LG G3 sports quad-HD screen and laser autofocus

The smartphone will start shipping in June in Europe and the US

LG is hoping its new flagship smartphone, the G3, will beat the competition with a screen resolution that's better than full HD and a camera that uses infrared laser to speed up autofocus.

After weeks of countless leaks, LG finally launched the G3 Tuesday. HTC, Samsung Electronics and Sony have introduced new high-end products this year, but LG decided to wait. The extra time allowed its display unit to finish developing the G3's party piece, a really impressive-looking 5.5-inch screen with a 2560 by 1440 pixel resolution, or quad HD.

Plans for the screen, which has a density of 538 pixels per inch, were first announced by LG Display in August last year.

Smartphone aficionados have expressed worries that the increased resolution will have a negative effect on the battery life, but LG said that the G3 will be able to run for as long as competing products. The G3 has a 3000 mAh battery and a number of features to help increase battery life, including the ability to control CPU speed and screen frame rate.

Smartphone makers over the past few months have focused on design, and have been using more premium materials such as metals and glass. However, LG has decided to stick with a plastic shell, like Samsung did with the Galaxy S5. But LG has designed a new material it calls "metallic skin" for the back cover, which looks particularly attractive in the "Metallic Black" and "Shine Gold" colors.

The advantage is that plastic doesn't affect radio reception and allows the device to be charged wirelessly, LG said.

On the software side, LG has redone the user interface, giving it a flatter, less three-dimensional aspect and using fewer icons in, for example, the camera app.

Like its competitors, LG said it has done a lot of development work to improve the main camera. The G3 has a 13-megapixel camera with optical image stabilization and an automatic focus that uses infrared laser to measure the distance to the object being photographed. To speed up the process, which takes approximately 276 milliseconds, the transmitter uses a cone-shaped signal that is turned on when the camera is activated and can scan multiple objects at the same time.

Unlike some other vendors, the company decided to stick with a 2.1-megapixel-resolution front camera. To attract selfie addicts, the HTC One M8 and the One Mini 2 have a 5-megapixel front camera, while the Huawei Ascend P7 sports 8-megapixel on the front. But the use of larger pixels helps the G3's front camera produce images that compete with selfies taken with the competing phones.

LG has also decided to skip a fingerprint reader for authentication. The technology simply isn't mature enough at this point, according to LG. The company instead lets users knock on the screen to unlock it.

The G3 runs Android 4.4 and is powered by a Snapdragon 801 quad-core processor running at 2.5GHz. It has 16GB or 32GB of integrated storage and 2GB or 3GB of RAM. The storage capacity can be expanded by an additional 128GB using the microSD card slot.

The G3 measures 146.3 x 74.6 x 8.9 millimeters and weighs 149 grams. The company made it slightly thicker than necessary to make it easier to hold, according to Chul Bae Lee, head of Mobile Communications Design Center.

Even though it has a larger, 5.5-inch screen, the G3 is lighter than Sony's Xperia Z2 or HTC's One M8. The Galaxy S5 and the Huawei Ascend P7 are slightly smaller and lighter at 145 grams and 124 grams, respectively. The four competing smartphones have screens that measure between 5 and 5.2 inches.

On the networking side, the G3 can connect to both regular 4G networks and those that use LTE-Advanced. LTE-Advanced consists of a number of different technologies designed to help improve performance. The G3 supports carrier aggregation, which allows networks to devote more resources to some users by treating two or more channels in the same or different frequency bands as if they were one.

The G3 will start shipping in South Korea this week, and then in Europe as well as the U.S. in June. The company didn't announce pricing.

Send news tips and comments to mikael_ricknas@idg.com

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