LG G3 European version

Unlocked G3 for Europe cuts the RAM to 2GB, but boasts built-in wireless charging

After a few weeks with the Korean version of the LG G3, we've finally got our hands on a finalized, unlocked European version of the phone. Unlike the Olleh-branded G3 we've been using in recent weeks, this Euro G3 — the LG-D855 for those keeping track of model numbers — rocks production software out of the box, as well as built-in Qi wireless charging. The LG G3 will land in Europe in early July, but we've given it the hands-on treatment already, and you'll find our first impressions — and comparisons with the Korean G3 — after the break.

To the untrained eye, the European LG G3 looks like any other. There's an enormous 5.5-inch Quad HD (2560x1440) display on the front, flanked by extremely slim bezels. And the back panel boasts LG's "metallic skin" texture, which looks like brushed metal and feels like plastic, but is almost completely impervious to fingerprints, thanks to the unique film coating used by the manufacturer. At this point we're most familiar with the Korean G3, the device we recently reviewed so let's jump into some of the differences between the two different variants.

LG G3 European + Korean versions

Firstly, the internals. The European G3 we're using is powered by the same 2.5GHz Snapdragon 801 processor, but with a less generous 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage. LG tells us the phone's software is optimized for 2GB, and we haven't noticed any major performance differences thus far. Unfortunately there's no word of any 3GB/32GB model headed for British shores at present, however LG isn't the only manufacturer dragging its feet when it comes to higher capacity devices for British consumers. As it stands, the 16GB European G3 will leave you with just over 10GB of storage for your own stuff, and of course there's that microSD slot, which can be used to store music, photos and even certain apps.

Qi wireless charging doesn't add any appreciable bulk or weight to the LG G3.

On the outside, the differences are more nuanced. The Korea-only TV antenna is gone, and the arrangement of connectors behind the battery door has been changed up a little. There's no cut out area for the through which the antenna can protrude, and the battery door of the European G3 has an extra set of connectors — four, in total — to allow for wireless charging. On the Korean G3 we've been using there are four contacts on the back of the phone, for NFC, but only two on the battery door.

Besides that, everything's more or less the same, including the battery, which is the same model across both devices. It's tough to say whether the European G3, with its wireless charging capabilities, is actually any thicker or heavier than its Korean counterpart. If there are any differences, however, they're small enough to elude the relatively crude measuring techniques we used. And even when held side-by-side, the two versions feel almost identical.

LG G3 versionsWireless charging

In our LG G3 review we noted occasional instances of lag and slowdown in certain animations in our pre-production Korean model. Since then, that device has been updated with new firmware that all but eliminates these issues. Certain animations — for example, opening the "Smart Notice" widget — remain a little sluggish, but it's a vast improvement on the firmware that we reviewed. And our new European unit, with final software, is at least as fast as Korean version with the latest firmware. Is it HTC One M8 fast? Not quite. But it's easily quick enough to give the Samsung Galaxy S5 and Sony Xperia Z2 a run for their money.

Aside from these welcome improvements in performance, we're dealing with the same LG UI on our European G3, complete with more muted tones and geometric icons. Aside from the lack of pre-loaded carrier bloat, the only difference we've seen on the European model is the presence of an FM Radio app, and a slightly different icon for the default Messaging app.

LG G3

Other quick observations include...

  • If the G3 isn't properly aligned on its wireless charging pad, it'll tell you to move it to the right place — a neat feature we'd like to see in more Qi-compatible phones.

  • The display tuning of our European G3 seems a little more accurate than the Korean unit we've been using. Whites are a little whiter, whereas the Korean model seems to have a slightly greenish tint by comparison.

  • The removable battery is the same model in both versions of the G3 — BL-53YH.

  • According to its box, the European G3 supports HSPA on 850, 900, 1900 and 2100MHz as well as seven LTE bands — 700, 800, 900, 1800, 2100, 2300 and 2600MHz.

  • Like the Korean model, the Euro G3 comes packaged with LG's surprisingly decent QuadBeat 2 earphones.

  • If you like to live dangerously, you can switch to the experimental ART runtime (located in Developer Settings, as ever) and enjoy a small bump in performance at the cost of compatibility with certain apps and games.

