Introduction

Flagships get better with every generation but some of last year's are as good as reborn. The LG G4 improves on the three best features of its predecessor: design, screen, the camera - and does so decisively. It adopts a G Flex curve, but makes it its own with an optional stitched leather back, and has what may as well be the most advanced camera module on a _phone_ yet.

LG G4 Review

The camera really is the new phone's key feature. LG picked a new 16MP sensor, improved the optical stabilization, gave it a wider aperture lens, added a handful of new software features (including manual mode) and placed a top-notch selfie camera on the front. A complete overhaul of the imaging department.

LG designers were hard at work too. They gave the LG G4 a subtle arc that complements the spacious screen and sourced high-quality materials for the back covers. The premium option is made of genuine full grain leather with threads imported from Germany used on the decorative stitching. Even the basic backs are far from plain - the white one has ceramic coating.

The LG G4 strikes a great balance between tangible quality and intangible class. Here's how the hardware capabilities and the premium exterior balance out, plus what the G4 offers over its predecessor.

Key features

  • Subtly curved design with optional leather backs
  • 5.5" QHD (1440 x 2560px) Quantum Display IPS LCD, 534ppi, Gorilla Glass 3
  • Android 5.1 Lollipop with the latest LG UX v4.0
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 chipset with hex-core processor (dual Cortex-A57 @ 1.82GHz, quad A53 @ 1.44GHz), Adreno 418 GPU and 3GB of RAM
  • 16MP camera, phase detection/laser autofocus, dual-LED (dual tone) flash, OIS, 2160p video recording
  • 8MP front-facing camera, 1080p video recording
  • 32GB of built-in storage, expandable via a microSD card slot
  • Active noise cancellation with a secondary microphone
  • Dolby mobile sound enhancement
  • 3,000mAh user-replaceable battery
  • microUSB 2.0 with SlimPort 4K
  • IR-port and NFC

Main disadvantages

  • Chipset isn't top of the range
  • No IP-certification for dust or water resistance
  • No Quick Charge charger in the box

Compared to LG G3

  • Much improved imaging (both front and rear cameras)
  • Noticeably faster chipset
  • Screen has higher contrast and brightness
  • Slightly bigger

The screen is LG's own creation as none of the top display manufacturers had what the G4 needed. The company calls it a "Quantum Display," not be confused with Sony's quantum dot screens. LG says it's actually better. The new components reduce power usage, while improving brightness and contrast. Better color accuracy is promised as well.

LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review

LG G4's colorful variety of back covers

So, should other smartphone makers pack up and go home? Users campaigning for removable batteries and expandable storage are nodding in agreement, but a chipset that's only second-best may be raising a few eyebrows. The thing is, early benchmarks showed that Snapdragon 808 is quite capable of competing with the 810. Either way, the performance of the latest Snapdragons is a sore issue so we'll pay special attention to that.

Before we delve into the hardware, a quick preview of how the LG G3 compares to its replacement. LG's new screen resolves our complaints about contrast from last year the camera comparison is a cakewalk for the newcomer. The performance gains are not as readily visible though. But benchmark-topper or not, the LG G4 won't have to ask for anyone's attention.

Unboxing the LG G4

Is the LG G4 a flagship? You'd think "no" just looking at the retail box. It has a clever design with a curve that hints at what's inside, but other than the beautiful _phone_ the box's contents are a disappointment.

LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review

LG G4's modest retail box

What little content there is - all you get is a charger and a cable. And it's not a Quick Charger either, you get a regular 5V/2A charger. The phone itself supports Qualcomm Quick Charge 2.0, but you'll have to buy a compatible charger yourself. There's no headset in the box either.

LG G4 360° spin

The LG G4 measures 148.9 x 76.1 x 9.8mm, which is slightly bigger than the predecessor in all directions. The slight curve of the body appears to add extra bulk but both phones essentially weigh the same.

The difference in size between the LG G3 and G4 is barely noticeable in person, though "bigger and thicker" is not what you want to hear when the new phone has the same screen size and battery capacity.

Design and build quality

The LG G4 can easily be mistaken for the LG G Flex2, the two look so much alike and are basically the same size and weight. The Flex2's curve is definitely more prominent though and if that doesn't give it away, snapping on a leather back on the G4 will set these two even further apart.

While the body of the LG G4 is arced, the G3 forms appear softer, rounder. LG squared off the four corners and the left to right curve of the G3's back is more pronounced. The impression of angles and corners on the LG G4 is furthered by the sides, which are angled inward at the front.

This improves grip as it gives your fingers a ledge besides the screen. However, the way the opposing front and back curvatures work out creates a hard, pointed frame around the phone, which can dig into your palm if you grip harder. And you may have to as the glossy material of the frame is slippery, the smooth plastic on the back doesn't help much either.

LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review

LG G4 doesn't feel bigger, but is grippier than its predecessor

The G4 is a large phone, but we got used to it fairly quickly - we forget it's in our pockets and it doesn't feel humongous in the hand (well, the screen does). If you've handled and iPhone 6 Plus, the G4 is smaller than that (though noticeably thicker). It doesn't feel bigger than the LG G3, but like we said more angular and easier to grip.

LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review

LG G4 and G3 • G4 compared to the iPhone 6 Plus and Galaxy S6

The phone feels rock solid, which also means it doesn't bend like the G Flex2 (granted, a desired effect there). The weight is well-distributed with the balance shifted slightly towards the bottom. You can hold the G4 low and it won't topple over.

The LG G4 looks a bit like a TV with no clear indication of up or down, left or right. The G3 had a lighter colored strip at the bottom, which gave it a sense of direction, but the G4's all-dark front looks borderless.

The glass (Gorilla Glass 3) and screen below it are slightly arced, it's so subtle that you may not see it immediately. You can feel it though, the 5.5" screen is quite large and the concave shape makes the top and bottom parts feel closer to your finger.

LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review

The body is slightly arced, which makes reaching the top and bottom parts of the screen a bit easier

As for the back, there are two options, plastic or leather. The plastic covers come in Ceramic White, Metallic Gray and Gold. They have a subtle 3D diamond pattern and the White one is coated with ceramic paint. The Gray one (featured in our photos) is mostly gray, but can have a purplish tint depending on how the light hits it.

The plastic covers are rather smooth though and while you won't see fingerprints on them their texture is too subtle to notice most of the time. We prefer the plastic cover of the G3 with its brushed metal finish.

LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review

The Metallic Grey back cover compared to G3's cover and the real metal of HTC One M9

The G3 never had a leather option though. Motorola made a splash with the leather back of the Moto X, a feature reserved for Vertu and the like. LG one ups Moto by making the covers removable and adding decorative stitching.

The leather is tanned with vegetable oils, the traditional and more environmentally friendly way of doing it. It's a laborious process though so vegetable-tanned leather is used in pricy luxury items. Same goes for the stitching - LG gets its threads from Gütterman, a household name in the clothing industry.

The leather comes in three colors - Black, Brown and Red - though more are expected to come later on, while availability will be depending on region. The different colors have different grain, so that's something to consider.

LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review

LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review

The leather backs look much better than the plastic options in our opinion

As for the stitching, it goes down the middle of the back, which matches up with the centrally-placed camera and buttons but is perhaps not the most attractive place for stitches. We would have loved some contrast stitching too, the current light thread blends in with some of the lighter leathers.

Not much else has changed since last year. The back features the camera module, the volume rocker below it is split in half by the Power key. The way these three are grouped makes them look like a single design element. It goes on the centerline of the back, while dual-LED flash and Laser Autofocus system are placed symmetrically on each side.

LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review

The new 16MP camera in the traditional G-series arrangement

The loudspeaker is at the bottom left. The back can be removed to access the battery, the microSIM and microSD slots. The card slots are blocked by the battery. Here you'll notice several pogo pins, two of those are for NFC, the rest for the optional wireless charging covers.

LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review

The loudspeaker • removing the back cover gives you access to the battery and the card slots

The face of the phone is pretty plain, but it does have a hidden gem - the 8MP/1080p selfie camera. The earpiece, along with the usual sensors (proximity and ambient light), are also here.

LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review

An impressive 8MP/1080p selfie camera above the screen • just the LG logo below the screen

The bottom of the phone holds the mouthpiece, the 3.5mm audio jack and the microUSB 2.0 port. It's SlimPort-enabled and with the right adapter (or compatible TV) the LG G4 has wired 4K video output.

LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review

Mic, 3.5mm audio jack and SlimPort-enabled microUSB port • noise-cancelling mic and IR blaster

The top of the phone holds the noise-cancelling mic and an IR blaster if you want to control your TV wirelessly. The sides of the phone are bare, except for a small notch that helps you pop the back open.

LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review

Nothing around the sides

Display

LG caused a collective jaw drop last year when it announced that its new flagship phone will have a massive, incredibly sharp screen - 5.5" at QHD. It kept those measurements for 2015 (there's really no sane way to increase them further) and worked hard to improve the image quality.

The new Quantum Display is similar to Sony's Triluminos display, both companies competing in the TV panel business. LG turned to DCI (which normally works with TV studios) to calibrate the LG G4 display, achieving 98% coverage of the DCI standard, which means accurate colors with no oversaturation.

If anything, lack of saturation was the problem with LG G3's screen, colors looked dull in comparison. The other major issue was the contrast, which was quite low.

The Quantum Display fixes both of those niggles. Colors are vivid (but not oversaturated) and viewing angles are perfect. The display is marginally dimmer (hard to notice without measurement equipment), but black levels went down which pushed contrast way up.

Display test 50% brightness 100% brightness
Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio
LG G4 0.09 108 1240 0.43 532 1238
LG G3 0.14 109 763 0.72 570 789
Apple iPhone 6 Plus 0.17 208 1197 0.52 705 1361
Samsung Galaxy Note 4 291 399
OnePlus One 0.39 317 805 0.75 598 799
LG G Flex2 152 398
Motorola Nexus 6 149 372


We have one complaint here - the brightness slider isn't smooth, at 50% it's barely 110nit, which is too dim for daily use. Going lower than 50% is as good as switching off the screen.

While brightness is basically the same, the new screen is less reflective, which improved sunlight legibility enough to match the HTC One M9. It's pretty far from other current flagships though

