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LG's new G3 smartphone: Simpler is better

Matt Hamblen | May 28, 2014
LG Electronics emphasized a simpler user experience during its unveiling of the new G3 smartphone that could prove to be a lot more than marketing noise.

Updates to the G3's virtual keyboard include the ability to track and analyze a user's typing habits to reduce input errors by more than 75%, according to Andrew Coughlin, LG's head of user experience in the UK. Various changes also reduce hand and eye movements during typing, he said.

LG's security updates include a kill switch that allows the user to disable the G3 remotely in the event of theft, and to wipe content, including video or photos. A content lock feature also encrypts data to keep files locked in the phone's internal memory or on a separate microSD card, LG said.

The G3 alos uses Knock Code for unlocking the device with a pattern of taps anywhere on the screen, giving users 80,000 different patterns that are hard to steal. LG officials said fingerprint-scanning technology that is used in other new phones, including the Samsung Galaxy S5 and the iPhone 5S, is too unreliable.

The user interface has not been a great selling point of LG smartphones in the past, noted Carolina Milanesi, chief of research at Kantar WorldPanel. "I'll be curious to see how much the UI has improved," she said.

Milanesi said the G3 seems like a "nice improvement" over the G2, which has been fairly successful mainly because it has lately been priced below high-end smartphones, although it started out at $199 with a two-year contract last year. Some carriers, such as AT&T, are now offering the G2 for free with a two-year contract after discounts. Carriers are selling the unlocked G2 for around $400, compared with more than $600 for some newer unlocked high-end smartphones.

While there was earlier speculation that LG would reveal more details about its upcoming G Watch smartwatch on Tuesday, Coughlin said only that the G Watch, when it arrives later this year, will work with the G3 and other smartphones running Android 4.3 and above.

Whether the simplicity of the G3 becomes a selling point or just a nice sidelight might depend on how well LG markets the device, Llamas said. LG was fifth in total smartphone market share, with 4.3%, in the first quarter of 2014, according to IDC. Samsung was first at 30.8%, followed by Apple at 15.2%, Huawei at 4.7% and Lenovo at 4.4%.

"As impressive as the G3 is, it's still a market heavily in favor of Samsung and Apple and LG's in the thick of it with Huawei and Lenovo," Llamas said. "LG has to make it stand out compared to other devices on the market. It will depend on how much marketing LG is going to put out there on the G3."

Milanesi added that LG's main concern will be selling the device in the competitive high-end smartphone market. "With Huawei stepping up in features and quality, LG will really have to focus on building up its brand, so that they compete on more than just price."


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