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LG G3 vs HTC One (M8): the beast shoot-out

Kris Carlon
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Today we're putting the LG G3 up against the HTC One (M8) in our comparison of the two Android smartphones with the most interesting cameras going around right now. There's some interesting similarities between the two devices but also some significant differences that go beyond mere numbers on paper, so read on and see where those differences lie and how important they are to your flagship hit list.

LG G3 HTC One M8 display
The HTC One (M8) (let) and the LG G3 (right). / © AndroidPIT

​Design and Manufacture

Both of these phones look great: the HTC One (M8) has built on the successful design of the HTC One (M7), although not everyone is a fan of the big bezels, especially along the bottom of the screen where the HTC logo sits. The LG G3 has improved on the design of the LG G2 and switched out the G2's shiny plastic battery cover for a removable brushed aluminum-look plastic. The HTC One (M8) is taller and thicker than the G3, despite having a 5-inch screen compared to the G3's 5.5 inches. The M8 is not as wide as the G3 though.

Link to Video

The One (M8) features front-mounted BoomSound speakers placed under speaker grills at the top and bottom of the screen, which is surrounded by quite large bezels. On the rear of the device lies a dual-camera setup, dual-LED flash and full metallic body. The power button is rather awkwardly located on the top edge of the tall device, alongside an infrared blaster. MicroSD expansion is available on the right side of the device just above the volume rocker. Both devices have an LED notification light.

LG G3 HTC One M8 top bezel
Both devices are very nicely styled and the LG G3 (left) has tiny bezels, but the HTC One (M8) has the great front-mounted BoomSound speakers. / © AndroidPIT

The LG G3 is noticeably lighter than the M8 due to its plastic construction, but features a slim aluminum band around the edges. The color or the plastic battery cover is brought onto the bottom bezel on the front. The G3 has very small bezels around the screen, with a screen-to-body ratio of 76.4%. A speaker is mounted on the back at the bottom and at the top lies the ''rear-key'' volume rocker and power button with the camera lens on top, straddled by the dual-LED flash and laser auto-focus. The G3 also has an IR blaster and microSD is available inside the battery cover, where a removable battery also lies.

LG G3 HTC One M8 camera 2
The HTC One(M8) (left) has a aluminum unibody while the LG G3 (right) has a brushed aluminum-look plastic removable back cover. / © AndroidPIT

Display

Besides the size difference, the quality of the screens is quite remarkable as well. The G3 has a QHD display with pixel density of 534 ppi. The One (M8) has a Full HD display with 441 ppi. Having said this though, the M8's display is crisp and vibrant and the added pixels in the G3 are not necessarily that noticeable unless you are looking at high enough resolution images or videos to really see it in action. The M8 produces purer whites than the G3 and is a little brighter overall. When seen side by side though, the G3 display looks simply huge: if you line up the top edge of the screens, the G3's display continues below the bottom of the HTC-branded black bezel on the M8.

LG G3 HTC One M8 bezel
The HTC One (M8) bezels (left) take upa  lot of space up front, but the whites are purer on the M8 display. / © AndroidPIT

Software and UI

Sense 6 vs Optimus UI. I'll leave your personal preferences to decide which interface you like best, but here's a few features of both. The G3 has a more modern looking interface with super flat icons and transparent app drawer. The One (M8) has the new Blinkfeed dedicated home screen on the left for social networks and news feeds, whereas the G3 has a combination LG Health/Smart Tips home screen. If enabled, Smart Bulletins will pop up occasionally on the G3 if inclement weather is on the way or you have other ''smart'' notifications that need attention, like clearing out unused apps.

AndroidPIT LG G3 HTC One M8 homescreen
Optimus UI on the LG G3 (left) and Sense 6 on the HTC One (M8) (right). / © AndroidPIT

Both devices have their own stock of ''bloatware'' apps: it's up to you if you find these useful or not, but the G3 allows you to uninstall some of them at least and has better pre-loaded app options than the M8. Both devices have a battery saving mode, but the One (M8) has the Extreme Power Saving Mode on top of a regular power saving setting. The G3 performs very well considering its QHD display, but the HTC One (M8) has great battery performance by default that is only increased by its EPSM. It's not the most user friendly power saving mode though, as you only have access to a limited number of apps without any customization options, but it certainly works.