Sunlight contrast ratio

  • Nokia 808 PureView
    4.698
  • Samsung Galaxy E7
    4.485
  • Samsung Galaxy A3
    4.241
  • Samsung Galaxy S6
    4.124
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 4
    4.033
  • Apple iPhone 5
    3.997
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 3
    3.997
  • Samsung Galaxy A5
    3.895
  • Apple iPhone 6
    3.838
  • Motorola Moto X (2014)
    3.816
  • Samsung Galaxy Note Edge
    3.799
  • Samsung Galaxy A7
    3.679
  • Oppo R5
    3.678
  • Samsung Galaxy K zoom
    3.675
  • Nokia Lumia 930
    3.567
  • Apple iPhone 5s
    3.565
  • Samsung Galaxy S5
    3.549
  • Nokia Lumia 735
    3.547
  • Motorola Nexus 6
    3.543
  • Alcatel Idol X+
    3.527
  • Apple iPhone 5c
    3.512
  • Samsung Galaxy Alpha
    3.509
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Neo
    3.487
  • LG G Flex2
    3.465
  • YotaPhone 2
    3.453
  • Motorola RAZR MAXX
    3.42
  • Samsung I9300 Galaxy S III
    3.419
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 Active
    3.406
  • Nokia Lumia 925
    3.402
  • Gionee Elife S5.5
    3.386
  • Samsung I9505 Galaxy S4
    3.352
  • Samsung Omnia W
    3.301
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 mini
    3.174
  • Samsung I9000 Galaxy S
    3.155
  • Samsung Ativ S
    3.129
  • Samsung I9190 Galaxy S4 mini
    3.127
  • Samsung Galaxy S4 zoom
    3.118
  • Nokia N9
    3.069
  • Microsoft Lumia 640 XL
    3.065
  • Apple iPhone 6 Plus
    3.023
  • Samsung Galaxy Note
    2.97
  • Samsung Galaxy Premier
    2.958
  • Sony Xperia Z1
    2.95
  • HTC One S
    2.901
  • Lenovo S90 Sisley
    2.892
  • Samsung I8730 Galaxy Express
    2.861
  • BlackBerry Q10
    2.856
  • Samsung I9100 Galaxy S II
    2.832
  • HTC Desire Eye
    2.815
  • Gionee Elife S5.1
    2.812
  • Samsung Galaxy S II Plus
    2.801
  • BlackBerry Z30
    2.79
  • Meizu MX4 Pro
    2.765
  • Sony Xperia ZR
    2.672
  • Huawei Ascend P1
    2.655
  • Sony Xperia Z3
    2.618
  • Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
    2.616
  • Sony Xperia T3
    2.609
  • BlackBerry Passport
    2.595
  • Microsoft Lumia 640
    2.563
  • Nokia Lumia 900
    2.562
  • Motorola Moto G 4G
    2.546
  • HTC One Max
    2.537
  • Nokia Lumia 720
    2.512
  • HTC One
    2.504
  • Sony Xperia M4 Aqua
    2.503
  • Motorola Moto G
    2.477
  • vivo Xshot
    2.465
  • Sony Xperia Z
    2.462
  • Xiaomi Mi 4
    2.424
  • Samsung Galaxy S III mini
    2.422
  • Lenovo Vibe Z2 Pro
    2.416
  • LG G Flex
    2.407
  • HTC Desire 820
    2.372
  • HTC One (M8)
    2.371
  • Meizu MX4
    2.366
  • Motorola RAZR i
    2.366
  • Meizu m1 note
    2.362
  • Sony Xperia ZL
    2.352
  • HTC One M9
    2.334
  • LG G4
    2.317
  • HTC One (M8) for Windows
    2.291
  • Oppo Find 7a
    2.279
  • Alcatel One Touch Hero
    2.272
  • Apple iPhone 4S
    2.269
  • HTC Desire 600 dual sim
    2.262
  • Nokia Asha 311
    2.25
  • Xiaomi Mi Note
    2.234
  • Motorola Moto G (2014)
    2.233
  • LG Nexus 5
    2.228
  • Nokia Lumia 820
    2.193
  • HTC One (E8)
    2.185
  • Oppo N3
    2.181
  • Nokia Lumia 920
    2.17
  • Huawei Honor 6
    2.169
  • HTC One X
    2.158
  • Asus Zenfone 2 ZE551ML
    2.149
  • LG Aka
    2.145
  • Nokia N8
    2.144
  • Nokia Lumia 620
    2.142
  • Archos 50 Diamond
    2.134
  • Nokia 515
    2.134
  • HTC Desire 500
    2.129
  • Sony Xperia C3 Dual
    2.12
  • Sony Xperia acro S
    2.119
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note
    2.119
  • Nokia Lumia 1020
    2.103
  • Oppo Find 5
    2.088
  • Sony Xperia SL
    2.078
  • Nokia Lumia 630
    2.056
  • BlackBerry Z10
    2.051
  • Huawei Ascend Mate7
    2.024
  • Samsung I9295 Galaxy S4 Active
    2.022
  • Apple iPhone 4
    2.016
  • HTC One mini
    2.003
  • Xiaomi Mi 3
    2.001
  • Huawei Ascend P7
    1.992
  • LG G2
    1.976
  • Sony Xperia E4g
    1.972
  • OnePlus One
    1.961
  • Oppo R819
    1.957
  • Sony Ericsson Xperia ray
    1.955
  • Lenovo Vibe X2
    1.952
  • Sony Xperia Z2
    1.944
  • Sony Xperia E3
    1.943
  • Nokia Lumia 1320
    1.941
  • HTC One mini 2
    1.94
  • Samsung Galaxy Camera
    1.938
  • Samsung Galaxy Grand Prime
    1.935
  • Sony Xperia J
    1.932
  • Acer CloudMobile S500
    1.931
  • ZTE Blade S6
    1.927
  • LG Nexus 4
    1.926
  • LG G Pro 2
    1.922
  • Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3
    1.913
  • Nokia Asha 308
    1.911
  • HTC Butterfly 2
    1.905
  • Sony Xperia T
    1.894
  • Nokia Lumia 830
    1.887
  • HTC Desire X
    1.878
  • HTC Windows phone 8X
    1.873
  • HTC Butterfly
    1.873
  • HTC Butterfly S
    1.867
  • Huawei Ascend P6
    1.865
  • Huawei Ascend Mate
    1.845
  • LG G2 mini
    1.838
  • LG G3
    1.82
  • Nokia Lumia 1520
    1.813
  • HTC Desire 616 dual sim
    1.797
  • Sony Xperia V
    1.792
  • HTC Desire 816
    1.783
  • Sony Xperia Z1 Compact
    1.772
  • HTC Desire 700 dual sim
    1.769
  • Sony Xperia U
    1.758
  • Meizu MX3
    1.754
  • LG Optimus G
    1.753
  • Sony Xperia T2 Ultra
    1.74
  • Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact
    1.735
  • Acer Liquid Jade S
    1.734
  • Sony Xperia SP
    1.733
  • LG Optimus 4X HD
    1.691
  • Oppo Find 7
    1.691
  • HTC One V
    1.685
  • BlackBerry Q5
    1.682
  • LG Optimus Vu
    1.68
  • Motorola Moto E (2nd Gen)
    1.675
  • Xiaomi Mi Pad 7.9
    1.672
  • LG Optimus GJ
    1.666
  • LG Optimus 3D Max
    1.658
  • HTC Desire V
    1.646
  • Samsung Galaxy Xcover 2
    1.632
  • Samsung Galaxy Ace 3
    1.622
  • Jolla Jolla
    1.605
  • Sony Xperia Z Ultra
    1.578
  • Sony Xperia go
    1.577
  • Samsung Galaxy Ace 2 I8160
    1.566
  • Samsung Galaxy Core
    1.563
  • LG Optimus G Pro
    1.552
  • Motorola Moto E
    1.545
  • LG Optimus 3D
    1.542
  • Nokia Asha 302
    1.537
  • Samsung Galaxy Core Prime
    1.507
  • BlackBerry Curve 9320
    1.488
  • Sony Xperia M
    1.473
  • Oppo N1
    1.47
  • Sony Xperia E4
    1.467
  • Meizu MX 4-core
    1.462
  • Nokia Lumia 610
    1.432
  • Samsung Galaxy S Duos
    1.4
  • Samsung Galaxy Grand Neo
    1.393
  • Sony Xperia M2
    1.393
  • Microsoft Lumia 535
    1.393
  • Samsung Galaxy Grand 2
    1.38
  • Sony Xperia E1
    1.372
  • Nokia Lumia 625
    1.371
  • Gigabyte GSmart G1355
    1.361
  • Sony Xperia L
    1.351
  • Samsung Galaxy Mega 5.8
    1.35
  • Xiaomi Redmi 1S
    1.35
  • HTC Desire 510
    1.34
  • Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
    1.331
  • Sony Xperia miro
    1.324
  • Samsung I9082 Galaxy Grand
    1.321
  • Samsung I8530 Galaxy Beam
    1.315
  • Xiaomi Redmi 2
    1.311
  • HTC Desire C
    1.3
  • Nokia X
    1.291
  • Sony Xperia C
    1.283
  • Nokia Asha 503
    1.281
  • Nokia Asha 501
    1.27
  • LG Optimus L7
    1.269
  • Nokia Lumia 510
    1.268
  • Samsung Galaxy Fame
    1.245
  • LG Optimus L9
    1.227
  • Meizu MX
    1.221
  • Samsung Galaxy Young
    1.22
  • Sony Xperia E
    1.215
  • Nokia XL
    1.204
  • Sony Xperia E dual
    1.203
  • Asus Memo Pad 7 ME176C
    1.198
  • Samsung Galaxy Pocket
    1.18
  • Nokia Asha 305
    1.178
  • Nokia Asha 306
    1.175
  • Sony Xperia neo L
    1.169
  • Sony Xperia tipo
    1.166
  • Nokia Lumia 520
    1.161
  • Samsung S6802 Galaxy Ace Duos
    1.148
  • Samsung Galaxy mini 2
    1.114

Connectivity

The LG G4 comes with the full connectivity suite. It has 4G LTE for up to 300Mbps of download and up to 50Mbps of upload and 3G HSPA+ (42.2Mbps/5.76Mbps) when you're outside of 4G coverage.

Wi-Fi 802.11ac is no surprise, you can use the latest Wi-Fi routers at home at either 2.4GHz or 5GHz. There's also Bluetooth 4.1 with Low Energy mode and apt-X for better audio streaming.

NFC is on board as well. For file sharing you can use ShareBeam, which is LG's take on Android Beam.

For wireless multimedia streaming there's DLNA and Miracast (which can mirror your phone's screen). There's also the wired option with SlimPort 4K, which lives in the microUSB 2.0 port.

For old-school TVs you can use the IR blaster and QRemote. The app can also control audio equipment, projectors and air conditioners.

Battery life

The LG G4 comes with a 3,000mAh battery - the same capacity as the G3 and the G2 before it. The G2 was a battery life king, but the G3 was quite average. Our tests show that the LG G4 also fails to recoup the G-series former glory.

The Endurance rating worked out to 54 hours, 9 hours less than the G3. The issue was with the high standby power draw, which puts a strain on the battery even when you're not using the phone. The other disappointment was the talk time, which couldn't reach 17 hours - an 8 hour drop from the G3.

We reran the tests several times and kept getting the same results. The LG G Flex2 got basically the same results so we wonder how much responsibility Qualcomm shoulders for the lackluster battery life.

Anyway, the web browsing time was pretty good - nothing spectacular, but good. It also marks the only improvement since the G3 as the video playback is below average for the flagship class.

LG G4 Review

Lollipop goes dual-app, dual-user

The latest G-series flagship has a tradition of bringing a new version of the LG UX, and we are up to v4.0 with the G4. It's built on top of Android 5.1 Lollipop and it brings new features as well as a new coat of paint to get closer to Material Design aesthetics.

You can double tap a locked LG G4 to wake it up if you don't fancy reaching for the Power key on the back. A double tap on the homescreen locks the phone. Knock Code adds a layer of security by letting you use a custom tap pattern. Knock Code bypasses the lockscreen completely and drops you onto the homescreen.

