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Tuesday, June 10, 2014

LG G3 vs OnePlus One comparison review: best smartphone and best value phone go head to head


LG's G3 launched last week as the world's first Quad HD smartphone, but in all other respects it has little up on the OnePlus One, which costs half the price. So where should you put your money? We weigh up your options by comparing these two Android phones spec for spec in our LG G3 vs OnePlus One comparison review.

The LG G3 was unveiled last week but, as yet, there has been no confirmed details on pricing and shipping. UK network operators, along with Clove, are listing the G3 at £499, however, and each expects to be able to ship the device on 1 July. Also see: 28 best smartphones 2014.

  The OnePlus One is available now, offering staggeringly good value with 16GB ($299/€269) and 64GB ($349/€299) variants - that's around half the price of the LG G3. However, the OnePlus One is available to buy on an invitation-only basis. Invites are available either from people who have already bought the OnePlus One, or by participating in the various competitions and promotions held by OnePlus. One such event was the Smash The Past Phone Smash competition - you can see some videos from that event in our article: Best Phone Smash videos so far.

Both LG G3 and OnePlus One feature 5.5in screens and are 8.9mm thick. However, LG's slick bezel design and edge-to-edge glass means the OnePlus One is slightly larger, at 152.9x75.99mm versus the G3's 75x146mm. Make no mistake, though: both are large phones, and users with small hands may find it difficult to reach the far corner of either screen with the device held in one hand. The 162g OnePlus is also heavier than the 149g LG G3. 

Whereas both phones are plastic, the LG G3 features a brushed-metal-effect, anti-scratch skin on its rear panel that makes it appear to be of a higher quality. It also has a brushed-metal frame running around the edge, separating front and back. It's a removable rear panel, so not quite as sturdy as some of its rivals, but offers the major advantage of a removable battery. 

The OnePlus One, meanwhile, is a good-looking device that is similar in design to a flattened-out Nexus 5. Available in black or white, a chrome trim runs around the edge of the handset. 

A key difference is the positioning of hardware buttons on the LG G3 and OnePlus One. While LG puts the power and volume buttons at the back of the handset, with its unique Rear Key feeling odd at first but quickly becoming familiar, OnePlus places the power button and volume rocker on the One's left- and right edges. 

Neither device claims to be waterproof. 

Both LG G3 and OnePlus One feature 5.5in IPS panels, but there is a huge difference in the resolution. Whereas the OnePlus One tops out at a full-HD 1920x1080 resolution, resulting in a pixel density of 401ppi, the LG G3 is the world's first Quad HD phone to market (although not the only Quad HD smartphone - see the Oppo Find 7 QHD), featuring a 1440x2560, 534ppi display. 

That screen is the most important piece of hardware in the LG G3's specification, and it's an absolute stunner. Everything on this display is super crisp and true to life; no matter how hard you try, you cannot see an individual pixel. 

As you would expect from an IPS LCD panel, viewing angles are great. LG has struck a great balance with the colour, too - it's not in your face as are Samsung's displays, but not overly soft either. 

The OnePlus One's slightly raised display might look old-hat in comparison, but that doesn't mean it's not a great display. A solid pane of jet-black glass, it looks good even when it's switched off. 

Both these handsets run quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processors clocked at 2.5GHz, Adreno 330 graphics and 3GB of RAM (although you get only 2GB with the 16GB LG G3). 

Assessing performance is tricky, in that we've not yet had a chance to run the OnePlus One through our benchmarks, and our LG G3 review model is a Korean sample that isn't running the final version of the company's software - some of the occassional lag we saw during our testing could easily be put down to this, although in the most part the G3 was smooth and nippy in operation. The OnePlus One is also running different software, with CyanogenMod 11S (a custom version of Android 4.4 KitKat) under the hood. We didn't spot any issues with performance on the OnePlus One and, given the hardware it's running, nor did we expect to. 


However, if you're looking for benchmarking figures, perhaps the closest phone we have for comparison is the Samsung Galaxy S5. It has the same 2.5GHz CPU and Adreno 330 graphics, although just 2GB of RAM (in common with the 16GB LG G3). It runs Android KitKat 4.4, plus Samsung's usual add-ons. 

In our benchmarks the Samsung Galaxy S5 scored 926- and 2869 points in Geekbench 3's single- and multi-core tests respectively, 824ms in SunSpider and 28fps in GFXBench's T-Rex test.


The OnePlus One is available with more internal storage than the LG G3, with 16- and 64GB versions available. While the LG G3 is offered in only 16- and 32GB variants, however, it also features a microSDXC slot that lets you add up to 128GB. Just be sure to factor in the cost of additional memory cards when making your purchasing choice. 

Both these handsets offer 13Mp rear-facing cameras, but with a few extras. For example, the LG G3 features a dual-LED flash for improved low-light photography, the ability to shoot 4K video, a 'laser' (read super-fast) autofocus that can focus in just 276ms, plus advanced optical image stabilisation and Touch & Shoot. Magic focus lets you select from a series of image with different focus points before hitting save. You can launch the camera from standby by holding down the volume down button. 

