LG G4 Review

LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review
Introduction


Coming in second, third, or even fourth place in the Android smartphone space deserves adulation, mainly because there’s just a vast collection of handset makers eagerly trying to snag a piece of the pie. However, when you’re constantly being overshadowed by another company, the expectations to improve results and rise to the occasion become higher – almost making any sort of attempt be regarded as futile, unfortunately. That’s the reality that LG has been facing for the last several years, as Samsung has been continuously managing to grab the lion's share of the Android market.

Already, Sammy has hit gold with its latest flagship line, which only makes it more difficult for LG to make any headway in closing the gap between it and the unstoppable beast. Needless to say, the bar has been set high for everyone else, but where other phones invoke minimal attention due to their lackluster specs sheet, boring design, or terrible performance, the LG G4 is on an aggressive approach to make a daring statement. Crazy to say, not every successive _phone_ is a staunch improvement over its predecessor – either that, or in some rare instances, they’re worse!

Looking back at LG’s track record, there’s no denying that the company is all about making long-lasting impressions. In fact, they did that last year with the LG G3, one of the first commercially available smartphones to offer a pixel crushing resolution of quad-HD (1440 x 2560) with its screen. It’s back again here with the G4, unsurprisingly, but don’t be fooled that this successor is just going to sit pretty and let the competition breeze past it. Everything about this _phone_ has been retooled and reworked to ensure it’s a flagship worthy enough for all to “see the great, feel the great.” So, has LG managed to pull it off?

The package contains:

  • Wall charger
  • microUSB cable

Design

The genuine leather back of the LG G4 gives it a distinct, high-quality feel, but the phone's also available in plastic.

Unless you’ve own or used an LG G3, most people would argue that the LG G4 looks very similar to its predecessor – and that’s certainly true to an extent. However, there are subtle differences that make it an undeniably iterative design, as opposed to a dramatic one that we’ve been seeing in other recent phones. In particular, it now features a more hard-lined style, subtle curvature defined by its Slim Arc design, and a brand spanking new vegetable tanned genuine leather material (provided you go for the leather variant, and not the plastic one).

Yes folks, you read that correct, the G4 can be picked up with a casing that’s comprised out of vegetable tanned leather, a process that we're told takes approximately 3 months to complete. The result, surprisingly enough, feels pretty sweet and adds a higher degree of sophistication to an otherwise ‘more of the same’ phone. Seriously, though, this leather feels a lot smoother and more durable than the leather options for the Moto X – it’s not as malleable or mushy feeling. Throw in the Gütermann Mara style stitching running straight through the middle, it really delivers an elegant package that’s both classical and timeless.

Offering more personalization to the consumer, the leather back covers are removable and available in 6 beautiful colors. Alternatively, the G4 can be bought with the usual plastic base material, but with a specific 3D diamond shaped pattern that disperses light in an interesting manner at different angles. If it weren’t for the new genuine leather material option, the LG G4’s design would otherwise be a boring one lost in a world filled with more premium offerings – there’s nothing too polarizing about it at that point. Thankfully, though, they’re able to mix things up.

Normally, successive smartphones tend to achieve a slightly more compact frame that their predecessors, but in the case of the G4, that’s not quite the reality. Even though it retains the same sized screen, the G4’s body is longer, wider, thicker, and heavier than the G3 before it – so it’s a handful to say the least, requiring two-handed operation more than none for most people. Despite that, the curvature of the phone provides a pretty ergonomic feel in the hand, since our hand naturally wraps around its back.

A signature design choice for LG, the power button and volume controls are again found in the rear of the phone, where our index finger gently rests over them as we’re holding it. While this placement seems to be a logical one, especially when our finger naturally falls onto them in a holding position, it’s almost impossible to adjust the volume if it’s placed in some sort of cradle – whether it’s the car or at home, there’s just no easy access to it.

Rounding things out, the top edge of the phone is home to its IR blaster and noise cancelling mic – while the bottom is occupied by its microUSB port, 3.5mm headphone jack, and standard mic. There’s a small slit on the bottom right area of the phone that allows us to pry off its rear casing, uncovering the removable 3000 mAh battery, microSIM slot, and microSD card slot. Although everything appears fine and dandy, which it is, the additional amenities pale in comparison to what we see and get in other flagships – such as a water resistant construction, finger print sensor, and even wireless charging/rapid charging.

 

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Front view | Side view
LG G4
LG G4
5.86 x 3 x 0.39 inches
148.9 x 76.1 x 9.8 mm
5.47 oz (155 g)

LG G4

HTC One M9
HTC One M9
5.69 x 2.74 x 0.38 inches
144.6 x 69.7 x 9.61 mm
5.54 oz (157 g)

HTC One M9

Samsung Galaxy S6
Samsung Galaxy S6
5.65 x 2.78 x 0.27 inches
143.4 x 70.5 x 6.8 mm
4.87 oz (138 g)

Samsung Galaxy S6

Motorola DROID Turbo
Motorola DROID Turbo
5.65 x 2.89 x 0.44 inches
143.5 x 73.3 x 11.2 mm
6.21 oz (176 g)

Motorola DROID Turbo


LG G4 Review

Display

Colors are purposefully overblown and saturated. It’s nowhere close to being the most color accurate screen, but it has that drawing factor with its saturated tones.

