22 June 2015

LG G4 Review: New King of the Hill?

LG G4 review

What is the first smartphone manufacturer that comes to mind? Apple? Samsung? Maybe even HTC? Whatever it was I bet LG wasn't it. In the past, LG had been producing budget to middle tier devices at affordable prices, nothing that would blow up your wallet but nothing that would blow your mind either. It wasn't until after LG's collaboration with Google on the Nexus 4 and 5 (again, well priced but nothing spectacular) that their brand awareness started to grow and their marketing managers started to get cheerier. Following these successes, LG has been aiming more towards the premium, top-end of the smartphone spectrum, beginning with the G2 and now culminating to this point with their newest flagship, the LG G4. Is LG now hitting its stride and worthy of our 'I need to blow up my wallet on this' attention? Read on to find out.



The G4 is not the prettiest phone out there. In a smartphone world generally filled with uninspiring and drab rectangular shapes, LG had the perfect opportunity to do something different, something radical. But they didn't. They produced a phone, which although unoffending, is almost as bland as a bucket of warm wallpaper paste. Compare this to the recent redesigned flagships from Samsung, HTC and Apple and you can call this blogger somewhat unimpressed.

'dull and lifeless'

The front is classic LG design philosophy with slightly curved corners and thin bezels. These bezels have a diamond like lattic design which adds a nice touch and can be seen when viewed at the right angle. The sides are metal with thankfully no chamfered edges (these are prone to scratching). Oddly, instead of the bezels sloping inwards towards the rear of the phone, they jut out by approximately 2mm from the bezel making the phone slightly wider and thus slightly less comfortable to hold in the had as it doesn't fit as naturally with the contours of your hand. Despite the diamond pattern, the overall design of the front is dull and lifeless.

'Plastic's durability means you won't have to worry if you drop it'

It seems LG spent all their time designing the rear instead where it offers a plastic (in several colours) or genuine leather back. My G4 is sporting the 'metallic grey' plastic removable back which has an elegant diamond quilted pattern with a brushed faux metal finish. This adds a nice unique touch and a degree of sophistication, an uncommon design which makes it stand out from the competition as well as draw curious looks and comments from others. The back is also curved, rather than completely flat, meaning the width of the phone gets thicker towards the middle of the rear (6.3mm at the edge, 9.8mm at the middle. iPhone 6 - 6.9mm; Samsung Galaxy S6 - 6.8mm). As a result, placing the phone on a surface makes it wobble slightly but the curvature does make it rest more naturally and comfortably in the hand which does helps alleviate the somewhat slippery feel of the plastic. A completely metal (or glass) rear would have felt wonderful in the hand, boosted its premium credentials and made it more solid. However, plastic's durability means you won't have to worry if you drop it on a hard surface and it also means that it's less of a fingerprint magnet than the glass covered panels of the S6.

LG G4 back cover
LG had to do something to make the G4 stand out aesthetically from the competition.
Thankfully the design on the removable back cover helps towards this.

LG was the pioneer of smartphone buttons being on the rear starting with the G2 and it is a design they have honed and refined on the G4, placing them directly beneath the camera module. The camera portrudes approximately 1mm out from the rear making it hardly perceptible but I do wish it sat flush with the rear cover; I worry about it scratching although that is unlikely to happen as the metal ring around the glass is raised ever so slightly above it. The buttons are metal with the power button offering a smooth, brushed metal finish whilst the volume keys have a ribbed texture to them. Both sets of buttons are built well and offer perfect travel and tactile feedback when engaged. After three weeks of use I'm comfortable having them there and they are placed in a position for my finger to rest naturally when holding the G4, especially during calls. What I have found annoying with them though is when the phone is laid down and I want to adjust the volume of music or a video. With any other phone you can simply use the volume keys on the side but on this device, it requires picking it up.

