LG G2 vs Samsung Galaxy S4 vs HTC One vs Motorola Moto X

LG G2 smartphone rear on a dark background

On August 7th 2013, LG announced its new Android flagship smartphone, the LG G2. The G2 is a feature-rich handsets that comes with innovative technologies and some very interesting features that I’m sure many people will find useful. In this article I will compare the G2 versus the Samsung Galaxy S4, HTC One and Motorola Moto X— all are highly capable high-end devices from leading smartphone companies.

This comparison will emphasize on the unique features of the LG G2 and how the G2 stands out against those other three devices. We’ll talk about the important differences that you need to know in order to make a better buying decision. I will first start with an introduction to the LG G2 and then we’ll continue to the comparison section where you’ll get to understand the cons and pros of the G2 compared to the HTC One and, Galaxy S4 and Motorola Moto X.

LG G2

LG has taken this new device very seriously. This is a powerful Android 4.2.2 devices that come with a 5.2-inch display and offers innovative features that differentiate itself from the competition. In order to sell well, the G2 needs to bring both innovative and useful features to convince consumers to buy it over the other high-end devices that currently available on the market, especially against the Galaxy S4 and the HTC One, which are the two most popular flagship handsets on the market.

Gorgeous Design, High-Tech Display

LG G2 smartphone

LG G2 smartphone, beautiful outside as well as inside

The first most obvious thing that you notice about the G2 is how good this device looks.  The G2 is made of plastic and has a glossy finish to it. The build quality somewhat resembles that of the S4 and therefore won’t impress those whom already have the chance to appreciate the HTC One premium aluminum/magnesium metal build.

The G2 features a 5.2-inch Full HD IPS display win 16:9 aspect ratio and ~423 ppi pixel density.  LG went with relatively very large display, but was still able to keep the devices relatively small. The display uses Dual routing, which are two connectors at the top and bottom of the display. This allows LG to use an ultra thin bezel which 0.1 inches (2.65 mm) thick. The use of a thinner bezel allowed LG to make a phone that is relatively small, as the screen takes most of the front-size space asset.
For comparison, the Samsung Galaxy S4 is 69.8 mm wide and HTC One is 68.2 mm. The G2 is only 70.9 mm wide, so although it has a larger display than the S4, it’s only 1.1 mm wide. An impressive achievement, and you can certainly appreciate it when you compare it to the HTC One which has a wider bezel in comparison.

With the G2, LG also incorporated a hardware component called Graphic RAM or GRAM for short.  The GRAM is the lowest layer  within the display construction layers with a single purpose to cache the screen data when the image is static. So for example, when viewing a web page for a few seconds, with a non-GRAM supported display, the device would refresh the image 60 times per second (aka 60 kHz), using the GPU for that task, and therefore consuming more battery power. By caching the display image in RAM, the graphic RAM can help reduce 10% of the battery consumption and therefore prolong the battery life, so you can use the device for a longer period of time.

LG G2 rear buttons

LG G2 rear buttons – the only physical buttons on the device

The LG G2 display provides very detailed images with rich natural colors, sharp text and bright whites that also give very good outdoor visibility as well (as LCD displays are known for).  This GRAM technology is very useful for LCD devices, because unlike AMOLED displays which can turn off each pixel, the LCD backlight is active when rendering a black pixel. This allows LG to somewhat encounter the LCD power consumption disadvantage compare to AMOLED, at least in some degree.

One of the most innovative features lies at the back of the phone.  The LG power and volume buttons are at the rear of the device. In fact, these are the only physical buttons that the device has. You won’t find any physical buttons on the sides, top or front side of the phone.

LG has found that most people hold their phone with their index finger on the top-middle position at the rear side of the device. So if that finger is already there, why not do something useful with its there. This original thinking leads LG to put the button at that exact position as you can see from the image on the right. With great engineering “Step Design” for the battery, LG was able to make more room for the camera and the buttons electronic circuits so it won’t protrude as much, carrying a relatively very low profile. This “Stepped” design helped maximize the battery power capacity as well as make more space for other electronic circuits — instead of making the phone thicker for that purpose.