Both devices have very good gesture controls. The Motion Launch controls on the M8 allow you to launch a number of apps direct from a screen-off state, including the camera, where the G3 only allows some rather pedestrian reject call/silence ringtone gestures based on flipping the device or lifting it to your ear. Both devices support double tap to wake, but only the G3 can double tap to sleep. The G3 also has Knock Code as a security option which can be used to access the regular device as well as Guest Mode. The M8, incidentally, also has a Kids Mode.

Technical specifications

  LG G3 HTC One (M8)
System Android 4.4.2, Optimus UI  Android 4.4.2, Sense 6 UI
Display 5.5-inch IPS+ LCD, 2,560 x 1,440 pixels, 538 ppi 5-inch Super LCD3, 1,920 x 1,080 pixels, 441 ppi
Processor Quad-core Snapdragon 801, 2.5 GHz, Adreno 330 Quad-core Snapdragon 801, 2.3 GHz, Adreno 330
RAM 2 GB (16 GB model) / 3 GB (32 GB model) 2 GB
Internal Storage 16/32 GB + microSD (up to 128 GB) 16 GB + microSD (up to 128 GB)
Battery 3,000 mAh, removable, Qi charging 2,600 mAh, non-removable
Camera 13 MP (rear) with OIS+ and laser auto-focus, 2.1 MP (front), 4K video 4 Ultrapixel (rear) Duo Camera, 5 MP (front)
Connectivity GSM/HSDPA/LTE, dual band Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, USB 2.0, IR blaster GSM/HSDPA/LTE, dual band Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, USB 2.0, IR blaster
Dimensions 146.3 x 74.6 x 8.9 mm 146.4 x 70.6 x 9.4 mm
Weight 149 g 160 g
Price 599 USD (32 GB/3 GB with T-Mobile)/499 GBP/549 EUR  649 USD (32 GB with Sprint via Amazon)
LG G3 HTC One M8 ports
Both the HTC One (M8) and LG G3 (right) have nicely curved back panels and bottom-mounted headphone ports. / © AndroidPIT

Hardware

On the specs front things start to get interesting. Both have Snapdragon 801 processors but the G3 has 3 GB of RAM (at least in the 32 GB storage version we used for the test) and a faster clocked processor and yet it is less speedy than the M8. The M8 is probably the fastest flagship device around right now. The M8 has a smaller battery capacity than the G3 but performs very well nevertheless. The G3's battery can of course, be charged via Qi wireless and also be easily removed and replaced with a spare; both options are not possible on the M8. Both devices come in 16 GB and 32 GB versions with microSD expansion, but the larger capacity G3 comes with 3 GB of RAM and the smaller with 2 GB. Both versions of the M8 come with 2 GB of RAM. The G3 speaker performs quite nicely but it is utterly unable to compete with HTC's BoomSound speakers.

LG G3 HTC One M8 camera
The LG G3 (left) has a 13 MP OIS+ camera with laser auto-focus. The HTC One (M8) has a 4 Ultrapixel Duo Camera for recording depth information. / © AndroidPIT

Camera

The M8 camera had a lot of hype surrounding it before we finally found out that the Duo Camera was for picking up depth information that allowed images to be refocused after they were taken. The result is ok but the 4 Ultrapixel camera provides some pretty poor results. The 13 MP OIS+ camera on the G3 on the other hand is a very respectable camera that shoots very accurately. Auto-focus is insanely fast thanks to the laser auto-focus.

The G3 has minimal preset modes and settings – which could either be a bonus or a hindrance depending on your photography habits - but it produces solid results in daylight and up close, reproduces color well and handles high contrast in HDR well too. The M8 on the other hand has a nice clean camera UI as well with the same major settings plus some Zoe functionality built-in (''official'' Zoe Mode is coming via a software update in future). The best part of the M8 is the manual mode though, where you can control every aspect of the camera settings and you can also save your favorites.