If you just want a peek at what's going on then Glance view will show you the time, notifications and weather info with just a simple swipe. The screen's capacitive sensor is always on so that this feature works even when the screen is off.

The lockscreen itself shows notifications and can have up to five shortcuts if you want. Smart Lock can disable more secure watches (Knock Code and others) when you're in a trusted place, a trusted device is connected or while the device is on your person.

LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review

Glance view • the lockscreen • Knock Code • picking shortcuts

The interface is fairly customizable, but themes are gone. One proprietary customization feature lets you add extra on-screen buttons - one to launch Dual window, QMemo+, QSlide or open the notification area (if you don't fancy reaching for the top edge).

LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review

The Homescreen and navigation buttons customization

There's more to LG UX 4.0 than that. The leftmost homescreen pane of the LG G4 is reserved for a Smart Bulletin, which is different than HTC's BlinkFeed as it shows info about you and your phone instead of news. If offers at a glance info from LG Health (more on that later), upcoming calendar events, music controls, IR remotes and Smart settings.

Don't worry if you don't immediately get the hang of those, Smart tips is a built-in help tool. Smart Notice is also a homescreen widget. It shows weather info and cycles between Smart tips but you can hit the question mark icon and type in a query for additional help.

LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review

Smart Bulletin on the homescreen and as a widget

The notification area has been skinned, in fact custom features take up a good deal of the screen. The top row shows quick toggles (scrollable horizontally), then the brightness and volume sliders and only then the notifications.

Holding a finger down on a toggle in the upper row will take you to the relevant option in the settings, where you can also edit which toggles and sliders are shown.

LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review

Notification area • editing quick Settings

The app drawer is quite standard and a pleasant surprise was that there's really only one screen of apps pre-installed, most of which are basic phone apps and Google services.

LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review

App drawer

The app switcher is Lollipop's 3D card setup. LG's contribution is the Dual window shortcut - it opens a list of supported apps you can launch side by side. Alternatively, you can look for the Dual window shortcut in the top right corner on supported apps.

If you opt for the list of supported apps, the first option is called Recent, which just launches the last pair of apps you used.

LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review

Task switcher • LG's Dual Window feature

The LG G4 also supports the other flavor of multitasking - floating apps. QSlide applications can either be accessed from the notification area (where they take up even more space), or from within supported apps themselves by clicking the special shortcut icon. QSlide is more practical on tablet-sized displays than it is here, but it's still a neat trick to have.

LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review

QSlide windows are another way to multitask

In addition to multiple apps, the new LG UX can also handle two users. The guest account (you get only one) is set up differently, including a separate Google Play account and homescreen. You still need to be careful though, the two accounts aren't isolated so it won't protect you from malicious users. It's nice for a personal/work setup or if you want to share your phone with your kid though.

LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review

Multi-user support • two users are supported • the guest account can be barred from calling and texting

There's a somewhat hidden alternate homescreen mode called EasyHome, which provides a vastly simplified version of the homescreen interface. The dialer and contact/app shortcuts are all part of the main homescreen, while another secondary homescreen can contain more shortcuts. This is great for the elderly, children, or the not-so tech savvy, but it greatly reduces the number of available features.

LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review

Switching to Easy Home • it simplifies the UI and makes everything bigger

Finally, LG offers single-handed mode to aid in the daily interactions with the phone - it allows you move the keyboard, the dialer and the navigation bar to the left or right side of the phone.

Performance

LG made a somewhat controversial decision to not use the top chipset for its flagship, going for the Snapdragon 808 over the 810 found in the LG G Flex2.

One major difference is in the big cluster of the processor - it uses two Cortex-A57 cores instead of four. It still has four Cortex-A53 cores in the LITTLE cluster. The other is in the GPU, the 808 has Adreno 418, which will have a tougher time rendering at QHD.

Still, as we saw with the Snapdragon 810 achieving maximum performance is a matter of temperature. For short, bursty jobs the 810 will be faster, but sustained usage quickly degrades performance.

LG G4 Review

Let's start with the processor. Basemark OS 2.0 shows little difference in single-threaded performance, modern flagships just let the Cortex-A57 do its job.

Basemark OS 2.0 (single-core)

Higher is better

  • Samsung Galaxy S6
    6306
  • LG G4
    5871
  • LG G Flex2
    5597
  • LG G3
    5396
  • HTC One M9
    4688

Going to multiple cores, shows that the Snapdragon 808 is very competitive with the 810 and Geekbench 3 confirms it. Unfortunately, this has more to do with how inefficient Snapdragon 810 is. The Galaxy S6 chipset is built on a smaller process, which produces less heat and the performance advantage is there for everyone to see.

Basemark OS 2.0 (multi-core)

Higher is better

  • Samsung Galaxy S6
    26799
  • LG G Flex2
    18856
  • HTC One M9
    18047
  • LG G4
    17739
  • LG G3
    16485

GeekBench 3

Higher is better

  • Samsung Galaxy S6
    5215
  • HTC One M9
    3761
  • LG G Flex2
    3604
  • LG G4
    3509
  • Sony Xperia Z3
    2860
  • LG G3
    2370

Overall performance measured by AnTuTu again shows a fairly even performance between both Qualcomm chipsets. Basemark OS 2.0 even puts the LG G4 and Galaxy S6 on fairly even ground, though AnTuTu 5 strongly disagrees.

AnTuTu 5

Higher is better

  • Samsung Galaxy S6
    69396
  • HTC One M9
    51427
  • LG G4
    49295
  • LG G Flex2
    47680
  • LG G3
    42038
  • Sony Xperia Z3
    40393

Basemark OS 2.0

Higher is better

  • LG G Flex2
    1726
  • Samsung Galaxy S6
    1674
  • LG G4
    1584
  • HTC One M9
    1365
  • LG G3
    1189

When it comes to graphics, the simpler GFX Benchmark 2.7 shows a sizeable disadvantage compared to the Adreno 430 found in the higher-up Snapdragon. Which is especially visible in the on-screen test - Adreno 418 is faster than the 330 used in the LG G3, but not by much.

GFX 2.7 T-Rex (1080p offscreen)

Higher is better

  • Samsung Galaxy S6
    59
  • HTC One M9
    49
  • LG G Flex2
    49
  • LG G4
    34.5
  • Sony Xperia Z3
    27.7
  • LG G3
    26

GFX 2.7 T-Rex (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • HTC One M9
    50
  • LG G Flex2
    48
  • Samsung Galaxy S6
    38
  • Sony Xperia Z3
    29.3
  • LG G4
    24.7
  • LG G3
    20

The more complicated GFX 3.0 test shows an even smaller difference between the LG G4 and the G3. A phone with a QHD screen really needed a bigger GPU update. Here the Galaxy S6 has a noticeable lead. When looking at on-screen results keep in mind the difference in resolution - the G Flex2, One M9 and Xperia Z3 render at only 1080p.

GFX 3.0 Manhattan (1080p offscreen)

Higher is better

  • Samsung Galaxy S6
    24
  • HTC One M9
    23
  • LG G Flex2
    22
  • LG G4
    14.8
  • Sony Xperia Z3
    12
  • LG G3
    11

GFX 3.0 Manhattan (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • HTC One M9
    24
  • LG G Flex2
    22
  • Samsung Galaxy S6
    14
  • Sony Xperia Z3
    12.7
  • LG G4
    9.4
  • LG G3
    7.7

Basemark X shows a healthy improvement over the G3, though the LG G4 is still well behind the other QHD phone in the mix, the Galaxy S6.

