LG G3 microscope

Getting up-close and personal with LG's latest flagship

I'm really digging the LG G3. It's everything Alex said it would be when he looked at the original Korean version, and more. If you already picked one up, you know what I mean. That means it's time to get a little nerdy with it!

We have a nice mid-range USB Microscope. We have a very high-end LG G3. The two must get together, don't you think?

A few notes:

  • This is the AT&T model G3 you're seeing.
  • These pictures are taken with the Celestron 5 MP Handheld Digital Microscope Pro at 200x magnification. We've found this to give a really good look at things while still keeping them recognizable.
  • I used a broken piece of an R72 infrared filter to see the laser light. Never throw anything away.
  • I cleaned the phone with rubbing alcohol and a clean microfiber cloth. It still looks filthy, because your phone is always filthy.
  • As always, I had a load of fun looking at phones under a microscope.

On to the fun stuff ...

The G3 has an amazing Quad HD 534 ppi display. I love to use my microscope to peep at pixels and sub-pixels because they look cool and I like to see exactly what I'm dealing with. The pixel density on the G3 is so high that I don't get much to look at from the 200x magnification on my little microscope. I have to call this a pure win, because even at 200x, the screen still looks like a screen and not a bunch of multi-color dots.

G3 pixels

Finally, we can't forget the lasers! The G3 uses a phase detection laser autofocus module to quickly and accurately focus the rear 13MP camera. Anytime the camera app is open, this is firing — you just can't see it. A quick look with a piece of an R72 IR filter placed on top of the laser module and the magic of frame capture, and we can see it firing. It's like a Rush concert.


The laser itself is in the top of the blackened glass "port" on the back of the G3 beside the camera. The bottom of the module is used to receive the reflections of the laser as it bounces off of the things you have it pointed at. The software can then use the time it took to bounce back to determine the exact (close enough to exact) distance to focus. Your point-and-shoot camera does the same thing. It makes a difference — this thing focuses fast.

Pretty cool how some of these parts look when you get a really close look at them, isn't it?


Reader comments

Under the microscope - the LG G3


None at all! The colors are great. People only cry/complain because they're use to Samsung screen. I prefer LCD over amoled types. Coming from HTC Evo LTE then S3. I'm extremely happy with the G3.

The laser autofocus doesn't work by calculating the time it takes for the light to come back, but by triangulation ! The light velocity is 300 000 000 m/s, the phone cannot perceive a difference of 5 meters between two objects unless it has a precision of 10^-8 or 10^-9 second.
(0,00000008 s)

Interesting. I know on the software side when using a standard laser and reflector sensor combo one of the values (besides on/off) you're returned is a unit of time. Could the triangulation be done with multiple sensors receiving their data, then calculating the time difference through an IC to report an approximate distance? Or would that approximation be too rough? How accurate can you calculate time with modern circuitry? The last time I used a laser in a real-world application I needed to get an outline and distance of an object moving 14 feet/sec on an assembly conveyor (to calculate overall mass), and had no issues with accuracy using off the shelf sensors.

Now I have something else i want to play with. Off to DigiKey!

Also, you said "Your point-and-shoot camera does the same thing. It makes a difference — this thing focuses fast.", yet no current point and shoot camera (or any kinda common consumer camera AFAIK) uses this kind of laser AF method. I believe a couple Sony P&S did so about a decade ago tho. An AF assist lamp isn't the same thing (or a laser, or necessary most of the time).

Point and shoots don't even use phase detect AF (unlike DSLR or some mirrorless cameras), the vast majority use contrast detection AF (and often it's a pretty poor implementation of CDAF, at least compared to better mirrorless cameras). I realize you probably know most of this but the claim was still erroneous.

I'm not nitpicking for the heck of it either, I think this AF aid (AFAIK it's still a hybrid method between the laser and traditional CDAF/PDAF) is unique and I'm curious to see whether LG keeps developing it... It's an interesting approach from a company that isn't wholly devoted to imaging and sensors in the way a Sony or Panasonic are...

AF tech is a pretty hot topic with cameras these days, particularly with mirrorless or non-DSLRs... Those have traditionally been pure CDAF tho many/most are adopting a hybrid approach with on sensor PDAF (in order to track movement at least as well as a mid range DSLR with it's discrete PDAF sensor at the viewfinder optic path).