'But the fact that I have been able to cope and enjoy using this screen is testament to LG and what they have been able to accomplish'

Buttons on the back have allowed LG to slim down the bezels and make the G4's footprint smaller. If one were to compare smartphones and how much the screen takes up the entire phone's front, the G4 scores favourably with minimal bezels top and bottom, side to side (72.5% screen to body ratio; iPhone 6 - 65.8%; Galaxy S6 - 70.7%). This, in conjunction with LG's software implementation of Android Lollipop (more in the 'Software' section), has meant that, aside from the odd few occasions when the phone felt 'big', the G4 was remarkably comfortable and easy to use, even one-handed. I could generally reach all corners of the screen with minimal hand gymnastics. For a phone with a 5.5" display, this is quite remarkable and justifies LG's decision to move the buttons from the side as well as not include a physical (fingerprint) button at the bottom a la Samsung and Apple. I found the 5.2" display on my Moto X as the sweet spot; I never thought I could use a phone which had anything larger. But the fact that I have been able to cope and enjoy using this screen is testament to LG and what they have been able to accomplish. Still, there's no arguing that it is a large phone, measuring in at 148.9mm tall and 76.1mm wide. In comparison, the Galaxy S6 is 143.4mm by 70.5mm whilst the iPhone 6 comes in at a 'diddly' 138.1mm and 67mm. Thus, you'll need fairly deep pockets to comfortably slide this phone into and be careful when sitting down as the G4 has a propensity to dig into your hip which is somewhat annoying.

'All future smartphone displays should be curved'

As mentioned in my first impressions of the phone, the G4 has a very slight and subtle curve, not just in the back cover, but also the metal sides and the display itself and it does have its benefits. Firstly, laying the phone screen down on a surface means the display won't be in contact with it and thus a reduced likelihood of scratching that precious screen. Secondly, it does make it a bit more comfortable to hold in the hand. Finally, this could be the placebo effect, but when watching a video or playing a game, the curve has the effect of drawing me in and making me feel more immersed. Maybe that's just me. The curve is a hardware design that is harmless and unobtrusive. Could I live without it? Sure, but I think all future smartphone displays should be curved (to a certain extent).

LG G4 curve flex
The curve does have its benefits.

And it's a benefit which does not result in any structural concerns. The G4 is a sturdy piece of engineering with the metallic frame around the phone creating a strong framework. Under medium pressure the screen barely flexed (despite being curved) and the phone as a whole just felt secure and solid in the hand. Yes, plastic is not as strong as metal but it seems stronger than the plastic used in past LG's and Samsung Galaxy's, with the plastic exhibiting only a small degree of flexing when pressured with a minimal creaking sound. The metal sides feel nice and the plastic back is not slimy and horrible to the touch but it doesn't come across as a top-end device. It's saving grace is that it has some weight to it, weighing in at 152g, which makes it slightly heavier than its competitors (iPhone 6 - 129g; Galaxy S6 - 138g) but gives it a more solid, non-toy like feel to it.

'The phone's overall design is just too dull, too "vanilla"'

Overall, the LG G4 is not the ugliest phone but nor is it the prettiest. It's understated, but not necessarily in a completely positive way. I generally love understated phones (Galaxy S2, Nexus 4 and 5, Moto X), they can be understated and elegant, understated and sleek. But the G4 is not those things really. The phone is solid and dependable and the textured design on the removable cover is great and adds a touch of class but it's not enough. Forget the absence of 'premium' materials, the phone's overall design is just too dull, too 'vanilla' and when you're trying to jostle past Apple, Samsung and HTC to the front of the smartphone customer line, looks are (nearly) everything and this doesn't quite jump the queue.

LG G4 design appearance
An apt adjective to describe the overall design.

Annoyingly, four days before posting this review, I dropped the G4 whilst getting into my car. As I leaned back, the phone slipped out of my front trouser pocket and fell a distance of  approximately 1.5 feet onto the brick driveway. Thankfully the screen and camera are fine but one of the metal corners suffered mild scuffing. Another corner has a very small mark whilst the plastic back has several light scuffs. Overall it's fared well although that doesn't make it any less frustrating (I'm always careful with my phones - clearly not this time.). The plastic back proved its durability and perhaps the subtle curve helped the screen avoid making full contact with the ground. Still, it highlights the issue of having a large phone as it won't always fit comfortably and safely into every pocket.

LG G4 damage
A few small pockmarks are visible on one corner. It's not bad considering but it's still frustrating.