We're going to put the European G3 through its paces in the coming week, and we'll have an updated review prepared in the near future. In the meantime, hit the comments and let us know which trade-off you'd prefer — more RAM and internal storage, or built-in wireless charging.

More: LG G3 review

 
There are 72 comments

I'm annoyed the US versions supposedly won't come with built-in Qi wireless charging, but will be reliant on the circle case to enable that. I've come to absolutely love wireless charging on my Nexus 4 and 7, and not having it built in is a big blow to me (as I don't like cases). That said, the extra RAM could be nice in the future, but I'm not sure it's wireless charging nice if nothing is optimized to take advantage of it.

DocToxyn says:

Maybe I'm making too many assumptions but wouldn't it be possible to obtain one of the European backs that is Qi compatible but not Quick Circle?

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eahinrichsen says:

That'll end up being really expensive, though. The international shipping alone would be a lot, to say nothing of typically higher EU pricing.

DocToxyn says:

I guess I hoped a domestic distributor would take that on, but you're right, cost for direct to user would put people off.

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trakslacker says:

Won't work - take a look at the close-up picture in the gallery of the camera area with the back off. The 4 pins on the phone are spaced differently between the two phones. The EU version backplate would not enable wireless charging for the Korean version.

Now we wait and see what the pin spacing on the US version is, if it doesn't already have Qi charging built in.

Dizfunctions says:

Blame the carriers, not LG.

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Why? LG (and other vendors) put too much mark-up on the phone with wireless charging enabled. AT&T, Verizon, etc want wireless charging, so they can sell you an overpriced wireless charging pad. But they also won't spend extra dollars on equipment that only costs pennies to include.

You would probably pay an extra $5 for a phone with wireless charging. I would, too. But when you have to buy several hundred thousand units at a time, every dollar counts. Even AT&T, who will never offer Qi-enabled phones because of their association with a competing wireless "group", would love to sell you a couple powermats with a 20% margin.

There's no doubt that carriers are greedy, evil vampires who only see us as dollar signs. But so are the manufacturers.

Source: personal communication with people on both sides of this issue.

TheDu9du says:

Reading this gives me hope that perhaps tmobile will do the right thing, just like they did with the S5 download feature.

DWR_31 says:

Reading Jerry's comment, what I got from Jerry's comment, "buy after market accessories from Amazon.com."

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Heisenberg says:

I agree. However, I think your 20% margin estimation is being too kind. Carriers mark up the hell out of accessories to make much more than even keystone.

gtg465x says:

Yup, my best friend worked at Best Buy for years and got to buy things at cost + 5% as a perk. We looked stuff up constantly just to see what the markup was. On high price items like TVs and laptops, the markup usually wasn't as much as you might think, but the markup on accessories was insane. HDMI cables that sold for $60 were less than $10 with his discount. 500 to 1000% markup was not uncommon for accessories. And that's only the cost to Best Buy. The cost to produce those accessories had to be even lower for the manufacturers to make money selling to Best Buy.

jdevenberg says:

I wish they'd include it out of the box. However, I know that won't happen. So I hope they do like Samsung does and offer wireless charging backs and flip cases. That way, those of us that we T wireless charging but don't want a flip case can have that.

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Ray Gray says:

Why is no one mentioning that you can just order a Qi wireless charging receiver on eBay for $10. I dont see the big deal here

djitall says:

Here in Scandinavia almost every retailer say 3GB ram,32GB storage AND wireless charging. Model nr D855. Coming last week of June.
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Theodroid says:

Yes in Germany too. I preordered mine from Amazon Germany (I live in UK)

Mnmiah says:

Would they ship to uk? Is it cheaper there than Amazon uk?

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stevedo says:

What date did you do this? I tried yesterday but they seem to have removed the ship to UK option.

Via a cool AC App on a great Nexus 4

xbleedingx says:

I've compared the prices on Amazon UK and Germany and the 32gb version on the German site is the same price as the 16gb sold on the UK platform (when you convert EUR into GBP.) I ordered my G2 through them last year as I wanted more storage and now thinking of upgrading to the G3, definitely going to buy from them again. However I've just tried purchasing it and having the same issue you're having which seems a little odd given they accept international orders :( Maybe because it's early days still? Might have to try again, don't want to buy on eBay and get a dodgy HK version that doesn't support our 4G (it happened to me last time..)