Not everyone is on board with that tho, Canon's got their dual pixel tech now as seen on the 70D, and Panasonic seems to be chasing DFD (kind of a software solution with a bunch of compute power thrown at it). I don't know if LG's lasers help at all with tracking movement (probably not) but they could at some point...

That's the hardest thing to nail down with regards to AF anyway, CDAF even on low end mirrorless cameras is already as fast as PDAF in single shot/static scenes, and more accurate usually. DSLR with PDAF still have a huge lead in action shooting tho, specially higher end ands full frame DSLR with better PDAF sensors.

I don't claim to be an authority in the subject btw, feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.

Actually, I was wrong: the laser autofocus can work several different ways:
- calculating the time it takes for the light to come back (usually using a 100kHz signal, when building houses for instance, according to Wikipedia);
- measuring the amount of light which comes back;
- using triangulation.

But, as the light used in this laser is infrared light (more than 100 GHz), I think triangulation is used here.


They still tour and release albums, saw them last year :) Don't remember the lasers per se but like you said it's 2014 so there must have been lol

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Edit: didn't come to reply to you, came to +1 Jerry for the reference. Just wanted to clarify!

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Rush in the mid 80s had the best fricken laser shows of all time. I saw them do a tour "warm-up" show in '85 in Lee County Florida, and the stage engineers spent 2 and a half hours in a dark auditorium setting up the show, and let all us stoned kids in early to watch.

it was religious.

Pink Floyd in 1987 in Madrid Spain was absolutely amazing - I think it was their World Tour with the release of "The Wall" album. For some reason Pink Floyd does not appeal to me as much as a few other 1980's favorites: U2, Guns n Roses and Bon Jovi. Tastes change (maybe a little) as we age - I was still in my 20s in the 80s.

"The Wall" came out way before 1987...The Wall came out when I was in junior high... In 1987 I was on my own, living in Alaska. However, Pink Floyd toured that album for years afterward
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LG gave away 50 G3s in NYC two days ago. I won one in a raffle and it happened to the the morning after my birthday. Loving it (the screen) and haven't put it down since. It replaced my m7 all of a sudden and is the best birthday present ever. My parents suck. Thank you LG...

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When he said: "it is time to get a little nerdy", he really mean it.

Wow! That is nerdy to the 3rd power.

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I kept telling people, on this forum specifically, that the QHD screen would be noticeably better than 1080P... AC seems to substantiate my claim. Also, I went to AT&T to have a look for myself and it is a noticeable improvement. Where are you trolls now?? Haven't heard a peep since the phone came out.

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Indeed, on a 5.5 inches screen, you can tell the difference. But on a 5.0 inches screen, it's hardly noticeable.

People will hate until they're proven wrong, then pretend they never said anything in the first place.

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Should have compared with other screens. Pixel size difference between HD, qHD, and perhaps 720P. It would be ideal if the display size were identical.

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Considering replacing my note 3 with this. . Anyone else done the same? How's battery life compared to the note 3?
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If you often use the Note-specific features (stylus & apps) then you will probably be disappointed. But if not, then the G3 is definitely worth a look. I usually have 20-30% battery at the end of the day, and I am constantly messing with it all day.

My Sony Cybershot. F828haf laser focus. You can actually see it spray the subject with laser patterns. It was fast. I bought it for$999Back in 2003 or 2004 I think. I was solid. It was one of those cameras that looked like it was just a huge lense.

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Loving this phone! Haven't put it down yet. What a difference coming from a GS3 (in all fairness, it should be)

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Sir i have heard the battery life is horrible on this. Can you please comment. I may go with the OneplusOne due to the battery life on G3

After the first day of playing with the phone every 10 seconds, my battery stabilized, and have found as a heavy phone call and text user, by battery is equal to the HTC M8. A full week of work will put the G3 through it's paces, as I sometimes get 35 to 45 calls per day. By no means is the battery life horrible.

The laser auto-focus would be useless with GPe i think. Back button shortcuts, gesture and voice would not work either.

Wow. OK, I did actually like your article. Concise and informative. But then, out of the blue, a RUSH reference. Whohoo. Fav band. I was so inspired I actually logged in and commented. I never comment. Seriously, keep up the writing style, very enjoyable.

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