LG G3 review

A great handset that's only slightly let down by lacklustre design

LG G3 review
LG's best phone yet shows the brand is making great strides in the smartphone game

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The camera on the LG G3 is a pretty good affair, despite being largely similar in spec to the LG G2. This means the same 13MP sensor, enhanced optical image stabilisation (OIS+) and the same efforts to disguise noisy photos by smoothing them with algorithms.

But on the software side, LG has stripped things right back to make one of the most streamlined UIs for a phone yet.

Turn on the camera and you'll be greeted with just a back button and small set of dots to signify more features, should you want them. Simply tap the screen to focus where you want, and the phone takes the shot quickly.

LG G3 review

The camera is fast, but options are limited

If you want to just take speedy snaps, this is a great method. The camera can also be activated by holding the down volume button in standby mode, though it seems to take a fraction longer on Android 5.0 than before. The volume key can be used as a shutter button too.

If you want a few more options (and I do when taking a photo) then intriguingly the G3 doesn't have much more to play with. You can toggle the HDR mode on or off (it's on by default), enter dual capture, panorama or "Magic Focus" which is the same re-focus feature that's become popular with all high-end phones.

There's no way to change the ISO settings, exposure or contrast… it's a camera with minimal interaction. It's not a bad thing, but I would like to see a touch more control, even if it's buried down through the menus.

Nokia (now Microsoft), Samsung and even HTC have done a great job in starting the education process of how to get great snaps by playing with settings, but it seems LG is more interested in doing the same as Apple and just getting out of the way.

The actual picture quality is pretty good, with well-lit scenes giving really clear, sharp and well-defined snaps. In lower light the G3 is good, if not as fast at taking snaps, although that image smoothing easily goes over the top – like the One M8, if you're thinking of zooming in or cropping your photos, some will look a bit muddy on the G3.

But the general pictures gained from day to day photography are up there with the best on the LG G3, and it's a real recommendation from me.

The autofocus needs a mention here again – the laser shooting out a conical beam to check out the room leads to blistering autofocus, and notably out-does the Samsung Galaxy S5 at going from standing start to snap.

The camera features a dual-tone LED flash to improve skin tone

The S5 struggles to wake from sleep mode as fast as the G3, and the shutter speed of the latter is so impressive – check out the snaps below to see.

The other big change is the front facing camera with its increased camera angle, so you can fit more in. You can also open and close your hand to start the countdown, which means if you've framed the photo well you won't knock it out of shot by tapping the screen.

The beauty slider is present too, meaning the photo is smoothed out to make a weird soft-focus on your face (especially odd for men with beards, as they end up looking like a sooty smudge).

I do like the addition of the "flash" on the front. As I mentioned, this shrinks the front camera image down and turns the surrounding area a skin-friendly white tone, meaning in darker scenes I got much better pics.