LG G4 Review
Last year, we were utterly amazed by the introduction of the G3’s quad-HD resolution display, one that brought even more detail and pixels than any other screen before it. Back for round two, the LG G4 ensures that it’s still a relevant thing in the space because it’s fashioned with a new 5.5-inch 1440 x 2560 (quad-HD) IPS Quantum Display, one that LG boldly claims to offer 20% greater color reproduction, 25% stronger brightness output, and 50% better contrast than the G3’s screen. Not only that, but it’s meant to deliver vibrant colors because it’s apparently been calibrated for DCI (Digital Camera Initiatives) standards.

Details have never been an issue with the G3’s screen, so it’s no surprise it’s not an issue here either because the G4’s quad-HD resolution and 538 ppi pixel density deliver some amazingly crisp details! There are plenty of them, trust us.

During the G4’s official announcement, LG talked big about its new display technology – the IPS Quantum Display, which LG mentions to offer high-contrast, vibrant images that are true-to-life. We’ll give it credit for doing that, but it’s mainly noticeable when you’re running the camera interface and comparing the colors you see in real life to what the display is showing. However, as we dive deeper and check out its color accuracy under the color gamut chart, it reveals the undeniable truth that the panel favors a saturated production – something that’s made more profound as each color value in the chart is skewed from the target value.

While it’s not as accurate in color reproduction as last year’s display, the move is a purposeful one in giving this IPS Quantum Display the rich and iridescent color tones LG has promised. Sure, we can argue about its inaccuracies, but some folks won’t mind it as much, especially when it’s a drawing factor with its glow. In addition, the G4’s color temperature is a stark contrast to the G3, as it reaches a very cold color temperature of ~8000K – giving whites that noticeably bluish tone. And finally, LG ever so slightly improves the brightness with this model, since it reaches 454 nits in our testing, which is shy of the 500 nits LG mentioned it would deliver.

So, what does this tell us? LG follows through in delivering the promised proclaim that the IPS Quantum Display will deliver about 20% color gamut over the usual sRGB gamut standard, something that’s profoundly made known looking at its color gamut chart. While it’s not as accurate this time around, the decision to offer a more saturated display is a purposeful one – so greens are green, blues are dark blue, and reds are blood red. Don’t get us wrong, the display is able to stir up attention due to its rich and vibrant colors, but it’s clearly overblown to simply draw people into its glow. Is it accurate? Not really, but some folks won’t be too bummed out by that realization because it has that drawing factor.

Display measurements and quality

Maximum brightness (nits)Higher is better Minimum brightness (nits)Lower is better Contrast Higher is better Color temperature (Kelvins) Gamma Delta E rgbcmy Lower is better Delta E grayscale Lower is better
Samsung Galaxy S6 563
(Excellent)
2
(Excellent)
unmeasurable
(Excellent)
6584
(Excellent)
2.11
4.1
(Average)
2.94
(Good)
HTC One M9 508
(Excellent)
10
(Average)
1:1347
(Excellent)
8114
(Poor)
2.21
5.89
(Average)
8.24
(Poor)
LG G4 454
(Good)
2
(Excellent)
1:1930
(Excellent)
8031
(Poor)
2.24
5.08
(Average)
7.28
(Average)
Motorola DROID Turbo 248
(Poor)
9
(Average)
unmeasurable
(Excellent)
6594
(Excellent)
1.84
7.32
(Average)
3.86
(Good)
View all

The numbers below represent the amount of deviation in the respective property, observed when a display is viewed from a 45-degree angle as opposed to direct viewing.

Maximum brightness Lower is better Minimum brightness Lower is better Contrast Lower is better Color temperature Lower is better Gamma Lower is better Delta E rgbcmy Lower is better Delta E grayscale Lower is better
Motorola DROID Turbo 50.8%
55.6%
unmeasurable
0.8%
2.7%
14.8%
26.9%
Samsung Galaxy S6 56.1%
50%
unmeasurable
0.7%
1.9%
44.4%
216%
HTC One M9 78.7%
80%
83.4%
13.9%
3.2%
9.7%
18.8%
LG G4 86.8%
50%
90.3%
5.4%
0.9%
7.9%
28.6%
View all

The CIE 1931 xy color gamut chart represents the set (area) of colors that a display can reproduce, with the sRGB colorspace (the highlighted triangle) serving as reference. The chart also provides a visual representation of a display's color accuracy. The small squares across the boundaries of the triangle are the reference points for the various colors, while the small dots are the actual measurements. Ideally, each dot should be positioned on top of its respective square. The 'x: CIE31' and 'y: CIE31' values in the table below the chart indicate the position of each measurement on the chart. 'Y' shows the luminance (in nits) of each measured color, while 'Target Y' is the desired luminance level for that color. Finally, 'ΔE 2000' is the Delta E value of the measured color. Delta E values of below 2 are ideal.

This measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

The Color accuracy chart gives an idea of how close a display's measured colors are to their referential values. The first line holds the measured (actual) colors, while the second line holds the reference (target) colors. The closer the actual colors are to the target ones, the better.

This measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

The Grayscale accuracy chart shows whether a display has a correct white balance (balance between red, green and blue) across different levels of grey (from dark to bright). The closer the Actual colors are to the Target ones, the better.

This measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

View all


LG G4 Review

LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review
LG G4 Review
Introduction


Coming in second, third, or even fourth place in the Android smartphone space deserves adulation, mainly because there’s just a vast collection of handset makers eagerly trying to snag a piece of the pie. However, when you’re constantly being overshadowed by another company, the expectations to improve results and rise to the occasion become higher – almost making any sort of attempt be regarded as futile, unfortunately. That’s the reality that LG has been facing for the last several years, as Samsung has been continuously managing to grab the lion's share of the Android market.

