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Review: LG G4

Design & Build Quality
Display
Performance
Battery Life
Camera
Audio & Call Quality
Software

The LG G4 is one of the most competent phones out in the market offering a great balance of performance and style. It has a great display, an amazing camera and a long battery life.

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Following the success of the LG G3 a year ago, LG has a big challenge to release another great all-rounder phone that would not only be the flagship device for them but will also be able to standout among the fierce competition from Samsung, HTC and even Motorola. For the iteration this time around, LG seems to have kept what made the G3 successful and made some further tweaks and improvements to it thus naming it the G4. Let’s take a quick look at the specs of the LG G4 before going into a more detailed review.

Specs:

  • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 808
  • Display: 5.5 inches, 2560 x 1440 pixels (538 ppi) IPS Quantum
  • Memory: 3 GB of RAM
  • Storage: 32 GB, with expandable microSD up to 2 TB
  • Camera: 16 MP rear-facing camera ƒ/1.8 lens, OIS 2.0, 8 MP front-facing camera
  • Battery: 3,000 mAh battery
  • OS: Android 5.1 Lollipop

Review

Hardware

Design & Build Quality

The LG G4 has an almost identical form factor with its older brother the G3, both having a 5.5 inch display and a contoured back to give users a better grip. Despite the trend of having devices with screen sizes in the 6 inch territory, LG made the decision to keep scale it back and that, to us, was a big win as it greatly improves usability of the device with one hand. The device weighs at 152 grams, giving it a nice solid feel and it’s great to the touch especially with the added stitched-leather back cover.

There are no buttons to be found along the edge of the device, therefore keeping it clean and minimalistic. Instead, it has a chrome-plated plastic trim that goes around the device giving it that premium feel and it definitely compliments that leather back cover perfectly. At the bottom of the device is where the standard micro-USB port and 3.5mm audio port is located.

On the back of the device is where it looks a little “busier”, with the placements of the buttons and hardware. The 16MP camera is placed in the top-middle of the device, accompanied by the laser autofocus sensor on the left and the LED flashlight on the right. In addition to that, the G4 stayed true to its original design since the G2 by having the power and volume buttons on the back. Both buttons provide good feedback and ars very easy to distinguish them without even looking at them visually.

Upon removing the back cover, users will find the removable 3,000 mAh battery as well the the slot for micro-SIM and micro-SD card.

Overall, we like the build quality and design of the LG G4. The 5.5 inch screen complimented with a chrome-plated plastic bezel and leather back gives the device a high-end feel while keeping the buttons on the back makes it a much improved user experience.

Display

Is it not surprising that LG retains the 5.5″ display specifications from the G3 last year, with it packing 2560 x 1440 resolution and 538 ppi density. The new IPS Quantum Display is where the G4 really benefited from, which could most certainly rival those of the Super AMOLEDs. Colors were crisp, sharp and vivid, where the brights are vibrant and the darker shades are truly dark. Viewability has also improved with the G4; the device did not struggle to perform under direct sunlight  or in various other lighting conditions, both indoors and outdoors.

Performance

LG has decided to equip the G4 with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 processor as opposed to the 810. Despite that, it is still a very quick and snappy device. No apparent lags were noticed and apps launches upon the touch of the icons.

We put the G4 through Geekbench 3 to obtain some benchmarking results, and the G4 scored a rating of 3520 on multi-core, which is obviously lower compared to devices running on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor. The device also comes with 3GB or RAM and has a preinstalled internal storage of 32GB and is capable of up to 2TB of storage based via an micro-SD card slot.

Battery Life

The LG G4 comes standard with a removable 3,000 mAh battery, which offers plenty of battery life for the average user. Though the device does support Quick Charge, the charger that came with it only supports the regular charging speed. Users will have to purchase an additional charger that is capable of supporting Quick Charge.

Performing our usual battery test, in which we run continuous video while the device is connected to LTE and Wi-Fi with both the Bluetooth and GPS turned on and connected. We also set the display to 1/2 brightness. We were able to obtain about 8 hours of usage. While during regular daily usage where we took some pictures, used the navigation, browsed a couple websites and made multiple phone calls and texts, we were able to obtain close to 14 hours of usage on a single charge.

Overall, the battery life is great compared to it’s rivals such as the HTC One M9 as well as the Samsung Galaxy S6. Users should not have any issues getting a full days use on the device from a full charge in the morning.

Camera

The optically stabilized 16MP rear camera on the LG G4 comes tucked with an impressive f/1.8 aperture lens. Accompanied by the laser autofocus that was originally found on the G3, shots taken by the LG G4 is nothing short of impressive. Pictures were sharp and has plenty of details during good lighting conditions and shots taken in the dark were less noisy, thanks to the large lens that was able to capture all the lights. Close-up shots were also best in-class with the device capable to almost completely blur out the background creating a great macro picture.

Also worth mentioning is the ability for more advanced users to switch the camera into “manual” mode, thus allowing them to control the shutter speed, white balance, focus, exposure and ISO. Photographers will also be pleased to learn that the LG G4 is capable of shooting pictures in RAW.

Overall, this is by far the best all-rounder camera in a device that we have tested this year.

Audio & Call Quality

LG decided to go with a more conservative rear facing speaker mono speaker as opposed to stereo front facing speakers like the HTC One M8 and Motorola X. The speaker though is not comparable to that of the HTC One M8, but i is loud enough for daily usage and definitely sounds better compared to the Google LG Nexus 5 we have.

While running on the Sprint network with LTE coverage, phone calls made were clear and loud on both ends of the conversation.

Software

Adopting traits from LG UX3.0 and Google’s Material Design, LG released a new version, 4.0, with the launch of the G4. The new UI looks more mature and clean with the focus mainly on usability and speed. Unlike conventional UI’s running over an Android OS, the UX4.0 provides almost what we would consider a lag-free experience with no hesitation or stutters when navigating through the device.

Icons and backgrounds a more bright and cheerful now as compared to UX3.0 on the G3. While the upgrade to UX4.0 would be the overhaul of Smart Notice. Smart Notice is now much more visual and inviting to the user, it also now provides more information based on how it is customized.

One widget that we really enjoy is the weather function which tells the current condition and a brief description on what the forecast would be later in the day.

Swiping to the right on the home screen will now reveal Smart Bulletin, which is a very similar concept to Google Now. Users will have cards showing the LG Health app, a calendar app, IR blaster and a couple more. Though this is great, we still prefer the Google Now cards and predictive notification based on location and search history.

Final Thoughts

The LG G4 appears to be a very strong contender and LG has definitely placed itself out there with a winning and worthy device for 2015.

It is a great all-rounder phone and excels in certain areas compared to the competition. It has one of the best looking IPS LCD display that we have reviewed recently, a camera that we would consider best-in-class and a battery life that would allow users to confidently use throughout the day before requiring a charge. UX 4.0 has also proven itself to be a great improvement that not only makes it more user friendly but also definitely geared towards performance.

Despite a few rants we have such as a slower processor, not having wireless charging as standard or the lack of front facing speakers, we still highly recommend that LG G4 as one of the better options for a high-end smartphone this year.

About Ruey Yih Loh

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