Basemark X

Higher is better

  • Samsung Galaxy S6
    27169
  • HTC One M9
    19848
  • LG G Flex2
    19360
  • LG G4
    15040
  • Sony Xperia Z3
    12637
  • LG G3
    10580

LG dropped their customized browser and rely on Chrome, which proves to be a wise decision as far as JavaScript performance is concerned - you get close to double the performance of a Lollipop-running LG G3, even the Galaxy S6 can't get ahead.

Kraken 1.1

Lower is better

  • LG G4
    4085
  • Samsung Galaxy S6
    4154
  • LG G Flex2
    4621
  • HTC One M9
    5500
  • Sony Xperia Z3
    6355
  • LG G3
    7632

When it comes to rendering a page at QHD resolution things aren't as fast though. The LG G4 still handily beats its predecessor, but the Samsung pulls ahead.

BrowserMark 2.1

Higher is better

  • Samsung Galaxy S6
    2718
  • LG G Flex2
    2086
  • LG G4
    1990
  • HTC One M9
    1681
  • Sony Xperia Z3
    1533
  • LG G3
    1453

LG made the right call using the Snapdragon 808 over the 810 as far as general performance and web browsing are concerned. Both chipsets are essentially equals for sustained performance. The one problem - and it's a big one - is that the GPU just doesn't have enough oomph for QHD gaming. It's an improvement over the previous phone, but not a very big one and certainly not one worthy of a 2015 flagship.

Phonebook and dialer combined

Tapping the dedicated phone and Dialer shortcuts merely take you to different tabs of the phone app. Selecting a contact displays the basic details: name and photo, numbers, emails and such. The dialer has smart dial, which searches for both digits and letters.

You have the option of reorganizing tabs and removing the Favorites and Groups tabs. This is great for simplifying what is oftentimes a crowded interface.

LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review

Phonebook and dialer interface • editing tabs

From the call settings you can enable Noise suppression (for your voice), Voice clarity (for the other person's voice) and VoLTE quality (Clean or Soft).

LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review

In-call screen • call settings

The smartphone packs a neat set of call-related tricks such as automatically silencing the ring of an incoming call just by putting the phone face down or automatically answering an incoming call by raising it to your ear. You can also set the phone to automatically block calls from certain callers.

The quality of the loudspeaker is good and the slight curve of the phone keeps it from getting muffled. Still, sound is pointed away from you. Anyway, the speaker performs very well for music and ringtones, though it's a bit weak when it comes to human voices, which earns it a Good score.

Speakerphone test Voice, dB Pink noise/ Music, dB Ringing phone, dB Overall score
Apple iPhone 6 Plus 67.3 65.7 66.5 Below Average
Sony Xperia Z3 69.7 66.6 67.2 Average
HTC One M9 65.2 64.6 76.1 Average
Samsung Galaxy S6 68.1 66.3 73.7 Good
LG G4 66.9 71.8 74.7 Good
LG G3 70.2 66.6 80.2 Good
Samsung Galaxy Note Edge 72.7 75.7 70.8 Very Good
OnePlus One 74.8 73.5 80.2 Excellent


Ringtone ID can compose a unique ringtone for any of your contacts by turning the digits of their phone number to notes. The results are quite pleasing and diverse. You can preview each contact's Ringtone ID from their phonebook entry.

Messaging, email and text input

SMS and MMS messages are handled by Material Designed app with some customizations. They are displayed in threads and LG lets you customize the look of the messaging app by assigning custom backgrounds and message bubbles.

A built-in spam manager lets you block pushy SMS ads.

LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review

Messaging • customizing themes and bubbles

The LG G4 comes with two email apps - the traditional Gmail app and the LG Email app. Since Gmail handles third-party mail hosts we've gravitated to it, but the Email app has a lovely Material look and handles multiple accounts (with a Combined inbox).

LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review

Gmail and LG's own Email app

LG offers a wide array of typing methods, voice recognition, handwriting recognition, and Path input (LG's take on Swype). Split keyboard, a narrower landscape keyboard and a one-handed keyboard give you ample opportunity to find the typing setup that works best for you.

LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review

LG G4's keyboard

Even in portrait mode, the keys are amply-spaced on the 5.5-inch screen. You can resize the keyboard to make the keys bigger or to leave more room for the app. There's a dedicated number row too.

The keyboard offers a boatload of customization options, including adding/removing dot and symbol keys, White and Black themes, pens and colors for the handwriting recognition (this is more for looks than functionality).

LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review

Customizing the keyboard • handwriting recognition

Gallery that keeps memories

The Gallery app has gained a new feature - Memories. Other makers usually call it "events," basically the app groups photos and videos based on when and where they were taken. The Timeline view is reminiscent of iOS, it lets you explore photos by Year, Month or Day and pinch zoom gets you hone in on a particular period or zoom out for an overview.

LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review

Year, Moth and Day views

You can lock certain images, those are secured with a password or a pattern. This would have been a good place to use a fingerprint scanner.

Anyway, the gallery supports DLNA for viewing photos from devices on the local network as well as cloud services (Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive, Box) for viewing shared photos from anywhere.

LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review

The gallery supports DLNA and cloud services

The gallery supports viewing your images in their full resolution. You can easily pinch-zoom to 1:1 magnification. Editing images takes you to Google's Photos app, used in lieu of a picture editor from LG.

LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review

Viewing a single image • editing options

Video player works great

The Gallery's Videos tab stands in for a dedicated Video player app (you can also use the file browser). The interface is rather simple yet powerful.

You get Play/Pause, fast-forward, and rewind buttons, in addition to a slider to scrub through the video. There's also a QSlide button to watch the video in a popup and one to send the video through DLNA to a compatible player. All of these hide automatically after a few seconds of playback.

LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review

The video player has excellent subtitle support

The LG G4 played almost every file we threw at it, regardless of file format, resolution, or audio/video codec. Even AC-3 audio played, though the other popular multi-channel format, DTS, did not.

Subtitles are supported too, including non-Latin fonts. You can configure their size and background, you can even choose the subtitles file manually.

Cloud-connected music player

LG's music player is a lot like the Gallery, which is good news - it can pull songs from DLNA devices and from your cloud accounts so it's super easy to keep your music library in sync. You can sort local tracks into various categories and even grab tracks from a folder.

While browsing your collection, you'll easily spot lossless FLAC songs by the Hi-Fi logo. The Now playing screen will display the Album art, which you can tap to display the lyrics. There's an option to search YouTube for the song's music video too.

LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review

Music player with equalizer settings

There's a robust equalizer on board with multiple presets, including one especially for QuadBeat headsets. You can manually tune a 7-band equalizer too. One option that may be useful for audiobooks lets you control the playback speed and pitch.

LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review

Equalizer settings

The LG G Flex2 had FM radio, but the LG G4 does not.

Very good audio quality, not quite the best

We don't know if it's the curvature that caused it, but the LG G4 audio output is a step back from what the G3 offered. Good thing then that the former flagship did so well and a step back still gives you very good output.

The G4 posted excellent scores when connected to an active external amplifier, posting excellent scores top to bottom and garnishing them with impressively high volume levels. In fact in the first part of our test the smartphone was among the loudest out there.

Unfortunately, plugging in our standard headphones caused quite a bit of distortion, bringing down the overall scores. The frequency response worsened a bit, intermodulation crept in and the amount of extra stereo crosstalk is higher than on other flagships. Add the fact that volume plummets to only average levels and you end up with a not particularly pretty picture. With the kind of competition it faces, the G4 won't be winning any extra points from audiophiles.

