LG G3 Review

November 19, 2014 | Amy Davies | Rating star Rating star Rating star Half rating star


Launched in the summer of 2014, the LG G3 is an update to the LG G2. It features the same 13 million pixel sensor as its predecessor, but it now features enhanced optical image stabilisation, while the user interface for the camera part has been simplified compared to its predecessor. You can increase the memory of the camera by inserting a micro SD card, while one of the most interesting specifications is laser autofocus for quicker focusing speeds, especially in low light shooting conditions. The front camera is a 2.1 million pixel device, and it can shoot 1080p HD. The back camera can shoot both 1080p and 4K video. The camera is also equipped with a dual - LED (dual tone) flash.

Ease of Use

As seems to be pretty much the trend with smartphones at the moment, the G3 is a pretty large device. And although it’s not as huge as some of the “phablet” phones, it’s still only just jacket pocketable. It is pretty slim though, so the overall weight of the device is not too bad.

Even by smartphone standards, there are very few buttons on the G3. The only buttons are found on the back of the camera, at the top and in the centre. Here are three buttons arranged in a pad type arrangement. There’s a centre button which acts as the power on/off button, or for locking and unlocking the screen.

Front of the LG G3

The other two directional buttons are volume buttons, but the down buttons can also be used with the camera - hold down the volume button from the lock screen and you’ll be taken directly to the camera. If you press the down button once in the camera app, you’ll take a photo. Although it’s a good idea to have direct buttons to push for the camera, they are positioned in an awkward place, especially when you consider the size of the camera. Although you do eventually get used to the positioning of the buttons, it’s not the most obvious of places for your finger to rest. Also, as it’s difficult to see what you’re doing, it’s relatively easy to accidentally push the central button and turn the screen off altogether.

You can also tap a virtual shutter release button on the phone display itself to fire off the shutter release. If you hold this, or the physical button down, then a burst of photos will be taken in succession. Tapping the preview button will allow you to playback all of the images taken in succession, and choose one (or more) to save from the burst - a good option if you’re photographing fast moving action such as sport.

Rear of the LG G3

Once you’re in the camera app itself, there’s a minimal amount of settings which you can change, making it reasonably similar to something like an iPhone in its operation, rather than something a little more customisable and changeable like a Samsung or Sony camera. This is good news if you want to concentrate mainly on composition, or if you’re only interesting in grabbing quick snaps, but bad news if you like to take a little more control over how your photos look.

On the right hand side of the screen there’s the option to switch between video and stills shooting. On the left hand side of the screen, you can switch on or off the LED flash, switch to the front facing camera, switch to Magic Focus, Panorama or Dual mode and if you tap a cog icon you’ll be presented with options to turn on and off HDR shooting, change the resolution size, switch on the timer, display grid lines, switch between the internal memory and micro SD card - you can also switch off the ability to voice control the camera. If you have this switched on, it will take a photo when you say the word “cheese” - useful for group shots and selfies.

The LG G3 - Image Displayed

To change the SD card and therefore change the amount of memory available, you’ll need to remove the back of the camera first. It’s a bit  of a faff unfortunately, which isn’t particularly good if you want to quickly grab your photos to put on your computer. Instead, it’s probably easier to connect the phone to your computer directly via a cable, rather than take the memory card out every time you want to use it.

Other than these relatively limited options, you can’t change anything more substantial, such as exposure compensation, aperture or shutter speed.

The LG G3 - Camera Mode

Magic Photo allows you to refocus an image after you’ve taken the shot, but only immediately after you’ve taken it. If you try to come back to the shot some time later, you won’t be able to refocus the image, so it’s handy if you realise straight away that you’ve missed the focus - but then again if you realised that you’d probably just retake the image.

In order to take a panoramic photo, once you’ve tapped that in the mode options, you tap the shutter release button and then move the phone across the scene - but you’ll need to do it pretty slowly. If you try to go too fast, the camera will warn you to slow down and it won’t be able to properly capture the panorama. It’s a lot slower than most other

Rear of the LG G3

Once you’ve taken a photo, the phone is ready to shoot again pretty much instantly. The image you’ve just taken will be displayed in a small preview circle in the top right hand corner of the screen, simply tap this to be taken to the last photo you took, and then you can swipe through all the photos you’ve taken. You are also presented with some options of what you can do with the photo, including tapping a star to make it a favourite, start a slideshow of all your images, delete it or attach it to an email and so on. You can also select bluetooth to send it to another compatible device. If you tap the photo, all the photos that you’ve taken will be displayed at the bottom of the screen so you can scroll through them quickly - which is handy if you need to reach a pretty old photo.

