Who is king of the Android castle?
This year’s top Android phones are almost all out already. The LG G3 is one of the last to arrive. But is it also the best?
In this article we’ll compare the LG G3 to its most important rival, the Galaxy S5. LG has not officially announced all the phone’s specs yet – we’re just days away from that – but there have been more than enough leaks to tell us virtually everything about the phone. Some of the finer details here may still be subject to change, but the G3 is possibly one of the worst kept secrets in tech.
Samsung Galaxy S5 vs LG G3 – Design
Galaxy S5 – Dimpled plastic, Gorilla Glass 3, 8.1mm thick
LG G3 – Plastic, Gorilla Glass 3, 8.9mm thick
The Galaxy S5 and G3 are both plastic-bodied phones, so neither gives the supreme high-end feel of something like the HTC One M8. LG’s approach to the G3’s shell is a bit more conventional than the Galaxy S5’s style, too. There is a small chance that the LG G3 has a genuine metal rear, but most agree that it is more likely to be metal-effect plastic.
The G3 appears to have a fairly normal smooth, curved plastic rear while the Galaxy S5’s back is pitted and has a textured finish that seems to want to look like something other than plastic. Its look is odd, but the S5 feels pretty good in the hand.
Thanks to its larger screen the LG G3 is a bit bigger than the Galaxy S5 in every dimension. Leaked dimensions say the G3 is 4mm longer, 2mm wider and 0.8mm thicker. If you find larger phones a bit of a stretch for your hand, you may well prefer the Galaxy S5.
LG has done its best to limit the phone’s physical size, though. It’s almost ‘all screen’ front-on, and like the LG G2 the phone’s buttons have been shifted around the back where space comes at a bit less of a premium.
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Samsung Galaxy S5 vs LG G3 – Screen
Galaxy S5 – 5.1-inch Super AMOLED, 1080p
LG G3 – 5.5-inch IPS LCD, QHD
The LG G3 is the first big-name phone to appear with a QHD screen, which is equivalent to four 720p displays stitched together. As such its pixel density is extremely high even though it’s a large 5.5-inch panel. It’s a 2,560 x 1,440 pixel display with a density of 534 pixels per square inch.
That’s much higher resolution than the 1,920 x 1,080 pixels of the Galaxy S5, which has a 432ppi screen.
For a bit of further context, the LG G3 has the same resolution screen as a 27-inch iMac – a bit mad when you stop and think about it. It raises the question: is there any point in cramming such a high resolution in a 5.5-inch screen?
You’re not going to notice a massive difference, but there should be a slight discernible increase in sharpness between the Galaxy S5 and G3. Part of this is down to the Galaxy S5’s sub-pixel arrangement. It uses a PenTile-type screen, whose diamond-shaped sub-pixel arrangement appears less sharp that the more regular ‘stripe’ RGB type used by the G3’s LCD screen.
Still, we praised the Galaxy S5's sharpness so it's not really something to hinge your buying decision on.
There’s also a difference of screen type. The Galaxy S5 has a Super AMOLED screen, the LG G3 an IPS-type LCD.
AMOLED screens provide much better black level (darker blacks) than even high-end LCDs, and the Galaxy S5 has a fantastic example of this type of screen. The Galaxy S5 has one of the best mobile screens ever created, suffering from none of the colour accuracy issues of former OLED phones when in the right display mode – you get a choice of screen ‘personalities’ with the Galaxy S5.
Both these phone screens are clearly at the top of their game. We’ve not yet seen the LG G3 first-hand, but it’s likely to be a case of the Samsung winning out on contrast and black depth, the LG G3 having a slight advantage on perception of sharpness and top brightness.
There’s also size: the LG G3 screen is 0.4 inches larger than the Galaxy S5’s. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but it will make the G3 more enjoyable as a movie-viewing gadget.
Samsung Galaxy S5 vs LG G3 – CPU and RAM
Galaxy S5 – Snapdragon 801, 2GB RAM
LG G3 – Snapdragon 801, 3GB RAM (TBC)
Both the Samsung Galaxy S5 and LG G3 use Snapdragon 801 processors according to the latest info. This is a juiced-up version of the Snapdragon 800 chipset used in the LG G2, released in late 2013.
The Snapdragon 801 a quad-core processor clocked at 2.5GHz in this case, and it is a real powerhouse. However we will see phones using more powerful processors before too long – it was inevitable.