Anyway, here go the results so you can do your comparisons.

Test Frequency response Noise level Dynamic range THD IMD + Noise Stereo crosstalk
LG G4 +0.04, -0.07 -93.4 93.3 0.0021 0.050 -92.6
LG G4 (headphones) +0.93, -0.13 -91.4 91.9 0.013 0.244 -50.4
LG G Flex2 +0.01, -0.06 -92.5 92.5 0.0031 0.012 -91.5
LG G Flex2 (headphones attached) +0.03, -0.10 -92.6 92.1 0.0027 0.387 -60.1
LG G3 +0.02, -0.08 -99.4 98.9 0.0016 0.035 -100.0
LG G3 (headphones attached) +0.02, -0.09 -93.7 93.3 0.0060 0.032 -78.5
Samsung Galaxy S6 edge +0.03, -0.01 -95.6 92.8 0.0023 0.0078 -95.7
Samsung Galaxy S6 edge (headphones) +0.05, -0.02 -92.6 92.5 0.0028 0.044 -76.9
Samsung Galaxy S6 +0.01, -0.04 -95.6 92.8 0.0024 0.0094 -94.5
Samsung Galaxy S6 (headphones) +0.02, -0.05 -92.6 91.9 0.0025 0.042 -83.4
HTC One M9 +0.02, -0.06 -94.8 93.0 0.0049 0.026 -93.7
HTC One M9 (headphones attached) +0.03, -0.05 -93.7 92.7 0.0082 0.030 -91.6
Apple iPhone 6 +0.06, -0.02 -94.0 93.9 0.0012 0.0065 -73.4
Apple iPhone 6 (headphones attached) +0.11, -0.06 -93.8 93.8 0.0022 0.099 -65.1
Sony Xperia Z3 +0.02, -0.08 -86.4 86.4 0.014 0.021 -86.6
Sony Xperia Z3 (headphones attached) +0.29, -0.10 -85.7 85.7 0.035 0.064 -50.8

LG G4 frequency response

LG G4 frequency response

You can learn more about the tested parameters and the whole testing process here.

Camera

The LG G4 may have the most advanced camera on the market right now, the company has updated basically every component. It starts off with a bigger 1/2.6" sensor with 16MP resolution. It's positioned behind a wider f/1.8 lens, which lets 80% more light in compared to the LG G3.

LG G4 Review

The company has also updated the optical image stabilization, which now works on three axis (up from two). LG's Laser autofocus is back, but there's a new addition - the Color Spectrum Sensor. It detects ambient light for more accurate white balance.

LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review

Simple and Basic modes

The software has been improved to match the impressive hardware. The LG G4 offers three shooting modes - Simple, Basic and Manual. The first is plain point & shoot with no options, then Basic gives you the usual phone camera options and finally Manual gives you full control of the capable camera.

LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review

Basic mode options

This includes focus, shutter speed, exposure and ISO and you get a histogram to aid you while adjusting the settings. There's an Auto Exposure lock too. If you want to do adjustments after taking the shot, you can enable the DNG RAW option.

LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review

LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review

Manual mode options

Compared to the LG G3, the new camera sensor has a 16:9 aspect ratio meaning it captures more horizontally (but less vertically). The improvement in image quality is the other thing immediately noticeable.

You don't even have to go to 100% zoom, the LG G4 camera has noticeably better dynamic range and captures detail in the shadows while keeping the highlights from getting overexposed. The colors are more true to life as well.

Once we do get to looking at the pixel level, the higher resolution offers some advantage, but really the amount of captured detail is much higher than the extra 3MP suggest. There's less noise in photos and the camera doesn't sharpen them as much.

We had some issues with missed focus though and several of our shots were out of focus when we came back to the office after an outing for camera samples.

LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review

LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review

LG G4 camera samples

LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review

LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review

LG G3 camera samples

Enabling HDR mode doesn't do much for the actual dynamic range. It seems to reduce the contrast and saturation more than anything. The images also come out softer since they are composed of multiple shots and the software doesn't align them perfectly.

On the LG G3 the HDR mode does actually boost the dynamic range, but the G3 needs it more than the G4 to begin with.

LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review

LG G4: HDR off • HDR on

LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review

LG G3: HDR off • HDR on

The LG G4's 8MP selfie should easily outclass the 2MP shooter of the G3. It is slightly wider, allowing you to capture more of the scene behind you and it has a better dynamic range. It does capture more detail too, though the difference is much smaller than the resolution advantage suggests. The white balance is warmer though not perfectly accurate without the benefit of the spectrum sensor.

LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review

Selfies: LG G4 • LG G3

Panoramas are nothing short of stunning, LG's updated software (with the help of the new chipset) can stitch an image up to 104MP resolution. The vertical resolution is over 5,000px, that's more than would fit on a 4K TV! The stitching is seamless, even up close, and the image maintains an even exposure across the whole frame.

LG G4 Review

LG G4 panorama

Of course, with an aperture like this the LG G4's true strength becomes apparent only after dark. The camera dials the noise reduction all the way down, resulting in a lot of visible noise at 100%. This does preserve a good deal more detail than the G3, which resorts to Night mode.

The G4 does not, it just shoots at 1/10s shutter speed and relies on the OIS to keep things steady. The bright lights of store windows are handled better too.

LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review

LG G4 low-light shots

LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review

LG G3 low-light shots

Video camera

The LG G4 video camera tops out at 2160p resolution and 30fps. It has a 120fps slow-motion mode at 720p, but no 60fps mode, even at 1080p.

Anyway, at maximum resolution the LG G4 uses 30Mbps bitrate, 156Kbps of which go to stereo audio. These numbers are unchanged since the G3. Competing flagships (like the Galaxy S6) use up to 48Mbps for the video and 256Kbps for the audio.

Now that the aspect ratios are equal, we can see that the LG G4 camera is wider, capturing more of the scene. Videos also benefit from the better dynamic range and accurate color rendering.

However, we found the G4 videos softer than what its predecessor managed. Part of that is that it doesn't sharpen the frames as much, but even accounting for that leaves it with slightly less detail.

1080p videos drop to the standard 17Mbps bitrate. They exhibit some fairly noticeable oversharpening halos, but other than that look quite good.

The 720p @ 120fps mode eats up 24Mbps, but it's a waste - the actual resolution is closer to 360p. The footage is smooth at least, it can be played back at 1/4 rate for a slow-mo effect.

You can download an untouched 2160p video sample and a 720p@120fps sample for a closer look.

Web browser

The LG G4 comes with just Chrome. There was an Internet shortcut, but that app informed us that it's integrated into Chrome now and offered to remove the shortcut.

Oh well, Chrome is pretty great. A recent addition mixes open Chrome tabs into the app switcher interface, which makes web apps feel native.

LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review

Chrome can compress pages, mixes tabs with open apps

Thanks to your Google account, Chrome can sync what you have open on other devices (desktops, tablets) with the phone. This feature also syncs your bookmarks and favorite sites and can remember passwords and login data.

If you're running short on data or the connection is poor, you can enable Google's page compression, which reduces data usage and speeds up page loads. If you're thinking of Opera's Turbo mode this is pretty much it.

Other pre-installed apps

QMemo+ features a plethora of features, including the ability to add location and weather info to your notes, also set up reminders. That's besides the usual features of writing, drawing and adding multimedia files. Notes can be exported into PDFs for easy sharing or locked just like photos in the gallery.

LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review

QMemo+

LG Health is LG in-house fitness tracking app. It's not as robust as Samsung's Health app, but it does track various activities including walking, running, cycling, and more. The LG G4 lacks biometric sensors of its own, but can connect to wireless blood pressure monitors and scales. You can create a LG account to compete with other LG Health users as well.

LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review

LG Health

QRemote can control your TV, set-top box, other AV equipment and even air conditioners. If your device isn't supported, you can use its own remote to teach QRemote the control codes. If your TV supports LG's Magic Remote this app can do it too. But our favorite feature lets us design our own remote with buttons we selected - unfortunately we can't mix TV and air conditioner controls for an all-controlling setup.

LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review

QRemote • adding new remotes • making a custom remote • teaching new control codes

LG has re-skinned the Android Calendar app to match the Optimus UI design scheme and added a few features. For one its icon reflects the current date, then there's Event pocket, which lets you add events from Facebook, tasks, memos and location info.

LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review

The Calendar with Event pocket

Smart settings are a clever way to save battery and avoid unwanted noise. They can turn Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and Sound on or off depending on whether you're at home or away. They can also launch a music app when you connect a headset or to a Bluetooth audio device.

The LG G4 also comes with a capable File manager application. Like other apps it integrates with your cloud storage accounts. There are options to ZIP a folder or add it to the homescreen.

LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review

The cloud-enabled File manager app

The Alarm clock application can handle multiple alarms, each with its own start and repeat time. The stopwatch and timer are self-explanatory. There's also a Calculator that displays advanced functions in landscape mode, and a Voice recorder.

LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review

Alarms • Voice recorder • Calculator

Additional tools can be found in the Management folder. There's a Battery saver that triggers at a certain charge level and can restrict apps running in the background. LG Backup lets you backup and restore data, as well as copy data to a new device.

LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review

Battery saver • LG Backup

Google Drive comes preinstalled. It combines all of your documents, spreadsheets, images and more in one easy to use data vault app. You can also access more than a single Google Drive if you have multiple profiles on your smartphone, which is neat.

LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review

Google Drive

Google Now, accessed by swiping up from any of the navigation buttons, integrates with your Google account and can access your daily routine, internet searches, email, etc. and give you information relevant to your interests and daily needs.

It provides traffic information to your work or home, knows the scores of sports teams you follow and gives you the weather forecast for your location. It's great for at-a-glance info, but can handle voice Google searches as well. It also has a dedicated homescreen/lockscreen widget.

LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review

Google Now

Google Maps is the default navigation app, but it's most useful when used while you are online. It allows you to download offline maps of an area and even plan routes without a data connection but you can't search for addresses or POIs without an internet connection.

On the positive side, it can plan driving, public transport, cycling and walking routes. It can also display pretty accurate traffic alerts as well (though it doesn't always take them into account when routing you).

LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review

Google Maps

Another great support tool is the Android Device Manager. It's available for all Android devices linked to your Google account. It can help you find your misplaced phone by ringing it or placing it on a map if it's not where you are. If it's stolen, you also have the option to lock the device and delete all data. You have to have enabled remote lock via the preinstalled Google Settings app on your smartphone.

And finally, Google's Play Store hardly needs any description. It the biggest catalog of apps and also features movies, TV, music and even devices but availability is region-dependent. Opening the store brings you highlighted apps based on recommendations and your usage. There are categories, ranked apps and more.

Final words

Two years ago, LG took a chance and surprised everyone with the G2. The G3 upped the ante and the G4 makes it a streak. LG's top offering mixes unique design with unique features in a winning combination.

The build quality is top-notch and we think the phone looks great in leather. The plastic rear covers are not as impressive but by no means of poor quality. From experience with the Moto X, we're slightly concerned about how well the leather will hold up but if LG did it right, the G4 will age more gracefully. The phone fits well in the hand, the curved shape takes a while to notice but it does have a positive impact on the usability.

There's no question LG got the screen right - it's super sharp, contrast and black levels are great, colors are pleasing without overdoing it. Next to the LG G3 it's a massive improvement.

LG G4

The choice of chipset seemed a bit controversial at first, but overall performance is as good as the Snapdragon 810 and a solid improvement over the previous model. One area where the LG G4 falls behind its flagship rivals is gaming - it's just too hard a challenge at native QHD resolution. Games will have to render at a lower resolution and upscale, which isn't the best use of this wonderful screen.

Finally, the camera is brilliant. It captures the scene in great detail, preserving both shadows and highlights and with accurate colors, too. The wide aperture and OIS help the phone do quite well in the dark. We had some photos off focus though. The panoramas turn out amazingly detailed.

Videos were good, they carry over the advantages of the still camera (dynamic range and accurate colors) though 2160p videos are a bit soft. The slow-mo videos were smooth but very low res.

LG G4 key test findings:

  • The phone offers great build quality and handling
  • The plastic backs are a bit disappointing, the leather ones look great. The only question is how quickly they will age
  • Exchangeable backs, batteries and expandable storage will extend the phone's life
  • The Quantum Display improved in all the right places - color saturation and contrast - but isn't much brighter than G3's screen
  • Battery life is only average - web browsing is better than on the G3, but standby draw brings the overall endurance down
  • Android Lollipop with LG UX is fluid and responsive, with great features such as dual-window and QRemote
  • The Snapdragon 808 is often as fast as the 810, but shows only a small improvement over the LG G3 at gaming
  • The loudspeaker is great for notifications and music, but it's a bit quiet for voice calls
  • Video player has impressively wide video decoder support, as well as seamless 4K video playback
  • Audio output quality is very good if not quite the best among flagships
  • Camera offers great dynamic range, plenty of detail and accurate colors. Low light shots are noisy, but detailed. Beware of the occasional missed focus though
  • Videos recording quality is a mixed bag - 2160p videos are a bit soft, the 120fps mode is too pixelated

The past year displayed a trend of flagship pairs - a mass-market model with a unique version of it in tow. The LG G Flex2 is what inspired the G4's curvature, but more pronounced and actually flexible. And it has a one of a kind self-healing back.

The screen size was the same, though lower resolution (1080p) as the P-OLED panels are still maturing. It received the higher-end Snapdragon, which in the end doesn't make that much of a difference. The camera isn't as impressive, but a 13MP optically stabilized shooter with 2160p video capture is still pretty solid.

The old LG G3 is still a great phone and it's cheaper than its present day competitors. It has a 5.5" QHD screen (not as contrasty as we would have liked) and a very good camera too, you can go back to the camera section of this review for a direct comparison.

LG G Flex2
LG G3

LG G Flex2 • LG G3

Samsung's Galaxy Note 4 and Note Edge have bigger QHD screens (demonstrating the best of AMOLED tech) and have impressive 16MP cameras of their own. They add a stylus to the split-screen multitasking and a PayPal-certified fingerprint sensor.

Real leather is not an option, but the frame is real metal and unlike the new Galaxy S6 you get access to the battery and a microSD slot.

The Galaxy Note Edge has a unique curve too, just the right side of the device instead of the whole thing. Yet, it has a much bigger impact on functionality than G4's curve by displaying various widgets, shortcuts and notifications there.

Samsung Galaxy Note 4
Samsung Galaxy Note Edge

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 • Samsung Galaxy Note Edge

The Note pair is mirrored in the S line - Samsung has always had multiple versions of the flagship but, for the first time this season, the supposed spin-off ends up stealing the show. Samsung took a gamble but so did LG last year with the first QHD screen. The new Galaxy S6 design sacrificed the removable battery and microSD card slot. LG on the other hand didn't quite learn their lesson and the battery life of the G4 isn't any better than the G3's. At the end of the day though, Samsung's reboot against LG's refinement shapes up like the Android match of the season. You know you'd do well to watch this space for the head-to-head.