In terms of editing, the only thing you can do here is crop your image, but it’s not too disappointing considering that the Android operating system has hundreds of different apps which allow you to do all kinds of fun and creative things with your photos - but you will need to put in some time to discover the best apps for you if you’ve never used the Android operating system before.

Image Quality

All of the sample images in this review were taken using the 13 megapixel JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 4Mb.

In good light, images directly from the camera are great. Colours are bright and punchy, with a lovely amount of vibrance without looking overly saturated.

Detail is also well resolved, and there is some room for cropping if you need to improve your composition after you have taken the shot. At higher ISOs, there’s some image smoothing to be seen when examining images closely at 100%, but viewing at normal sizes on your phone the overall impression of detail is reasonably good.

Focusing is pretty quick, and when you’re shooting in low light, the laser beam autofocus comes into play which helps to lock on quickly where other phones sometimes struggle. It also means that there’s not a glaring autofocus assist light to awkwardly light up a room or blind your subject.

Attempting to focus closely is decent, but if you’re trying to focus closely on something small (such as berries or small flowers) the camera can focus and you may fail to acquire a decent level of focus at all. There’s no way to activate macro focusing to make this better.

Overall, metering is pretty good to produce well balanced exposures, while shooting under artificial lighting, the automatic white balance system copes well to produce accurate colours most of the time.

Focal Range

The LG G3's lens provides a focal range of 29mm in 35mm terms, as demonstrated below.


Digital Zoom On

focal_range1.jpg focal_range2.jpg


Here are two 100% crops which have been Saved as Web - Quality 50 in Photoshop. The right-hand image has had some sharpening applied in Photoshop. The out-of-the camera images are a little soft at the default sharpening setting and benefit from some further sharpening in a program like Adobe Photoshop.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)

sharpen1.jpg sharpen1a.jpg
sharpen2.jpg sharpen2a.jpg

Chromatic Aberrations

The LG G3 handled chromatic aberrations fairly well during the review, with some purple fringing mainly present around the edges of objects in high-contrast situations, as shown in the examples below.

Chromatic Aberrations 1 (100% Crop)

Chromatic Aberrations 2 (100% Crop)

chromatic1.jpg chromatic2.jpg


The LG G3 offers a Macro setting that allows you to focus on a subject that is 5cms away from the camera.


Macro (100% Crop)

macro1.jpg macro1a.jpg


The flash settings on the LG G3 are Off, On and Auto. These shots of a white coloured wall were taken at a distance of 1.5m.

Flash Off

Flash On

And here are a couple of portrait shots.

Flash Off

Flash On

flash_off.jpg flash_on.jpg


The LG G3 allows you to take panoramic images very easily, by 'sweeping' with the camera while keeping the shutter release depressed. The camera automatically does all the processing and stitching.


Sample Images

This is a selection of sample images from the LG G3 camera, which were all taken using the 13 megapixel JPEG setting. The thumbnails below link to the full-sized versions, which have not been altered in any way.

Sample Movie & Video

This is a sample movie at the highest quality setting of 1920x1080 at 30 frames per second. Please note that this 15 second movie is 36.7Mb in size.

Product Images


Front of the LG G3


Front of the LG G3 / Camera Mode


Front of the LG G3 / Shooting Mode


Front of the LG G3 / Image Displayed


Rear of the LG G3


Rear of the LG G3


Rear of the LG G3


Side of the LG G3


Front of the LG G3


The LG G3 is a decent performer as far as smartphone cameras go, but it’s certainly not the best on the market.

While imagesfrom the LG G3 are bright and punchy in good light, there’s quite a lot of image smoothing to be seen when shooting at higher sensitivities - which is fine if you’re only ever going to share on your phone but if you’re looking for something which will replace a standalone compact camera, you may be disappointed by what the G3 can produce.

There’s also not a lot in the way of control - which hasn’t stood in the way of Apple’s popularity with its similarly streamlined user interface - but it will be disappointing for those that want to change settings, something which lots of other Android phones offer.

It’s also true that there’s not much in the way of editing or filters that you can apply to images, but, then again with the myriad Android apps available on the market from the Google Play store then you may not find this to be particularly problematic.

The design of the LG G3's button layout is pretty strange, meaning you have to force your hand into a pretty weird position to press the dedicated shutter button - made even worse when you’re trying to photograph landscape images, and making it possible to accidentally switch the screen off altogether. It’s something you get used to with time, but it feels like something that will never be particularly intuitive to use.