Already, Sammy has hit gold with its latest flagship line, which only makes it more difficult for LG to make any headway in closing the gap between it and the unstoppable beast. Needless to say, the bar has been set high for everyone else, but where other phones invoke minimal attention due to their lackluster specs sheet, boring design, or terrible performance, the LG G4 is on an aggressive approach to make a daring statement. Crazy to say, not every successive phone is a staunch improvement over its predecessor – either that, or in some rare instances, they’re worse!

Looking back at LG’s track record, there’s no denying that the company is all about making long-lasting impressions. In fact, they did that last year with the LG G3, one of the first commercially available smartphones to offer a pixel crushing resolution of quad-HD (1440 x 2560) with its screen. It’s back again here with the G4, unsurprisingly, but don’t be fooled that this successor is just going to sit pretty and let the competition breeze past it. Everything about this phone has been retooled and reworked to ensure it’s a flagship worthy enough for all to “see the great, feel the great.” So, has LG managed to pull it off?

The package contains:

  • Wall charger
  • microUSB cable

Design

The genuine leather back of the LG G4 gives it a distinct, high-quality feel, but the phone's also available in plastic.

Unless you’ve own or used an LG G3, most people would argue that the LG G4 looks very similar to its predecessor – and that’s certainly true to an extent. However, there are subtle differences that make it an undeniably iterative design, as opposed to a dramatic one that we’ve been seeing in other recent phones. In particular, it now features a more hard-lined style, subtle curvature defined by its Slim Arc design, and a brand spanking new vegetable tanned genuine leather material (provided you go for the leather variant, and not the plastic one).

Yes folks, you read that correct, the G4 can be picked up with a casing that’s comprised out of vegetable tanned leather, a process that we're told takes approximately 3 months to complete. The result, surprisingly enough, feels pretty sweet and adds a higher degree of sophistication to an otherwise ‘more of the same’ phone. Seriously, though, this leather feels a lot smoother and more durable than the leather options for the Moto X – it’s not as malleable or mushy feeling. Throw in the Gütermann Mara style stitching running straight through the middle, it really delivers an elegant package that’s both classical and timeless.

Offering more personalization to the consumer, the leather back covers are removable and available in 6 beautiful colors. Alternatively, the G4 can be bought with the usual plastic base material, but with a specific 3D diamond shaped pattern that disperses light in an interesting manner at different angles. If it weren’t for the new genuine leather material option, the LG G4’s design would otherwise be a boring one lost in a world filled with more premium offerings – there’s nothing too polarizing about it at that point. Thankfully, though, they’re able to mix things up.

Normally, successive smartphones tend to achieve a slightly more compact frame that their predecessors, but in the case of the G4, that’s not quite the reality. Even though it retains the same sized screen, the G4’s body is longer, wider, thicker, and heavier than the G3 before it – so it’s a handful to say the least, requiring two-handed operation more than none for most people. Despite that, the curvature of the phone provides a pretty ergonomic feel in the hand, since our hand naturally wraps around its back.

A signature design choice for LG, the power button and volume controls are again found in the rear of the phone, where our index finger gently rests over them as we’re holding it. While this placement seems to be a logical one, especially when our finger naturally falls onto them in a holding position, it’s almost impossible to adjust the volume if it’s placed in some sort of cradle – whether it’s the car or at home, there’s just no easy access to it.

Rounding things out, the top edge of the phone is home to its IR blaster and noise cancelling mic – while the bottom is occupied by its microUSB port, 3.5mm headphone jack, and standard mic. There’s a small slit on the bottom right area of the phone that allows us to pry off its rear casing, uncovering the removable 3000 mAh battery, microSIM slot, and microSD card slot. Although everything appears fine and dandy, which it is, the additional amenities pale in comparison to what we see and get in other flagships – such as a water resistant construction, finger print sensor, and even wireless charging/rapid charging.


Front view | Side view
LG G4
LG G4
5.86 x 3 x 0.39 inches
148.9 x 76.1 x 9.8 mm
5.47 oz (155 g)

LG G4

HTC One M9
HTC One M9
5.69 x 2.74 x 0.38 inches
144.6 x 69.7 x 9.61 mm
5.54 oz (157 g)

HTC One M9

Samsung Galaxy S6
Samsung Galaxy S6
5.65 x 2.78 x 0.27 inches
143.4 x 70.5 x 6.8 mm
4.87 oz (138 g)

Samsung Galaxy S6

Motorola DROID Turbo
Motorola DROID Turbo
5.65 x 2.89 x 0.44 inches
143.5 x 73.3 x 11.2 mm
6.21 oz (176 g)

Motorola DROID Turbo


LG G4 Review

Display

Colors are purposefully overblown and saturated. It’s nowhere close to being the most color accurate screen, but it has that drawing factor with its saturated tones.

LG G4 Review
Last year, we were utterly amazed by the introduction of the G3’s quad-HD resolution display, one that brought even more detail and pixels than any other screen before it. Back for round two, the LG G4 ensures that it’s still a relevant thing in the space because it’s fashioned with a new 5.5-inch 1440 x 2560 (quad-HD) IPS Quantum Display, one that LG boldly claims to offer 20% greater color reproduction, 25% stronger brightness output, and 50% better contrast than the G3’s screen. Not only that, but it’s meant to deliver vibrant colors because it’s apparently been calibrated for DCI (Digital Camera Initiatives) standards.

