first time we heard of LG's idea to move the G2's power and volume
buttons to the rear, we thought it was ridiculous. When we actually
tried using that phone ourselves, we found the placement awkward
and frustrating. We just couldn't get used to not having a power button
near our fingertips. It seemed just like any other gimmick - great for
getting attention, but ultimately something that users would reject en
We were wrong. There has been no significant backlash, and
now LG evidently feels as though buttons on the rear are not only
acceptable but desirable. The ultra-luxe G Flex (Review | Photos) and the 2014 flagship
model G3 (Review | Photos) have had their buttons on the rear, and now the scheme is
permeating through LG's product lineup.
The new LG G3 Beat takes a
lot of its style cues from the G3, but other than that, there's little
reason for the two to share a family name. We absolutely loved the G3
when we had it in for review - it looks great, feels great, and
generally performs better than its competition. The only really bad
thing we had to say about it was that its buttons were on the rear,
making it difficult to actually use.
Maybe users put up with the buttons because these phones' benefits outweighed
the button placement issue. So how will things work on a device that
doesn't have any major features to fall back on?
Look and feel
G3 wowed us with its extraordinarily comfortable shape, premium
construction quality and top-end specifications. The G3 Beat attempts to
mimic it and actually looks quite nice, but suffers when compared to
the device it borrows its name from. Both models has the same general
shape, with a curved back and narrow sides. However the G3 Beat made of
plastic and the feel is definitely nowhere near as impressive as that of
its metal-bodied sibling.
The rear panel has a brushed metal
appearance and the little chin below the screen has the same concentric
ring texture. There are no buttons on the front, and very little space
around the screen. The camera on the rear is clustered with its flash
and laser autofocus emitter along with the infamous buttons. The 3.5mm
headset jack and Micro-USB port are on the bottom, the Infrared LED is
the only thing on the top, and the two sides are completely blank. The
Micro-SIM and microSD card slots are stacked together beneath the
removable panel, and the battery is quite easily accessible as well.
G3 Beat is quite an attractive device when judged on its own merit, and
not as a stripped-down version of the highly praised G3. We liked how
it fit the curve of our palms, and its reduced size makes it much easier
to work with than most of today's overgrown high-end phones.
Specifications and software
phone really has little in common with the LG G3, other than some of
the physical styling and the laser autofocus system. It can be
considered a "mini" edition of LG's current flagship - the current trend
in the Android world is for such devices to not only have smaller
footprints, but also much lower specs.
The G3 Beat is based on a
modest 1.2GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor with
integrated Adreno 305 graphics. The screen, which was one of the G3's
most striking features, has been cut down to 5 inches and 720x1280
pixels. The specific model sold in India should support LTE on the
2300MHz band used here. There is 1GB of RAM and 8GB of internal storage.
There's Wi-Fi b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, though Infrared and NFC are nice,
uncommon touches. In short, this is a fairly ordinary mid-range phone
with a few little bonuses thrown in - we wouldn't have even bothered
comparing it to the original G3 if LG hadn't chosen to name and style it
after its current flagship.
Android 4.4.2 is barely recognisable
under LG's extensive UI customisations. The interface is pretty much the
same as what we saw on the G3, with a flat, stylised look and a mixture
of inconsistent icons. There's a battery saver mode, a quiet mode,
Qslide (which lets you perform certain tasks in small floating windows)
and Quick Memo+ (which grabs a screenshot and lets you scribble or type
notes over it).
There are a few options to help with one-handed
usage, which we didn't feel were necessary thanks to our own large hands
and the thin screen borders. You can also dismiss calls and snooze
alarms by flipping the phone over. A Guest Mode lets you hand your phone
to other people, ensuring that they only see preselected apps and none
of your private data.
LG includes ThinkFree Viewer for common file
formats, and Opera Mini in addition to the stock browser. QuickRemote
lets you use the IR LED to control your electronics and can be
programmed to work with devices from most major brands although it isn't
as easy to set up DTH set-top boxes. An app called RemoteCall service
connects you to LG's service centre to help troubleshoot problems
directly on the device.
You can double-tap the screen when it's
off to wake it, which helps overcome the inconvenient button placement
to some extent. However putting the phone back to sleep is another
matter - double-tapping only works from the home screen, if you can find
a blank spot to tap on.
The LG G3 Beat was
pretty easy to use and felt snappy enough for us at most tasks. The
custom interface takes a little bit of getting used to, but everything's
where you would expect it to be.
The screen is good enough, and
the graphic style of LG's UI helps a lot in making things look sharp and
modern. Viewing angles seemed okay, but reflections were a problem.
Amazingly, there is no ambient light sensor, so you'll have to adjust
screen brightness manually. This is a very strange omission - only the
lowest end phones drop this for cost-saving reasons and we were
frequently annoyed by this, especially at night and when trying to take
photos outdoors. There is an option to reduce brightness between
midnight and 6:00am which is somewhat useful but too inflexible for our
We recorded benchmark results that were mostly in line
with other devices with the same specifications, such as the Motorola
Moto G (Gen 2) (Review | Photos). Graphics scores were pretty much identical between the
two: 10.9 vs 10.8fps in GFXBench respectively, and 5637 vs 5657 points
in 3DMark's Ice Storm test. More generic testing favoured the new Moto G
by very small margins: its AnTuTu and Quadrant scores of 18,470 and
8,932 respectively were just a little bit higher than the G3 Beat's
scores of 17,434 and 8,709.
Our highest quality video samples
played without a hitch, but audio quality was quite sub-par with details
getting quite lost and the overall sound coming out scratchy and harsh.
results were mixed. We didn't really like LG's app, which is
unnecessarily complicated only because it tries to be simple and hide
all controls away, but that's less important than actual image quality.
We liked the subtle details that were evident in close-up photos taken
in daylight, but the camera managed to botch a clear blue sky, which
came out looking grainy and artificial. Low-light performance was okay.
Videos are recorded at 720p by default but this can be raised to 1080p.
Video quality was also quite good. We did notice that focusing was quick
and very accurate, but it's hard to quantify the advantages specific to
the laser autofocus system.
We managed to eke out 7 hours, 18
minutes of battery life which is pretty good. We'd be confident of
getting a full day's work done on the LG G3 Beat, with a bit of gaming
and plenty of 3G or LTE data usage. Call quality was good enough.
quite a bit to like about the LG G3 Beat, except for its price, which
is officially Rs. 25,000 but is hovering at around Rs. 18,500 in retail
at the time of this review. Considering the relatively inconsequential
addition of a laser autofocus system and IR emitter, the fact that it
costs up to twice as much as the equally good Motorola Moto G (Gen 2) is
a little startling. If you aren't living in an LTE market or have no
need for greater-than-3G speeds, it makes even less sense. We weren't
huge fans of the Moto G's looks and the G3 Beat is definitely
improvement, aesthetically as well as in terms of size and comfort, but
this isn't worth the enormous price difference.
We're also still
annoyed with the button placement. Some people might become used to it,
but we still haven't managed to and we suspect that people will
underestimate how much of a difference it makes to not have the power
button where it's needed.
Otherwise, this is a really nice phone
and we would have had little problem recommending it to those who are
looking to make a style statement. If you can find it at a significant
discount, you won't be disappointed.
LG G3 Beat in pictures