The Snapdragon 805 is a more advanced chip, and is significantly more powerful. We’ll see phones using ‘next generation’ chips like this before the end of the year.
Read our Snapdragon 805 vs 801 vs 800 comparison
Leaked specs suggest the LG G3 will have 3GB of RAM, a gigabyte more than the 2GB of the Samsung Galaxy S5. This gives the phone a bit of extra headroom when multitasking: RAM and virtual memory management issues are a reason for slow-down in some Android devices.
Samsung Galaxy S5 vs LG G3 – Storage
Galaxy S5 – 16/32/64GB, microSD
LG G3 – 32GB, no microSD (TBC)
One feature of the LG G3 we don’t know about yet is whether the phone has a microSD memory card slot. The LG G2 did not have one, but will the follow-up?
The proposed 32GB of internal memory in the LG G3 is not a good sign. It is often phones with higher base memory that leave out expandable storage, as incorporating a card slot instantly makes adding your own memory much cheaper than upgrading to a higher storage version.
That’s why the main version of the Galaxy S5 sold in the UK is the baseline 16GB edition, rather than the 32GB S5 available elsewhere. You can buy 64GB microSD cards for around £30, making the Galaxy S5 – potentially – a better music/video buddy than the LG G3, despite having a slightly smaller display.
Samsung Galaxy S5 vs LG G3 – Camera
Galaxy S5 – 16-megapixel ISOCELL, LED flash
LG G3 – 13-megapixel BSI, OIS, LED flash
The Galaxy S5 and LG G3 take slightly different approaches to offering a camera that can perform well in just about any conditions. In daylight, their high-quality, high-resolution sensors will come up with excellent results – with detail you can crop into.
However, in more taxing conditions, their strategies differ a bit. The Galaxy S5 has a new kind of sensor, made by Samsung and dubbed ISOCELL. It increases full well capacity and decreases crosstalk at the sensor pixel level, meaning the sensor can use higher sensitivity levels without increasing the levels of image noise too much.
The LG G3 is likely to use a more conventional BSI sensor – almost certainly the latest-generation 13-megapixel sensor from Sony – but the phone also has optical image stabilisation. If applied correctly, this will let you use slightly longer camera exposures without making your images look blurry.
The G3 also reportedly has a laser on the rear to aid focusing in low light.
So, it’s a case of working at managing image noise to allow higher sensitivity shots to look good, or letting in more light by increasing exposure times.
Who will win? Who knows, but we were pretty impressed by the Galaxy S5’s camera at review. And in the past LG’s use of stabilisation in phones has not been as good as Nokia’s. Still, we’re looking forward to getting out hands on the LG G3 camera to find out what it is capable of.
There’s one other thing that puts things in the Galaxy S5’s favour a bit, though. The Samsung phone has a 16:9 ratio sensor, while the LG G3 crops into its sensor as standard, resulting in what equates to 9.6MP photos unless you switch to 4:3 aspect shots.
Samsung Galaxy S5 vs LG G3 – Battery
Galaxy S5 – 2,800mAh
LG G3 – 3,000mAh
The LG G3 has a slightly larger battery than the Galaxy S5 – and the same size as the LG G2’s battery. Battery efficiency between the phone is likely to be similar as they use the same processor type – a Snapdragon 801.
This chipset is particularly good at using very little power when in standby, and is great at handling light tasks like functioning as a pedometer – something that’s quite trendy at the moment.
Performance in the phones is likely to be pretty similar, thanks to the new technologies used in the LG G3’s screen. You might assume that a QHD screen like the LG G3’s might use up loads more power than a 1080p one, but its LTPS display should be extremely efficient.
One of the main draws of the LG G3 is that it has a much higher-resolution screen than the Galaxy S5. However, we don’t think that’s the main thing to get excited about here. What really matters is price.
A highly competitive price is what makes the LG G2 such a good buy to this day, and the LG G3 needs to pull off the same trick if it wants to lure people away from the Galaxy S5. Otherwise, these phones are fairly even in the sort of experience they will provide you – each has its own strengths and weaknesses, but there's no clear, obvious victor.
Rumours suggest it’ll cost around £500, £100 less than the Galaxy S5’s RRP. We’ll have to wait to see carrier deals to see what we’ll actually end up paying for it, though.
Next, read our Galaxy S5 tips and tricks article