Details have never been an issue with the G3’s screen, so it’s no surprise it’s not an issue here either because the G4’s quad-HD resolution and 538 ppi pixel density deliver some amazingly crisp details! There are plenty of them, trust us.

During the G4’s official announcement, LG talked big about its new display technology – the IPS Quantum Display, which LG mentions to offer high-contrast, vibrant images that are true-to-life. We’ll give it credit for doing that, but it’s mainly noticeable when you’re running the camera interface and comparing the colors you see in real life to what the display is showing. However, as we dive deeper and check out its color accuracy under the color gamut chart, it reveals the undeniable truth that the panel favors a saturated production – something that’s made more profound as each color value in the chart is skewed from the target value.

While it’s not as accurate in color reproduction as last year’s display, the move is a purposeful one in giving this IPS Quantum Display the rich and iridescent color tones LG has promised. Sure, we can argue about its inaccuracies, but some folks won’t mind it as much, especially when it’s a drawing factor with its glow. In addition, the G4’s color temperature is a stark contrast to the G3, as it reaches a very cold color temperature of ~8000K – giving whites that noticeably bluish tone. And finally, LG ever so slightly improves the brightness with this model, since it reaches 454 nits in our testing, which is shy of the 500 nits LG mentioned it would deliver.

So, what does this tell us? LG follows through in delivering the promised proclaim that the IPS Quantum Display will deliver about 20% color gamut over the usual sRGB gamut standard, something that’s profoundly made known looking at its color gamut chart. While it’s not as accurate this time around, the decision to offer a more saturated display is a purposeful one – so greens are green, blues are dark blue, and reds are blood red. Don’t get us wrong, the display is able to stir up attention due to its rich and vibrant colors, but it’s clearly overblown to simply draw people into its glow. Is it accurate? Not really, but some folks won’t be too bummed out by that realization because it has that drawing factor.

Display measurements and quality

Maximum brightness (nits)Higher is better Minimum brightness (nits)Lower is better Contrast Higher is better Color temperature (Kelvins) Gamma Delta E rgbcmy Lower is better Delta E grayscale Lower is better
Samsung Galaxy S6 563
(Excellent)
2
(Excellent)
unmeasurable
(Excellent)
6584
(Excellent)
2.11
4.1
(Average)
2.94
(Good)
HTC One M9 508
(Excellent)
10
(Average)
1:1347
(Excellent)
8114
(Poor)
2.21
5.89
(Average)
8.24
(Poor)
LG G4 454
(Good)
2
(Excellent)
1:1930
(Excellent)
8031
(Poor)
2.24
5.08
(Average)
7.28
(Average)
Motorola DROID Turbo 248
(Poor)
9
(Average)
unmeasurable
(Excellent)
6594
(Excellent)
1.84
7.32
(Average)
3.86
(Good)
View all

The numbers below represent the amount of deviation in the respective property, observed when a display is viewed from a 45-degree angle as opposed to direct viewing.

Maximum brightness Lower is better Minimum brightness Lower is better Contrast Lower is better Color temperature Lower is better Gamma Lower is better Delta E rgbcmy Lower is better Delta E grayscale Lower is better
Motorola DROID Turbo 50.8%
55.6%
unmeasurable
0.8%
2.7%
14.8%
26.9%
Samsung Galaxy S6 56.1%
50%
unmeasurable
0.7%
1.9%
44.4%
216%
HTC One M9 78.7%
80%
83.4%
13.9%
3.2%
9.7%
18.8%
LG G4 86.8%
50%
90.3%
5.4%
0.9%
7.9%
28.6%
View all

The CIE 1931 xy color gamut chart represents the set (area) of colors that a display can reproduce, with the sRGB colorspace (the highlighted triangle) serving as reference. The chart also provides a visual representation of a display's color accuracy. The small squares across the boundaries of the triangle are the reference points for the various colors, while the small dots are the actual measurements. Ideally, each dot should be positioned on top of its respective square. The 'x: CIE31' and 'y: CIE31' values in the table below the chart indicate the position of each measurement on the chart. 'Y' shows the luminance (in nits) of each measured color, while 'Target Y' is the desired luminance level for that color. Finally, 'ΔE 2000' is the Delta E value of the measured color. Delta E values of below 2 are ideal.

This measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

The Color accuracy chart gives an idea of how close a display's measured colors are to their referential values. The first line holds the measured (actual) colors, while the second line holds the reference (target) colors. The closer the actual colors are to the target ones, the better.

This measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

The Grayscale accuracy chart shows whether a display has a correct white balance (balance between red, green and blue) across different levels of grey (from dark to bright). The closer the Actual colors are to the Target ones, the better.

This measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

View all


Interface and Functionality

The LG UX 4.0 experience doesn’t change a whole lot from before, but it finds a ripe balance between form and function.

Giving its user interface a complete overhaul last year with the G3, LG went from having a cartoony looking UI to one that was neat, flat, simple, and feature-rich. Superficially, the new LG UX 4.0 experience of the G4 follows in the same manner, but it aims to be even simpler than before. Jumping right down into the new interface, it’s really tough to distinguish any changes because the LG UX 4.0 experience looks, acts, and functions like before. Aesthetically, the same flat styled interface is present again – with only a few minor alterations made to some of the preloaded LG widgets. Beyond that, this is a familiar looking UI we’ve dealt with already.

