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AZ Tech Beat | March 26, 2019

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A flagship feel at half the price: LG G3 Vigor Review

A flagship feel at half the price: LG G3 Vigor Review
Travis Arbon

Co-written with Tishin Donkersley

Modest features in a flagship form at a low price: that’s the story of the LG G3 Vigor.

The G3 Vigor is the younger sibling to the G3, and offers the same appearance in a slightly smaller, form factor. But the G3 Vigor costs $334.99 without a contract on AT&T, which makes it a great midrange smartphone if you can live without some of the features of LG’s flagship.

We reviewed the white model, which is attractive with silver accents on the buttons and camera. Speaking of the buttons, they’re on the back, just like the G3.

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The back buttons are easy to activate while holding the phone to your ear-maybe too easy-I messed up many times and pressed the camera like it was a button when I was trying to increase the volume. That small problem all but disappeared once I was used to the placement.

The curved back, small bezels and soft, button-free edges combine to make a phone that, in my opinion, is comfortable and easy to use one handed.

The G3 Vigor certainly looks and feels like a flagship smartphone, though the internals are more akin to the Moto G than the Galaxy S5, which makes sense given its price tag.

The phone sports a 5-inch, 720p screen that’s bright and very colorful, though ever-so-slightly soft at this screen size. Those pixels are only really evident when reading a lot of text, and the screen is otherwise good for a phone at this price.

Read: Calling from a Shopping Cart: Amazon Fire Phone Review

There’s also a red notification LED next to the earpiece that tells you when the phone is charging or if you missed a call – very handy – and the standard headphone jack and micro-USB port are on the bottom.

The 1.3 MP front-facing camera is adequate for selfies, but not stellar, and it’s a similar story with the 8 MP rear camera. Although it comes with the same laser focusing system as the G3, which works well, the camera only performs in very good lighting and doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of a higher-end device. It’s more than fine for taking photos to share on social media.

The G3 Vigor comes with 8GB of internal storage, but you can always add more through the phone’s micro-SD card slot.

On the software side, the G3 Vigor is also very similar to LG’s flagship. It features Android 4.4.2 KitKat with LG’s proprietary skin. All the UI elements are flatter and the colors are a little understated. LG has also altered some of the core apps, like settings, and changed the behavior of the notification drawer. If you’re a fan of stock Android, you may not like LG’s changes, but the skin mostly gets out of the way.

Related: It’s fast, but crazy cluttered and far from done- Samsung Galaxy S5 Review

The best software tweak that LG added is knock-on, which allows you to lock and unlock your device simply by tapping on the screen. You can even set a tap code for added security. It’s a fun and convenient feature that was already on LG’s other phones and it’s cool to see it included.

The strangest change is that LG’s settings app does not let you set automatic screen brightness, which is frustrating because every other phone will automatically adjust the brightness of the screen for you depending surrounding light.

LG lets you select a night-brightness option, which sets the screen to 0% brightness between 12 and 6 a.m., but doesn’t address the problem of auto-brightness. Hopefully LG changes this in a software update.

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The phone runs fluidly on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor and 1GB of RAM. I did experience stutter on complex websites, but navigating the OS and switching between apps is just as smooth as you’d expect in 2014. If you’re not a power-user, you may not notice the difference between this and a more powerful handset outside of some graphically intense games.

Something to watch out for is that LG has not announced any plans to update the G3 Vigor to Android 5.0 Lollipop. The company said that the G3 and G2will be getting Lollipop in the coming months, but there is no word on updates for the G3 Vigor. If having the latest software is important to you, you may want to see if LG will be bringing 5.0 to the device.

Ultimately, the G3 Vigor is a solid mid-range phone with good build quality and a nice look. It definitely feels like a flagship device, and at $334.99 on AT&T with no contract, it’s a great value. It has a high quality look and feel and if you’re willing to give up some of the luxuries of a true flagship, the G3 Vigor may be right for you.

The LG G3 Vigor was provided by AT&T and can be purchased for $334.99 off contract, $49.99 on a two year deal, or $16.75/month on a 12 month AT&T Next plan.