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My S4 and LG G2 Comparison (Ongoing)
Similar to My S4 and HTC One Comparison (Ongoing) thread that I started I decided to do the same thing here comparing the S4 and LG G2 since they are obvious such close rivals and I will also throw in a little HTC One here and there. Tonight I will start with a few quick impressions using my friend's G2, as I wasn't able to pick up mine as of yet. Also, as the days go on I will also do videos and if you have any questions or would like to see specific things don't hesitate to ask.
Quick Comparison Facts
- Samsung Galaxy S4 16GB White Frost - Verizon Wireless
- LG G2 32GB Black - Verizon Wireless
Initial Impressions - Day 1: Setting Up Friends Phone
There is absolutely no beating around the bush here on this one. LG UX is incredibly similar in design to Samsung's Touchwiz. I have no idea who came first, as I've never used an LG smartphone before this one, but needless to say, they are strikingly familiar. Here's just a couple quick examples of the general UI similarities: If you love Touchwiz, then you'll love LG's UX because it's like Touchwiz...on steroids. If you don't love Touchwiz, then you won't love LG's UX because it's like Touchwiz...on steroids.
LG UX is essentially Touchwiz with more - yes, MORE - options. Turning on the G2 smartphone and using it for the first time you'll come across dozens of tool tips. Some are useful and some are generic. Because of the sheer amount of options in this phone I'd actually for once suggest paying attention to what it says before immediately dismissing it because there's likely a nice little gem tucked away there somewhere that can easily be missed. But, if you do miss it, there does seem to be one general way to find options: Press Menu.
A lot of people were confused why LG added an onscreen Menu key instead of the multitasking button, but given how many options there are I can see why they did. Seriously, press menu on every freaking screen you come across and that includes the subscreens. What I mean by subscreen is take the dialer (see above) for example. Notice the different tabs for Dialer, Recents, Contacts, Favorites and Groups? Each screen pretty much has its own unique options. Pressing menu on just one of them does not reveal everything. Instead, you'd have to swipe to each tab (thank god for swiping... are you watching this Samsung? This is navigation done better) and then hit menu.
For example, even the settings have settings. You may have heard that Verizon tweaked their settings menu a bit from the International and AT&T variants to be all on a single screen instead of tabs and also changed the look of the default 1980's Kitchen Blender buttons to toggles. Personally, I like both of those changes. I hated the buttons on the International variant because it was just tacky looking to me and I also like having all settings on a single page instead of tabs. Well, LG must have figured that some people like one page and others like multiple because by pressing the Menu key on the Settings page you can change the layout of how you view the settings:
So, you have choice. It's important to note that unlike Touchwiz, LG employs swipe gestures pretty much everywhere, which makes the tabs less annoying than Touchwiz that forces you reach to the top of each tab to change the screen. Seriously, Samsung, get your stuff together.
I'll post more screenshots of everything as the days go by, but needless to say, when using the G2 I really felt like I was just using a speedier Samsung phone. Whether or not that's a good or bad thing is up to you. Personally, I'm not a huge fan of Touchwiz, as I pointed out in my other post and my initial impression thus far still leaves the HTC One as my favorite Android smartphone.
...Does it lag like Touchwiz?
Yes and no. Navigating through the homescreen, launching settings and opening/closing apps I didn't see any lag. But, strangely enough, when swiping between the tabs in the Dialer app there was lag that would occur pretty often. It would look as if it dropped a few frames and once or twice it sort of froze halfway through the swipe. So far this is really the only place I've seen lag other than when downloading all the apps the phone would stutter a bit if you tried to do some other things in the background. Going back to my S4/HTC One comparison it still impresses me that the HTC One did not have any of these problems. I threw everything at that phone and it never slowed down. Ever.
Make no mistake about it, this phone is fast though. It's not perfect, but it is super fast. One thing I noticed is that there are very little open/close animations for applications and screen. Rather than seeing an eye pleasing fade in/out or bounce or slide or anything when you launch/close something things just appear or disappear. Personally, while I understand it shows how quick the smartphone really is, it also takes away from what could have been considered as 'polish'. I've written before about how I feel that animations add to the user experience significantly and LG really doesn't have any for opening/closing applications. Or, perhaps the phone is just so fast that I'd need to use Developer Options to adjust a few things to slow it down. Either way, one thing that's created as a result of not seeing some animations is that when you do see stutter it becomes more apparent. Having a simple, but eye-pleasing 1 second or less open/close animation sort of masks any stutter and also is just nicer to look at. There are animations in many other places (including options to even change the homescreen animation when swiping back and forth) so I thought it was a little strange to not see any for open/closing apps.
Needless to say, though, thus far the phone is fast. I didn't have any of the kind of lag experienced in Touchwiz outside of the Dialer tabs and everything opens/closes virtually instantaneously as you'd expect from the hardware.
My my that screen is GORGEOUS
The more I use smartphones without Amoled displays the more I appreciate them and the G2 is no difference. That screen is amazing and having thin bezels really makes you feel like you're just holding a screen. Kudos LG. It's amazingly bright at its highest settings and colors are definitely significantly more accurate than Samsung's. I'm not going to go into a lot of detail because everyone has already praised the screen to death and I'm just chiming in to say that I agree.
