A few days ago, we’ve reviewed two flagship smartphones, namely the Samsung Galaxy S5 and the HTC One M8, but those are only two of this year’s flagships that are truly worth mentioning. This time, we’ve chosen to compare the LG G3 and the Sony Xperia Z2 and I’ll try to paint a comprehensive picture about each of them for you so that if you’re in a dilemma whether to choose one or another, you’ll find solace here.
In my previous comparison, I’ve reached no definitive conclusion as to which gadget is better worth its money: the S5 or the M8, so I suspect I won’t end up with a final choice this time either. Although I tend to favor the M8 over the S5, I’ll try to compare these two with the G3 and Z2 as well, maybe then, I’ll have a clear picture of what I want from my device and choose at least one out of four. At the same time, I would still like to have them all, much like pets, just for the heck of it. And because all 4 of them are way beyond the LG L70 I’m sporting at the moment. By the way, on a budget, the LG L70 is a great smartphone for users who want something to fit in a tiny pocket and an even smaller hand, who don’t necessarily need a top-of-the-line gadget to complete the tasks they have at hand each day, like browsing, social media, RSS feed following and blogging. Let’s jump into it though, or I’ll end up with a book instead of a review.
The first thing that comes to mind when researching the market for a suitable smartphone is price and whether it will fit my budget. You can sigh at the moment, since all four of these flagship phones are at about the same price: $600 in most regions without a carrier. The G3 is available for about $450 at the moment in the U.S, the Z2 is around $535, while both the M8 and S5 are at $600. Evidently, if you’re on a budget, the G3 is the one for you, since it’s all the rage and discounted at Amazon and other online stores as well. Although it would not be a bad choice, you should still consider learning something about the competitors as well, because there is much to know about all 4 devices.
Since the G3 is the most affordable, I’ll start with that. The G3 has been advertised best by its screen, which is a QHD, 5.5 inch monster, sporting 16 M colors, 1440*2560 pixels and 538 ppi. It’s basically an LCD True HD IPS improved phablet, to be honest, and the company chose the screen as the G3’s “special effect” because it hurriedly released the phone amid so many competitors. The screen is a pinch better than the S5, M8 and Z2, giving you beautiful imagery, clear colors, sharpness and brightness, but it might not have been such a necessary feature to include since it really eats up the battery and doesn’t actually make a massive difference. It is beautiful, but it does have its shortcomings: if you don’t view it spot on, brightness really decreases and makes for a poorer user experience, but not as much as to make it a deal-breaker, take note.
The G3 was released as an improved LG G2, actually, since developers followed user recommendations almost exactly after the release of the G2 and created the G3 as something that would be perfect. It does perform remarkably well and devs did correct issues like the cheap feel of the glossy plastic chassis of the G2, coating the G3 with a metallic finish and fine detail, even though the chassis remained of plastic. Many say it looks and feels better, but many argue that the chassis feels hollow and gives off, yet again, a cheap impression. I, for one, like the design and the chassis, I would’ve opted for something less shiny though, but that’s because I generally don’t like electronics with a glossy or shiny finish.
Design-wise, the G3 has a removable case and battery and a microSD slot built in under the case, which is a plus for many who have provided feedback on the G2. Another option would have been to implement the slot somewhere on the side or Bezel, keeping the case nondetachable, but that would’ve annulled the option to remove the battery. Removing batteries might not be a priority for most, but for those of us who have encountered phones whose batteries had defects but the phones had no issues, really appreciate the opportunity.
The G3 keeps LG’s signature unlock mode, the KnockOn, which I can also benefit from on my L70, which lets you wake up or turn off your phone by double-tapping or by using a Knock code of your own design. Since the phablet is huge for a phone (see what I did there?), LG has implemented a neat little feature which lets you tap your rear camera to turn off the phone in case you can’t reach the power button or knock it out. The Z2 can be turned on with a double tap as well, but that’s all you can tap into, although I see more implementation of this method in the future of smartphones, because it’s more fun than sliding fingerprint grease all over your screen.
Besides sporting a marvelous screen, the G3 has a pretty camera, too, sporting 13 MP and a better focus than the Galaxy S5. Even though it uses laser focus, otherwise, the camera doesn’t have a lot of features to play with, unlike the Z2, for example, letting you use only some basic functions, but facilitates camera manipulation greatly, providing a very simple interface and shortcuts you can personalize. The “selfie-camera”, as LG have dubbed it, has been modified compared to the G2, sporting wider angles, so more people can fit in your selfie. I’m not sure if I find that description accurate, but a wider angle is useful. In selfie-mode, a neat thing you can do to set off your shutter is close your fist, in case you don’t want to put the image out of focus by tapping your screen. I sincerely don’t see why that would come as a natural movement and do prefer to use the “cheese” voice-command, but it’s a fun thing to see being implemented in devices nowadays.
