The Rear Key works as advertised, but, after spending quality time with the device, I actually found the relocated buttons to be as problematic as they were intuitive. KnockOn is a useful feature I'd like to see on more phones—Nokia offers similar functionality on some Lumia devices—but having the buttons on the backside does add some extra steps in other places.
When the phone is face up on a flat surface, for example, changing the volume without picking up the device requires you to double tap the screen to wake the G2, take whatever steps you have in place for security, then pull down the status bar to find the volume slider. On the bright side, at least you no longer have to worry about accidental button presses when simply grasping the device.
Found on the opposite side of the Rear Key is an absolutely gorgeous, 5.2-inch IPS LCD display with a 1920 x 1080 resolution, which results in a stunning pixel density of about 424 ppi. Content on the screen could be seen in direct sunlight across a wide range of viewing angles. Despite the larger the screen, the G2 is only slightly taller and wider than the 5-inch Galaxy S4. LG was able to achieve this feat by opting for on-screen buttons (which some Android users, including myself, prefer) and an incredibly thin bezel along the sides.
Powering the G2 is an impressive combination of a 2.26 GHz quad-core Qualcomm Krait 400 CPU and Adreno 330 graphics. A vast majority of the time, the G2 and its Snapdragon 800 chip was blazingly quick, but it still suffered the occasional stutter when hopping around the power-hungry Android operating system. A rare hiccup isn't a deal breaker, by any means, but it is a sign that LG's software tweaks—which aren't quite as plentiful as Samsung's TouchWiz UI, but aren't far behind—could be draining the phone of its precious resources.
Some of LG's alterations to Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean are actually quite useful. Answering phone calls and responding to text messages can be done through a small window that pops up without ever having to exit the app you're currently using. But the overabundance of other software features, like Slide Aside, which lets you dock up to three apps for quick access with an awkward three-finger swipe, and Smart video, which pauses video when not looking at the screen, are, for the most part, completely unnecessary and will likely remain untouched by most users.
The monstrous 3000 mAh battery that comes with the G2 can keep you gaming, working, and browsing all day with no worries. It's one of the longest lasting Android batteries I've used, and you'd really have to make a conscious effort to see it completely depleted in a single work day. Overnight charging is still required, but you can rest assured knowing that you won't need to hunt for a microUSB cord during your typical day. Light users might even be able to get through two days between charges.
When in low light situations, or if a majority of light is coming from artificial sources, the camera had the tendency to produce blurry and / or noisy pictures. With proper software adjustments, photos came out better, but the process wasn't nearly as pain-free as it was when dealing with more natural settings.
The hardware button placement, while unique, brings with it as many problems as it does possible solutions. I'm willing to give LG credit for trying to deliver something different with the Rear Key, but I wouldn't go as far to say that it delivered something better.
- +Beautiful display.
- +Long-lasting battery.
- +High-quality build.
- +Wireless charging.
- –Full of gimmicky apps and features.
- –Rear Key can be troublesome.