LG G2 Review: Fast, Powerful, Solid, but No Samsung Slayer

The LG G2 smartphone has a beautiful 5.2-inch display, is fast, surprisingly slim and has a great battery. But can it attract U.S. consumers away from Samsung?

A few things are immediately evident about the G2, the newest flagship device from LG Electronics.

The first is the smartphone's display, which is enormous (5.2 inches on the diagonal) and gorgeous.

It's an IPS LCD, Full HD with a resolution of 1,920 by 1,080 and 424 pixels per inch (the new Apple iPhone 5S, for context, features 326 pixels per inch). But what's striking is that despite being fractions of an inch from phablet territory, it doesn't seem particularly large.

By which I mean, if a phone with a 4.8-inch display no longer makes you feel like you're holding a waffle to your ear (as a Jefferies analyst once said about the Samsung Galaxy S III), the G2, with its nearly half-inch larger display, won't either.

That's because technology has advanced considerably, and LG has whittled down the bezel to near nothing. The Galaxy S III, with its 4.8-inch display, measured 136.6 by 70.6 by 8.6mm. The LG G2 taps up those numbers only slightly, to 138.5 to 70.9 to 8.9mm.

(On the topic of technology advancements, it should be noted that with the Galaxy S 4, Samsung crammed a 5-inch display into a chassis even thinner and narrower than the S III's.)

The other impossible-to-miss thing about the G2 is the placement of its power button and volume rockers, which LG placed on the back of the phone, just below the camera lens.

This, sadly, was a far better idea in theory than execution. While one's index finger is indeed more naturally at the very spot where these buttons are (rather that reaching for the side of the phone), the buttons aren't distinct enough for a user to be sure of what she's pressing.

Because the power button is between the up and down volume buttons, I often wound up changing the volume before managing to turn the device off. If it was actually the volume I was after, I inevitably wound up flipping over the phone to look (defeating entirely the purpose of the buttons' location), and in both cases I almost always succeeded in smudging up the camera lens.

The Good, the Bad, the Unnecessary

The size of the display and its funny button placement aside, the LG G2 is a very nice, extremely fast (there's a quad-core Snapdragon processor under the hood to thank) Android 4.2.2.–running smartphone that could just as easily have come from Samsung.