Getting ahead of LG's G2 smartphone launch today, another South Korean smartphone maker by the name of Pantech announced yesterday that their new smartphone debuting in later this month through SK Telecom would be shipping with both LTE-Advanced and fingerprint recognition functionality. So why did this smaller smartphone maker rush their announcement yesterday? They did it because they were convinced that they were going to be able to steal LG's thunder on this new smartphone feature due to a Korean report last month claiming that LG was going to steal Apple's thunder on this feature. Their leaked photo in the Korean report was bang-on as to the look of the new LG 2 rear button. But in the end, LG failed to deliver a fingerprint scanner for the G2 today during their event in New York. We reported a few weeks back that both Apple and Samsung were both suffering from low production yield problems with their respective fingerprint recognition sensor chips. So it's a mystery as to why the top smartphone leaders aren't able to deliver what Pantech will in days from now. Yet besides the fingerprint mystery, LG did in fact deliver a few minor surprises at the event today and our extensive report with over twenty-five graphics will lay it all out for you. Will it be enough to be considered an iPhone killer? Time will tell depending on what Apple plans to release in September, yet it's unlikely to make a dent against the next iPhone. While LG delivered a decent new round of smartphone improvements, I think at best their new smartphone could help them in their bid for the coveted number three spot globally.
The New Processor behind LG's New G2 Smartphone
While the LG Electronics' G2 event held in New York today began with some opening remarks by the President and CEO of LG Mobile Communications, the event was mainly carried by Qualcomm's President and CEO Steve Mollenkopf and James Fishler Senior VP LG Electronics USA.
Mollenkopf began his segment of LG Event with a quick review of the new processor behind LG's new G2 smartphone, the Snapdragon 800. LG's new G2 smartphone is technically the first Smartphone to incorporate the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor. Mollenkopf stated that Qualcomm had "one very clear objective: Deliver an unparalleled experience to our smartphone users. To achieve that objective, we researched out to both the consumer and mobile use behavior. We listened to you. We learned from you and reflected your insights in our new product.
LG's G2 powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon 800 processors is the outcome of the two company's tireless efforts. Today, half of the total US population uses smartphones. People spend more time on their smartphones than ever before and are doing a lot of different things at once: Web browsing, email, mobile games, texting, videos and social networking.
With all of these use cases, the processor inside the phone has become an increasingly important stack on the latest smartphone hardware specs. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor helps the LG G2 deliver outstanding user experiences. We showcased our flagship processor earlier this year and it's blown away the competition.
The new Snapdragon 800 delivers blazing fast speed with a quad-core processor delivering speeds up to 2.3GHz per core. We implemented technologies to extend the battery life substantially.
Through our research we learned from consumers that today's smartphone users need and want more than just super performance. So along with the superior performance, we worked to optimize the very latest mobile experience to meet their needs by enhancing breakthrough multimedia features with rich graphic qualities. Also, Snapdragon 800 supports GPS and GLONASS navigation satellites, which means that the location services are quicker and more accurate."
LG's Top Five Breakthroughs
While introducing the LG G2 smartphone, James Fishler Senior VP LG Electronics USA stated that "Today, I'm going to stick to the top five breakthroughs: The design, the display, the camera, the sound and user experience."
1. The LG G2 Design
Fishler began his presentation on the topic of their G2 smartphone design by stating that "2.4 inches was the width of the smartphone when it was introduced in 2007. Six years later smartphones have gotten bigger in size and manufacturers have begun making premium smartphones at 2.7 inches" in width.
Rethinking the Buttons: Fishler moved on to smartphone buttons where he stated that "if size alone isn't causing people to drop their phones then maybe it's the buttons. Most smartphones have buttons on the sides and on the top and you're supposed to push them with the very same fingers that you're using to hold onto the phone in the first place.
For too long, we've been blaming our fingers for smartphone drops that are simply not their fault. We figured that there had to be a better way. LG observed thousands of users and it turns out that most people naturally hold the phone this way (as shown in the photo below). Because it's the most comfortable, most stable way to hold a smartphone.
So we decided, if your fingers are so eager to hang out on the back of the phone, then let's give it something to do while it's there. So we listened and we learned from you. We put the power and volume buttons right on the back of the G2.
It sounds so simple and it's a big design enhancement. And it's the first of our 5 great breakthroughs that we're going to talk through."
