iPhone 5s vs LG G2 full review
Our colleagues over at PC Advisor describe the LG G2 as 'the best smartphone you can buy'. They're referring to its unsurpassed blend of value and performance. It's a high-end Android smartphone that offers all the features you might expect in a well-built shell that costs less than £300. But does that mean you should throw over your beloved iPhone and take the Android option?
Here at Macworld we love our iPhones, and the iPhone 5s in particular. But we like to put some science behind our recommendations, so we've been comparing the LG G2 with the iPhone 5s.
LG G2 vs iPhone 5s comparison: UK price
The iPhone 5S is readily available right now with prices starting at £549 if you buy one off-contract from Apple. There are £629 and £709 models, depending on what level of storage you require.
Shop around online and you can find the LG G2 listed at £299 for the base model, and around £339 for the 32GB handset. It's a very good phone for the price. Are you tempted? Read on...
LG G2 vs iPhone 5s comparison: hardware and performance
Let's start with the quantifiables. The G2 is equipped with Qualcomm's quad-core Snapdragon 800 running at 2.6GHz. This is accompanied by an Adreno 330 GPU and a healthy 2 GB of RAM.
The iPhone 5s, on the other hand, has a 64-bit A7 processor running at 1.2- to 1.3GHz. It's a dual-core Cyclone processor paired with 1GB of DDR3 RAM. We've never found the iPhone to have any major performance issues, and Apple says it's twice as fast as the previous model in both CPU and graphics performance. But that hardware is no match for the LG G2. Does it matter in real-world terms? Remember that the feel of performance is as much software- as hardware related.
On the iPhone 5s the A7 makes iOS 7 buttery smooth. There's nary a judder or stutter when swiping between home screens, or exiting an app and watching your icons fly into place. Apps launch and web pages load faster than ever: the iPhone 5s is simply a joy to use.
The A7 also has a motion co-processor – the M7 – which will come into its own when the developers of activity tracking apps update their software to use the new chip. It should mean the 5S can replace the likes of a Fitbit Flex or Withings Pulse.
Our benchmarks show just how much quicker the new A7 chip makes the 5S. In SunSpider 1.0, the 5S completed the test in just 417ms. The iPhone 5 (running iOS 7), meanwhile, took 721ms, and the Samsung Galaxy S4 922ms.
Similar gains were found in Geekbench 3, with the iPhone 5 scoring 721 points. Running GLBenchmark 2.7 (Egypt HD), the iPhone 5s managed 53fps, compared to the iPhone 5's 41fps. However, a bigger difference can be seen using the T-Rex HD test, where the 5S scored 37fps.
By contrast the LG G2 scores 4085 in Geekbench 2, 51 fps in GLBenchmark 2.5 and 901 ms in SunSpider 1.0.
Number crunching is all well and good but the real-world performance of the phone is more important. As we've found with other Snapdragon 800 devices the LG G2's performance is excellent. Navigation around the OS is super slick, opening apps is snappy and scrolling though pages or lists is smooth.
The only real issue we can find is that web pages can take a small amount of time to re-render when zooming back out. This is an issue which the iPhone doesn't suffer from.
So cast aside benchmark scores and hardware specs. These are two superfast phones. We'll call this one a draw. (If you want to know more about how the iPhone 5s improves on the iPhone 5, read iPhone 5 vs iPhone 5s comparison review: What's new in the iPhone 5s?)
LG G2 vs iPhone 5s comparison: storage
The iPhone 5s is available in 16GB, 32GB and 64GB capacities but doesn't have a microSD card slot for expansion.
The LG G2 comes in either 16GB or 32GB of internal storage, and you might be best off opting for the latter as there's no microSD card slot for expansion here either.
If storage is critical to you, you need the bigger iPhone 5s.
LG G2 vs iPhone 5s comparison: display
LG has managed to pack into the LG G2 a 5.2in IPS display. Matching other top Android handsets, it's got a Full HD resolution and although the size means the pixel density is a little lower, 424 ppi, the difference isn't noticeable. The fantastic display is a key feature of the G2 for us. And to be honest we prefer it to the iPhone's.