The G3 obviously produces much crisper results thanks to the added resolution of the camera, but the M8 has the G3 trumped when it comes to camera options. While the M8 camera works perfectly acceptably, even if the resolution is a bit of an issue, the G3 is clearly better. In auto mode the M8 produces lighter but slightly milky results. The M8 struggles with details although colors are ok and daylight shots are fine. In low-light situations though the M8 is average across the board whereas the G3 crisps up some sections and post-processes other sections, producing a weird patchy quality which doesn't work well in my opinion. The M8 certainly produces much brighter low-light photos though, even if they are grainier.

LG G3 HTC One M8 Logos
So who comes out on top in the end? / © AndroidPIT

Final verdict

All in all, I think the G3 is the better device for what it manages to pack into such a relatively small and light body, even if the M8 is noticeably faster. Many of my colleagues prefer the One (M8) though for reasons we shared in our One (M8) review, so it's really up to what you like more: metal vs plastic construction, higher resolution camera or more camera settings, low-light performance, screen resolution, removable battery, the importance of gesture controls, speaker performance, speed of the system, look of the interface and so on. You really can't make a bad choice when deciding between these two devices, unless of course the deciding factor for you boils down to speed on the one hand and camera on the other.

Which device do you think is better? What are the best features of each device for you?

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Comments

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  • Saem Sarguroh 4 weeks ago Link

    Is the difference in speed too much that it becomes an option to be considered before buying G3?

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      Kris Carlon 4 weeks ago Link

      That is entirely up to you! The G3 is hardly laggy, it's just that the M8 is super fast. So every other flagship around right now is slower than the M8. It all depends if you simply must have the fastest Android experience available.

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  • Sean Stockemer 4 weeks ago Link

    Hi Kris, great article as usual. I'm enjoying all of the G3 coverage from you guys. A question's been nagging at me though, as I don't have a test device to play around with. Here goes...
    I'm a bit disappointed with the lack of control (leaned down settings) that I've been reading about. I wanted to ask, if via 3rd party camera apps (i.e. Google's camera app) the user is able to gain more control over the finer intricacies of the hardware. For example, if I install a camera app with which I could change the shutter speed or ISO, would that enable finer control than the LG camera app?
    If so, then it's a moot issue and I've found my next company phone. If not, well...I always have the choice of waiting until next year's flagships drop. :-/

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      Kris Carlon 3 weeks ago Link

      Hey @Sean, yes, you can download any camera app with the settings you want. It's hard to say just how successfully it will manage the existing hardware as that depends on the developers and their implementation of the software, but you can definitely get more camera settings if that's what you need. It'd just be a trial and error process for getting the right one.

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  • Iain Wood 3 weeks ago Link

    Hi, nice comparison. Can I ask what the G3 is like to use with one hand? I'm often at gigs with a beer in one hand and trying to use my phone with the other and i worry that it might be a real pain to use one-handed. Thanks, iain

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      Kris Carlon 3 weeks ago Link

      Hi @Iain, that depends on a few things: how big your hands are, how clumsy you are and how you define comfortable. At first I was worried too, but I hardly notice the added size. I went from a Nexus 5 to a G3 and I barely even notice a difference in terms of handling, despite the fact that's its a definite bump up. Like anything though I guess you get used to it, but if you're at all worried I'd suggest trying one out in store to get a feel for it yourself.

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  • Mike 2 weeks ago Link

    Hi Kris , nice article. I want to get a second phone due to the fact that I travel a lot between various cities in Asia. I am debating whether I should get a HTC one M8 or G3, I already have a samsung s5 so I don't think camera would worry me too much. The M8 looks just a lot more professional but the G3 is topping it out with Specs. For me I use my phone to chat and listen to music, I don't really watch a lot of videos or movies on it. So please let me know what you think.

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      Kris Carlon 1 week ago Link

      Hi @Mike, the recipe you've outlined makes me say M8. I really like the G3, but for music you can't beat the M8 (especially if you're listening to it out loud) and despite the G3's better spec sheet the M8 is actually faster and more fluid in practice. The camera unfortunately sucks, but you'll have the S5 for that! Having said that though, the G3's speakers aren't bad at all and the camera is far superior to the M8. Both batteries are really good and while the M8 is marginally better, if long periods on the go are normal for you, then the G3's switchable battery is something to consider too. I imagine you've gotten used to that with the S5.

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