LG G2 side view

LG G2 side view

The G2 is 8.9 mm (0.35 inch) thick. Not the slimmest on the market, but still very slim — impressive if you also consider the fact that the lens feature an optical image stabilization (sensor-shift) mechanism as well.

Before we continue, here’s the LG G2 launch show event taken place at New York (actual event starts at 1:20:45).

High-Res Image Stabilized Camera

Talking about the camera — the LG G2 feature a 13 MP camera with Optical Image Stabilization (OIS) and 9-points AF. This is the first time we’ve seen an optical image stabilized camera with that high amount of image resolution. OIS mostly available in 8MP and 4MP cameras. This OIS allows much better low light performance, as the camera can optically steady the image when you shoot static subjects at slow shutter speeds. The OIS compensates for hand movements and therefore reducing the occurrence of blurry images when shooting handheld.

It’s worth mentioning that optical image stabilization won’t help you stop fast-moving subjects — for that you’ll need to use faster shutter speeds.  The OIS main advantage is when shooting in low-light and when the camera needs to prolong the shutter speed to allow more light to reach the sensor to gain optimal exposure.

LG did nothing out of the ordinary with the camera, and many people were probably expecting the G2 camera to be more innovative. I think that phone manufacturers should emphasize on technologies that help improve image quality, like using bigger sensors, or use pixel oversampling technologies like Nokia did with its 808 PureView and the Lumia 1020.  This certainly leaves something to be desired. The G2 also features a 2.1MP front-facing camera — both can capture Full HD videos. BTW, LG has demonstrated the effectiveness of the OIS in the launch even show, and no doubt that the OIS works incredibly well to stabilize the image.

The rear-facing lens is covered with a Sapphire Crystal glass to protect the lens front element against scratches. The same highly scratch-resistant glass used on the iPhone 5 rear-facing camera.  So how durable the Sapphire glass you ask? — Well, I have a Tag Heuer watch that has been with me for over 15 years and it has gone through hell without a single scratch on the glass surface, so that’s how good this Sapphire glass is against scratches. I just wished they would use it for the front display, but it’s way too expensive and probably won’t work well with touch-sensitive panels (I assume).

Audio: Pure Hi-Fi Sound

LG also want to win against the HTC One in its own game.  The LG G2 is the World-First Hi-Fi smart phone on the market according to LG. Compare to a CD that has 16bit 44.1kHz 1,311 kbps, the G2 can record sound in 24bit 192kHz 9,216 kbps. According to what I’ve heard on LG G2 live launch event video stream, the Human ear is possible of hearing more than the CD sound offers. This allows much richer audio sound with stands with the audio standard as in a professional recording studio.

With the G2 you get exceptional audio quality for both recording and listening with minimum distortions. Addition to that, the LG G2 features two built-in mic with advanced noise cancellation. For some reason the SoundCloud embed code doesn’t work but you can listen to the Life’s Good ringtone recording from the LG G2 on soundcloud.com here.

The G2 phone also comes with a feature called “Audio Zoom”.  Using this feature you can zoom in on a subject that you want to emphasize his specific voice while shooting video. The G2 uses three stereo built-in microphones which can amplify sound from a specific angle and reduce the sound of surrounding noise. You will hear the difference in playback. What an amazing feature that certainly enhances audio quality. Now combine that with the Hi fidelity sound and you get superb audio to go along with your great video.

Superb Performance

The great thing about the LG G2 is that all its great feature doesn’t come at the expense of its computing processing power. The G2 employs a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 MSM8974 2.26GHz Krait 400 Quad-core processor with 2GB of LP-DDR3 800MHz RAM, Adreno 330 GPU and 32 built-in storage (24GB user available). The LG G2 is the first commercially available phone that utilizes the Snapdragon 800 chip.

This is a super fast processor that was built around the 28nm HPm process technology with integrated 802.11ac, support for LTE Advanced, USB 3.0 (only USB 2.0 is supported by the phone) and Bluetooth 4.0.  It features IZat GNSS with support for three GPS constellations. The Snapdragon 800 is very energy efficient and feature a dynamic CPU power control for an efficient power management.

The LG G2 shows superb benchmark performance. According to an AnTuTu benchmark done by Android Authority, the G2 reaches 29,909 points!

