LG used to be cool. The Chocolate, En-V, and other phones were household names back when messaging phones and QWERTY keyboards ruled the world, and LG’s hit devices spawned multiple generations of imitators. But LG has struggled to replicate that success with its smartphones, despite quietly releasing solid devices year after year.

While the public’s attention has been captured by Apple and Samsung, LG has started to feel like a second-rate Samsung, a day late and a dollar short. The company is looking to change that with this year’s G2: a $199 smartphone that’s the most powerful mobile phone LG has ever made. It’s also managed to get the phone on every major carrier in the US — something that wasn’t possible for most manufacturers until this year, and is considered crucial to making a smartphone a success these days.

The G2 is quite clearly LG’s answer to Samsung’s Galaxy S4. For every volley that Samsung has lobbed, LG has come up with a retort in the G2. It’s coming nearly six months later than the GS4, though, and after other phones like the Motorola Moto X have grabbed much of the spotlight. Then there’s that whole nagging rumor that the G2 is essentially what the next Nexus smartphone from Google will be.

Is the G2 enough for LG to avoid being “the other Samsung?” Or will it just be overshadowed by Google’s Nexus version, much in the way last year’s Optimus G was? I’ve spent the past few days with LG’s best to find out.