LG G3 full review

LG G3 vs HTC One M8

For a more detailed review of these two great smartphones, read our full HTC One M8 review and LG G3 review articles. And for a wider view you could read Best Android phone 2014: OnePlus One vs Samsung Galaxy S5 vs HTC One M8 vs Sony Xperia Z2 vs LG G3. Here we will compare the LG G3 and the HTC One M8.

LG G3 vs HTC One M8 comparison review: Price and UK availability

The LG G3 was only recently unveiled and is unlikely to go on sale before the end of June. LG hasn't yet confirmed UK pricing, but Clove lists the G3 at £499. Expect this to drop after the initial launch. (We have more, here: LG G3 release date, price, specs and price UK.)

The HTC One M8 is widely available SIM free and on contract. At launch the M8 cost a classic £550 on a SIM-free basis – that matches key rivals like the Samsung Galaxy S5 and iPhone 5s. Since the device has been around for a few months now, you can find it for less. Amazon has the HTC One M8 for £519 in the glacial silver colour but you can get it for just £459 from Simply Electronics (For more see: Best mobile phone deals: HTC One M8 best deals UK.)

In the immediate future the HTC One M8 is both cheaper and more readily available than is the LG G3. But expect that to change quickly, and for both to cost around the same and be available pretty much everywhere. See also: 27 best smartphones: The best phone you can buy in 2014. 

LG G3 vs HTC One M8 comparison review: Design and build

LG has applied a metal-effect skin to the LG G3's rear for a touch of class, but it is not actually metal so the LG G3 is not as nice in design as the metal-clad HTC One M8. It is sufficiently stylish for a high-end smartphone. The rear cover of the LG G3 is removable, allowing you to access the also removable battery and microSDXC slot.

The LG G3 is just 8.9mm - pretty thin by any measurement, especially considering the extra tech that is squeezed in. At 75 x 146mm in size, the G3 is a large phone due to its bigger screen size compared to its predecessor and other flagship devices. The 146.4 x 70.6mm HTC One M8 is slightly smaller, but at 9.4mm a bit thicker. The LG G3 is a similar size to the Sony Xperia Z2 which has a smaller screen so while this is more impressive work from LG including tiny bezels, it will be a drawback for a lot of users. We find the Z2 somewhat unwieldy and the G3 is in that same category even though LG says the 'floating ark' shape makes it easy to use the phone one-handed.

It's no surprise that the LG G3 has gained some weight considering its overall size but not much at all, 149g up from 143g. More impressive design work from LG.

New HTC One M8

We're hardly going to complain about the design and build quality of the HTC One M8, however. It has a uni-body aluminium design in which the metal wraps around to the front rather than having a plastic strip around the edge. It has a brushed look and has been treated to gain its glossy finish, being constructed of around 90 percent metalIt is a few grams heavier than the LG G3 at 160g compared to 149g, but it has a reassuringly heavy feel to it.

It feels like a premium smartphone: ergonomic, but also sturdy. The M8 is available in three different colours. The most popular is likely to be 'Metal Grey' but there's also 'Artic Silver' and 'Amber Gold'.

Neither the LG G3 come with any dust- or waterproof credentials. This may or may not be an important feature to you. We like the way both of these handsets are designed and built. Given the choice we'd opt for the more metal HTC One M8, but that is a subjective view. (See also: LG G2 vs LG G3 comparison review.)

LG G3 vs HTC One M8 comparison review: Display

The screen is a key difference between this pair, and LG really knows what it's doing in this department. It's managed to squeeze a 5.5in screen into a chassis barely larger than the HTC One M8. Not only is the LG G3's screen larger than that of the HTC One M8, at 5.5in versus 5in the resolution is also Quad- rather than full-HD. Indeed, the LG G3 has a staggeringly high pixel density of 534ppi against the HTC One M8's 441ppi. And it looks stunning. The LG G3's really is a brilliant, brilliant screen.

The HTC One's display is crisp, vibrant and looks great. The new panel has an improved contrast ratio and viewing angles. One thing we particularly like about the M8's screen is its silky gloss finish which, more than other phones, means your finger glides brilliantly across its surface. It's just another detail which makes this phone feel so premium.

Overall, however, the LG G3's display is measurably and appreciatively better than is the HTC One M8's. It has to be - it's the best smartphone display there is. (See more at LG G3 vs Samsung Galaxy S5 comparison review.)


LG G3 vs HTC One M8 comparison review: Hardware and performance

The HTC One M8 has been given the Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor. The 801 quad-core chip has a clock speed of 2.3GHz, and there is 2GB RAM.