Apple's iPhone 5s still has a 4in display, in a 10:9 aspect ration. You get a resolution of 640 x 1136 pixels, which makes for a pixel density of 326 ppi. It is a more-than decent screen - one that until 18 months ago would have beaten out all comers. However, compared to the larger, Full HD displays of the iPhone 5s's rivals, the screen is starting to feel cramped.
You do pay for that extra screen size in extra bulk, but we're going to chalk this one up to the LG G2.
LG G2 vs iPhone 5s comparison: connectivity, extra features
With the smartphone market so hotly contended, extra features are a way of standing out from the crowd. The LG G2 has a few tricks up its sleeve beyond the usual and now standard combination of Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC and 4G support.
First of all, the G2 has an infrared transmitter so you can control TVs and Blu-ray players. It works well. Something which is more unique will be music to the ears of all you audiophiles out there. The G2 supports up to 24bit/192kHz audio playback for FLAC and WAV files – something which is lacking from the iPhone 5s. This can be accessed only by the headphone port but it's impressive none the less.
The iPhone 5s offers 802.11n WiFi and full 4G coverage. Apple also added a fingerprint scanner - known as Touch ID - to the iPhone 5s when it launched in September 2013. (See iPhone 5S vs iPhone 5C comparison review for more on the differences between Apple's two phones.)
LG G2 vs iPhone 5s comparison: cameras
The LG G2's rear camera, which sits above the Rear Key, has a resolution of 13Mp and features optical image stabilisation (OIS). There's no dedicated camera key on the G2 which is a shame but the camera takes high quality photos and videos nevertheless. It's not the best smartphone camera around, that goes to the Lumia 1020, but it's up there with the best.
Focus can take a little while to lock on at times but you can switch to manual if you should be brave enough, not that manual is faster. There are a range of different shooting modes which unfortunately include 'Beauty Shot' and 'Dual Camera'.
OIS means that videos are kept smooth and mostly shake-free and the G2 is able to shoot in up to 1080p quality at 60 fps. For videos, you can use Audio Zooming to hone in on the sound from the left, right or center of the clip and Zoom to Track to focus on a subject during playback. Both are a bit hit and miss and slightly on the gimmicky side of things.
The 2Mp front facing camera also offers great quality imagery with up to 1080p video at 30 fps.
The iPhone 5s has two cameras, a front-facing FaceTime camera and a rear-facing camera known as an iSight camera. The specifications work out as follows.
The iPhone 5s iSight camera has what Apple describes as a 'better 8Mp sensor', than either the iPhone 5 or the iPhone 5C. It lists the sensor as 8 megapixels with 1.5µ pixels. It has ƒ/2.2 aperture and a True Tone flash which has two LEDs, one of which is amber. The FaceTime Camera takes 1.2Mp photos at a resolution of 1280x960, and offers 720p HD video recording.
Importantly, the 5S no longer uses an upscaled 4Mp mode in very low light as the iPhone 5 does, and photos taken in dark conditions have much less noise. In good light, you won't see a huge difference between images from the two iPhones, but at night, the 5S does a better job.
These are two good smartphone cameras, and it is difficult to part them in terms of camera or the other extra features.
LG G2 vs iPhone 5s comparison: software
Software is an area where there a huge difference. Android vs iOS is a big debate and with iOS 7 comes a major overaul of Apple's mobile operating system.
On the plus side, iOS 7 now comes with a much needed quick settings feature called Control Center. There are also other tweaks and improvements such as better multi-tasking and lock screen access to the notification centre.
Apple has the strong App Store store on its side but iOS has a distinct lack of customisability which is Android's major strong point.
Android smartphone manufacturers tend to go one of two ways with their Android interfaces; vanilla as Google intended or all-out customisation with their own skin or overlay.
LG's Practical UX doesn't look as stylish as does iOS7. It's more akin to Samsung's TouchWiz with popping colours and cluttered areas, namely the notification bar into which LG has crammed everything imaginable.
Luckily there are some additional software features so make up for the clutter, including: KnockON a way of switching the phone on and off without using the rear located buttons, and the fact the G2 has an infrared transmitter which is unitised by the QuickRemote app. There are plenty more on offer for both phones: iOS and Android are pretty evenly matched these days.
