LG is one of the old horses in the smartphone market, but is a new one to enter the ‘minis’ trend. With the likes of Samsung and Sony pushing the compact battle to a whole new level, it was high time LG got into the game.
LG launched its compact variant of its flagship smartphone, the G3 Beat a couple of weeks ago. The device takes after the G3 in design, but the similarities are deep with the internals being completely different.
LG G3 Beat comes with the highly appreciated G3 design with metal chassis and brushed aluminium like plastic rear, but the smartphone falls under the affordable midrange sector. We had a chance to spend some quality time with the G3 Beat and here’s what we think about LG’s first mini smartphone.
LG G3 Beat comes in a standard retail package. As always, the box has the company’s branding on top, while there’s a mention of some of the key hardware specifications of the device on the back.
First up inside the box you find the smartphone itself and on further inspection you can find the headset, A/C adapter, micro USB cable, some leaflets and a battery.
Unlike many other companies, LG has bundled all the basic required accessories with the device so really don’t have to worry about spending any more money on your phone.
We really liked what LG’s design team did with the company’s flagship offering, the G3 – which is undoubtedly one of the best looking smartphone in the market. The compact G3 Beat is nothing but the scaled down version of the G3 flagship and as one can expect, the device comes with a similar design language as that of the G3.
If you haven’t had a chance to look at LG’s flagship smartphone before, you can easily confuse the G3 Beat to the G3. The unibody design of the G3 Beat is quite impressive and is surely one of the eye pleasing devices in the mid-range market.
Just like its bigger bother, the G3 Beat also comes with rounded corners and brushed aluminium look. We only wished that the back panel on both G3 and G3 Beat wasn’t faux-aluminium – but it’s very hard to figure out until you get to feel the device in hand.
The proprietary control deck, which features the power button and the volume rocker can be found on the back and just like the ones on the G3, they are pleasantly textured – something that we really liked. If you are a newbie, you might take some time to get used to it and in the process you might accidently hit volume rocker stead of the lock button and vice-versa and also smudge the camera lens every now and then.
The G3 Beat is about 1.4mm thicker than the G3 and at 134 grams – the device is lighter by about 15 grams than its bigger brother.
Both the LG G3 and G3 Beat do not come with IP certification for dust and water protection. The company says that the quality standards set by the IP board are not clear at the moment and we totally understand their argument. What happens to a device rated 30 minutes gets submerged for 25 minutes, taken out and submerged again? Does the 30 minutes period get reset or do we have only 5 minutes left? It’s not clear yet.
The space in the front of the device is mostly taken by the display. There are three capacitive onscreen touch keys – menu, home and back. Above the panel you can see the earpiece and the usual array of sensors, while below the display you can see the LG logo in the centre.
With LG moving all the buttons to rear, the left and right sides of the device are completely bare expect for a small nail crevice, which is used to open the back panel.
Moving on the top, you will find an IR-port and a secondary microphone. At the bottom you get to see a USB port, 3.5mm audio jack and the primary microphone pinhole. It’s quite odd to locate the audio jack at the bottom, given that most of the smartphone features it at the top.
At the back you will find the 8 megapixel rear camera with LED flash and laser auto focus camera sensor. To know more about the latter, check out our camera section. Towards the bottom, there’s a speaker grille.
The back panel can be easily removable and underneath it, you will find the user-replaceable 2,540mAh battery, microSD and microSIM card slots.
One of the key differences between the LG G3 and its mini is the display. The G3 Beat sports a 5-inch True HD – IPS LCD display with a resolution of 720 x 1280 pixels which accounts to a pixel density of 294ppi. It’s a huge downgrade from the Quad HD display on the G3 and the panel is not the sharpest by today’s standard, but you will have a hard time differentiating individual pixels.
Speaking of the G3 Beat’s LCD, it has a good looking and pleasingly saturated colors. The viewing angles are good for the most part, but there is some loss of contrast at extreme angles, but the good thing is that the colors remain intact.
The display on the LG G3 Beat has decent blacks, which is on par with its competition. The contrast ratio is good and the screen can get bright, so sunlight legibility is not a concern.
Overall, considering the price tag the device comes with, we don’t think one can really complain about the G3 Beat’s display because it is definitely a decent offering.
LG G3 Beat comes out of the box with Android 4.4.2 KitKat with a layer of company’s home backed Optimus UI. We must admit that this is LG’s most robust UI till date. It comes with stylish new minimalistic icons along with a nice selection of transitions and animations.
There’s nothing much to write about the UI on the G3 Beat, as it is essentially the same as the one on the G3. Starting with the lock screen wallpaper, we have already seen it all on the G3 flagship. Moving past the lock screen, you will be welcomed by a familiar Android home screen and as we said earlier, the control buttons on the G3 Beat are virtual. There’s an advantage as well as a trade with on screen keys – better response time and you are giving up a part of the screen estate.
LG has also loaded some of its applications to the G3 Beat. One of the prominent ones and perhaps the most useful is the IR blaster app. With this software, you can control multiple televisions, DVD’s and Blue Rays from the convenience of your phone – So, you now get rid of multiple remote controls.
The South Korean maker always says that they strive hard on offering quality service to their consumers post sales and with the inclusion of a dedicated service app – LG has made a statement once again. The Remote call service app allows you to remotely connect to a service centre in order to get your problems resolved.
