LG has gradually been developing its brand and image over the last couple of years from a follower of the big dogs like Samsung and Apple, and into a prominent contender in its own right. This started with the LG G2, the most competitive and appealing device the company had produced in some considerable time. LG has also raised its profile by working with Google on several Nexus brand handsets, but it is its own flagship “G” brand which has really gone from strength-to-strength with successive iterations. The LG G3 managed to do quite well because it filled the vacuum left by Samsung’s disappointing Galaxy S5.
And now, as of late April 2015, LG’s latest addition is, unsurprisingly, the LG G4. However, what is surprising is that it may no longer be, technically, the company’s flagship device. Previously rumours have stated that LG plans to bring another handset in “above” the LG G4 as its top-end handset. What’ more, although the LG G4 does boast a competitive spec line-up, some features are not quite as beefy as many expected of a true flagship - notably the processor, but more on that later.
The important question, really, is how much improved is this latest handset, flagship or no, from its predecessor?
Sensors: Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Proximity and Ambient Light, Compass, Barometer
Battery: removable 3000 mAh battery
Cameras: 16 Megapixel rear camera with 4k video, dual-LED two-tone flash, phase detection laser autofocus, 3-Axis OIS 2.0, f/1.8 aperture, 2.1 Megapixel front camera
Connectivity: 3G, 4G, 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC
LG G3 vs LG G4 Design
The move from G3 to G4 sees some design consistencies but also plenty of major changes at the same time. The overall shape and size is very much in the same ballpark between these two devices, with the LG G4 being a little more angular in places. Crucially, however, the LG G4 has a curved shape along the length of the handset from top to bottom, rather like the LG G Flex series, giving an interesting visual twist and allegedly more comfortable ergonomics in the hand.
The back panels on both smartphones are removable, allowing access to a removable battery cell inside. However, while the LG G3 stuck to a good quality plastic, with a faux brushed metal finish in a selection of colours, the LG G4 has upped the ante a bit. You can still opt for a plastic backing this time around, albeit with a different textured finish, in a handful of colour options, however, the real “look at me” feature is the optional leather-backed models. Again, there are a few colour choices, but these are all made from real genuine leather with real genuine stitching for that classy Aston Martin dashboard feel.
LG has also retained the same rear-mounted control assembly setup from one handset to the next - the power key sits on the rear of each handset towards the top of the phone, under the camera port, and features a volume up and volume down keys above and below it. The LG G4 is a wee bit larger and heavier, but it should be hardly noticeable.
LG G3 vs LG G4 Display
An area of excellence for LG across the last few handsets it has produced. Both phones feature large 5.5in touchscreens with barely any bezel around the edge for a really sleek look that is virtually all screen. They also both have QHD resolutions at 538 pixels-per-inch for some seriously sharp visuals.
The LG G3’s display was, and remains, impressive thanks to its high brightness levels allowing usability in a range of lighting conditions. It has excellent colour, contrast and viewing angles too. This is all thanks to the use of IPS+ LCD technology.
However, the LG G4 has once again made a leap forward here thanks to LG’s use of sophisticated IPS “Quantum” technology, making for a much richer display improved in virtually all the areas that count. Screens are often the biggest battery life hog and there are also a few built-in hardware features which help limit the display drain on battery life when viewing still images.
LG G3 vs LG G4 Camera
The LG G3 camera was quite a capable setup when it came out and remains incredibly robust even against more recent competition. It uses a 13MP sensor with optical stabilisation (OIS) and super-fast laser autofocus, as well as a dual-LED two-tone flash. The results are quite impressive with sharp image quality, punchy colour and decent dynamic range. But importantly as well as being able to snap decent pictures - extremely good for things like holiday snaps - it’s also very easy to use and consistent in terms of quality too. It’s a great little fire-and-forget point-and-shoot. Panoramic images are particularly impressive, and 4K video is nice to have too.
Again, the LG G4 builds on this already solid foundation with some substantial additions. It’s been upgraded to a 16MP sensor with a very wide f/1.8 aperture to let in tons of light, making it much more capable all round and particularly good at night-time shooting. On top of this there’s OIS 2.0 with a third-axis control for even better steadying of shots, then there’s the array of sensors designed to work with the camera software - these allow the phone to quickly assess the lighting conditions in a scene and calibrate the flash and white balance in the blink of an eye, leading to much improved picture quality, colour, and more.
LG G3 vs LG G4 Hardware
I’m still using the LG G3 as my daily driver smartphone and I can say it is still plenty powerful enough on the hardware front. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 quad-core processor might be getting a bit long in the tooth, but it still packs a punch for most content, apps, and games. The LG G3 is also chock full of connectivity options so there’s plenty for everyone here regardless of how you use your phone.
The LG G4 has a very similar setup in terms of connectivity hardware and so on, but does have a boost in storage space with a 32GB model. In terms of the processing power, it may not be up there with the Snapdragon 810 based rivals, but it’s not far behind and is still a significant step up from last year’s iteration, together with more RAM and a faster GPU.