Other interesting features include:

  • Knock On— wake up your phone by using a knocking gesture, just knock on your phone screen twice to turn the display on
  • Plug & Pop — G2 automatically display apps that are designed to work with the USB or the earphone jack when you attack a cable to those ports, allowing you to quickly launch an app
  • Text Link — Make it easy to save events to your calendar. The G2 recognizes dates and time strings within messages, when click, it can launch your calendar so register an event for that specific date/time
  • Dual recording / Dual Camera — same as the Galaxy S4 dual camera feature, allowing you to simultaneously record both yourself and your subject at the same time for both stills and videos
  • Tracking Zoom — easy to track moving subjects
  • Zoom to Track — make it easier to zoom on a subject during video playback
  • Capture Plus & Clip Tray — easy to take a screenshot of an entire webpage, and with Clip tray allowing you to store pictures, text or links for future reference
  • Guest Mode — a security based software which allows you to control access to certain apps and capabilities for a specific lock-screen pattern
  • 3,000 mAh SiO+ long lasting battery

As you can see, the LG G2 is an exceptional device, boasting some very innovative features that should help you make the best out of your mobile phone.

Can LG Make it with the G2?

The question that still remains is whether LG has done enough to convince people to move from Samsung or HTC camp to its camp.  Worth mentioning that LG holds 5.1% market share for 2013Q2 according to WSJ. Its Q2 revenue fell 8% from last year (2012) but its smartphone unit shipment almost double from the previous year from 5.8M units to 12.1M units.

Top Five Smartphone Vendors Market Share (2013 Q2 via WSJ)

Top Five Smartphone Vendors Market Share (2013 Q2 via WSJ)

The new LG G2 should help LG get back on the track and be more competitive. Some people suggested that LG didn’t come up with anything revolutionary with its new flagship smartphone.  Just for comparison, both Samsung and Apple together hold 43.5 percent market share alone.  It seems that LG is going on the right direction, and hopefully the company will be able to gain more momentum with its new device and capture more market share in the fourth quarter of 2013.

When looking at the market share by operating system (in this case Android) in the US for Q2 2013 for UB Mobile Subscribers, we can see that HTC Apple captures 40%, followed by Samson with 24%, HTC 3rd with 9%, Motorola with 9% and LG with 7% (source). So things are going pretty well for LG, but I’m sure that LG doesn’t want to walk on that fine line because it means that a single mistake can be disastrous for the company. The company needs to work very hard on technology innovation, harder than the top companies if it wants to climb up the market share positioning.

Now that you have become familiar with the G2 key features, it’s time to move on to our comparison, where we’ll compare the G2 versus HTC One, GALAXY S4 and Motorola Moto X.

LG G2 vs Galaxy S4 vs HTC One vs Moto X

As I mentioned earlier, the LG G2 will be measured by many in how it compared against the other flagship Smartphones on the market, especially against the Samsung Galaxy S4 and the HTC One, both in terms of features and performance. By basing on the early benchmark scores, the LG G2 is probably among the most powerful, if not, THE most powerful Android device on the market.

Having said that, we need to look at the phone as a whole and inspect its feature up close before we are rushing to the store or ordering it online. You need to understand the key features and cons and pros of all the devices to fully understand which device will be the perfect one for you. It’s easy to be carried away every time a company releases a new device.

In the next specs side by side comparison table I will compare the specs of the LG G2 versus the HTC One, Samsung Galaxy S4 and Motorola Moto X ones. Go over the specs table carefully, and see if there are some features that you find useful for your specific needs. You might find out that you can really benefit from one of those features and you might base your buying decision on a specific feature alone.

 
LG G2
Galaxy S4
HTC One
Moto X
AnnouncedAugust 7, 2013March 13, 2013February 19, 2013August 1, 2013
US Carrier AvailabilityVerizon, AT&T, Sprint, T-MobileVerizon, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, MetroPCS, U.S. Cellular, CricketAT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, VerizonVerizon, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular
PlatformAndroid 4.2.2Android 4.2.2Android 4.2.2 (4.1.2)Android 4.2.2
Dimensions5.45 x 2.79 x 0.35 inches (138.5 x 70.9 x 8.9 mm)5.38 x 2.75 x 0.31 inches (136.6 x 69.8 x 7.9 mm)5.41 x 2.69 x 0.37 inches (137.4 x 68.2 x 9.3 mm)5.09 x 2.57 x 0.41 inches (129.3 x 65.3 x 10.4 mm)
Body MaterialPolycarbonatePolycarbonateAlluminum unibodyPlycarbonate unibody
(wood back available too)
Weight5.04 oz (143 g)4.59 oz (130 g5.04 oz (143 g)4.59 oz (130 g)
The LG2 is the tallest and widest device among the four but only slightly larger than the S4 and HTC One. The Moto X is the smallest among the three.