Functionally, it bears many of the same core features of LG’s experience – such as Knock On to turn on/off the screen by performing a double tap, QSlide apps that get placed over whatever we’re doing, and Dual Window for true multi-tasking with apps running side-by-side. Clearly, the experience caters to all sorts of users, including power ones who yearn for a deep and functional experience. There are some useful tricks too in tow that enrich and simplify the experience, like the pull-down gesture when the screen is off to quickly peek at the time, a quick help guide, and Smart Notices that dish up useful tidbits. For example, Smart Notices reminds us that there’s rain in the forecast, so it’s a good idea to bring an umbrella. Alternatively, if there’s an app in the background that’s not being used, but is taking up some processing power, the G4 will recommend ending it to conserve power.

Running on top of Android 5.1 Lollipop, LG is nice enough to offer most of the features that are attached with Lollipop. Out of everything, we’re impressed that LG has somehow retained Lollipop’s multi-user support feature – something that has been strangely omitted by other custom Android experiences of late. However, it looks like it’s only limited to only a second ‘friend’ account, so it’s a little behooving to call it “multi-user” support. Nevertheless, it’s nice it’s there because the second account is a standalone one – giving the account its own settings and apps. We will note, however, that there’s considerable slowdown to the phone’s performance, which could be due to the fact that the G4 is somehow running both accounts simultaneously.

Themes


Although it isn’t one of its direct feature, there’s the ability to download and change themes, which dishes up some visual changes. Similar to the competition, the themes change up the look of the UI, but it’s not as comprehensive because the changes are merely superficial. Yes, the icons and homescreen look different, but some of the core services and apps don’t receive any change.

QSlide


A staple of LG’s user interface, QSlide is in full form here again on the G4 – where it allows a small collection of native apps to overlay the UI. Specifically, they include mini apps for the phone dialer, contacts, messaging, calendar, email, file manager, calculator, and video. Once it’s accessed through the notifications tray, a small window pops up in the interface, which can be moved and resized to our liking – there’s even an option to adjust its transparency too. While it’s a nice feature, the support is only limited to a few native apps.

Dual Window


QSlide apps are nice, but power users will appreciate the G4’s arsenal of multi-tasking tools, allowing them to handle multiple tasks at any given time. Through the Recent Apps menu, there’s an option to jump into Dual Window that asks us to select two apps for the feature. As much as we appreciate the ability to have apps running side-by-side to one another, the support is rather limited to a few of Google’s services and native apps – like the Gallery, Gmail, YouTube, and Hangouts to name a few. We’d say that Samsung’s interpretation is slightly better for the sheer fact there’s wider support.

How does it stack up?


Checking out LG’s custom experience over the years, there’s no denying the stark direction of the experience. Initially, LG’s UI was filled with an exorbitant set of features, which at times made it feel overwhelming. Culminating to this version, the LG UX 4.0 experience, it’s no doubt simpler and easier than ever before – albeit, the changes are subtle. Despite that, it’s still one of the more useful customized Android experiences out there. On the visual front, it’s above TouchWiz and a notch below Sense – while functionally, it’s a cut above most others, rivaling the encompassing tally of TouchWiz.

Phonebook


From a cursory look, the phonebook of the G4 looks identical to that of the G3, but there are some minor visual changes. Flaunting the same lighter and flatter UI design style from before, it’s arranged in five tabs that are highlighted by an oval shape, dedicated for the dialer, call log, contacts list, favorites, and groups. Some manufacturers tend to combine some of these under a single tab, and this often means that compromises have to be made. LG has obviously gone for the opposite solution – to put everything in its own separate tab. That makes for an organized interface, but of course, it also means that there's going to be a lot of tab switching. One thing that we enjoy in the contacts list is that all contacts have small 'dial' and 'message' keys next to their names, allowing you to quickly dial or message them, right from the list.

Organizer


In the greater scheme of things, the G4’s arsenal of organizer apps aren’t necessarily any different than that of other phones. The common stuff is here, like the calendar, health apps, notes, and much more, but now they’re within reach on the homescreen by swiping over to the left most pane – the Smart Bulletin. This particular pane aggregates content from apps like the calendar, LG Health, quickremote, music, and more, which are organized in a scrollable listing through the pane. It’s useful for some, but we would’ve also loved to see social networking support similar to how HTC BlinkFeed operates.

Messaging


Those familiar with using the keyboard on the LG G3 will fit in nicely using the G4 because it’s almost unchanged from before. Not only is it spacious and responsive inputting text the usual way by tapping on each key, but there’s access to numbers and various character from the main layout for easier transition – as opposed to jumping into a different layout. If the normal inputting method is too tedious for you, then you’ll grow to like its swiping-like operation as well, since we find it useful in jotting down longer passages of text with minimal slowdown or delay. For the most part, its auto-correct feature works well, but it can be adjusted to be mild, moderate, or aggressive with its execution.

Processor and Memory

It’s fast and responsive, but don’t expect too much from gaming and graphical processing.

Earlier in the year, LG outfitted its G Flex 2 with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 810 SoC – the latest and greatest processor from the premier chip maker. Its dispersal, as we’ve seen play out, has been rather tricky and relatively narrow, with only a few notable devices at the moment opting to use it. Whatever the reason, LG went with the 64-bit hexa-core 1.8GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 to power its latest flagship in the G4. This particular setup breaks down to four ARM Cortex-A53 and two ARM Cortex-A57 cores that are complemented by 3GB of RAM and the Adreno 418 GPU.

