The LG G4 has a lot to prove, given that last year’s LG G3 was among the best smartphones of 2014. The Global Mobile Awards given out during the time of MWC 2015 named it the Smartphone of The Year (SOTY?) alongside the iPhone 6, and at the time of its release it packed the very best in Android specifications, from the powerful Snapdragon 801 to the class-leading 1440p display. The camera, battery life and feature set were also deemed excellent, and it went on to gain the love of many Android fans.
The new G4 is still shrouded in mystery, but given we are approaching the release period of last year’s model, it is expected to see leaks beginning to pop. Not too long ago we had an LG G4 Note leak that was not quite what it seemed, however, and the internet buzzed with speculation regarding the veracity of the claim, given that the stylus resembled an antenna and the build looked mid-range. I bring this up to mention that, like we’ve seen countless time this past release cycle, leaks can be fake and forged, if not misleading. With this said, we suggest you take the following speculation on the alleged leak with a grain of salt.
Leaked Benchmarks, Again
The LG G4 allegedly ran its prowess through GFXBench, which many of you may know as a graphics-intensive benchmark that is a usual test to predict performance under heavy 3D stress. The test usually goes through multiple stages that put the SoC (particularly the GPU) through its paces in on-screen and off-screen scenarios, some with stunning visuals and others with tiny condensed and stressing mosaics. As such, what we are mainly going to talk about is the graphics aspect of what appears to be in the LG G4.
The benchmark information has details surrounding a 15MP camera that supports 4K recording as well as an enticing 7MP front-facing camera. It also states that the device will run Android 5.1 (which is great, considering said update brought forth improved performance for certain devices), 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage. These all look plausible, but keep in mind one could forge this information and fool those reading the benchmark results. The alluring bit in the specification sheet is the SoC which looks to sport a hexa core CPU clocked at 1.8GHz for two high-power Cortex A57 cores, aided by four power-efficient A53 ones – all in a big.LITTLE arrangement as seen in the Snapdragon 810 and plenty of Exynos chipsets. The GPU listed is the Adreno 418, and this package’s details make it obvious that the chipset inside is the Snapdragon 808.
A New Dragon
Given the issues brought forth by the Snapdragon 810, many might be happy to know that these could be the specifications the device will ship with. The LG G3 was never the fastest phone, as the 1440p screen came too early in the evolution of mobile silicon, and the Snapdragon 801 inside the device was too small of a step up from 2013’s 800 to support the 70% additional pixels. This is mainly attributed to the GPU inside which remained the same Adreno 330, and the Snapdragon 805 brought with it a more efficient Adreno 420 that could sustain 1440p and still deliver a performance bump. This being said, the Snapdragon 808 is not a 2015 flagship chipset, and despite its model number settling between the 805 and the 810, it doesn’t seem to perform better than the former.
While not all of the tests are available for comparison, a quick match-up against last years’ Nexus 6 shows that the G4 is not surpassing the top game of 2014. In fact, these tests show that the frames per second are 15% to 20% lower than what the Snapdragon 805 in the Nexus 6 delivered. The obvious culprit here is the Adreno 418 inside the 808.
The 808’s hexa core CPU doesn’t seem bad at a glance: with Global Task Scheduling, all cores can be summoned for high-performance tasks. Moreover, the frequency arrangement can differ between clusters, which can aid battery efficiency given that that’s the purpose of the A53 set. In regards to the GPU, the Adreno 418 is said to be 20% faster than the Adreno 330 found inside the Snapdragon 800 & 801, but still behind the Adreno 430. For reference, the Adreno 420 was 40% faster than the 330, which was a large reason for the increased adoption in 1440p panels in the second half of 2014. With a stronger GPU, the additional pixels aren’t as taxing and performance doesn’t take as big of a hit.
The other limitation that the 808 has is that it does not address DDR4 RAM like the Snapdragon 810 does. This means that, if the leak is legitimate, the faster RAM found in the M9 and S6 would not show up in the LG G4. The advantage the 808 does still have is that the 64-bit nature of the SoC would allow OEMs to address 4GB of RAM as seen in the (presumably) much cheaper ZenFone 2… but despite the enticing possibility, this leaked benchmark shows the standard 3GB.
All of these specifications go on to suggest the conclusion that while the model number is misleadingly higher than the Snapdragon 805, the SoC is better suited as a successor to the Snapdragon 801, especially given the GPU inside is behind the 805’s Adreno 420. This seemingly shows in the benchmarks – whilst the Snapdragon 810 in the M9 displayed impressive leaps forward in some GPU benchmarks, much of it was because on-screen results benefitted from its 1080p screen. The LG G4 allegedly sports a 1440p screen, with the same set of RAM as the Nexus 6, yet it scores significantly lower. Is the 808 good enough to star in a flagship?
Between a Chip and a Hot Place
LG is in a complicated spot right now, as their LG G Flex 2 was blasted by critics and angry enthusiasts for its thermal constraints, throttling and generally sub-par performance. This was also the device that promised a huge step forward in performance due to the Snapdragon 810 inside, which in the end turned out to be flawed. If they do go with a Snapdragon 808, the decision would be understandable given that the bad reputation that the Snapdragon 810 has amassed, alongside the notorious results it offered on LG’s own G Flex 2, could make for yet another controversy or PR disaster.
At the same time, the G3 suffered from a GPU that was simply not optimized to handle the stress of a 1440p, and that coupled with LG’s relatively heavy UI made the device show more stutters than a premium flagship is expected to. That didn’t stop the phone from gathering staggeringly positive reputation, but the performance and overheating caused by the screen still remind us that every component is connected, and in these premium devices they must all be tuned properly to deliver the best performance in every aspect.
If these benchmarks are true, can we expect a speedy G4? Intuition tells us that it would certainly be faster than the G3, given that the GPU is noticeably faster than the Adreno 330, and the chipsets have a 64-bit nature that’s natively supported by Android 5.1, which also has further optimizations. But, as these benchmarks suggest, GPU performance is still not up to par with the greatest of 2014, and while the SoC would handle the high-resolution display a lot better than the G3, one would think that it would make more sense to pair up the device with a Snapdragon 805. Since there’s not much in-depth information regarding the hexa core CPU in the 808 we can’t touch upon that, but given Qualcomm’s track record for 64-bit, ARMv8-based big.LITTLE CPU architectures in flagships we must remain skeptical.
High-resolution displays bring with themselves big requirements to provide good user experiences. In the case of 1440p, we’ve already seen what a shortage in processing power can deliver. If you are into 3D gaming on your phone, you better cross your fingers and expect a surprise that renders these leaked scores or specifications obsolete. While the 808 might bring some steps forward over the 805, the GPU could prevent LG from delivering the true flagship performance we all desire for the third time in a row.
LG is sending invites for a flagship unveiling on April 28th, so either way we’ll learn more soon. Stay tuned to our Portal for further coverage on the LG G4!
Would you like the other 2015 Qualcomm chipset in the LG G4?