The HTC wins hands-down when it comes to build quality with its all-metal unibody device.

The LG2 has the slimmest bezel which is only 0.1 inch (2.65 mm) wide (see image below).

The LG G2 looks very similar to the S4 when viewed from the front with slightly less rounded edges.

The main advantages of the Moto X comes with its customizability options, with the ability to choose from 16 different color and even more with different colors for the accents. You can even order the Moto X with a wooden back. You can find more in-depth information with images and videos in my Moto X comparison here.

The GALAXY S4 has the slimmest profile, only 7.9 mm (0.31 in.) thick, the Moto X is the thickest one, but this is only if you measure it from its thickest part of its curved back, the slimmest part of the curve is only 5.6 mm thick. I think that in terms of ergonomics, the Moto X one will probably be the most comfortable one, due to its curved back. But I didn't try it myself though.
LG G2 bezel frame size diagram

LG G2 bezel / frame size compare to HTC One, Motorola Moto X and Samsung Galaxy S4

Display5.2 inch
1080 x 1920 pixels

IPS LCD
423 ppi pixel density

Gorilla Glass 3
5.0 inch
1080 x 1920 pixels

Super AMOLED
441 ppi pixel density

Gorilla Glass 3
4.7 inch
1080 x 1920 pixels

S-LCD 3
468 ppi pixel density

Gorilla Glass 2
4.7 inch
720 x 1280 pixels

AMOLED
316 ppi pixel density

'Magic Glass', a variation of the Gorilla Glass that wraps around the sides of the phone
LG G2 screen size comparison diagram
The LG G2 has the largest screen among the four devices. The Moto X and Samsung Galaxy S4 both have a smaller display. I think that both Motorola and HTC wanted to create a device that will be adopted by a larger audience, as most people prefer a smaller phone than a larger one.

The thing is that Motorola did make the Moto X indeed much smaller, but the HTC One almost the same size as the LG G2, mere 1mm difference. The reason for that relatively large size is most probably the use of high quality speakers and built-in amplifiers for the BoomSound feature.

No doubt that LG did an amazing job using advanced technology to be able to make its 5.2-inch phablet relatively small and slim. This is probably one of the most impressive things that immediately catches your eyes when you look at the phone for the first time.

The LG G2 LCD utilizes GRAM technology to reduce battery consumption by 10% by caching image in memory instead of refreshing it 60 times through the GPU when the image is static for a certain period of time.

The S4 and Moto X both feature a Super AMOLED display. Some people love the oversaturated colors and deep black blacks, others will favor the more subtle colors that LCD display produces.

Worth mentioning that the Samsung Galaxy S4 has the Air View feature which allows you to interact with user interface elements without touching the screen, including recognition of a wave gesture where you wave your hand on top of the screen to browse through image, etc.

This adds an extra dimension to how you interact with your phone, however, the Moto X for example enjoy voice-recognition interface that allows you to control your phone without even touch it.
Camera13MP
BSI
Optical Image Stabilization
1080 60 fps (max)
LED

f/2.4 lens

Front-facing: 2.1MP
13MP
1/3.06" BSI
1080 30 fps (max)
LED

4.2mm f/2.4 lens

Front-facing: 2MP
4MP (UltraPixel)
1/3" BSI
Optical Image Stabilization
1080 30fps (max)
LED

3.82 mm f/2.0 lens

Front-facing: 2.1MP
10.5MP Clear Pixel (RGBC)
1/2.6" BSI / 1.4 µm / 16:9
Optical image stabilization
1080 60fps (max)
LED