Although the Snapdragon 808 is positioned lower in the performance pyramid, it seems smartphone makers are struggling to get peak performance out of the Snapdragon 810 for the time being, which could even the playing field between the two in the LG G4's favor for now – what's more, LG specifies that the Snapdragon 808 has been better optimized. So, what’s the outcome in all of this? As anyone would expect, especially for a flagship-caliber smartphone, the G4 runs smoothly in the areas you’d expect – like simple things, such as opening apps, moving in-and-out of stuff, and navigating around the interface. Even its more demanding operations, like its Dual Window feature, allow it to run effectively.

While processing benchmarks reveal the obvious, its graphical processing performance indicates some struggles – and it manifests in some gaming titles we play on the phone. Most casual gamers probably won’t notice it, but if you’re coming from handsets such as the iPhone 6, Galaxy S6, or the One M9, it’s something that’s noticeable right away. Indeed, it’s not terrible to the point of making it unusable, it’s just that it’s a few notches below some other flagships. And, we gues the Quad HD resolution isn't helping here.

Stuffed with an ample 32GB of internal storage, it’s a tally that we gladly accept because it can be supplemented by its microSD card slot.

Performance benchmarks

AnTuTu
Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy S6 58382
HTC One M9 56896
LG G4 50330
Motorola DROID Turbo 48412
Vellamo Metal
Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy S6 2237
HTC One M9 2218
LG G4 2369
Motorola DROID Turbo 1814
Vellamo Browser
Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy S6 5751
HTC One M9 4195
LG G4 3948
Motorola DROID Turbo 3673
Sunspider
Lower is better
Samsung Galaxy S6 354.5
HTC One M9 721.3
LG G4 730.2
Motorola DROID Turbo 828.2
GFXBench T-Rex HD on-screen
Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy S6 37
HTC One M9 49
LG G4 25
Motorola DROID Turbo 27.7
GFXBench Manhattan on-screen
Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy S6 16
HTC One M9 24
LG G4 9.4
Motorola DROID Turbo 11.2
Basemark OS II
Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy S6 1767
HTC One M9 1413
LG G4 1549
Motorola DROID Turbo 1297
Geekbench 3 single-core
Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy S6 1440
HTC One M9 1209
LG G4 1112
Motorola DROID Turbo 1060
Geekbench 3 multi-core
Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy S6 5127
HTC One M9 3738
LG G4 3559
Motorola DROID Turbo 2891
View all

Internet and Connectivity


Showing its tight relationship with El Goog, LG does away with its own browser, opting instead to feature solely Google Chrome out of the box. That’s not a bad decision to say the least, seeing that it has the performance and rich features to make the experience so indelible on so many levels. As you can imagine, the larger-than-life 5.5-inch quad-HD display is simply perfect for internet browsing. Needless to say, we had zero issues while surfing the web on the G3. Everything loads as quickly as possible, while navigation actions such as scrolling and zooming are performed in a snappy and fluid fashion.

One of the main benefits of the Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 chip is that it features an integrated X10 LTE radio. In addition to that unique connectivity features, it’s also packed with aGPS with Glonass, Bluetooth 4.1 BLE, dual-band 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi, NFC, DLNA, 4K SlimPort support, and an IR blaster. The latter, of course, works in conjunction with the QuickRemote app – allowing us to program the phone to act as a universal remote. Unlike other TV-based apps, like Peel, the QuickRemote app is simply a straightforward virtual remote control app, so you won’t find any of those content searching features with it.

Camera

Automatic is great for quick shots, but its manual mode allows for some creative compositions that deliver outstanding results to make it one of the best in its class.

The LG G4 comes with a brand new 16-megapixel 1/2.6” camera sensor with a wide, f/1.8 aperture lens on top of that sensor, improved optical stabilization (OIS 2), and the same lickety-split laser-assisted autofocus, but arguably the most exciting new camera-related feature of the phone might be its new 'color spectrum sensor'.

Situated right below the single LED flash, this new sensor is there to measure the ambient light and its purpose is to determine the source of light – whether it’s artificial or natural, and just what kind of lighting situation you have. Quite importantly, LG claims this sensor can smartly make the difference between light and objects for more accurate readings. Knowing the exact lighting conditions with such a precision allows the phone to select the optimal white point. The result is pretty spot-on, mainly because the sensor perfectly analyzes the scenery and then accurately recreates the color tones we see in real life – so there’s no saturation or something else applied, giving it a very realistic quality.

Beyond the new and exciting camera hardware, LG’s camera app doesn’t deviate from the layout we’ve seen last year with the G3. Offering a decent mixture of shooting modes, such as panorama, dual, and auto, we’re intrigued by the new manual mode it offers, which seemingly targets enthusiast who want a higher degree of control – dishing up options to adjust white balance, focus, exposure compensation, ISO, and shutter speed. The latter option is an intriguing one, just because very few phones can offer long exposure times, which in this case is up to 30 seconds. Additionally, the phone can instantly run the camera app, focus, and take a snapshot in a few seconds by merely double pressing the volume down button.

Although there’s not a drastic change with the layout and handling of the camera interface, the addition of the manual mode is something we’re especially excited about. It’s a good direction they’re going towards, but we’d go further to say that the camera apps from Huawei and Nokia are still one of the most comprehensive and encompassing ones out there.

Image Quality


True to its claim, the LG G4 roars loudly when it comes to snapping photos, composing shots that won’t disappoint. To tell you the truth, it’s definitely one of the best around right now, since it’s great at handling a wide array of shooting conditions. In particular, it’s strongest with its outdoor, macro, and HDR shots – where compositions provide ample crisp details, good handling of dynamic range, and colors that are naturally toned. Quite frankly, its quality rivals that of the Galaxy S6, which most purists would agree to be one of the best out there. However, we sometimes notice that it has trouble when it’s snapping photos with sunlight going against the camera.

