The LG G4 is the latest flagship phone from the Korean manufacturer and a device that has a lot to live up to. Not only have the likes of the iPhone 6 and Samsung Galaxy S6 raised the smartphone stakes over the past 12 months, but it’s predecessor, the LG G3, was crowned TrustedReviews 2014 Phone of the Year.
Looking to continue this rise to smartphone supremacy, LG has fitted the G4 with a host of high-end new features – I’m talking an improved QHD display and a 16-megapixel OIS-enhanced camera here. What’s more, this festival of top-notch components has been wrapped in a new leather-bodied design that really works.
I had a play at the phone’s London launch to see if G4 is the answer to the industry’s current leading players.
LG G4: Design
I don’t conform to the belief that the all metal bodied phones look and feel the part and plastic handsets are cheap. There are exceptions to the rules in every field. The G3, however, would have benefited some, more ‘premium’ materials, being used.
Now, instead of following industry trends, LG has gone left-field, cladding the G4 with leather. Before you shirk at the thought of a phone made out of the same stuff as your dress shoes or sofa, bear with me. This is no Samsung Galaxy Note 3 echoing faux leather-plastic-hybrid. The G4 looks and feels great.
The genuine leather back is soft and supple, without feeling out of place on a phone. Its natural full grain gives the device a comforting amount of grip that handsets such as the iPhone 6 and Huawei P8 severely lack.
The stitching which runs down the centre of the device’s rear is a pleasing addition too. As well as breaking up the solid look of the device, it acts as a guide to LG’s now trademark rear-mounted physical buttons. How the genuine leather finish will stand up to daily wear remains to be seen, however.
If you’re not a fan of the cowhide, or a vegan, LG has also created a selection of plastic-bodied G4 options, although I found these to lack the charms of their leather-bound counterparts.
It’s not all about the materials either. The G4 features a gentle curve in its design. It’s a long way from the sizable bend on its sibling, the LG G Flex 2. The G4’s ‘slim arc’ design features just enough curve to conform to the natural shape of your hand.
LG has claimed that this subtle curve makes the phone 20 per cent less likely to be damaged if dropped. As you can expect, this is something I’ve, as yet, been unable to test. The phone is a comfortable 9.8mm thick and 155g in weight. This is beefy by some standards, but I found the handset to be well balanced and comfortable to hold.
On first impressions that LG G4’s design has left me hugely impressed. I found the phone to look and feel every bit a flagship device – one of the G3’s few areas of weakness.
While the tan leather is a personal favorite, there are enough color options to meet a variety of tastes. The G4 will also be offered up in black, blue, burgundy, grey and yellow leather schemes, with the plastic-backed offering to debut in black, white and gold hues.
LG G4: Screen
Like the G3, the LG G4’s screen is a 5.5-inch QHD offering with a 2560 x 1440 pixel resolution. The reworked IPS Quantum panel bestowed on the G4, however, is 25 per cent brighter than its predecessor’s screen. This isn’t where the differences end either. A 20 per cent wider color range is paired with a contrast ratio that has been improved 50 per cent.
The results, on first impressions at least, are stunning. The G4’s screen is exceptionally bright and detailed. Colors are vibrant and punchy, blacks are deep and subtly varied, text is crisp and sharp and video playback fluid and engaging. During my brief time with the phone I found the G4’s screen hard to fault. When we get our full review sample in I’m believe it could rival the Galaxy S6 for the mantle of our most fancied phone panel.
It’s not all about the looks either. The G4’s screen benefits from Advanced In-Cell Touch (AIT) which boosts the panel’s touch sensitivity. From first use, it was hard to discern the difference between this and a standard display, but it handled all the multi-finger commands I could throw its way without fuss or fanfare.
Despite the phone not being water-resistant, LG has claimed this tech will allow the G4’s screen to function even when doused in the wet stuff. Given my limited time with the device in a formal environment, however, I’ve as yet been unable to test this claim.
LG G4: Features
The G4’s surprise feature is its processor. With the 64-bit Snapdragon 810 chip already powering a number of its big rivals – including the HTC One M9 – the G4 has eschewed the headline processor in favor of its hexa-core sibling, the Snapdragon 808.
Avoiding talk of the 810’s ongoing overheating concerns, LG has claimed the 808 enables a number of the G4’s key features (read camera capabilities) without hammering the sizable 3,000mAh battery.
Whatever the reasoning behind its inclusion, on first use this chipset appears more than capable of keeping the G4 swift and suitably powered. During early tests, the phone handled everything I could throw at it with consummate ease. There was no app launch delays or multitasking woes here, just a smooth, effortless experience.
Given my limited time with the device, however, I have been unable to really put the phone’s processor through its paces or test its gaming prowess. A full test will be conducted ahead of our full LG G4 review, coming soon.
The Snapdragon 808 chip might be grabbing headlines, but it is far from the phone’s only core feature. Packing 3GB of RAM and dedicated graphic RAM, the phone also features 32GB of internal storage, expandable via microSD. As an added bonus, all G4 owners will be handed a complimentary 100GB of Google Drive storage – handy.
Android 5.1 runs the show on the G4, with the latest iteration of Lollipop skinned with a reworked take of LG’s custom UI. LG’s UX 4.0 is a low-key update. At least on the surface.
Visually the skin is very similar to past offerings, and this is a little disappointing. LG has long filled its phones with great software features – you’re looking at the creators of the Knock Code here – but styling has often been a shortcoming.
Further testing of the UI’s ins-and-outs is required before final judgement can be passed, however.
LG G4: Camera
2015 is already shaping up as the year smartphone cameras kicked on to new levels. Here, the LG G4 has run with the crowd, offering significant (on paper) improvements over its predecessor. The phone features a 16-megapixel primary camera and a secondary, 8-megapixel shooter for the selfie lovers amongst you.
This isn’t just any 16-megapixel snapper though. The G4’s camera is enhanced by industry-leading optical image stabilization, laser-assisted focus and a color spectrum sensor for more natural tones in resulting shots.
Again, early impressions are strong. Resulting images in limited testing conditions were positive. Colors are detailed and accurate, focus quick and on-point, and the general user experience has few peers.
For me, however, the true highlight of the G4’s mass of new camera features is the phone’s Manual shooting mode. Giving you the opportunity to tweak all manner of settings – from white balance and focus length to ISO and shutter speed – the mode is a dream for nay half-keen amateur photographer.
After a quick play, I was left overjoyed by it. It is a simple, intuitive addition with intricate levels of customization. I can’t wait for a more through use in more suitable shooting settings.
It’s too early for me to pass judgement on the G4’s overall imaging abilities, but on first use, the outlook is strong.
LG has taken the strong foundations of the LG G3 and improved on every aspect. The LG G4 is a device that looks, feels and acts the part. I can’t wait to use it again.