We've spent quite a while with the HTC One M8 and performance was excellent. Adding a user interface on to Android can cause problems, but we couldn't spot any with Sense 6.0.

LG has alo gone for a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor which means the G3 matches rivals on this front, although this time it is clocked at 2.5GHz. Living up to its name, the G3 has 3GB of RAM but only if you buy the 32GB, the 16GB model has 2GB. (The software is designed for 2GB to the extra on the 32GB device gives headroom.)

It's unsurprising that performance is smooth and nippy. Both handsets come in 16GB and 32GB flavours, and employ support for microSDXC, allowing you to add an extra 128GB of storage. We haven't been able to run the LG G3 through our usual benchmarks just yet - and in any case remain wary of the fact some manufacturers employ benchmark-boosting software - but its performance should be more or less in line with that of the HTC One M8. Expect high quality, fast performance. (More about the HTC One M8: New HTC One M8 vs HTC One M7 2014 smartphone comparison review.)

LG G3 vs HTC One M8 comparison review: Battery life

The HTC One M8 has a 2600mAh battery cell, which is a good start. AThe battery isn't removable, which is disappointing but not too surprising. In terms of real-world battery life, the One M8 lasted for roughly 24 hours. That's with average use: some phone calls, text messages, web browsing, gaming and watching YouTube videos. It's also with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth left turned on, and regular synching with a Bluetooth activity tracker. Expect to charge the One M8 each night unless you're very frugal.

The HTC One M8 has an 'Extreme Power Saving mode' which the firm says will ensure the handset lasts up to 30 hours from 10 percent charge. You're limited to phone calls, texts, emails and the calendar and calculator apps. We tried enabling it with 9 percent battery remaining and there was still charge a full 24 hours later, albeit with very minimal use. As an emergency mode, it's great.

Although the LG G3 has a larger-capacity 3,000mAh battery, it also has a larger, higher-resolution screen that you can expect to quickly drain the battery. However, LG claims it has tackled this issue on three fronts: through adaptive framerates, adaptive clocking and adaptive timing control. We won't know until we've spent some more time with the G3 whether LG has been able to sidestep the screen issue in this manner, but we are pleased to find the LG G3 supports wireless charging, and that its battery is removable - if you wanted, you could carry a spare.

Bearing in mind the LG G3's bigger screen and bigger battery we expect broadly similar battery performance from both handsets. In which case we give the nod to the LG G3 because its battery can be removed.

LG G3 vs HTC One M8 comparison review: Cameras

The resolution of the G3 remains at 13Mp compared to the G2 but there are a number of improvements which have been added. For starters there's a dual-LED flash which should come in handy in low light situations.

More impressive is the inclusion of recording video in 4K resolution. That's not a new feature for smartphones but the LG G3's laser auto focus certainly is. The G3 includes optical image stabilisation technology to keep shots shake-free and something called 'touch and shoot' removes unnecessary buttons so you can concentrate on getting the right shot.

At the front is a 2Mp camera which can shoot video in Full HD which LG calls a 'selfie camera', not a front facing camera. However, LG has added the ability to take selfies with a hand movement. The pixels are bigger than the rear camera, the angle has been optimised for selfies and the screen can be used as a sort of flash in dark conditions.

Turning to the HTC One M8 and with Sense 6.0 the camera app has had a redesign and we like the stylish and minimalist approach. It's easy to use but there are plenty of settings to play with if you're feeling adventurous. They're easy to find if you're looking for them. HTC splits the camera app into different modes with the front camera even labelled as 'selfie'. The back of the HTC One M8 is home to two camera lenses. HTC calls this the Duo Camera and it's one of the main new features of the smartphone. You might think they are for taking 3D photos, like the old LG Optimus 3D but that's not the case.

The first camera, the one closer to the middle of the phone, is the Ultrapixel camera found on the M7 – with some improvements. According to HTC, the ImageChip 2 means the camera can shoot faster and capture sharper images.

The second camera is an interesting addition and is there to capture depth information. This 'metadata' is attached to the photo taken with the main camera and can be used later on. Similar to the Lytro camera, the HTC One M8 Duo Camera allows users to refocus a photo after it's been taken. We've had a play with this and it works pretty well, although it's quite difficult not to cover the second lens with you finger. Luckily a message pops up on the screen to say you're blocking it. We've been playing around with the Duo Camera and here's what it looks like.

Refocusing is only available for still photos, not videos. The M8 can record video in Full HD, not 4K. HTC's Zoe (now an separate app for automatically editing video) has had an update with more of a social aspect and will be made available for non-HTC phones later this year. Video quality is unimpressive. There's no stabilisation and footage wasn't as sharp or detailed as we'd have liked.