I really hope you are right and there is a 3gb/32gb European model available. I can't see the sense in releasing a "flagship" device and then not offering customers the choice of the fully spec'd device. I know carriers demand the lower capacity devices but there are a fair proportion of us who are prepared to buy the device outright. The wireless charging is nice but I could live without it. The point is why should I have to compromise? With that high resolution screen and a few chrome tabs open you will run into ram problems, just like the Nexus 10 does.

Jerflash says:

If the US one comes with wireless charging i will be getting it. if not im not so sure

codiusprime says:

It's not, as has been pointed out many times.

hmmm says:

I'd prefer the 3gb RAM. You can always add the wireless charging usually really easy and cheap.

xgman says:

Who says it is one or the other? The Verizon G2 came with both wireless charging and 32gb storage. All this uncertainty makes me appreciate the Apple model.

Gekko says:

i smell a Nexus 6.

Dizfunctions says:

Project Silver is supposed to replace the nexus series next year.

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MERCDROID says:

It's still 2014.

NoNexus says:

You smell poop?

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MERCDROID says:

The Nexus 6 is gonna outsell both the S5 and Note 3. Place your bets here.

Gator352 says:

It might the Note 3 but not the Note 4. I'll take a bet on that!

Note 3?lol the note 4 comes out this year

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NoNexus says:

LOL...If I didnt know you better I would be on you like white on rice...

Fwoshie says:

32gb is very useful. Qi wireless charging? C'mon really? We need the better model in the UK nexus

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cguella says:

Only the US carriers could take the fun and certain purchase out of this.
At 3GB and Qi charging it is a no brainer to buy.
Take either away and I am OUT.
I don't want a circle case.
I don't want 2GB RAM.
I DO want Qi charging in the standard phone.
I DO want 3GB of RAM or I'm out.

kinster02 says:

Then it sounds like you don't really want this phone.

From my Note 2 to you

breadfan758 says:

Why the wisecrack? It sounds like he really does want this phone and for it not to be bastardized for the US carriers.

I've invested in wireless chargers for home, work and vehicle, so it would be an unfortunate deal breaker for me too. I'm also very much against carrier bloat, so maybe a GPE or developer model will solve these problems.

MERCDROID says:

That's not a wisecrack. He's implying that cguella will not get exactly what he wants from the G3, which is entirely accurate.

trivor says:

I'm sure they will offer a stand alone wireless back in addition to the circle case. It will probably cost $20-$30. If you're willing to skimp on a $20 back on a $700 phone ($200-$250 on contract) then I guess you are being penny wise and pound foolish. Either the QHD Display, 13 MP camera with OIS+ and Laser Range Finder, Removable Battery, Micro SD card, great battery life are enough to make you want this phone OR NOT. I could certainly see the 3 GB RAM and 32 GB Storage model as must haves. At least it will have wireless charging (unlike all models of the G2 other than Verizon or the HTC M8) as an option. I would prefer it to be included like it was on my VZW G2 but it certainly won't prevent me from buying the phone (although I"m still on the fence because I would really like to go smaller with my phones - not larger)>

xgman says:

I agree with you 100%. By the way, you don't know you need wireless charging until you have had it. Same as the knock on feature. Can't imagine a phone without it now.

larrygeary says:

It looks like one of those phones is more curved than the other.

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sladyrko says:

Deal breaker for me with 2 GB ram.. Yes it will run good, but hey.. Why to sacrifice 1 GB when especially when new phones with Sndrgn 805 are 2 months away? Sorry LG.. :-)

Mobius360 says:

There's always a new phone 2 months away with better specs.

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MERCDROID says:

This!

3Dee says:

I think that for most people, wireless charging is about on par with NFC as a sounds cool but never use it features.

Memory and storage however - with these specs you'll notice one after about six months, and one after a year or two, but you'll almost certainly notice their limitations eventually.

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sublimaze says:

I agree. I couldn't care less about wireless charging. If I get a G3, I will also get a spare battery & wall charger, and rotate batteries like my Note 2.

Suntan says:

Wireless charging is a feature that you can't properly gauge the importance of until after you have lived with it for some time.

In short, don't knock it until you've tried it.

-Suntan

Dirtman16 says:

Agreed. I thought it was dumb until I tried a wireless charger on my nightstand. Now I hate cables.

