Mobile Technology

Review: LG G4

Review: LG G4
Gizmag reviews the leather-clad version of LG's 2015 flagship, the G4
Gizmag reviews the leather-clad version of LG's 2015 flagship, the G4
View 10 Images
The LG G4 has a terrific display – 5.5-inches, Quad HD resolution with terrific contrast and color saturation
1/10
The LG G4 has a terrific display – 5.5-inches, Quad HD resolution with terrific contrast and color saturation
The supposedly quick-launching camera fell a bit short of our hopes
2/10
The supposedly quick-launching camera fell a bit short of our hopes
The G4 has a slight curve to it, like a less pronounced version of the LG G Flex 2
3/10
The G4 has a slight curve to it, like a less pronounced version of the LG G Flex 2
A closer look at the leather stitching on the G4's back (there are also plastic versions, coated with either metal or ceramic)
4/10
A closer look at the leather stitching on the G4's back (there are also plastic versions, coated with either metal or ceramic)
Gizmag reviews the leather-clad version of LG's 2015 flagship, the G4
5/10
Gizmag reviews the leather-clad version of LG's 2015 flagship, the G4
The leather is nice, but the plastic sides not so much
6/10
The leather is nice, but the plastic sides not so much
The G4's camera takes great shots, including some of the best low-lit photography we've seen in a phone
7/10
The G4's camera takes great shots, including some of the best low-lit photography we've seen in a phone
The back-facing buttons (also made of plastic) on the G4
8/10
The back-facing buttons (also made of plastic) on the G4
The G4 is a smidge heavier (and thicker) than last year's G3
9/10
The G4 is a smidge heavier (and thicker) than last year's G3
The LG G4 is available now, retailing for US$200 on-contract or around $550 full retail
10/10
The LG G4 is available now, retailing for US$200 on-contract or around $550 full retail

Last year's LG G3, while imperfect, was among the better flagship smartphones of 2014. Can its follow-up continue with that momentum? Read on, for Gizmag's review of the new LG G4.

Like its predecessor, the LG G4 hits a great balance of screen size and phone size – we might even call it the best in this department. Its 5.5-inch screen is big enough to be considered a phablet, but the phone itself doesn't feel overly huge.

Its ultra-sharp Quad HD, 538 PPI panel certainly doesn't hurt things either. It has a richness of colors and level of contrast that you'd typically expect from an AMOLED screen (the G4's is IPS).

LG continues to be a leader in displays, with the G4 getting an A in this class.

The LG G4 has a terrific display – 5.5-inches, Quad HD resolution with terrific contrast and color saturation
The LG G4 has a terrific display – 5.5-inches, Quad HD resolution with terrific contrast and color saturation

Everything else, though, is a bit of a mixed bag. On one hand, the G4 has a terrific camera – with wide aperture and some of the best low-lit photography we've seen in a smartphone. But on the other hand, its supposedly quick-launching camera takes about twice as long to jump from locked phone to snapped pic as the Galaxy S6 does (the GS6 can do this in under 2 seconds; the best we got for the G4 was between 3.5 and 4 seconds ... sometimes several seconds longer).

Closely related to that, the G4's camera-launching shortcut (double-tapping the volume down button on the phone's back) also isn't as quick or reliable as the home-button double-tap on the GS6. And if you happen to be playing music or other media, it will simply turn the volume down, rather than launching the camera.

The supposedly quick-launching camera fell a bit short of our hopes
The supposedly quick-launching camera fell a bit short of our hopes

Another example of this theme: LG gives you the option of buying a G4 with a leather back – a premium and unique take on smartphone design (well, almost unique ... Motorola has already been down that road).

But the luxurious back is nearly cancelled out by the fact that its sides are made of plastic. My fingertips are much more sensitive than the rest of my hand is, so, despite cradling a beautiful leather phone in my hands, the first thing I notice is cheap plastic.

The G4 has a slight curve to it, like a less pronounced version of the LG G Flex 2
The G4 has a slight curve to it, like a less pronounced version of the LG G Flex 2

Performance is another mixed bag. It runs a 64-bit Snapdragon 808 processor, with 3 GB of RAM – and, in many ways, is a very powerful phone. But for some reason LG's UI ("LG UX 4.0") adds a smidge of lag that we don't see on rivals like the GS6 and Nexus 6. Performance is still fast, but less than seamless.

Like these other pairs of opposites, battery life is good, but not the best. In our benchmark (streaming video over Wi-Fi with brightness at 75 percent), its battery dropped 16 percent per hour. That's nothing to throw a fit over, but with the Galaxy S6 and GS6 edge only dropping 11 and 10 percent per hour (respectively) in the same test, the G4's battery also falls short of being a selling feature.

It also lacks the built-in wireless charging that the Galaxy S6 and Nexus 6 both have (though you can buy a case that adds this).

