In a crowded smartphone market full of Samsungs, Apples, HTCs, and even Motorolas, it's almost easy to forget about LG. But the company has a few ideas about how to get your attention, and it crammed them all into the design of its next flagship that it unveiled today, the LG G2.
This is the follow-up to last year's Optimus G, but it looks like the Autobot-suggestive branding has gone the way of the dodo. Instead we get a simpler and more succinct market name, and G2 it is.
Baby got back
The G2's killer feature is ... wait for it ... rear buttons. Okay, so it probably isn't the most marketable feature we've ever seen, but we do think it makes a lot of sense. The G2's only physical buttons rest on the upper backside of the phone, just below the camera. The buttons are designed to sit where your index finger typically rests while holding the large phone with one hand.
What are those buttons? Well, we're basically looking at a volume rocker with a power button sitting in the middle. Long-pressing on the volume keys activates either LG's QuickMemo, a note-jotting app similar to Samsung's S Note, or the camera. As inventive as the Moto X's camera activation gesture is, it's still hard to beat a physical camera button like this.
Fortunately for LG's PR team, though, the G2 isn't just about buttons. It also has an impressive spec list, not the least of which is its 5.2-inch, 1080p display. Yes, this sucker is most definitely a "phablet." The company's engineers also shaved the phone's side bezels down to a minimum, and though it isn't quite the "edge-to-edge display" LG touted, it's pretty darn close. Since there are no buttons on the front of the phone, it uses an onscreen navigation bar, which cuts down a bit on that huge screen's useable area.
The phone has plenty of horsepower too, as one of the first batch of phones powered by Qualcomm's beastly Snapdragon 800 processor. For those keeping score, that's a quad core chip, clocked at 2.26 GHz. We don't expect performance to be a concern at all.
The G2 comes in 16 GB and 32 GB flavors (there's no microSD card slot), and with 2 GB of RAM. It sports a 13 MP rear camera with Optical Image Stabilization, and an impressive 3,000 mAh battery.
In terms of software, we're looking at Android 4.2.2 with LG's UI pasted on top. We haven't yet handled the new version of LG's software overlay, but if it stays in line with past versions, we're looking at something that looks like it could be the long-lost sibling of Samsung's TouchWiz. Take that as you will.
If it follows the pattern established by last year's Optimus G and Nexus 4, then Google's rumored Nexus 5 could be taking some cues from the G2. The Nexus 4 had the same internals as the Optimus G, and a slightly modified external chassis.
The G2 will begin its global roll-out over the next couple of months. Pricing will, of course, vary by carrier. When the G2 hits the US, LG says that it will be available on all four major carriers. When you're trying to stand out in a crowded field, that isn't a bad start.