOT HDR. NO FLASH.
G2 CHRISTMAS TREE SHOT. HDR. NO FLASH
EXAMPLE OF WHAT THE MAXX CAN DO TO LIGHTING
G2 HDR SHOT GOOD LIGHTING
MAXX HDR IN LOW LIGHT