Display and Speaker

Dominating this phone is a 5.5" Quantum IPS display with Corning Gorilla Glass 3. GG3 coupled with the curved screen means scratches will be a rare occurence on your display whilst LG argues that the Quantum IPS technology makes the screen very accurate when it comes to colour reproduction. It doesn't use AMOLED technology so it's not the brightest but it can still get very bright, definitely making it usable in bright/direct sunlight and its dimmest setting helps avoid any strained eyes in low light (although it's important to note that it can't get as bright as the S6's display nor as dim). Brightness can be controlled manually or done automatically by the software. I've kept it on auto for practically my entire time using it but have had mixed results. For the first few days, on auto, the screen was almost always too bright or too dark and as a result I had to resort to manually adjusting the brightness which was incredibly inconvenient when constantly moving between environments of varied lighting. Strangely however, after the first 5-7 days, the software has been doing a much better job of adjusting brightness appropriately so I haven't had to use the manual brightness control. I'm not entirely sure why this was the case; perhaps the software needed some time to 'settle' down and acclimate itself. 

'I can't see a single pixel, a single jagged edge'

Whatever it is/was, I'm thoroughly glad that it's sorted itself out because I've been more able to enjoy this gorgeously sharp and rich display. The 5.5" screen has a resolution of 2560x1440, making it Quad HD (QHD) and resulting in 538 ppi (only bettered by the Galaxy S6 and its 577 ppi). Examine the display up close and it almost looks like icons and text are stuck on. Coming from the 1080p screen of the Moto X, there is a difference, not a gigantic one, but a difference nonetheless: I can't see a single pixel, a single jagged edge. The Galaxy S6 has an ever so slight edge in terms of sharpness but this is certainly no poor second best.

Consuming media on this screen, especially QHD content such as 1440p videos on YouTube, looks fantastic on this large, pixel dense display. Media is crispy sharp, movements fluid and colours are certainly accurate. If you're coming from an AMOLED display (like me), they won't appear as vibrant nor pop as much but they're still rich and plentiful. Big screen + sharp screen + colour accurate screen = beautiful viewing experience.

One important note about the display is that I've found it's not as responsive as my Moto X. Sometimes an action requires two taps before it is carried out and the double tap to turn the screen on (more in the Software section) is inconsistent. Sometimes, two quick taps works fine, sometimes it doesn't. A few times, several taps to activate the display does nothing. It's not all the time but it is there and apparently I'm not the only one; a number of people have been on forums complaining about this. Apparently, LG are aware and will hopefully release a software update soon. It's not affecting every G4 and it's not severe enough to detract from the overall experience but it's something worth mentioning.

LG G4 display
Videos and games look great on this big, sharp display, especially from QHD sources. (Video source: MKBHD).

It's a shame that the speaker is not of commensurate quality. It can get very loud which is useful for putting callers on speakerphone but it's not always clear or defined, even at a lower volume. Trebles are slightly muffled, bass lacks oomph and sound is somewhat distorted when turned up with particularly loud music exhibiting a slight crackling noise. Sound quality is compounded by the speaker's placement which, unfortunately like most smartphones, is placed at the rear and prone to being covered when laid on a surface or by your hand (although in fairness to LG, moving the speaker to the front would have increased the size of the bezel). The speaker will get you by whenever you need it but don't expect too much more as unfortunately, for 2015, it's average, albeit loud average.


Customisation. That is the best way to describe LG UX 4.0 running on top of Android Lollipop 5.1 but it's not the prettiest skin of Android. It's not as cartoonish as Samsung's but I'm not a fan of the bold primary colours and iconography (especially square icons). The default typeface is boring and the pre-loaded apps such as the calculator, clock, calendar, internet, email, gallery and messaging are utilitarian, but could do with a more elegant appearance such as Google's own versions (thank goodness you can change default apps with Android).

'UX 4.0 is one of the most customisable versions of Android'

However, it's all about customising with the app drawer, settings menus, home/lock screen animations, fonts, icon packs, notification shade and lock screen being some of the things that can be changed to suit your appearance and productivity preferences (without the need to download a third-party launcher such as Nova Launcher). UX 4.0 is one of the most customisable versions of Android from any OEM.

LG G4 software
1 - Show/hide certain apps in app drawer.  2 - Edit shortcuts in notification shade.  3 - Download themes from LG SmartWorld.