Spec-wise, both the G3 and Z2 are a lot alike, running Android 4.4.2. sporting Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processors, v2.0 USBs, NFC, Bluetooth, 3 GB RAM (or 2 for the G3’s 16 GB internal storage version), 32 GB internal storage which can be extended via SD to 128. What differs greatly between these two are the cameras, since the Z2 sports a whopping 20,7 MP camera which can record in 4k and has a lot of features like background de-focus. The Z2 is IP58 certified, as in it’s waterproof and dust-resistant, which comes in handy for those of you who ended up on some beach Saturday morning. The G3 sports Corning Gorilla Glass 3, while the Z2 has shatter-proof glass and a triluminous display with the X-Reality engine. In this field, the G3 might be a loser among the four flagships we’ve been talking about, since the S5 and Z2 are both certified for water resistance, and the M8 survives 90 minutes immersed in shallow water.
When it comes to video, the Z2 trumps the competition with 4k recording, but the mode does have its issues, making the smartphone overheat a lot and after about 11 minutes of recording, most users have received an unknown error report and a notification that the camera was going to shut off due to overheating. The recording during which the crash happens usually gets corrupted and unusable. Z2 has issued some updates for the overheating problems, but many keep reporting the same crash after a longer recording time. It also takes a lot of time to save a video and a 1 minute vid takes up about 1 GB space of the phone’s memory, which is a lot, even if you mount an SD card. That’s a pretty sad thing to hear, since the 4k recording mode was one of the greatest outstanding features of the Z2. The G3 on the other hand has a nice option to record video and capture pictures at the same tine, which might come in handy when you’ve got two cats on the loose trying to kill each other (like I do). Those instants would be worth gold!
The G3 can be wirelessly charged, while the Z2 has a TV out and a longer battery life in the same user conditions, excluding 4k recording of course. The Z2’s design on the other hand trumps the G3’s and the Galaxy S5’s design as well, being at the level of the M8’s aluminium chassis. The Z2 sports glass and metal on the front and on the back, which gives it a splendid finish, but is really prone to fingerprints and smudges. It is more resistant to scuffing and scratching than it’s predecessors, the Sony Xperia Z1 though. The Z2 is a tad smaller than the G3, with a 5.2 inch screen, which makes it a bit more maneuverable than the G3 (which I can’t use with only one hand).
A neat feature on the Z2 is the fact that below the exquisite front stereo speakers (!!), providing great audio, almost as great as the HTC M8, there is an RGB notification LED which lights up in different colors depending on the notifications you are getting. Another plus for the Z2 is having IPS technology implemented, whereas the Z1 was lacking it and pretty criticized for it. The Z2 offers lag-free navigation and UI, letting you smoothly interact with your applications, whereas the G3 has some lag-time, due to the fact that the Snapdragon does work harder to power the extra pixels in the 5.5 inch screen.
The Z2 has some neat features it has implemented in its UI as well, like the mod that the slide-down menu can be handled in two ways: if you slide down with one finger, it brings up the notifications area and clock, whilst if you slide down two fingers, it brings up your settings menu. It’s a practical touch and helps keep your smartphone organized and your notifications’ area clear. The G3 has been cleared of clutter as well, since many have complained after trying the G2 that it’s got too much things banded together and feels cartoony. The G3 now has an impressive menu with calming hues and pleasant color schemes, as well as easier navigation and video tutorials, making the whole interaction much more relaxed than with the G2.
Sheesh, phones are complicated. So many things to pay attention to, so many items to capture, so few differences that make a difference… Once again, I’m feeling undecided. Between the Z2 and G3, I think the main differences are the camera and design. If you value camera and design over screen tech and UI, you should go for the Z2. On the other hand, if the price excites you and you value excellent image reproduction, easy to use features and a chassis you can tinker with, you should choose the G3.
I’m really confused at this point, because in my mind, I would simply put the G3 into the Z2’s chassis, but keep the camera and features of the Z2, with the interface of the G3. Or something like that. In my previous review, I think I kind of leaned towards the M8, for almost the same reasons: design and practicality, but this time I feel some sort of loyalty towards LG because it has rarely disappointed me in the past. In any case, whatever you choose between the four flagships I’ve reviewed, remember to not regret it, because all four are in the over the top, top of the game, top notch, high-tech smartphone category, so there is no wrong choice. Good luck!