It hasn’t been long since LG launched its flagship – the LG G3 – which sports a 2560×1440 pixel display and comes with a 13MP camera with laser auto-focus. It was an impressive phone which gave a good battery life despite the high end specs. Recently LG announced the G3 Beat, which is a more affordable variant of the G3 line. We have been seeing these mid-range variants of high end flagships in the past and most of them used to come with the ‘Mini’ moniker. So will the LG G3 Beat prove to be a budget LG G3 worth investing in? Let us find out.
Build and Design: 8/10
Considering the LG G3 Beat is a stripped down version of the LG G3, the design language of the G3 Beat is completely inspired by the G3. You have the same thin-bezelled front face, the removable back, power and volume rocker buttons on the rear side and so on. Although, the rear cover has a brush metal finish, it is made of plastic. While the curved back makes holding the phone easier, the grip is quite slippery at times, specially when you are using the rear buttons. This was an issue we had faced with the G3 as well.
The edges are clean whereas on the top you have the noise cancelling microphone and an IR blaster whereas on the bottom there is the microUSB charging port, a microphone and a 3.5mm audio jack. On the rear side, just like with the G3, you have the power button in the centre surrounded at the top and bottom by the volume rocker buttons. Atop this you have the 8MP camera to the left of which you have the laser AF port and an LED flash on the right hand side. The speaker grille is present on the lower left hand corner on the rear side. The LG logo graces the base of the front face just like with the LG G3.
LG G3 Beat has a 5-inch IPS display with a 1280×720 pixel resolution. It is an IPS panel but unlike the LG G3, the G3 Beat does not have a Corning Gorilla Glass 3 protection. It is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 SoC which houses Cortex A7 quad-core processor clocked at 1.2GHz along with Adreno 305 GPU. The LG G3 Beat comes with 1GB of RAM, 8GB of internal storage of which only 3.59GB is available to the user. You can expand the storage to 64GB using a microSD card.
An 8MP camera with a BSI CMOS sensor is located on the rear side and is complemented by a 1.3MP front facing camera. It comes with the laser auto-focus system, but it lacks an optical image stabiliser that was there on the G3.
We did not like the fact that there is the same red coloured LED notification for missed calls, messages, battery charging and so on. At least two colours could have been used, as it is not easy to understand what the blinking LED is indicating.
In the box you will find the regular charger, microUSB cable and a pair of earphones.
LG G3 Beat runs on Android 4.4.2 and there is no word out if it is going to get the Android 5.0 Lollipop update. You get the LG flat UI skin atop the KitKat OS. It makes use of subdued colours and although most of the icons are flat, some have the drop-shadow effect. All the icons have sharp edges and it comes with proprietary apps such as QuickRemote, RemoteCall Service, LG SmartWorld and ThinkFree Viewer. The notifications drawer has a transparency level.
There’s a feature called QSlide using which you can open one app (from a selection such as Email, Video, Calculator, etc) which will float atop the current screen you are in. You can also reduce the transparency of the QSlide app. So you can watch a movie as you are composing an email or taking notes without having to switch between these two apps. QRemote lets you control your TV, Blu-ray or DVD player. You will need to check if your devices are supported by LG QRemote.
The Settings menu is also divided under four sections – Networks, Sound, Display and General. Gestures such as flipping the phone to silence the alarm, silence a call and so on are also supported. Just like the G3, the G3 Beat supports Knock Code to unlock the phone even from the sleep mode.
As seen above, the performance scores aren’t that impressive, but that is expected considering the mid-range SoC. The touch is quite responsive and you do not notice any lag while navigating through the device. For text-heavy websites, the scrolling worked fine. But the moment you have an image heavy post or blog, the scrolling becomes quite slow. While scrolling through the Instagram feed for instance one realises that Snapdragon 400 and the 1GB of RAM isn’t sufficient. Not only this, even games such as Fruit Ninja showed many instances of stuttering. On heavy usage, the region around the rear power and volume rocker buttons tends to get hot.