How does it feel holding it?
More comfortable than the S4 that's for sure. The stepped battery or whatever they call it definitely creates a nice feel in the hand - way more comfortable than the squarish S4. Even with a thin case the phone still feels good, so as long as the case you get wraps around the back the same way as the original back does.
Verizon changed their back buttons and without ever touching the AT&T or International versions I can't compare, but I will say they seem small. However, I like the feel of them and you can press each button individually pretty easily. The whole back button thing is going to be a love or hate thing for many people. For me, after only a few hours, I'm torn in the middle. When on a phone call, for example, I totally understand the placement of the buttons because I do position my index finger in that spot so locking/unlocking the screen or adjusting the volume comes very naturally. However, that changes for me when I'm just "using" the smartphone because my index finger definitely does not sit in that spot. Since I'm tapping on the screen with my thumb (one hand operation) my hand thus comes further down the backside of the phone, leaving my index finger a good inch away from the buttons. So, for me, when I want to lock the screen I have to actually change my hand position so that i can power it off or adjust the volume. The Knock Knock feature (double tap to lock/unlock) definitely solves this problem, but that still leaves the volume keys in a weird spot for me). Not everyone will have this problem depending on how you hold your smartphone or how large your hands are so really I will just say you have to use it before you will truly know if you like it or not.
LG's customization almost as good as entry level launchers
LG has a ton of customization, including the launcher. But, make no mistake about it, it's no Nova Launcher or Apex Launcher replacement. It is a great start though and will likely rival many free alternatives. Below you will see a few screenshots of the pink theme. You've already seen a ton of pictures of the standard look so for now I just posted some of the pink. I imagine LG will update this over time because the themes area looks empty with only 2 options.
Something I thought was really cool is that you can change some of the following:
- Animation style for swiping between homescreens
- Choose if you want infinite loop for homescreens and add drawers
- Change icons (but only on an individual basis and you can't apply an entire icon theme...but you can choose from icons that are IN a theme
- Choose the color of the nav button backgrounds (black, white, pink and transparent)
- Have unique SMS themes for individual contacts/conversations (just a few options for wallpapers and bubble styles, similar to the S4)
Changing the theme changes fonts, some of the widgets (yes, some of the widgets have pink, fluffy alternatives), icons and more. The navigation bar you can change individually outside of the theme. LG did a decent job with the theme changing to the point that really I would like for them to go further and change the whole look of everything (notification shade, settings screen, etc.). I know that's asking for a lot, but hey that's what happens when you do a decent job of offering something built in: you make users want you to perfect what you did instead of stopping half-way.
I'll have more on customization tomorrow because there were a few other things I thought were really nice.
The buttons aren't the only thing Verizon changed. In the notification shade they removed the Volume and Brightness Slider. Personally, THANK GOD. There was just way too much going on there. As far as I can tell so far there's no option to re-add them either. Also a nice bonus is that unlock the S4 where Verizon forced a permanent Wi-Fi notification in the shade there isn't that issue on the G2.
Some of the Not-So-Good Stuff
You can't remove LG's Toggles.
You're probably wondering why I'd want to do that in the first place. It's simple really: I don't care to only see 5 toggles when a toggle app from Google Play will let me put more. I don't care for their oversized nature when I could make them smaller, saving room to see more notifications. I'd like to be able to use it for shortcuts to apps and not just toggles and THEY DIDN'T INCLUDE A HOTSPOT TOGGLE! UGH! I really just don't understand this one. So far, the HTC One is the only smartphone at Verizon that I've seen with the Hotspot Toggle. Given how often I use that, I'm sort of irritated to see it's not here on the G2. It's not on the S4 either to be fair, though. Also, if you're wondering, there's no hidden two-finger notification shade settings area. LG removed that. Instead, you just have to flick left/right through all of the toggles. LG gives you the ability to hide/show specific toggles, similar to the S4, but you CANNOT remove that bar entirely. Here's what happens if you uncheck all options:
Yup, a giant and ugly EDIT button. So nope, that area at the top is currently designed to stay there. Maybe this gets changed in a software update, but I'm not holding my breath. Also, the Qslide apps you see in that photo does the same thing (unchecking everything just leaves a giant edit button). If you have the Qslide button from the top toggles showing you can hide the Qslide apps below it though, saving yourself one more bar of space).
You Can't Uninstall Verizon Bloat
This is pretty normal, but you can disable it. However, I mention this because I saw a video of the AT&T variant that let you completely uninstall all of the AT&T bloatware. Verizon's version has it locked and can't be removed. Score 1 for AT&T unless it was an oversight and gets patched.
Day One Wrap-up
Overall, I really just can't help but shake the feeling that the G2 is essentially a better S4. Whether or not that's a good or bad thing to you is your call. The software is so similar if you didn't see the LG logo you'd swear it was made by Samsung. The phone is more comfortable to hold, should (we'll test it) get better battery life and definitely performs better than the S4 so far in my Day 1 testing.
I have plenty more to talk about obviously so stay tuned for more pics and video.