On the plus side, if you’re looking for a smartphone which is well suited to selfies, the front camera is pretty decent, and the autofocusing in low light is pretty good - just don’t expect to take any detailed close-up shots though.

3.5 stars

Ratings (out of 5)
Design 3.5
Features 4
Ease-of-use 3
Image quality 3.5
Value for money 4

Main Rivals

Listed below are some of the rivals of the LG G3.

Apple iPhone 6 Plus

The Apple iPhone 6 Plus is the largest ever version of the most popular flagship smartphones of all time. Find out what it has to offer photographers by reading our Apple iPhone 6 Plus review, complete with full-size sample photos, test shots, videos and more...

Google Nexus 5

The new Google Nexus 5 is one of the cheapest flagship smartphones on the market, but also one of the most powerful and full-featured too, running the latest KitKat version of Android. But what kind of experience does it offer photographers? Read our Google Nexus 5 review to find out...

HTC One (M8)

The HTC One (M8) is a new flagship smartphone with not one, but two cameras, using the second one as a depth sensor that allows you to change the point of focus after taking a photo and achieve DSLR-like shallow depth-of field effects. Does this make the HTC One (M8) the best smartphone for avid photographers? Read our HTC One (M8) review to find out..

Nokia Lumia 1020

The Nokia Lumia 1020 is a new 41-megapixel smartphone - yes, you read that right, 41 megapixels. The Lumia 1020 also offers built-in optical image stabilisation, a 3x loss-less zoom for stills and 6x for movies, a 26mm fixed lens with fast f/2.2 aperture, and 1080p video at 30fps with stereo sound. Read our Nokia Lumia 1020 review to find out if it can replace a compact camera.

Samsung Galaxy K Zoom

The Samsung Galaxy K Zoom is Samsung's latest attempt to fuse together a 10x compact camera with a smartphone. Can the Samsung Galaxy K Zoom really replace a standalone camera and smartphone? Read our Samsung Galaxy K Zoom review now to find out...

Samsung Galaxy S5

The Samsung Galaxy S5 is the latest edition of one of the most popular flagship smartphones of all time. Find out what it has to offer photographers by reading our Samsung Galaxy S5 review, complete with full-size sample photos, test shots, videos and more...

Sony Xperia Z3

The Sony Xperia Z3 is a new flagship waterproof smartphone that features a lot of cutting-edge camera technologies. The Xperia Z3 has a 20 megapixel sensor, 25mm fixed lens with fast f/2 aperture, 4K and 1080p video, sweep panoramas, a range of picture effects and Timeshift burst shooting. Read our in-depth Sony Xperia Z3 review now...

Review Roundup

Reviews of the LG G3 from around the web.

trustedreviews.com »

The LG G3 might have been one of the last flagship phones to arrive in 2014, but it's by no means the least. And it's a worthy successor to the excellent LG G2. This Android handset has an excellent 5.5-inch QHD screen and laser-focusing camera. Not only has LG caught up with the competition, but in some cases it's raced past its rivals.
Read the full review »

pocket-lint.com »

The LG G3 follows hot on the heels of the acclaimed LG G2, a device that really pulled LG back into focus at the top-end of Android smartphones. The G2 set the bar high, a tough act to follow, especially having been on the market for less than a year before the G3 made its debut.
Read the full review »

pcpro.co.uk »

LG’s flagship phone, the LG G3, may not be the most recognisable of names, but its headline specs place it right alongside the big hitters of 2014. With a huge 5.5in "Quad HD" display and a host of upgrades over its predecessor, the G2, the G3 is gunning for top-flight rivals from Samsung, HTC and Apple.
Read the full review »


Type Bar phone
OPERATING SYSTEM Android 4.4 (KitKat)
CHIPSET Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ with 2.46 GHz Quad-Core Processor
Battery, Max (mAh) 3,000mAh / Replaceable / Wireless Charging
Type Slate
Size (inch) 5.5 inches
Resolution Quad HD (2560 X 1440)
Camera Yes
Camera Resolution (MP) 13
Internal Memory 2GB RAM (16GB eMMC)
External Memory Micro SD (up to 128GB | 2TB capable)
A-GPS Navigation Yes
Glonass Yes
Bluetooth Yes
Bluetooth Version 4.0 LE (APT-x)
USB 2.0
Wi-Fi Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
Recording Yes
MP£ Yes

Your Comments

Loading comments…