About the LG 2 Battery: "Now I know that at least some of you who have figured out that by putting the buttons on the back, it presents a challenge: the battery. If you have something going on at the back of the phone, you're either going to need to increase the size of the chassis or reduce the size of the battery. And I don't know about you, but I certainly don't want that thicker bulk. And we know that consumers don't want to reduce the operating time by making the battery smaller.
So LG's engineers beat the battery challenge with a design that qualifies as a breakthrough in its own right. The solution involved increasing the batteries density and incorporating a step design to reduce dead space.
The result, is a battery that provides more – that's right, actually more usage time and still allows us to use the rear key. So what does this rear key give us that that will provide us with a more comfortable and more stable grip?
Well, for one thing, the rear key means that you could find the volume control without looking at the phone. And this works with whether you're right handed or left handed. The rear key is right where your index finger goes.
Launching the G2's QuickMemo App: "Just like knocking on the door of a friend's house, the G2 wakes up with a couple of taps of your finger. Knock it again and it turns off. The volume control also doubles as a means to launch G2's QuickMemo function and camera."
Then Fishler quickly jumped to G2 camera out of sequence of the 5 key points by pointing out how easy it was to take a self-photo because the camera button was on the back. Pointing the display to his face Fishler stated: "So now taking a "selfy" got a whole lot easier. And there's no need to worry about smudges on the camera lens because we use anti-fingerprint sapphire crystal [like the iPhone has today] lens that is 3 times stronger than tempered glass.
With all of the important controls now living on the back of the phone, the front and the sides of the G2 are button-less zones that are free for the display.
Said another way, the rear key is the only – let me say that again – the rear key is the only physical button on this device. The G2 is sleek and stylish. Its look is one of a kind. The rear key makes the G2 more comfortable, functional, convenient and beautiful. It's a great idea and really, it's your idea. We learned it from you." That was a marketing point that LG and especially Fishler dragged through the entire keynote, as if it meant something.
2. The LG G2 Display
The second breakthrough noted in Fishler's keynote was the display. Fishler began with: "So, 2.7 inches: We know by looking at how people use their smartphones that it's the width of the phone that most people are carrying. So if 2.7 inches is the most common width, what is the largest possible screen you could get on a phone? I guess theoretically, it could be as big as football field, but that's not very portable [now how insightful was that!]. The G2's display screen is 5.2 inches. And those two tenths of an inch are a big deal, and here's why.
Smartphones have to serve two masters: our eyes and our hands. We've learned from you that if your eyes were calling the shots they'd make a display that's as big as possible. But your hand also wants what's comfortable. Size versus comfort: That's what smartphone makers have always been up against.
LG's Dual Routing Sensor Display: "And there's another wrinkle in the assignment," stated Fishler. "In the last few years, while phones were getting bigger, another change is taking place. People started using their phones longer. And the longer you look at a screen, the more eye fatigue that you experience. And in essence, the screen seems smaller. So again, we've listened and we learned from you. We studied the way people use their phones and realized that we had to get as much display out of our phones as possible while still keeping the phone comfortable in your hand. We found the answer in an LG innovation called dual routing.
On the display the touch sensors cross like tiles and once a person touches the display the touch sensors send the signals through the connector to the chipset and that fires up the application that the user just activated. The touch sensor on existing products only allows for a single connector and this requires a thicker bezel around the phone.
We gave the G2 a touch sensor that uses two connectors. More is better in this case. And this allows for significant reduction in the size of the bezel. We put that extra space to productive use. The result is that the G2 with a width of 2.7 inches is a brilliant 5.2 inch display in an ultrathin bezel of one-tenth of an inch. It's all screen.
The LG G2 Display uses Graphic Ram: "The answer to your next question is yes. That two-tenths of an inch makes an important difference. The display in the G2 is full HD and uses Graphic Ram. And that is another first of its kind. It allows us to reduce the display's energy by up to 26% on a still frame; an increase usage time by about 10%. And I can hear what you're thinking: none of this matters at all if the picture isn't very good.
Well, here's the thing: When most people look to purchase a smartphone they judge according to Pixels per Inch. But the number that they should be looking at is sub- pixels."
One of Fishler's slides on the sub-pixel count noted below show us just how clearer an IPS display can outshine an AMOLED display. The pixel counts shows AMOLED with 4,147,200 sub-pixels versus IPS with 6,220, 637 sub-pixels. Another point to back Apple's CEO Tim Cook commentary about why AMOLED didn't deliver color quality as the IPS that Apple uses.