Call quality was excellent. The earpiece speaker quality is quite good and the sound output does not tend to distort event when you increase the volume to high levels. It supports quad-band GSM, 3G as well as 4G LTE in supported circles. Apart from this you have Wi-fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, Bluetooth v4., Wi-fi Direct, NFC, GPS, DLNA and so on.
The LG G3 had a great display thanks to the high pixel density. The G3 Beat on the other hand has a decent display and viewing angles are great. But the screen is a finger-print magnet. A glossy screen which picks up smudges is a let down and G3 Beat sadly belongs in that category. You can’t help but notice the smudges when viewing the phone under ambient lights. Needless to say, you will need to invest in a protective screen guard. If you can live with that, the legibility in sunlight is good, and the brightness levels are good too. Viewing movies on the LG G3 Beat is good and colour reproduction was good. In completely dark scenes, you do tend to see a slight but of light bleeding around the edges. The bundled earphones aren’t that great and you will be much better off buying a separate pair.
LG G3 Beat sports an 8MP BSI CMOS camera on the rear side and a 1.3MP front-facing camera. The laser auto-focus that was one of the selling points of the flagship G3, is seen on the G3 Beat as well. So as far as AF speeds go, the G3 Beat is good. While some of you may like the minimalist look of the camera menus, we feel that the native camera is quite limiting if you are the kinds who like to tinker around with the settings. In the settings menu, you just have options to overlay a 3×3 grid, set timers, voice commands to fire shutter, resolution adjustment and HDR switch. There is no button for exposure settings or for adjusting white balance. Maybe LG wants to keep things on Auto only, but we would have liked to see some basic settings to play around with.You can edit and work you image after the fact.
Image quality is good in daylight, but in dimly lit settings there is a lot of chroma noise one comes across. The AF was speedy and it is a joy to shoot on the streets, but there are times when you will feel handicapped due to the limited settings offered by the default native camera. The colours are well balanced. Auto HDR wasn’t impressive and it is best if you keep it off by default. Night shots and shadow regions show some chroma noise. Fine details such as leaves on trees are not resolved very well. Video camera performance is quite normal and will show some bit of rolling shutter if you are panning. Overall it is a good camera if you just want to share your images online or on social networks.
Battery Life: 6.5/10
LG G3 Beat offers 2,540mAh Li-ion battery. We ran our standard 8 hour loop test which includes 2 hours of calling, video streaming, movie viewing and audio playback. At the end of the test, we had around 18 per cent battery remaining and we noticed that video streaming was the main battery draining activity. While that isn’t very impressive, on regular usage involving calling, surfing the web, audio playback, messaging and so on it will easily last you around 12-14 hours.
Verdict and Price in India
The LG G3 Beat has an elegant design and borrows a lot from its elder sibling – the flagship LG G3. Performance wise it wasn’t that impressive, with a lot of activities throwing up instances of stuttering. Although we liked the fast AF on the camera, we would have liked more control with the native camera app. The custom user interface along with its software touches may appeal to some, but does not drastically improve user experience.
At an MRP of Rs 25,000 you are paying for the brand name more than the features and performance on offer. A quick online search will get you the Google Nexus 5 (16GB) for under Rs 27,000. With the Nexus 6 expected to launch soon, one can expect the price of the Nexus 5 to drop further. Nexus 5 comes with a much better specification sheet than the LG G3 Beat and will certainly get the Android 5.0 Lollipop update. So at the Rs 25,000 price point, the Google Nexus 5 makes for a much better buy.
It is difficult to recommend the LG G3 Beat for Rs 25,000. On Flipkart and Snapdeal, the G3 Beat is selling between Rs 17,000 to Rs 18,000 whereas on Amazon it is being offered for Rs 21,000. Sub Rs 20,000 is still a much better price point. But considering LG has clearly stated that they do not have authorised dealers on ecommerce sites, we would ask you to tread with caution (specially when it comes to warranty) if in case you do want to buy the G3 Beat online at the sub Rs 20,000 pricing.
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LG G3 Beat review: A strictly average smartphone and a Rs 25,000 price tag makes it difficult to recommend
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