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LG G2 vs. Samsung Galaxy S4

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August 7, 2013

Gizmag compares the specs and features of LG's new G2, with its 'innovative' back buttons,...

Gizmag compares the specs and features of LG's new G2, with its 'innovative' back buttons, and the ever-popular Samsung Galaxy S4

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The high-end of the smartphone market isn't an easy fortress to penetrate. LG has made some solid phones over the years, including the fraternal twins known as the Nexus 4 and Optimus G. But the company isn't usually mentioned in the same breath as Samsung or Apple. Will any amount of hardware or software features be able to change that? Let's try to find out, as we compare the new LG G2 to the Samsung Galaxy S4.

Size

The G2 is only slightly bigger, though its thickness is a bit more significant

The G2 is the bigger phone, but LG managed to squeeze a larger screen onto a surface that's only slightly bigger. It's only one percent taller and wider than the GS4, making the difference basically null and void. The G2 is, however, 13 percent thicker.

Weight

The G2 is ten percent heavier than the GS4

The G2 is also ten percent heavier than Samsung's flagship.

Build

The G2's killer feature, according to LG? Its buttons are on the back. Hmm ...

LG ditched the glass from last year's Optimus G for Samsung's favorite, plastic. But the real story here is the G2's button placement. The only physical buttons on the phone sit on the back, just below the camera. It's easy to snicker at LG's marketing this as an innovative breakthrough in smartphone design, but it is a move that could potentially be handy in real-world use.

Display

LG crammed an eight percent larger display onto its surface

What we're much more interested in, though, is the G2's display. Moving the buttons from the sides to the back helped LG to trim the bezels down to a minimum. We aren't quite swallowing LG's "edge-to-edge display" description here, but it is the closest thing to that we've seen so far.

Both phones have 1080p resolution, which will be razor sharp on either display, though the GS4's is technically a bit denser.

Interested in just how much bigger the G2's display is? Well, the Galaxy S4 gives you 92 percent as much screen area. Just don't forget that, unlike the GS4, the G2 has persistent onscreen navigation buttons, voiding some of that advantage.

Processor

That Snapdragon 800 should scream, but there's really nothing to worry about with either p...

The G2 is among the first batch of phones to pack Qualcomm's Snapdragon 800 processor, probably the cream of 2013's CPU crop. But make no mistake, both phones provide much more horsepower than 99.9 percent of the smartphone buying public will need anytime soon.

RAM

Each handset packs 2 GB of RAM

Both phones pack 2 GB of RAM.

Storage

LG has sent mixed messages regarding a 16 GB version, so we'll see whether that makes it t...

LG's website only lists a 32 GB model for the G2, but the company's press release also mentions a 16 GB version, so we'll go with that for now. Unlike the Galaxy S4, there's no microSD slot in the tightly-sealed G2.

Wireless

Both phones ride speedy LTE networks

The G2 supports LTE-Advanced, which you probably don't have access to yet, but potentially could sometime during the lifespan of your next phone. Samsung is also rolling out an LTE-Advanced version of the GS4, but the standard version doesn't support the speedier LTE.

If you have to "settle" for standard LTE, though, there's really nothing to worry about. As long as your carrier supports it, it will likely be plenty fast for anything you'd need while away from Wi-Fi.

Battery

LG squeezed an impressive 3,000mAh battery into the G2

LG's engineers squeezed a pretty high-capacity battery into the G2. We'll have to wait for the official word on battery life, but LG is touting it as "more than ready for a full day’s work or play."

Camera

The G2's main camera has Optical Image Stabilization, which could be much more of a boon t...

This is another area we're eager to learn more about. The G2's camera has impressive resolution, but also throws some Optical Image Stabilization into the mix to help avoid the effects of camera shake.

Software

Each phone has its own custom UI sitting between you and its underlying Android nature

Both phones run Android 4.2.2, and each also has its own custom UI dominating the Android experience. We weren't over the moon for LG's UI in the Optimus G, but the company did add at least one very cool feature this time around: KnockOn lets you turn your screen on or off by tapping twice on the screen. Sometimes it's the little things like this that make smartphones fun.

Among other software features in tow on the G2 we have Audio Zooming, which lets you control which audio source(s) the three built-in microphones amplify when recording video. Text Link supposedly makes it easier to transfer text from one app to another, and Guest Mode lets you set up a restricted profile for, say, a child borrowing your phone.

Google Play Edition

You can buy a Google Play Edition of the GS4, that skips TouchWiz and runs stock Android 4...