Fishler continued: "And as you can see here [noted above], both are HD displays but the difference is huge, and the picture looks fantastic. So the first of our breakthroughs was an intuitive design that lets your hands and fingers do what they really want to do.
And the second is the G2's 5.2 inch full HD IPS Display – and that provides for an amazing picture without sacrificing anything in the comfort department. So let's switch gears to capturing images.
3. LG's new G2 Camera
Fishler begins breakthrough number 3, the LG's G2 camera. "Let's imagine riding in a car as a passenger and you're looking out the window.
The car is moving down the road swaying and bumping all over. What we're looking at with our eyes doesn't move like that. Our eyes focus because they're constantly making micro adjustments and they help keep the image clear."
The G2's Optical Image Stabilizer: Fishler added that "The G2's camera does that as well. The G2's optical image stabilizer [OIS] allows the camera to take crystal clear images even in a moving car.
Now there are other smartphones out there with OIS technology, but until now, OIS has mostly been available on 4 or 8 Mega Pixel smartphone cameras. The G2 take OIS technology available for the first time on a 13MP smartphone camera without any box bumps [a clear kick at Nokia's smartphone] or unsightly lens housing and it'll help to maintain slim, sleek design. Now can you not only take clear non-blurry photos from a moving car, but you can take crisp, perfectly lit pictures at night.
The problems capturing quality images in low light is that you need a longer exposure time. But for every millisecond that the shutter is open, you hand can shake. And if your hand shakes, what happens? You blur the image." Fishler then walks off stage and allows for a video of a G2 team member demonstrating the new feature.
The demo placed the new LG G2 in a center test-dummy's hand while the Samsung Galaxy S4 sat in a dummy hand on the left side and Apple's iPhone 5 sat in a dummy hand on the right. The test-dummy hands were then set to shake up and down. You were able to clearly see that the photo images on both competing smartphones were moving up and down as expected. But the G2 image was notably stable to prove LG's claims of superior stability. Being that we have no idea if the test was tampered with, we have to take it at face value. However, it's more than likely that real-world testing of this feature will likely surface in the coming days from various sources to verify the validity of this camera feature which could be important with camera lovers.
Fishler returned to the stage saying "Wow, look at how great that picture looked on the G2. So breakthrough number three: the G2 is the only smartphone with a 13 inch Mega Pixel camera without the extra bulk to have an IOS function.
4. LG G2 Sound. CD vs. Hi-Fi Audio Quality
On LG's fourth breakthrough for the G2, Fishler turned to Sound. "So let's talk about sound. What you see here behind me [see below] is a graph of the best frequency band of an original sound. The blue line represents a frequency at 16bit, 44.1 KHz sound. This normally what we hear on a CD. Many of us are under the impression that CD sound is perfect. But as you could see here, and more importantly, as you can hear, there's a lot missing from it. Humans can hear a lot more than CD's deliver. The red line is the graphic representation of sound recorded in a professional studio.
At 24bit, 192 KHz, if you listen to this perfect recording under ideal conditions, you not only hear the music but also the musician's breathing, the fingers of the fingers hitting the piano keys and piano's stops and actions – everything.
Today, we carry a lot than music on our phones. Entertainment of all kinds have migrated to the phone and that means not just music but game audio, movie soundtracks and more are living on our smartphone. And as people are getting more visual entertainment out of their phones, we've learned from you, that they're starting to demand more from their audio as well.
Some smartphone manufacturers have tried to embed the Hi-Fi technology into the smartphone. Unfortunately, it's no simple task. At LG's innovative audio technology, we were able to rise to the challenge. The G2 produces sound quality at 24 bit 192 KHz, the same standard used in professional recording studios. It's a huge leap forward for smartphone audio."
5. The LG G2 User Experience
LG G2 Feature – Answer Me: In LG's last presentation point, Fishler turned to user experience (UX) and began with a new feature called Answer Me. "So how do you answer your phone? You grab it, look to see who is calling; tap or swipe to answer it and then you place the phone to your ear. But how did you answer your phone back in the old days when it had a cord?
You simply picked it up and put it to your ear. You could still go through all those steps if you want but with a new feature from LG called "Answer Me," you no longer have to. Answer Me was born with a simpler way of doing things. As soon as you pick up a ringing G2, the phone senses it, turns down the ring tone and connects the call.
