LG G3 S review

A cut down LG G3 in more than just size

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Our Verdict

A smaller LG G3 makes sense, but the G3 S is cut-down in every respect without cutting the price quite enough to make it a good deal.


  • Metal-effect look
  • Decent battery life
  • IR transmitter


  • Fairly weak value
  • Lower screen res than rivals
  • Low internal storage

Adding an 'S' to a phone name often means it's better than the normal version. The iPhone 5S was a lot better than than iPhone 5, after all. However, the LG G3 S is not – and is not meant to be – as good as the LG G3, the company's top-tier Android for 2014.

This is a cut-down alternative for people not flush enough to spend what some might fork out for a first car on a phone. Almost every element of the LG G3 S takes a hit in this cost-cutting process. This is absolutely a mid-range phone, not a top-end one.

The question here is whether the cuts match the price. At £240 it's loads cheaper than the top Androids, but there's fierce competition at this price.

Funnily enough, one of the best alternatives is last year's LG G2, which is still doing the rounds at a similar price if you shop around. It gets you a lot more phone for your cash. A bargain at launch, it's even better value now.

It's the Moto G 2014 that really shows the LG G3 S up, though. Available for £100 less, it offers just about everything you get here, with a slightly classier interface to sweeten the deal.

LG phones often offer great value. This one doesn't. While it is not a bad phone, wait for a discount unless you really fall in love with that faux-metal look.

The LG G3 S may not have all the top-end specs of the LG G3, but it has copied the look of its bigger sibling wholesale. While all-plastic apart from the glass screen covering, it tries its best to look like a metal phone.

Its curvy back and the lip below the screen both have a metallic finish. As much as they may charm the eye, get one in your hands and they have all the high-end feel of a shop dummy.

The LG G3 didn't exactly wow me with its plastic feel – like all the wrong bits of Samsung design with an extra level of artifice – but at least that phone's ultra-thin screen bezel and thin body made sure it seemed high-end. Here, the thicker body means that while it looks like an expensive phone from a distance, it doesn't really feel like one.

However, I do find handling pretty great for a 5-inch phone. Despite being a little thicker than some, the smooth curve makes it much less of a handful than the Moto G 2014.

LG G3 S review

The LG G3 S may be a thicker phone but its curve makes it less of a handful

Like the LG G3 and LG G Flex, the LG G3 S uses rear buttons instead of ones on the phone's edges. Aside from a little indent to help you prise off the backplate, the sides are completely bare.

I've grown to appreciate the idea of LG's slightly strange rear button strategy, despite being deeply suspicious at first. They make using very large-screen phones simpler, especially the gigantic LG G Flex.

But in a relatively petite phone like the LG G3 S they seem a little unnecessary. The action of the buttons feels a little cheap too, adding extra kindling to the plastic-fantastic fire burning in this phone's heart.

LG G3 S review

The rear buttons may be a little odd at first but you will get used to them

Once you get used to them, though, there are no serious downsides to their use. As the LG G3 S's buttons are recessed a bit, they never ended up firing off in my pocket. Mission success.

Pull the LG G3 S's plastic back off and you'll find that, just like the LG G3 and Samsung Galaxy S5, it uses a fairly thin battery cover. It's not Nokia Lumia-grade polycarbonate stuff.

You get just 8GB of internal storage too, which feels very stingy at this price – this should be 16GB territory. There is a microSD slot under the cover to mitigate, but it's a mark against the LG G3 S's value.

LG G3 S review

The LG G3 S has an IR transmitter

LG does offer something on the top to compensate, though: an IR blaster. This company is obsessed with IR blasters like almost no other and you'll even find it on some fairly low-cost phones and tablets from LG.

An IR blaster is used to replicate the commands made by home entertainment remote controls, letting you use the LG G3 S as universal remote. See the little black spot next to the mic hole on the top? That's where the IR transmitter lives.

While we're not sure all that many people use this even when it's on offer, it's a 'good to have' extra.