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illiniah says:

I have Qi in my Avalon Limited Hybrid, just set my phone down and drive. I won't go back to the Luddite world of USB charging.

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illiniah says:

Also. use NFC almost every day at Whole Foods, to purchase food with Wallet.

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Lantesh says:

@3Dee,

There are many people who love wireless charging. I use it at work everyday. My LG wireless hockey puck shaped charger sits right under my computer monitor, and keeps my phone topped of during day. If I need my phone I can pick it up quick, and set back just as quickly. In a fast paced work environment this is quite handy.

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Dizfunctions says:

Can't wait to take a look at this when it's released in the USA.

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Paul Mellish says:

Nice one Alex, looking forward to reading your review over the coming days!

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codiusprime says:

Have you had a chance to play any games on the phone yet Alex? Has the framerate improved at all with the other software improvements.

little09 says:

Yes,I like to hear from you on how performance games on this g3 and any noticeable display difference? Thanks

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NoNexus says:

Where is the outrage over the nearly 6gb for the skin/os?

Just curious because I keep hearing how bloated TouchWiz is yet this is about the same

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planoman says:

Hey stop pointing out the hipocracy or you will get the "anyone but Samsung" club going...

dwd3885 says:

+1

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planoman says:

Hopefully they make an unlocked model that works on ATT LTE with 3GB/32GB, Wireless Charging and no bloat!

astarling10 says:

yes! i'm all for a G3 configured like this.

I like that box!

RaiderWill says:

"Items still remain "Sluggish"... "Is it as fast as an M8?.. Not Quite"
This region gets 2Gb's of Ram.. This region gets 3.. This region gets 32 Gb of storage.. This region gets 16..
Qi here... Non There... Why?
Why the smoke and mirrors? Radio bands for different regions of the world.. Yes of course. These variations of models.. Unacceptable.. I would love to hear LG's reasoning behind all this.. It's reeks of the *1 + 1* mischief that is going on.. And the fact that this finalized device still can't match the pace of the M8 clearly shows 1440P NEEDS a Snapdragon 805 Engine to perform like a "Latest to Market" flagship phone should perform.. LG should be holding the speed crown until the arrival of the Primes this fall.. even with 1440P. I'm sure a lot of you will look past these faults and still declare it the best phone available.. and that's fine.. it's your $806.00 being spent.. And I truly hope you are happy for the year or so you own it.. and hopefully you can get back $0.65 on the dollar you paid up front when you sell it around this time next year.

ndira says:

Why would they reduce ram and storage? I'm worried because there'plenty of chance that we'll be getting the same phone in South Africa.

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I don't get whats so good about wireless charging I would rather have 3GB or ram and 32GB or internal storage any day

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miljbee says:

I'd like to see some pictures of the G3 next to the G2. I would be able to appreciate the increased size of the G3.

Thanks !

m3lover1 says:

I would definitely prefer the higher storage and ram

moosc says:

So the m8 is faster. Oh well guess I'll wait for the G3 prime.

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xgman says:

unless it's Korea only or some crud like that....... :(

xgman says:

None of these manufacturers seem to have any quality control over what they offer different carriers. It's maddening. I really hate it. Almost makes me what to go back to iphone. I said "almost". ;)

gordongr says:

I'm curious about gps, my G2 gps is so bad it would be a deal breaker for me if it isn't fixed in the G3

poppany75 says:

So the US version won't get wireless charging, extra battery, charging stand and quadcore headphones. Also hopefully it won't skimp on the 3GB/32. LG lose. Man I was really looking forward to getting this.
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oldschoolsig says:

So perplexed. My g2 is great and transitioned me away from ios for good. I dig it, so the g3 would be a natural..... But the m8 gets talked about as the smoothest experience. I like smooth. I would probably pick the g3,s5 or m8 if I knew one was vastly superior over the other for call reception and clarity. It's shocking how little is discussed about call quality (no I don't want a Motorola)

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Art Faucett says:

Would the Korean version work with OTA HD Tv in the states?

This site has both euro versions 16gb/2gmRAM and 32gb/3gb RAM.

http://www.cheapukgadgets-boddban.co.uk/catalog/lg-16410

There is a difference in price though but I think it's worth it