We love the marriage of stock Android with the Galaxy S4 and HTC One on their Google Play Editions, but LG hasn't announced anything on that front. If last year is any indication, though, the G2 may end up serving as the blueprint device for the Nexus 5. Rumors have suggested this, and the Nexus 4 was basically a modified version of the Optimus G.

Infrared

Both phones have infrared capabilities, mostly for remote control functionality

Yep, both phones have IR blasters. Most likely, the only thing you'd use this for is to turn your phone into a remote control for your TV. Handy, but probably not game-changing for most customers.

NFC

Both phones also have NFC chips

Both phones also have Near field Communication chips, for whatever that's worth. Maybe it will be just the excuse you were waiting for to back that groovy NFC Ring on Kickstarter.

Hi-Fi Audio

The G2 plays Hi-Fi Audio, if your music collection allows it

We'll throw LG a bone here, since it's boasting about the G2's 24-bit, 192 kHz Hi-Fi playback. This could be handy, but remember that unless the audio files you're playing are of equally high-quality, this probably won't make any difference.

Release cycle

The G2 will be rolling out over the next couple of months, while the GS4 has been around f...

The G2 will be gradually rolling out globally within the next month or two. The Galaxy S4 has been around since April.

Pricing, by the way, will vary by carrier, and we don't know anything more about that just yet.

Wrap-up

Can LG elbow its way into the League of Extraordinary Smartphones? It's going to be a tall order, and it's also way too early to say. But the G2 has enough promising ingredients that we're going to keep an eye on this one. Unfortunately, it might be a little while until the G2 starts showing up on store shelves, giving that question time to potentially lose some of its luster.

If you're leaning towards the Galaxy S4, you can check out our in-depth hands-on comparisons with it and the HTC One and iPhone 5.

About the Author
Will Shanklin Will Shanklin is Gizmag's Mobile Tech Editor, and has been part of the team since 2012. Will has a Master's degree from U.C. Irvine and a Bachelor's from West Virginia University. He currently lives in New Mexico with his wife, Jessica.
  All articles by Will Shanklin
8 Comments

No microSD makes it a no go for me. I need that additional storage

TN
8th August, 2013 @ 11:50 am PDT

I hear you TN, I just bought 64 GB MicroSd Class 10 and damn it I am going to use it!! So basically this phone just have better chip but that is it, no thanks I'll wait for Nexus 5 but that would not have SDcard either :(

phissith
8th August, 2013 @ 04:06 pm PDT

Wait for S5 or S6 Galaxy models out & decent priced Service plan.

Batteries alone cost 50.00.

Stephen N Russell
8th August, 2013 @ 06:02 pm PDT

Was loving it.. then no SD slot.... damn it..

SciFi9000
8th August, 2013 @ 07:53 pm PDT

What is it with these manufacturers?

16GB or even 32GB storage is grossly inadequate for my use. 64GB? Yes, maybe that would be OK, but LG don't even offer a 64GB version.

No SD card - no go for me as well!

Graham R
8th August, 2013 @ 08:14 pm PDT

All phones with no mem card slot basically suck

Only grand daddies and young babies can probably manage with just built in memory and it's insulting how manufacturers try to impose those limits on the whole smartphone community

3razer
9th August, 2013 @ 03:39 am PDT

I've read that a lot of manufacturers don't include an SD slot because using fat32 is part of the SD spec and Microsoft charges an arm and a leg per device (~$15) to use the file system patents.

It seems like kind of a double standard when a judge ruled that Motorola's FRAND patents were mostly worthless because they were standards essential but the same is not true of fat32 used by SD.

If that is the issue maybe there needs to be a competing standard that doesn't depend on a proprietary file system.

Daishi
11th August, 2013 @ 10:55 pm PDT

I just bought the LG G2 after reading this and many other articles. It came down to G2 vs Samsung S4. G2 was a replacement for Samsung S3 which was working fine until a new system software upgrade that made it way too slow. I guess, that is how they make you upgrade your phone.

G2 has a big fatal flaw, that after spending many hours on the phone with Verizon tech support first and then LG tech support, cannot be fixed. I tried syncing with my email account, which it did, but it is not a true sync. What I mean by this is that if I erase an email on my G2, it won't erase on the server, unless I go through an additional step and erase it in the trash can. Or if read an email on my phone, it won't show up on the server (laptop computer) as read or vice versa. Why can't my email sync in real time from one device to the next. Last generation Samsung and HTC before that was able to accomplish this very simple, yet very useful task. To me this is a fatal flaw and unless someone can tell me how to address this problem or LG comes up with a fix, the phone is going back in the next week and I will have to go with Samsung S4.

Armen K
7th February, 2014 @ 03:32 pm PST
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