LG G3 S hands-on review

LG G3 S hands-on review

The LG G3 S is a slightly smaller and cheaper version of the LG G3, with a very similar exterior design but significantly lower specs, ideal for those after a premium look and feel at a lower price tag. We spent some time with the LG G3 S – also known as the LG G3 Beat in some markets – during IFA 2014 in Berlin, so here's our LG G3 S hands-on review. See also: Best smartphones 2014

LG G3 S hands-on review: Price & availability

The LG G3 S doesn't have an official price from LG yet, but thanks to its appearance on Mobile Fun for pre-order, we know to expect a price tag around the £300 mark, matching the price of the Google Nexus 5.

That's significantly less than the £479 of the LG G3, though you'll find the flagship phone for closer to £400 now if you shop around. With the LG G3 S, which is essentially an LG G3 mini, £100 less cash will get you a device that looks very similar to the LG G3, but that makes some big trade-offs in order to accommodate that lower price.

Read next: LG G Watch R hands-on review

LG G3 S hands-on review: Design

LG G3 S hands-on review

As mentioned above, the LG G3 S looks very similar to the LG G3, and to the untrained eye it's likely to be mistaken for the flagship smartphone. It has a slightly smaller screen and therefore a smaller overall size, but has the same thin bezels around the edge, the same physical button beneath the camera on the rear of the device, and a shiny, metallic chassis.

It's a little thicker than the LG G3, at 10.3mm vs 8.9mm, but still weighs less than its pricier sibling. Overall, we found it comfortable to use with a slightly curved edge, and were impressed by how premium the device looks despite its lower price tag.

LG G3 S hands-on review

LG G3 S hands-on review: Hardware

Taking a closer look at the screen on the LG G3 S, you'll find that the stunning 5.5in Quad HD display of the LG G3 has been replaced by a 5in HD display with a resolution of 1280 x 720, making a pixel density of just 294ppi compared with the whopping 534ppi of the LG G3.

That's not to say that the LG G3 S's screen is particularly bad. We found that it was crisp and clear, and that colours were bright, but after being blown away by the LG G3's Quad HD display it's difficult to be impressed with any other smartphone display in comparison.

Inside the LG G3 S is a 1.2GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor, which can also be found in many of its rival mid-range and budget smartphones including the Motorola Moto G, HTC Desire 610 and Sony Xperia M2. That's paired with an unsurprising 1GB RAM, lower than the 2GB and 3GB options for the LG G3.

We found it to be smooth, snappy and responsive during our brief tests at IFA 2014, but we'll bring you full benchmark scores when we get the device back to our labs to find out how it compares with rivals and its flagship counterpart.

The LG G3 S has just 8GB of internal storage, but there is a microSD slot to offer the ability to add an extra 64GB.

Connectivity includes 4G and WiFi, though LG hasn't given the G3 S the faster WiFi 11ac, Bluetooth 4.0 and NFC. It misses out on the IR blaster and wireless charging boasted by the LG G3, though.

LG G3 S hands-on review: Camera

LG G3 S hands-on review

When it comes to the camera, the LG G3 S has an 8Mp rear camera and a 1.3Mp camera on the front. That's by no means bad, but is considerably less impressive than the 13Mp and 2Mp cameras on the LG G3.

We thought that the photos we managed to capture with the LG G3 S were satisfactory, and were pleased to find that LG has given the G3 S the laser auto focus feature found in the G3, and the same Gesture Shot and Touch and Shoot software features. Video is limited to Full HD compared with 4K, but we wouldn't expect 4K from a mid-range device yet.

LG G3 S hands-on review: Software

You'll get pretty much the same software on the LG G3 S as you would on the LG G3. It runs Android 4.4 KitKat overlaid with LG's flat and modern interface, and includes the KnockON feature and apps including QMemo+. Unlike the LG G3, though, the LG G3 S doesn't have the step counting feature.

OUR VERDICT

The LG G3 S is a very good-looking phone with specs and features that'll suit most users, but at £299 it doesn't weigh up too well with the similarly priced Nexus 5, which is actually also made by LG, which has a better processor, better display and similar cameras.

If you love the design of the LG G3 but would like to spend a little less cash, the LG G3 S is definitely worth investigating, but we think you can get more for your money elsewhere.

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