We've posted some sample photos and video taken by the LG G3 below. The pictures were shot at 10Mp with auto HDR, and the video is full-HD.


At the front is a 2Mp 'Selfie' camera, and its angle is primed for self-portraits. The pixels are slightly larger than those of the rear camera, too. The LG G3 offers an auto timer that can be triggered using a hand gesture, while the screen can be used as a makeshift flash in low-light. 
OnePlus One's 13Mp camera pairs a Sony Exmor IMX214 sensor with a dual-LED flash and f/2.0 aperture. It's easy to use and takes great shots, plus 4K or slo-mo video. 
Its CyanogenMod 11S OS has a few tweaks that allow the OnePlus to offer extra features over standard Android smartphones, including live face recognition, which works remarkably well, and live filters. The ability to see how well filters will work even before you've finished composing your shot is a real boon.


It, too, has a great front-facing camera for selfies, able to capture 5Mp shots. 
Both LG and OnePlus support dual-band Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 LE, NFC and GPS. However, whereas the OnePlus One offers 4G connectivity, LG boasts 4G LTE. It also has an infrared transmitter and supports wireless charging. 

The OnePlus One has built-in stereo speakers and a tri-mic with noise cancellation, but the LG G3 really excels when it comes to sound. It supports 24bit/192kHz high-resolution audio playback, and it includes a 1W speaker with a 'boost amp' to improve sound quality when headphones aren't plugged in. The only down side is that speaker - both rear-facing and a mono- rather than stereo version. 

With a larger-capacity 3,100mAh (versus 3,000mAh) battery and a less powerful screen, the OnePlus One should lead the way in the battery department. Except that the LG G3's is removable, so you can easily swap in a spare. And it supports wireless charging. And LG claims to have tackled the screen-drain issue on three fronts, with adaptive framerates, adaptive clocking and adaptive timing control. 

It seems to have done a good job: in our tests the LG G3 lasts a couple of days, and that's with the Korean software. Unlike many of its rivals, there's no 'ultra' power-saving mode. 
The OnePlus One doesn't run Android 4.4 KitKat as we know it. CyanogenMod 11S is a custom version of KitKat that supports a great deal of personalisation and has been tweaked to run optimally on the OnePlus One's hardware. 

Themes are one part of this, and the OnePlus One has three available by default: Android's Holo, Cyanogen OneMod and a custom icon pack. You can even mix and match the best bits of the various available themes. Rather than having to browse Google Play to find and download a theme you like, you just flick a switch to apply it. Theme packs include boot animations, fonts, icons, wallpapers, lock screens and ringtones. 

CyanogenMod 11S is notable for more than just its ease of customisation, however. There's also a secure messaging feature and Privacy Guard, which helps you manage what access apps have to your data. The OnePlus One also features voice wake and search, learning the sound of your voice so you can search, track and explore even when it's asleep.  

All that will sound great to enthusiasts, but could it put off everyday buying folk? 

If CyanogenMod 11S sounds scary, the LG G3 runs regular Android 4.4 KitKat. It features some of LG's extras (which you can delete to free up space), but the interface is simpler and cleaner than on the G2, with light, crisp typography, colour-coded apps and various animations. It's just a shame you can't customise those colours.


The new interface looks sleek and has a modern feel. The round icons in the notification bar are very similar to those of the Galaxy S5, and LG has used the circle as a motif throughout. 

Smart Notice is very much like Google Now, learning your behaviour and making recommendations such as to delete apps you haven't used in a while or switching on Wi-Fi when you get to the office. 

KnockCode lets you wake and unlock the G3 using a custom knocking pattern. There's also a slim keyboard that is size-adjustable and should make typing faster and reduce the number of errors, while Dual Window lets you view two apps onscreen simultaneously. 
Another key new addition is LG Health. In common with other flagship smartphones, the G3 can track your activity without the need for a separate device that you connect over Bluetooth. You can select different types of activity, including cycling, walking and even inline skating. 

QMemo, QSlide, QVoice and QRemote are all exisiting LG software features that are included on the G3. 

On the one hand we have the world's first Quad HD smartphone, with a truly beautiful screen, as well as great performance, brilliant sound, a pleasing camera and a very nice design. It is the best phone you can buy right now, and a great deserver of our prestigious Gold Award. On the other hand we have a smartphone that can match the size of its screen and its performance, offers some unique software and customisation features, offers a generous amount of storage, and its design isn't too bad either. More importantly, it's half the price. Ultimately, your decision will come down to making a choice between getting the most for your money and getting the best smartphone on this planet. 

You've read our verdict on how the LG G3 and OnePlus One compare, now see how they handle competition from Sony, HTC and Samsung, and find out what is the best Android phone 2014.

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