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LG's G3 sets the new benchmark for overpowered smartphones

Taking on the Galaxy S5, the HTC One, and the Xperia Z2

If it were a laptop, its Quad HD resolution would be impressive. If it were a camera, its laser autofocus would be an advantage. But the LG G3 is a smartphone, and as such, it's the most advanced one we've seen yet. If you are the sort of person who values top-end specs above all else, LG is ready for you.

Like the G2 before it, the G3's front is almost all screen. Thanks to thin bezels on all sides, almost 77 percent of the device's footprint is occupied by its 5.5-inch IPS display. With a resolution of 2560 x 1440 and such an aggressively minimal design, the G3 fits a lot of pixels into not a lot of space. LG's new handset is as tall as HTC's 5-inch One and Sony's 5.2-inch Xperia Z2, while being lighter than both. The sense of extreme efficiency is pervasive with this phone.

"You may want to take an umbrella today since it will rain this evening."

The G3 also matches its direct competitors with a quad-core Snapdragon 801 processor, up to 3GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, and room for a microSD card, but LG isn't interested in promoting its technical capabilities. "The smartest innovation in a fast-evolving smartphone market is creating harmony between advanced technology and a simplified user experience," says LG Mobile CEO Jong-Seok Park.

LG has redesigned its Android UI along these lines and added a new Smart Notice service that works much like Google Now. It'll remind you to call someone back, nag you to uninstall unused apps, and make timely recommendations like "you may want to take an umbrella today since it will rain this evening." It's these natural language capabilities that LG believes will set Smart Notice apart from other personal assistant software.

The G3's camera pursues the same motto of using complex technology to provide simple utility. It has a 13-megapixel sensor, optical image stabilization, and a new laser autofocus system (a first among smartphones). LG feels so confident in the speed and reliability of these components that it's changed the default capture mode of the camera — now when you tap the screen, the G3 focuses and shoots at the same time. The front-facing camera has also been upgraded with a wider aperture and new gesture-detection that will snap a selfie when you clench a fist in front of it.

Though designed to simulate the look of brushed metal, the LG G3's construction remains plastic. Lightweight, well-rounded, and comfortable in the hand, but not as delightful as the all-aluminum HTC One. LG calls the new surface a metallic skin, combining polycarbonate with a thin layer of scratch-resistant material. It's an upgrade from the G2, but an even more significant one is that the battery is now removable.

Metallic Black, Silk White, Shine Gold, Moon Violet, and Burgundy Red varieties of the LG G3 will be available globally via more than 170 carriers. The home market of South Korea gets LG's new flagship phone right away, launching on May 28th, with the rest of the world to follow from June.

LG G3 hands-on photos