LG on Wednesday officially unveiled the LG G4, its latest and greatest Android smartphone. It’s a really compelling device, one that we think is definitely going to go head-to-head with the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge, and it packs a unique combination of power, an incredible display and a solid camera (at least on paper.)
We had chance to check out the G4 first hand, and there’s one very important thing we want to make clear: the leather model, which features a removable back panel crafted from leather that took three months to tan using vegetable oils, is much more premium feeling than the metallic (read: plastic) version that feels not as premium. We haven’t reviewed the device yet, of course, but we can already almost say for certain you’re going to want to go with the leather model.
LG put its focus on design and, as such, said it spent 3 years trying to find the perfect leather for the back of the phone. The phone isn’t water resistant, but that back leather panel is treated as such so that the colors won’t fade or bleed over time, LG said. It said that only 10 percent of leather products in the world use the similar vegetable tanning process that it does, instead of chemical dyes.
The 5.5-inch Quad HD “Quantum” display has a slight curve that LG says should make it more durable than flat displays. It’s not nearly as curved as what you’d find in the G Flex 2, but it’s curved nonetheless. That “Quantum” name is a marketing term by LG to represent its focus to get as close to “DCI compliant” as possible. It said that DCI is a common standard used by Hollywood film studios to get colors, visibility and contrast as close to accurate as possible, and that it’s 98 percent DCI compliant. Take that for what you will, but we can confirm that colors looked great, and the same photo of bright red strawberries viewed on an S6 looked orange in comparison to the same photo on the G4 display.
The panel in general has improved over last year’s G3 Quad HD screen, too. LG says color reproduction has improved by 20 percent, it’s 25 percent more viewable outdoors, contrast has improved 50 percent to 1500:1, and it’s also 11 percent more energy efficient, which means you should see less of a hit on battery life.
You shouldn’t worry too much about the battery, though. LG squeezed a 3,000mAh removable battery inside, which pops out with ease. It doesn’t offer wireless charging out of the box, but you can buy a special rear panel to use that in the future, LG said. The focus, we’re told, is on having a removable battery, something Samsung ditched this year and a move that LG wants to take advantage of.
You’ll find a Snapdragon 808 processor under the hood. LG said it worked with Qualcomm hand-in-hand on the chip and opted for it instead of the Snapdragon 810, though didn’t specifically say why. There has been concerns about the Snapdragon 810 overheating, but LG didn’t say anything on that front. Instead, LG showed us a few of its own benchmarks — and keep in mind these are LG’s benchmarks, not a third party — that show the Snapdragon 808 performing on a par with Samsung’s Exynos 7 chip used in the Galaxy S6 for things such as opening apps, loading the camera and more. In fact, LG said the camera launches in 0.6 seconds, a hair faster than the 0.7 seconds it takes the Galaxy S6 to launch.
You’ll also find 3GB of RAM under the hood, which seemed to navigate LG’s UX 4.0 just fine. LG said the phone is as close to a Nexus device as it could go, and tapped Google to provide 100GB of free Drive storage for 2 years, comes loaded with Chrome as the default browser and more. It did this all instead of adding duplicate apps for things it agreed Google typically does better. The calendar is the one exception, where LG added a few neat tricks that allow you to drop in screenshots of upcoming events to automatically add them to your calendar. It’s something we’ll need to dive into more in our review.
Finally, LG says the camera should be the best on any smartphone out there. We couldn’t take many shots during our brief hands-on time, but there are plenty of manual controls for photographers to take advantage of, and the camera is indeed very quick. It also supports JPEG and RAW files, so you can edit images with the most data in them after loading them onto your computer. The RAW support will likely be appreciated by plenty of camera enthusiasts.
We’ll be bringing you plenty of additional coverage as soon as we get a review unit in, but it’s easy to see the G4 is quite a contender. It may very well sport the best screen on the market, and the best camera, and those are two things consumers put high on a list of requirements for a new smartphone. Check out our hands-on gallery and video, both of which are embedded in this post.