LG Smart World is another application that comes pre-loaded on the G3 Beat. If you aren’t aware of it already, smart world is LG’s very own app store that hosts a bunch of paid and free applications for your device.
LG G3 Beat is not even half as good as its bigger brother when it comes to performance. The smartphone is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 chipset with a quad-core 1.2GHz CPU and Adreno 305 GPU. It is equipped with only 1GB of RAM – not a lot of memory especially if you want to run multiple heavy applications simultaneously.
There’s are already several smartphones that comes with Snapdragon 400 on board, so we know how it performs, but sometimes the real time experience varies due to various other aspects like software and bugs. So, we ran a couple of benchmarking tests to see if LG has managed to get the most out of the chipset and here are the results.
The first test was the AnTuTu benchmarking, which gauges the overall performance of the smartphone. The LG G3 Beat managed to score about 17,000 odd points, which is not a great number considering what its competition is capable of achieving.
Second up was the Linpack test that measures the multi-threaded oriented benchmarking of the G3 Beat. With about 210 points, the device found itself in the mid of the table.
We then had the Adreno 305 GPU sweating it out in the GFX benchmarking. This test basically reveals the raw performance of the GPU. Much to our surprise, LG G3 Beat came up with a merely 10.8 points, which is quite disappointing.
Last up was the browsing performance test using the Vellamo benchmarking application. Again, LG G3 Beat failed to impress and could only manage to end up at the bottom of our charts.
LG G3 Beat features an 8 megapixel rear camera with LED flash and laser auto focus. The sensor is capable of capturing images in a maximum resolution of 3,264 x 2,448 pixels.
Just like the camera user interface on the G3, the one on the G3 Beat is also a stripped down version. It houses only the most important options and the controls are on-screen. The UI is definitely a lot better than what the previous LG smartphone featured, but it is not as robust as the one on the Google branded Nexus devices.
The shooting modes are organized very well in their own section and navigating through options is not at all a concern. All you need to do to capture an image is just touch the screen and the sensor will focus on a specific element and will even shoot automatically. It’s as simple as that.
We took the LG G3 Beat’s camera for a spin and we captured some images to show it to you all.
The 8 megapixel shooter is not the best we have seen so far. The level of detail across the frames is not that great and the color accuracy, exposure and contrast are only satisfactory. We weren’t happy with the noise reduction either as the images tend to have some oil painting effect. There are a few issues with the dynamic range as well. Some of the images have underexposed shadows, while a few of them have overblown highlights in darker and lighter areas.
LG says that the laser auto focus will enhance the focus speed when compared to other devices, but we did not see any significant improvements.
You can overcome the dynamic range issue to an extent by enabling the HDR. It captures a couple of images with different exposures and combines them into a single photo, but again there is a small trade off – the level of detail.
The low light performance of LG G3 Beat’s camera is the not the greatest, but mind you we are looking a mid-range smartphone.
LG G3 Beat is capable of recording videos at 1080 pixels, but the default option is set at 720 pixels. The overall quality is quite decent, but things could have been a lot better if the color, exposure and resolved detail were a bit on the higher side.
The good news is that the G3 Beat model which on sale in India supports both TDD and FDD LTE bands. It also supports quad-band 2G/GPRS/EDGE and 3G HSDPA up to 42Mbps downlink.
The device also supports a wide range of connectivity options such as infrared, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, Wi-Fi Direct, NFC, GPS and Bluetooth 4.0 (GAP, A2DP, AVRCP, FTP, HFP, HSP, OPP, SPP, PBAP and HID). The options which are missing are the GLONASS support and FM radio.
The prominence for having a bigger capacity battery has increased off late and we can now see smartphones offering longer hours of usage. LG G3 Beat is equipped with a 2,540mAh battery.
We ran our battery test to see if the 2,540mAh battery offers enough juice to sustain for an entire day. Our 24 hour charge rating for the G3 Beat is about 6 hours and 51 minutes, which means that on moderate usage the device should be able to run an entire day without having to find a power source.
Meanwhile, if you are wondering about our test, then feel free to check out our battery test introduction to know more about it.
LG G3 Beat is already available in the market and is officially priced at INR 25,000. However, the device is up for grabs for about INR 17,000 in the market. Considering what the smartphone has got in store, the pricing is so last year.
The good thing about the device is the design and the overall build quality, which is probably the only factor that satisfies us. The display is only par for the course and is not something that will draw attention.
We are disappointed with the overall performance of the G3 Beat. LG hasn’t really managed to get the most out of Snapdragon 400, but with future software updates the company might improve the experience slightly – but considering it’s a brand new device, we shouldn’t be really looking at this aspect so early.
The 8 megapixel sensor on the back is not the best and if you are a photography enthusiast or if you capture ample number of images on your smartphone, then the G3 Beat might just not be your game.
We started the review hoping that the mini variant of the G3 can rub its shoulders against the likes of Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini and Sony Xperia Z3 Compact, but we were proved wrong. In fact, the device doesn’t even manage to compete head on against the likes of Motorola Moto G2, Xiaomi Redmi Note or Asus Zenfone 5 which are available for a cheaper price tag.