We’re particularly impressed with its HDR quality, even though it’s quite noticeable that post processing effects are done to give it that artificial look and boosted color saturation. Regardless of that, high contrast areas are adjusted accordingly so that the entire image offers an evenly balanced exposure, which works really well for some nighttime scenes. In addition, you’ll be astounded by the panoramic photos it’s able to stitch together, rivaling and even eclipsing the quality produced by the iPhone 6 and Galaxy S6. Unlike them, however, the stitching process takes a significantly longer time to complete – though, it’s totally understandable due to the impeccable detail of them.

Using the front-facing 8-megapixel camera, which also features an f/2.0 aperture lens, it captures better looking selfies than its predecessor. Not only is there an incredible amount of detail, but the wide-angle lens ensures that you’ll get more than your face filling up the shot – so friends can join in without being cut out. However, just know that the best results occur when strong lighting is evenly present in the scenery. Under less light, though, details become a bit smeary.

By now, we totally understand that there’s always a diminished quality when it comes to low light photography – that’s just the nature of the game. The more important question, however, is to what degree is the diminished quality? In the case of the LG G4, you can sleep peacefully because it’s a strong performer when lighting in the scenery is insufficient. Using the automatic mode, we’re pretty content with the compositions, which offer details that are slightly smudgy in tone, but still enough to make us believe that it’s a photo we’re looking at – and not a brushed painting!

It’s one thing to use the automatic mode for low lighting situations, but it’s totally another if you switch to manual mode. Carefully adjusting the shutter speed and ISO, you’ll be shocked by how well it’s able to brighten up the scenery to expose details. As you can see in our testing in almost complete darkness, the automatic shot is nothing but more black. Keeping the G4 steady on a tripod mount, while keeping the shutter speed at 30 seconds, we incrementally modify the ISO from 50 all the way to its maximum value of 2700. By the end, the G4 captures the scenery in all of its glory – albeit, somewhat noisy looking.


Camera speed

Taking a pic (sec)Lower is better Taking an HDR pic (sec)Lower is better CamSpeed score Higher is better CamSpeed score with flash Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy S6 2.2
2.4
No data
No data
LG G4 2.7
3.9
357
311
Motorola DROID Turbo 2.8
4
409
358
HTC One M9 3.75
No data
No data
No data
View all

Meanwhile, hardcore shutterbugs will have fun playing around with its long exposure to compose some cool looking light painting photos. No question, it’s a cool trick to achieve if you’re able to pull it off correctly, but it’s something that other folks might deem as a novelty thing. Whatever the case, the option to do it is nonetheless something we appreciate.

If you love taking all sorts of photos, then you’ll be impressed by how versatile the LG G4 is in various shooting situations. Trust us, the camera is a memory maker!

Video Quality


Furthermore, the LG G4’s video recording quality is also something worth talking about, seeing that the results are quite favorable. Of course, outdoor scenes come out the best, especially when its new optical image stabilization helps to keep things steady – as opposed to shaky like some other phones. Armed with UHD, full-HD, HD, and Slo-mo modes, there’s enough variety for most people to accept, but we’re just irked that continuous focus isn’t something enabled from the onset when recording. Rather, we’re first required to perform touch focus while recording, wherein we’re given an icon on-screen to enable continuous auto-focus.

Its charming qualities include its acceptable level of detail, natural colors, steady capture, and moderate exposure adjustment. However, its audio recording sounds a bit thin and light to our liking. Under low light conditions, we’re thankful that it’s able to keep digital noise at bay, but the expense of doing that is evident in the soft details it produces, which again, is a common expectance with all phones. Unfortunately, the manual mode doesn’t extend into video recording, so it’s pretty much an automatic experience – though, it would’ve been neat to be able to adjust the focus using a manual dial or something.


Multimedia

A visual and audible experience, the G4 impresses in the multimedia department with its punchy display and powerful speaker.

Going through the new Gallery app of the G4, the Snapdragon 808’s processing punch is on full display as we’re able to fluidly scroll through our collection with little to zero evidence of delay. At the same time, too, it’s been rearranged to offer present content in an album, timeline, memories, favorites, and videos view. With the Memories feature, it uses the GPS location attached to each piece of content and organizes them as a collection according to location – similar to the Zoe feature in the HTC One M9. It’s a pleasant addition, but it’s nowhere as close to the customizable aspects given to us with Zoe.

While LG has spent some time retooling the Gallery app, the music player on the other hand, doesn’t see any notable changes – so it’s unchanged from before. Essentially, the visual presentation and function of the LG music player is the same, which favors a conventional approach to its styling, as opposed to the slicker look of other players.

A small notch on the back of the phone tucks away the G4’s internal speaker, which quite frankly, captures our attention for its deafening maximum output of 79 dB – an achievement that’s one of the loudest, but a couple notches below the figure of the G3. Naturally, there’s plenty of ample volume to let music travel far in small and larger spaces, but it lacks that level of vibrancy and robustness with its quality. In fact, it sounds pretty flat unless we adjust its equalizer setting.

By itself, the new 5.5-inch quad-HD IPS Quantum Display is a visual feast to the eyes, but its true potency is experienced by watching videos on it. Obviously, the display comes to life thanks to the brilliant colors and smooth operation of the handset – something that’s accentuated with the addition of a multi-tasking element where a video can be layered on top of everything in the interface.

