There's a new arms race in the smartphone wars, and LG is out in front. Boasting the first quad HD display on a handset, the LG G3 packs 2560 x 1440 pixels into a large 5.5-inch screen. The G3 also sports a unique laser-focus 13-megapixel camera, which helps you lock onto subjects faster. It also happens to produce lovely photos.
The Sprint version of the G3 ($199 with two-year contract) comes in an exclusive gold color and taps into the carrier's high-speed Spark LTE network. Other highlights include a sleek floating arc design that looks better than the Galaxy S5, a cleaner and leaner Android skin and a Smart Keyboard you can stretch to suit your needs.
The G3's Snapdragon 801 processor and 3GB of RAM give it enough oomph for swift everyday performance, but it falls behind the S5 and HTC One M8 on several benchmarks. Ultimately, short battery life, a relatively dim display (pixels aren't everything) and spotty LTE throughput dampen our enthusiasm for LG's strongest effort yet.
Editors' Note: See our full review of the LG G3 on AT&T for an in-depth look at the phone's design, features, camera, software and more.
Click to EnlargeSprint bundles a bunch of its own apps with the G3. These include Sprint ID to download themes, the Sprint Zone app store, Sprint Money Express for transferring cash and Sprint Framily Wall to share and connect with your family privately.
Other apps include NBA Game Time, Nascar Mobile 2014, NextRadio, the Eureka Offers coupon app, BaconReader client for Reddit, Box cloud storage, and Lookout Security. While fans of sports, shopping or Reddit will appreciate these apps, most people probably won't use any of these programs.
MORE: 25 Best Android Apps
Click to EnlargeSprint's Spark is the company's enhanced LTE network that's supposed to provide speedy mobile Web browsing. Unfortunately, despite the coverage map indicating that my Hell's Kitchen apartment was within its coverage area, I found the service to be spotty, dropping in and out. The G3 had trouble connecting at all inside our Flatiron office. On the rooftop of our office, Sprint's 3G network clocked crawling averages of 0.36 Mbps down and 0.50 Mbps up.
When it did connect to Sprint's Spark network, though, the G3 was swift. Using the Speedtest.net app in Union Square, the handset delivered average downloads of 21.34 Mbps and 9.54 Mbps up.
Spark reaches just 27 cities (as of late June), while Sprint's regular 4G LTE network covers more than 470 markets. By comparison, Verizon's enhanced XLTE network currently blankets 350 out of 500 of its 4G LTE markets. However, Sprint says Spark will cover 100 million people by the end of 2014.
Despite packing a large 3,000 mAh battery, the Sprint version of the G3 didn't offer very good endurance. Clocking just 6 hours and 39 minutes on the Laptop Mag Battery Test (Web surfing over 4G), Sprint's G3 fell more than an hour behind the average smartphone (7:44). The Galaxy S5 (8:46) and HTC One M8 (9:26) both lasted more than two hours longer.
Click to EnlargeThe Sprint G3 is a beautiful device with a big and super-sharp display and speedy, high-quality camera. We also like that you get 32GB of built-in memory for the same price as the 16GB Samsung Galaxy S5. However, the G3's battery life falls behind the competition, and the screen is dimmer than the S5's Super AMOLED panel. The LG G3 is a good choice, but it's not our top choice.