4.5mm f/2.4 lens

Front-facing: 2MP
Camera Features- Multi-point AF (9 points)
- Shot & Clear (eliminating unwanted moving objects)
- Audio zooming
- Image effects
- HDR mode
- Panorama
- Picture-in-Picture technology
- Simultaneous video / stills recording
- Zoom to track
- Sapphire Crystal Glass Lens
- Zero shutter lag
- Simultaneous video / stills recording
- Drama shot
- Sound & shot
- Best face
- Beauty face
- 360 photo
- Night shot
- Panorama
- Sports
- VideoPic
- HTC Zoe
- Video highlight
- Real-time hardware HDR for video (91.7 dB)
- 200ms focusing speed
- Color shading for lens compensation
- Advanced de-noise algorithm
- Slow motion videos
- Wake camera app from sleep by shaking the camera
- Quick capture
- HDR
- Panorama
- Shutter sound
A few things to know here: The Moto X features a camera that is based on Clear Pixel sensor technology, which increases the light gathering availability by 70%, much improving its low light performance compare to BSI sensors that utilizing the RGB Bayer sensor filter array.

Each phone uses different technologies to provide enhanced low light performance. The Moto X as I said uses Clear Pixel technology. HTC One uses larger pixels to absorb more light at the expense of lower resolution and OIS.

LG uses an advanced OIS to allow sharp images with slower shutter speeds.

Galaxy S4 is the only one in the group that doesn't offer an optical sensor-shift image stabilization, rather than digital software-based IS for video recording.

The HTC ONe certainly has the advantaeg having a 2 micon pixels that allows better low-light performance and also comes with a two-axes 2000Hz stabilization and has the fastest lens in the group.

If you are shooting a lot of photos in low light, the HTC One will offer you the best tools for the job -- but again, at the price of a much lower resolution.

f/2.0 lens allows 44% more light through than f/2.4 (source)
ProcessorQualcomm Snapdragon 800 MSM8974
Quad core 2260 MHz, Krait 400
Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 APQ8064T
Quad core 1900 MHz, Krait 300
Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 APQ8064T
Quad core 1700 MHz, Krait 300
Motorola X8 (Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro MSM8960)
Dual core 1700 MHz, Krait
GPUAdreno 330Adreno 320Adreno 320Adreno 320
RAM2GB LPDDR32GB LPDDR32GB LPDDR32GB LPDDR2
Built-in Storage16GB / 32GB (24GB usable)16GB / 32GB32GB (26 usable)16GB (12GB usable)
The Moto X offers the most unique processor among the four devices. The X8 processor employs a dual application processor, four graphics processors, one contextual computing processor and one natural language processor cores - the two latest are Low energy processors that were designed to back up the always on voice recognition fucntinoality with minimum impact on battery life,.

The LG G2 is the first commercially available phone to feature Snapdragon 800 processor. The LG G2 has 2.26 GHz for each core, which provide super blazing performance for playing the latest high-demanding 3D games with highest possible frame rates.

The G2 is also the only one in the group to feature Qualcomm's Adreno 330 GPU. This processor allows the use of high-quality particle physics and real-time reflection and refraction for the first time. These graphic features where only available to mobile gaming consoles before this new processor was introduced.

This allow developer to target future phone with much better looking games that will surpass anything that we have so far. The new processor will also speed up web browsing, video decoding and benefit from support for OpenCL and OpenGL ES 3.0 APIs. For more information visit this page on qualcomm.com website.

In AnTuTu benchmark done by Android Authority, the G2 reaches 29,909 points! -- On July S4 gsmarena.com posted about Galaxy S4 with Snapdragon 800 appearing in AnTutu with 27,886 score. On sammobile.com they posted a GT-I9506 Antutu benchmark showing a score of 31,123. A S4 I8500 AnTuTu benchmark done by SamMobiel shows a score of 28,018.

Leaving the synthetic scores aside, I assume that the new Snapdragon 800 processor will allow us to enjoy better looking games, but it seems that it might be a bit too early as latest titles weren't developed to take advantage of those new advanced graphic features and processing power.

The LG G2 is no doubt one of the most powerful Android devices on the market. I was checking the average antutu score for the HTC One and S4 and both are standing around 24,000's. The Moto X scored much below, 18,753 according to an image from Android Police (can be seen here on usadailyvoice.com website (AT&T version of Moto X according to the source).

