The LG G2 and the G Pad 8.3, the flagship smartphone and tablet from LG Electronics Inc., are great mobile devices that have fantastic screens, top-end cameras and ample processing power.
But making an impressive device is not enough to stand apart from the crowd in the ultra-competitive mobile phone market, which probably pushed LG to make some bold design decisions in a bid to differentiate its G series from Samsung Galaxy line and Apple iPad mini.
For the LG G2, which was released last month in the US, the company moved the power and volume controls to the back of the phone. For the LG G Pad, which goes on sale in the US next week, the company added a full HD screen, a rarity in 8-inch tablet computers.
While these design choices set the LG G2 and the LG G Pad apart from 'me too' devices trying to catch up with Samsung and Apple Inc, they might also limit their appeal.
Not everyone will be pleased with having to change the basic habits of smartphone operation. They will scratch their heads looking for those buttons just like I did. The full HD screen display makes the LG G Pad a couple of hundred dollars more expensive than other 8-inch tablets.
It took a couple of days before my index finger ceased pressing a volume key when I intended to press a power key. But after that, I realized having a power button on the back makes it easier to use a big handset with one hand. The LG G2 has a 5.2-inch screen.
LG came up with a double-tap gesture to activate the phone. I found it easier and quicker than pressing a home button and then sliding to unlock as with my iPhone 4S. This double-tap to start also applies to the G Pad.
LG removed the physical home button on the front for the LG G2 and the LG G Pad. Instead, virtual buttons for back, home and menu actions appear when the screen is activated. I preferred these virtual buttons over physical ones because I could touch them with the same gesture and pressure I applied to the touchscreen. One downside of Samsung's Galaxy devices is that the touchscreen and the three buttons for home, back and menu options all need a different level of pressure to be activated.
LG's virtual buttons rotated with the screen when I tilted the G2 or the