No more pushing a button or swiping to get a call. And guess what else? For all you New Yorkers in the winter wearing gloves, there's no need to take them off to answer the phone. "
LG G2 Feature – Plug & Pop: "As reporters and story tellers, you know you can tell a lot about people by watching them. As an Example, if you see someone plugging in a headset into a phone, you could make a pretty confident assumption that they're not about to take a picture. Rather, they're more likely to listen to music, watch a video, or maybe even play a game. Plugging a headset into the G2 launches "Plug & Pop."
This new feature makes it easier to find and use the apps and functions that people are mostly likely to have in mind when they're ready to use a headset."
In the slide noted above you can clearly see that when a user plugs a headset into a new G2 smartphone, the user interface will quickly verify that the headphone jack has been successfully plugged in and then accordingly pop up the appropriate apps that a user will want to access for headset use.
LG G2 Feature – Text Link: "Now, let's say I get a text from a friend that wants to do something this weekend. Normally I'd have to go through a dance that sounds something like this. I'd look at a text message, close the window; bring out the schedule, go to the relevant date; set the time to the meeting time; write the appointment, stop at the line for writing down the location … and what time was that – oh ya 11AM.
I'd have to go back to the text message confirm the location, go to the schedule and finish something and you know what? I don't want to go through all of that and the G2 agrees with you.
The G2's Text Link feature eliminates those steps and takes text information management a breeze. Okay, so let's try it this way: I get a text message from my buddy Jack; oh it looks like he wants to do something this weekend. The G2 is so intuitive, it'll automatically launch the calendar or maps function depending on my needs
At the End of the Day
At one point in time, all eyes were on the annual iPhone event because that's where the world was going to see the latest and greatest advances in smartphone technology debut. The 2007 iPhone was breathtakingly brilliant and it created the smartphone revolution led by Steve Jobs and team Apple.
Over time the competition both stole Apple technology and had years to deliver a competing product. Today, even though Samsung is now the global "volume leader," the iPhone versus the Galaxy shows that Apple is still in a leadership position. Yet even that is beginning to be challenged by a wide variety of new competitors such as LG, Lenovo, Sony and new comers like Yulong that have come out of nowhere to take the number four spot in global shipments.
This year, Apple's competitors have taken market share from them and the competition is growing bolder while bringing new technologies to market worth noting. Today, LG introduced their new G2 smartphone at a New York event. It was a decent event that was very focused and without Broadway nonsense like Samsung delivered months earlier.
LG will be bringing Hi-Fi quality audio to their smartphones along with an advanced IPS HD display worth noting. They illustrated how IPS HD buries AMOLED HD in quality.
LG's new camera is impressive overall in that it's to deliver a 13MP camera with vastly superior optical image stabilizer when compared to the iPhone and Galaxy smartphones and is offering excellent quality for photos taken at night.
So there were a few interesting features to note. However, LG was really trying to hit a grand slam homerun with their new smartphone design. They were trying to position the new design as a revolutionary design by eliminating side and top smartphone buttons with a combined super button on the rear of the smartphone where our fingers generally "hang out," as was described.
I have to admit that some of their thinking was interesting to listen to and let's face it, Apple was thinking about using the rear camera to perform different functions back in 2010.
However, their arguments were good but not without major flaws. One of the slides that we included in our report shows a car passenger leaning out of the car to take a photo with the supposed convenience of having a rear button to snap the photo with. The flaw in that scenario is that the user is unable to tell what the heck they're taking a photo of to begin with. The design however is better for taking photos of yourself, but I've yet to do that, so I don't how that becomes any sort of "killer app."
The fact that they have the volume in the back and view it as some sort of brilliant idea is baffling. I don't change volume on games or music while holding it up to my ear, so my hand positioning would find a rear volume button of no value.
And while picking up your phone and it turning on instantly with a natural flick of an index finger is appealing, Fishler blew it at the very end of his presentation without so much as a blink of an eye. When describing a feature called "Guest Mode" (which we didn't highlight in our report), he admited to logging in with an "L" gesture made on the display and G for guest. But if you need to sign in with the letter "L" on the touch display you've just taken away the argument of convenience for a button in the rear for instantly turning on your phone. So you end up with absolutely no advantage with their new rear controls. Yes, they can brag about having eliminated side and top buttons, but what is that worth if they don't deliver measurable value to begin with?
At the end of the day, LG's new G2 smartphone has a series of solid features worth noting. At best, the new G2 smartphone may be able to help LG gain one or two spots in the top five to maybe number three or four. But that's about it. If you saw it differently, then send in your comments.
The Pantech Smartphone with Fingerprint Scanner on Rear Panel