I took two main phones to the IFA conference in Berlin last week. One, familiar — the Moto X, which I've been using for a month now. The other, the LG G2. We've got a preproduction European version. The hardware is solid, but the software's not quite final, which is why we've held off of a full review thus far.
After spending a week with the LG G2 as my main device, one thing began to stand out. With it as well as the Moto X, there's been a lot more attention paid to the way we wake our devices. Both have the same goal — turn on the phone and get you to your information as quickly as possible. But both come about it in different ways.
Is one better than the other? Both certainly add usefulness to their respective devices. But the differences are pretty apparent.
But first, a little recap ...
Motorola's Active Display
Active Display actually isn't only available on the Moto X. You also can get it on the new Droid line of phones as well, and it works the same across all the devices.
At its most basic level, Active Display shows you the time every so often, along with an unlock symbol. Grab, drag and get to work. Once you receive a notification — say, an e-mail — the lock symbol changes to a e-mail symbol (or icon for whatever notification is present). Tap to preview, slide to open. You get a fair amount of customization with it — pick which apps you want to let ping the display — or you can chose not to use it at all.
The LG Knock-on feature
LG's Knock-On — or occasionally (and previously) called Knock Knock — is born out of necessity as much as anything else. With the LG G2 having a large, 5.2-inch display, the power button was moved to the back of the phone. That's great for when you're holding it — your fingers rest pretty naturally on it and the volume rocker — but it's not so good when the phone's sitting on a flat surface. So, tap twice to wake it.
And ... well, that's it. It works pretty well, even with our prerelease software. (We wouldn't mind it getting a little faster from what we're currently seeing.) It's available now on the LG G2, and later on the G Pad 8.3 tablet, once it's released.
So which is better?
I had a bit of a revelation in Berlin after using the LG G2 full-time for a week. As much fun and useful as LG's Knock-On feature is, Motorola's Active Display is just far more useful.
Motorola's Active Display feature gets you to your homescreens quicker as well is getting you information faster.
First and most obvious is the inclusion of actual information on the screen in Active Display. LG doesn't do that, so we're talking apples and oranges here a bit.
But the bigger difference is the discrepancy in how quickly you can get to your homescreens. In Motorola's Active Display, you touch, swipe and unlock, all in one smooth motion. But after two knocks on LG's display, you're still at the lockscreen, and you have to swipe again to actually get anywhere. It might seem like a small thing — and this is assuming you either don't have a lockscreen password or you're using some sort of trusted system to temporarily bypass the lockscreen. (And also assuming there isn't some drastic change when we see release-ready software.)
Knock-On is cool, for sure. It's done well. But it's just not as useful as Active Display on Motorola's phones.