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.
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.
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.
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.