The HTC One M8 has a dual-LED flash. It works reasonably well, but images are still obviously taken using a flash and - in most cases - you won't need it as the Ultrapixel camera does a grand job when there isn't much light around. A cool feature which we've not seen elsewhere is the ability to not only manually adjust settings, such as ISO, but then save them as presets to use later. This means you can come up with your own modes for different situations.

The front camera is a 5Mp f/2.2 shooter with a wide-angle lens so it should be easier to fit several people into your selfie.

Without testing the LG G3's camera to the extent that we have that of the HTC One M8's, it is fair to say that the HTC One M8 has one of our favourite smartphone cameras. The jury is out, but pending further testing we would lean toward the HTC.

LG G3 vs HTC One M8 comparison review: Connectivity

Whether you choose the LG or HTC, your phone will come with the latest in connectivity tech. That means 4G LTE (LTE Advanced with the G3), Bluetooth 4.0, GPS, NFC and dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi. (See also LG G2 review to see what the last generation was like.)

LG G3 vs HTC One M8 comparison review: Software

HTC and LG are known for cramming in a lot of software into their smartphones, and not much has changed in this regard with these two Android 4.4 KitKat smartphones.

LG has cleaned up its interface somewhat, colour-coding apps and removing unneccessary visual elements. It also includes such features as KnockCode, with which you can create a custom knocking pattern to wake and unlock the screen, and Smart Notice, which is very much like Google Now, suggesting you switch on Wi-Fi when you get to the office or call back someone from whom you have a missed call, for example. There's also a new smart keyboard with which you can adjust the size and use gestures to type more quickly and with fewer errors.

The M8 comes with HTC's Sense user interface. The HTC One M8 doesn't have touch sensitive buttons below the screen like its predecessor. Instead, its navigation buttons are on-screen like many other Android smartphones. The M8 gets KitKat's fullscreen 'immersive mode'. Certain apps, including the web browser, are able to use the full 5in display, although we had to delve into the browser's setting to switch the feature on. Running in immersive mode means the on-screen buttons disappear until you tap or swipe to bring them back.

HTC seems to have taken some inspiration from LG's KockON feature because the M8's display can be switched on and off with a double tap. However, the firm has taken things a step further with Motion Launch Gestures: extra tasks you can do despite the screen being off. Swiping left opens the widget panel and a swipe right will take you straight to BlinkFeed. You can also unlock the phone with a swipe upwards. Plus, you can launch the camera app by holding the phone in landscape orientation and pressing a volume button.

We like these gestures and they're just the kind of handy additional features which make life easier. BlinkFeed is a love-it-or-hate-it feature but, either way, HTC has made some updates to the news feed feature. You can now search with keywords and the experience is better thanks to more publications and a better 'flow' as the firm puts it. Bundles are a new feature which will provide, well, bundles of news on the same subject.

There are other minor tweaks, but customisation has been improved with the ability to select different theme. In a similar way to other phones which use themes, a wallpaper is tied in with a particular colour which is then used throughout the software such as the settings menu. We haven't tried this out yet but you can also choose a different system font to create a very different look and feel.

All you need to know is that the LG G3 and HTC One M8 have great, recent versions of Android. Which of the different versions you prefer is a subjective and personal issue. See also: 27 best smartphones: The best phone you can buy in 2014.

LG G3 vs HTC One M8 comparison review: verdict

It's difficult to be entirely prescriptive without fully testing the LG G3, but this much we can say: both the HTC One M8 and the LG G3 are great handsets, and they will cost around the same. They are fast and well built, they run full (recent) versions of Android, and offer great storage expansion. On the one hand the LG G3 definitely has the better display, but we feel that the HTC One M8 is likely to have the better camera, and is arguably better looking. Ultimately your decision will be personal. For me I'd opt for the HTC One M8 simply because it looks and feels so great, and I care more about build than display quality. Your decision may differ!


LG G3: Specs

  • Android 4.4.2 KitKat OS
  • 5.52in IPS LCD display (1440x2560), 534 ppi
  • 2.5GHz Quad-Core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 CPU
  • Adreno 330 GPU
  • 2/3GB RAM (storage dependant)
  • 16/32GB internal storage
  • 13Mp rear camera laser AF with dual-tone LED Flash
  • 2Mp front camera
  • Video recording at up to 4K
  • 24bit/192kHz audio
  • Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac
  • Bluetooth 4.0 LE
  • NFC
  • Infrared
  • A-GPS
  • HSDPA, 42 Mbps
  • HSUPA, 21 Mbps
  • 4G LTE (Cat 4)
  • Micro-SIM
  • 11.1Wh (3000mAh) battery
  • 75x146x8.9mm
  • 149g