Yet another example: the G4 is fairly light for its size, but is 3 percent heavier than last year's G3. It's also 10 percent thicker than the company's 2014 flagship.

The G4 is a smidge heavier (and thicker) than last year's G3
The G4 is a smidge heavier (and thicker) than last year's G3

Don't get us wrong: we like the LG G4. If this were the only phone we used for the next year, we'd still be in pretty good shape (if nothing else, we'd snap some great shots in all kinds of lighting conditions). And it does still have a microSD slot and removable battery – two things Samsung ditched this year.

But we just aren't seeing many "go buy this phone!" selling features here. Samsung upped the ante with its 2015 flagships – especially compared to rival Android phones – and the G4 cancels out too much of its own greatness to be in the same league. Close, but not quite.

Like the HTC One M9, the LG G4 is a very good phone that falls short of our hopes right when its biggest rival is soaring the highest. Apart from its screen size and quality, the G4's biggest advantage is that it runs a little cheaper than most tier-one smartphone flagships – at least when you buy at full retail. If you're grading on a (full retail) pricing curve, then it does look like a somewhat more serious contender.

The LG G4 is available now, typically retailing for US$200 on-contract and between $550-630 full retail, varying by carrier.

Product page: LG

6 comments
AhmedAhmed
Please, I want a comparison between LG G3 D855 and LG G3 D858 Thank you GIZMAG
kai150
I've got the LG G4 and running some simple tests, the quick launch camera opens and takes pics in under 2.5 seconds for me, every time without fail,
BleedingEdge
A couple of things spoil the idea of this being a flagship phone - the lack of DDR4 memory for one (the Snapdragon 810 has it) and the downspec to the '808 processor where you get 2 fewer 'big' cores and a step down on the GPU as well. To me, this make the G4 a step down from top of the line. Further the colors/themes are just plain awful and to date I have not seen a photo of the G4 without one of the two really ugly themes on it. Obviously that can be changed but for me the damage is done...an ugly phone built to compromise.
adominguez23
I've never owned an LG phone, have either owned iPhones or Galaxy (S5 being the last)... just purchased the G4 on Friday. I contemplated upgrading to the G6 (from the S5), but the lack of a micro SD slot, as well an inability change the battery, suggested (imho) that Galaxy was substituting "style" over utility and substance. I find the experience with the LG G4 to be phenomenal ! Like kai150, I find the 1) quick launch camera takes a pic in under 2.5 seconds; 2) the battery life far outstrips my Galaxy S5 (post-Lollipop); 3) the screen is bright, crisp and beautiful; 4) the "smart settings" are very useful (though Android 3rd party programs are available); 5) the Qual 808 chip is plenty snappy for my purposes, particularly in terms of multiple programs running at the same time... very little lag when running simultaneously (imho), Plus: the camera comes with a speedy laser-focus, which for me as a non-professional is simply amazing... ! It blows away my Galaxy S5!!! These are just a few of the great features I found with the LG G4. Finally ... 1) I don't care about the plastic vs. alum and glass vs. leather, as I always buy a case, which hides the aesthetics anyway. The LG G4 may not be as "pretty" as the Galaxy S6 nor the Galaxy S6 Edge... but so what? I love the incredible array of features, performance, speed and ability to customize ... which (based on my pre-purchase research) ... outmatches the G6. I 2) I purchased a 128gb chip for an additional $99, and was able to pop that bad-boy onto my LG G4 (love that feature!). With all due respect to the reviewer, Mr. Shanklin, I certainly don't believe that when compared to the "biggest rival is soaring the highest" (assuming Mr. Shanklin is referring to Samsung) ... the G6('s) fell short ... the LG G4 has soared past the G6 in terms of utility, performance and simply... awesomeness.
HankScorpio
@adominguez23 I completely agree with your comments. I created an account just to tell you such. I will be purchasing my LG G4 next week in Toronto Canada.
jc7222
OK I think it's the articles like this that has led Samsung to make the poor decision of choosing fancier design over function. They listened to the media and not to their customers , which is why I did not purchase another Galaxy phone and bought the LG G4. I agree fully with adominguez23. Let me add that I too have no issues with consistently activating the camera from off to start in under 2.5 seconds. The reviewer may have had a preproduction model. Additionally, if you need to look at benchmark to tell which phone is faster then it isn't noticeable in the user experience. I absolutely love this phone. The camera is as billed and leather > glass. Why would I want glass on the back of my phone?! And, why would I want a phone without micro SD card option. And the LG G4 has Quick Charge 2.0 contrary to early reports. Check Qualcomm's sight. So a removable battery plus the ability to quick charge is greater than what Samsung is offering. If Samsung wants to keep listening to the media then, sell to the media and watch your lead of the Android market drop!