Audio output

Headphones output power (Volts)
Higher is better
HTC One M9 1.022
LG G4 0.764
Samsung Galaxy S6 0.54
Motorola DROID Turbo 0.45
Loudspeaker loudness (dB)
Higher is better
HTC One M9 72.8
LG G4 79
Samsung Galaxy S6 73.7
Motorola DROID Turbo 74
View all


Call Quality

No major problems on either end, thanks in part to its strong tones.

LG G4 Review
Call quality with the G4, for the most part, is unchanged from what we experienced last year with the G3. In the greater scheme of things, it gets the job done, as the earpiece and speakerphone produce strong volumes to make them useable in noisy environments. However, there’s a slight hint of distortion to voices through the earpiece that make them sound a little bit artificial, but it isn’t too terrible. On the other end of the line, things seem to flow better, since voices have great audible command and robustness.

Battery

Battery life is average, but we really do miss new conveniences like wireless and rapid charging.

LG G4 Review
Although LG increases the dimensions of the G4 over its predecessor, there’s no change to the battery capacity whatsoever – so it’s packing along the same 3000 mAh battery under the hood. Generally speaking, we find its performance under normal, real-world usage to be on par to the rest of the recent flagships we’ve been testing. It’s good to carry us a solid one-day of normal usage, but don’t expect the long-lasting results of the Motorola DROID Turbo here.

Judging its result in our battery benchmark test, there’s no improvement whatsoever in this particular area. Specifically, the G4’s 3000 mAh juice pack propels the phone through 6 hours and 6 minutes in our test, which is very close to the mark of its predecessor. The result is somewhat a surprise, considering that LG claims that the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 chip has been optimized to be more efficient. Also, its battery charging time is similar to the G3, since it requires 127 minutes to get it back to 100%.

Sadly, there are no new features in regard to battery, as the LG G4 both lacks built-in wireless and rapid charging. In order to enable wireless charging, however, you’ll need to pick up an optional case to get it.

Battery Benchmarks

Battery life (hours)
Higher is better
Motorola DROID Turbo 10h 42 min (Excellent)
Samsung Galaxy S6 7h 14 min (Good)
HTC One M9 6h 25 min (Average)
LG G3 6h 14 min (Average)
LG G4 6h 6 min (Average)
Charging time (minutes)
Lower is better
Motorola DROID Turbo 126
Samsung Galaxy S6 78
HTC One M9 106
LG G3 120
LG G4 127
View all

Conclusion


So far, we’ve seen the good, the bad, and the ugly with 2015’s crop of flagship phones. There’s just a wide gap that encompass the field, as the good ones amaze us with their strong efforts – while the terrible ones fall flat in being worse than their predecessors. For example, just look at the contrasting efforts between Samsung and HTC, where the former set the bar for everyone with its refreshingly new, powerful, and equipped Galaxy S6. Conversely, we have the HTC One M9, which really didn’t do much to captivate us with its entire package. Ultimately, though, we’re eager to know where LG’s falls in this category!

LG G4 Review
Unlike HTC, LG is able to fashion a meaningful and worthy successor, since the LG G4 manages to outdo and make marked improvements in several areas over its predecessor. From its new vegetable tanned leather finish, to its amazing new camera system, the LG G4 collects all the necessary ingredients, and combines them accordingly to make it a formidable force in the hectic smartphone space. After seeing what its neighbor has done with Galaxy S6, LG responds accordingly with a product that earns high marks in several categories to solidify the company’s continuing presence – one that’ll no doubt stay relevant and in contention for the foreseeable future.

In terms of pricing, you can expect the LG G4 to flaunt the usual 2-year contract pricing of $200 with most domestic carriers. But be warned, though, because that’s going to be for the non-leather variants of the phone – so think the plastic base options with the 3D pattern design. The pricing is expected, naturally, but when we look at the designs of other phones at roughly the same cost, it’s going to be tough to win that pivotal first impression at a store or something. That’s not going to be an issue with the leather variant of the G4, since it elevates the design to a sophisticated look, but some people might be a bit hesitant to whip out additional money, up to $100 possibly, just to pick it up something refreshing.

Besides the good performance, stellar specs sheet, and its new sophisticated look, it still yearns for a comparison to the Android smartphone proclaimed by many as the pound by pound top contender in the space – the Samsung Galaxy S6. Sure, the LG G4 does nicely to match it in several areas in the specs department, while also managing to keep a steady pace in the performance department, we have to point out that it lacks some of the additional amenities found in its rival – such as built-in wireless charging, rapid charging, finger print sensor, heart rate sensor, and a premium design.

Don’t get us wrong, LG fires back with some interesting and unique technology of its own, like in the case of its IPS Quantum Display, laser assist focus, and color spectrum sensor, but they’re features that aren’t as direct to the end user as the aforementioned ones for the Galaxy S6. Honestly, though, it all boils down to a tossup on what places higher on your list. Both phones at the end of the day succeed in every facet of what we’d want in a high-end flagship phone, so it comes down to what features set matter the most to you.

LG wants us to feel the great, and to that degree, they’ve succeeded in bringing the phone a new finish that’s sophisticated. But more importantly, they want us to see the great, which we can certainly agree to. While it’s not a dramatic update, the LG G4 manages to do what successive phones are required to do each and every year – and that’s to improve upon the opportunities missed with last year’s product. In that regard, we can attest that the G4 trumps the G3 in several key areas to making it a worthy successor.

Software version of the review unit:
Android Version: 5.1
Build Number: LMy47D
Kernel Version: 3.10.49


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