Searching for the most powerful device? -- The LG G2 might be the one for you.
Infrared PortYesYes Yes No
Wi-Fi802.11 a/ac/b/g/n, dual-band802.11 a/ac/b/g/n, dual-band802.11 a/ac/b/g/n, dual-band802.11 a/ac/b/g/n, dual-band
NFCYesYesYesYes
Wireless ChargingNoOptinoal (wireless charging case)NoNo
Did you know that LG has the world's smallest wireless charger, the LG WCP-300
Storage ExpansionmicroSD (Korea only)microSD NoneNone
MHL/SlimportSlimportMHLMHLN/A
Bluetooth4.04.04.04.0
Battery3000 mAh2600 mAh2300 mAh2200 mAh

Let’s sum up the LG G2 Advantages compared to the other devices:

  • The largest screen in the group (5.2″)
  • Slimmest Bezel
  • Corning Gorilla Glass 3
  • 1080 60 fps video recording
  • Optical Image Stabilization (lacks on the S4)
  • 9 point AF system for precise auto focusing, especially when shooting moving subjects
  • Simultaneous video recording
  • Sapphire crystal glass lens
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor
  • Infrared port
  • Highest capacity battery
  • Adreno 330 GPU
  • Highest camera resolution (same as the S4)
  • Studio-quality 24-bit 192 kHz sound playback / recording
  • Guest Mode
  • Audio Zooming
  • Text Link
  • KnockOn
  • Plug & Pop
  • Tracking Zoom
  • Capture Plus & Clip Tray
  • Back convenient controls
  • Quick Memo using the volume button at the back
  • Press and hold volume down to launch the camera app, even if the phone is in lock state

Some of those features are either exist on some of the devices or on none of them.

Should You Buy The LG2 or Not?

No doubt that the LG G2 is a super powerful device, has a gorgeous screen, excellent battery and beautiful design. It might have all the features you ever wanted on a high-end smartphone device.  The innovative back controls and the lack of other physical controls gives the G2 a very streamline look and improved its usability.

The G2 doesn’t enjoy the customizability options as the Moto X, doesn’t have Air View as the S4 and doesn’t have a camera with 2-micron pixels and aluminum body as the HTC One — Yet, LG focused on looks, screen size, usability and camera functionality to attract new customers and it did an incredible job with it. You just feel that the phone was designed to make it easier and quicker to operate, focusing on things that you usually do on a daily basis.  The LG G2 is very snappy and you feel that responsiveness when you use gesture on the phone to navigate through menus and when launching apps.

I really enjoy looking at the screen of the G2, it looks like you are holding a screen rather than a phone, due to the very slim frame around the screen.

This leads us to the price. The LG G2 price was revealed at the day I wrote this review. The price starts at 599 euro for the 16GB version and 625 euro for the 32GB version.  So the G2 sells around 80 more than the S4 for the 16GB.

The question that you need to ask yourself is whether those features that you’ve seen compared to the S4 (or any other device in the comparison for that matter) worth that high price tag. For them most part, I assume that the LG G2 will find its way into the pocket of those who love the screen size, the overall look and design of the phone, the Snapdragon 800 SoC and those who care about sound quality and prefer having a camera phone with optical image stabilization. These are probably the features that people will care about the most.

Having said all that, I don’t know whether LG did enough to differentiate itself from the competition. Some people sometimes just prefer buying an HTC or Samsung device because of the brand name, and no doubt that the marketing does have an impact on our decision.

I also really like the S4 eye-tracking gesture and Air View, and on the HTC One I love the build quality, audio quality and Sense 5 UI user interface.  If I had to choose a device now, I would probably go with the Samsung Galaxy S4 for its unique features and its gorgeous Super AMOLED display. Everyone makes its own decisions based on his specific needs. I think that the Moto X the least impressive among the three, but the always on voice recognition looks like a very neat feature.

What’s your opinion, which phone you like best? Do you think that LG just tried to copy Samsung’s Note II device? — Share your opinion by commenting below and let’s open up a fruitful conversation helping others to fully understand the cons and pros of each device from other people’s perspective.

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