Ultimately iOS is the curated but locked down, secure experience. Android offers more of a security threat but greater levels of customisation. There are really only two things we categorically prefer about Android over iOS. For on thing you can access the phone's storage from a Mac or PC. And for another you can charge and sync using any micro USB cable.
You're reading Macworld so you will probably prefer iOS. If you're curious, LG's version of Android is a good example of a much-improved platform. (You can find more on this in my companion piece: iPhone 5s vs Nexus 5 smartphone comparison review.)
LG G2 vs iPhone 5s comparison: design and build
The front of the LG G2 looks similar to the Samsung Galaxy S4, although it has no physical or touch sensitive buttons below the screen. However, flip it over and the handset looks unique. We like the fibreglass-style finish but more notable is the fact that buttons have been slapped below the camera.
Almost every smartphone on the market has a power button on the side or top but LG has thrown the rule book out of the window. The power and volume keys, collectively known as the Rear Key, are all places on the back.
It's a strange concept but something we've got accustomed to over time – the volume buttons a placed ergonomically so you can make adjustments while on a call. Thanks to a feature called KnockON, you don't actually need the power key to switch the phone on and off. A simple double tap of the screen will bring it to life, although it doesn't always work first time. You can also turn it off by double tapping the notification bar or an empty section of the homescreen.
LG has impressed us by squeezing a large screen into a small chassis. The G2's super slim bezels give it a great 'edge-to-edge' look.
Protecting the front is Gorilla Glass 2 and although the rear is plastic, the G2 feels solid and well-made. A couple of minor caveats on the design and build front include the statutory information and 'do not bin' spoiling the look of the rear cover a tad and the earpiece is slightly recessed from the glass so collects dirt.
Of course you know what the iPhone 5s looks like. Construction is the same as the iPhone 5, a rather delicate and all-too scratchable aluminium body with aluminosilicate glass front, and glass inset top-and-bottom cheeks behind. At 112g and 7.6mm thick, it's as ridiculously light and thin as before. And that is lighter, and smaller than the 138.5 x 70.9 x 8.9 mm and 143 g LG G2. If you need small and light, the iPhone should be your choice.
It's not just the iPhone 5c that now demands you choose your colour. For the iPhone 5s Apple introduced a new gilt-free option it's calling Gold - gold-effect back and edges with white glass trim. There's the Silver option resembling last year's white/silver iPhone 5. And the most sober of three, and the only one approaching decent availability at launch, is the black and grey model, dubbed Space Grey. It's like the original black iPhone 5, only with a lighter shade of graphite to its back and edges.
Instead of the Black & Slate and White & Silver options that the iPhone 5 was available in, the iPhone 5s has three colour options: Silver, Gold and "Space Grey".
Beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder, and you'll prefer the phone you prefer. In our view the iPhone 5s is much nicer to look at and hold than is the LG G2. It's also quantifiably smaller and lighter. However, the LG G2 doesn't require a case as it is more robustly built.
LG G2 vs iPhone 5s comparison: battery
The G2 continues to impress when it comes to battery life. The smartphone has a large 11.1Wh (3000mAh) capacity battery – notable given the physical size of the device.
With a general usage pattern, the G2 lasts a good couple of days with the potential to last three for those who don't sit playing Real Racing 3 all day long. The phone predicts how much time there is until depletion and how much percentage you've burned in the last three hours.
Apple added some clever touches to help out the iPhone's 1560 mAh battery. To offload some of the low-level background duties, which nonetheless would keep the main CPU busy enough to deny it power nap moments, an additional little coprocessor has been added to the iPhone 5s. The M7 chip's given role is to process incoming sensor data from the accelerometer, compass and gyroscope, some of the components that give the phone its orientation.
So iOS 7's wallpaper parallax effect, where the background image seems to slide behind as you wiggle the phone, is driven by the M7 chip. And with the current fad in fitness and health monitoring apps built for the iPhone, Apple has spotted a new usage area that can be improved, without impinging so much on the phone's essential battery longevity.
With the iPhone 5s in a typical usage pattern similar to that with which we tried the LG G2, we found it would last a little less than 36 hours, including two overnight dormant spells.
That's a pretty even performance from the LG G2 and the iPhone 5s. (For the full low-down on the iPhone 5s read: iPhone 5s review: The only smartphone worth getting excited about.)