Samsung Galaxy S6 edge
Samsung Galaxy S6

Samsung Galaxy S6 edge • Samsung Galaxy S6

The Apple iPhone 6 Plus is from a different planet but so mincingly relevant. Its all-metal unibody is impressively slim and of the usual exemplary build quality. The screen is one of the best in the business even if it's nowhere as sharp as the QHD lot.

Add in the fast, custom chipset and polished iOS software (no multitasking though) and you get a device that has been optimized for experience more than any other.

Apple iPhone 6 Plus

Apple iPhone 6 Plus

HTC launched a barrage of One M9 versions, the HTC One E9+ is the one with the 5.5" QHD screen. It borrows the 20MP main camera on the M9 but adds a 13MP/2160p selfie camera that outshines even G4's front shooter. HTC's trademark stereo speakers are on board, while the all-metal unibody gave way to a lighter metal frame/plastic back design.

The Motorola Nexus 6 also has a metal frame and an even larger 6" QHD screen. It brings basic water resistance to the mix, stereo speakers too, and its 13MP optically stabilized camera has a rare ring flash. The Snapdragon 805 chipset is a safer (perhaps wiser) choice and you get a guarantee for fresh software.

HTC One E9+
Motorola Nexus 6

HTC One E9+ • Motorola Nexus 6

While other makers compete with glass and metal designs, LG settled on an organic design with a subtle curve and warm leather. You'll have a great time browsing the web and taking photos with the LG G4, then do some serious work on the roomy screen split between two apps. LG loyals will be pleased, while newcomers will certainly be impressed by what LG is capable of.

Unboxing the LG G4

Is the LG G4 a flagship? You'd think "no" just looking at the retail box. It has a clever design with a curve that hints at what's inside, but other than the beautiful phone the box's contents are a disappointment.

LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review

LG G4's modest retail box

What little content there is - all you get is a charger and a cable. And it's not a Quick Charger either, you get a regular 5V/2A charger. The phone itself supports Qualcomm Quick Charge 2.0, but you'll have to buy a compatible charger yourself. There's no headset in the box either.

LG G4 360° spin

The LG G4 measures 148.9 x 76.1 x 9.8mm, which is slightly bigger than the predecessor in all directions. The slight curve of the body appears to add extra bulk but both phones essentially weigh the same.

The difference in size between the LG G3 and G4 is barely noticeable in person, though "bigger and thicker" is not what you want to hear when the new phone has the same screen size and battery capacity.

Design and build quality

The LG G4 can easily be mistaken for the LG G Flex2, the two look so much alike and are basically the same size and weight. The Flex2's curve is definitely more prominent though and if that doesn't give it away, snapping on a leather back on the G4 will set these two even further apart.

While the body of the LG G4 is arced, the G3 forms appear softer, rounder. LG squared off the four corners and the left to right curve of the G3's back is more pronounced. The impression of angles and corners on the LG G4 is furthered by the sides, which are angled inward at the front.

This improves grip as it gives your fingers a ledge besides the screen. However, the way the opposing front and back curvatures work out creates a hard, pointed frame around the phone, which can dig into your palm if you grip harder. And you may have to as the glossy material of the frame is slippery, the smooth plastic on the back doesn't help much either.

LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review

LG G4 doesn't feel bigger, but is grippier than its predecessor

The G4 is a large phone, but we got used to it fairly quickly - we forget it's in our pockets and it doesn't feel humongous in the hand (well, the screen does). If you've handled and iPhone 6 Plus, the G4 is smaller than that (though noticeably thicker). It doesn't feel bigger than the LG G3, but like we said more angular and easier to grip.

LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review

LG G4 and G3 • G4 compared to the iPhone 6 Plus and Galaxy S6

The phone feels rock solid, which also means it doesn't bend like the G Flex2 (granted, a desired effect there). The weight is well-distributed with the balance shifted slightly towards the bottom. You can hold the G4 low and it won't topple over.

The LG G4 looks a bit like a TV with no clear indication of up or down, left or right. The G3 had a lighter colored strip at the bottom, which gave it a sense of direction, but the G4's all-dark front looks borderless.

The glass (Gorilla Glass 3) and screen below it are slightly arced, it's so subtle that you may not see it immediately. You can feel it though, the 5.5" screen is quite large and the concave shape makes the top and bottom parts feel closer to your finger.

LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review

The body is slightly arced, which makes reaching the top and bottom parts of the screen a bit easier

As for the back, there are two options, plastic or leather. The plastic covers come in Ceramic White, Metallic Gray and Gold. They have a subtle 3D diamond pattern and the White one is coated with ceramic paint. The Gray one (featured in our photos) is mostly gray, but can have a purplish tint depending on how the light hits it.

The plastic covers are rather smooth though and while you won't see fingerprints on them their texture is too subtle to notice most of the time. We prefer the plastic cover of the G3 with its brushed metal finish.

LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review

The Metallic Grey back cover compared to G3's cover and the real metal of HTC One M9

The G3 never had a leather option though. Motorola made a splash with the leather back of the Moto X, a feature reserved for Vertu and the like. LG one ups Moto by making the covers removable and adding decorative stitching.

The leather is tanned with vegetable oils, the traditional and more environmentally friendly way of doing it. It's a laborious process though so vegetable-tanned leather is used in pricy luxury items. Same goes for the stitching - LG gets its threads from Gütterman, a household name in the clothing industry.

The leather comes in three colors - Black, Brown and Red - though more are expected to come later on, while availability will be depending on region. The different colors have different grain, so that's something to consider.

LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review

LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review

The leather backs look much better than the plastic options in our opinion

As for the stitching, it goes down the middle of the back, which matches up with the centrally-placed camera and buttons but is perhaps not the most attractive place for stitches. We would have loved some contrast stitching too, the current light thread blends in with some of the lighter leathers.

Not much else has changed since last year. The back features the camera module, the volume rocker below it is split in half by the Power key. The way these three are grouped makes them look like a single design element. It goes on the centerline of the back, while dual-LED flash and Laser Autofocus system are placed symmetrically on each side.

LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review

The new 16MP camera in the traditional G-series arrangement

The loudspeaker is at the bottom left. The back can be removed to access the battery, the microSIM and microSD slots. The card slots are blocked by the battery. Here you'll notice several pogo pins, two of those are for NFC, the rest for the optional wireless charging covers.

LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review

The loudspeaker • removing the back cover gives you access to the battery and the card slots

The face of the phone is pretty plain, but it does have a hidden gem - the 8MP/1080p selfie camera. The earpiece, along with the usual sensors (proximity and ambient light), are also here.

LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review

An impressive 8MP/1080p selfie camera above the screen • just the LG logo below the screen

The bottom of the phone holds the mouthpiece, the 3.5mm audio jack and the microUSB 2.0 port. It's SlimPort-enabled and with the right adapter (or compatible TV) the LG G4 has wired 4K video output.

LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review

Mic, 3.5mm audio jack and SlimPort-enabled microUSB port • noise-cancelling mic and IR blaster

The top of the phone holds the noise-cancelling mic and an IR blaster if you want to control your TV wirelessly. The sides of the phone are bare, except for a small notch that helps you pop the back open.

LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review

Nothing around the sides

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