LG G4 software
1 - Change how the settings menu is displayed.  2 - Edit the home button shortcuts.  3 - Pick or download a system wide font.

Settings and options are always the first things I delve into on a phone, in a game or new software (sad I know) and being greeted with the ability to customise so many different aspects of the phone was a wonderful treat. Right away I began editing my shortcuts, downloaded a new font, hid a number of useless apps from the app drawer and changed the intensity of the vibration amongst other customisable 'goodness' to really make this phone my own and make it work for me.

And that's the important part: 'making it work for me'. Customising these things makes using the phone more enjoyable and/or easier. Putting the 'notification shade' button in my row of home buttons means I no longer need to reach all the way to the top of the screen to check my notifications. Hiding and rearranging the shortcuts on the lock screen and in the notification shade meant I had quicker access to the shortcuts I prioritised whilst changing the screen animations and fonts made my G4 look more pleasing and feel more 'mine'.

As with all Android OEMs, LG has tweaked Android Lollipop and added in their own software tweaks to try and enhance consumer usability.  As mentioned previously, and what seems to be an upward trend with Android OEMs these days, the G4 comes preloaded with LG's new theme store LG SmartWorld. Similar to HTC Themes or Samsung's Theme Service, you can download and apply themes which changes the appearance of icons, menus, fonts, transitions etc or you can just install any of those individual elements. Installing a font pack not only made it visible in the settings menu, app drawer and LG's own apps (Internet, Messaging, Dialer etc), but it actually applied itself into third-party apps as well such as Instagram and Facebook, creating a more seamless and integrated experience.

LG G4 themes
Everything is awesome.

LG's 'Knock On' and 'Knock Code' have also continued in the G4. Knock On turns on your display by tapping it twice (do the same to turn it off) whilst Knock Code is another method to unlock your device, requiring you to tap a pattern on your display to unlock it, making it a bit more secure than a pin or pattern. Knock On has been devised to overcome any issues with the power button being on the rear but it is still incredibly convenient in its own right. Knock Code even allows you to unlock your phone by tapping your code in (on the correct portion of the display) when the display is off to allow for quicker access.

Dual-window can be accessed from the multi-tasking window or the notification shade, allowing you to have two apps opened at once. Each app can be resized to make them smaller or larger and both are very responsive. Having a large display certainly makes this feature more usable and as a result, I've been using this more and more. Unfortunately, the range of applicable apps is limited to LG's own standard apps and a range of Google apps; it would have been nice to be able to choose from all your available apps.

LG G4 dual window
Dual-window is useful and increases 'productivity'. I wish there was a wider selection of applicable apps to choose from though.

LG Smart Bulletin is similar to Google Now, HTC Blinkfeed and Samsung Flipboard: a quick glance screen for 'useful' information. Situated left of your main home screen, LG's version can show LG Health, Calendar, Smart Settings, Smart Tips, Music and QuickRemote with an option to hide any of those. LG Health is a pedometer, tracking your steps throughout the day and allowing you to analyse your movement across a day, a week or months. It also comes with a tracker for walking, running, cycling, hiking and inline skating giving you the ability to record and track your time, pace, distance and calories burned on a visual map of your surroundings. Smart Settings can turn on/off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth and change sound profiles depending on your location whilst the music app can be opened if an accessory is connected. Through the infrared port on the top of the phone, QuickRemote allows you to control your TV using your phone. If you don't like the sound of Smart Bulletin, you can always disable it and Google Now can still be accessed by swiping up from the home icon or you can install the Google Now Launcher.

LG G4 software smart bulletin
LG Smart Bulletin and its software suite has a few decent features.

The only one I actually use is LG Health which surprised me as, although I'm an active person, I've never had a particular interest for that kind of thing. However, I'm always checking up on how many steps I've taken and wanting to hit that target. On the other hand, Smart Settings never really worked for me and I have no use for QuickRemote whilst the other ones are standard software features.

Thankfully, the burden of additional LG software is not too great, especially when compared to other competitors and the UI is unobtrusive enough that it doesn't get in the way. With the added ability to change up icon packs, fonts and choose new default apps, you're not stuck with UX 4.0 and LG's own apps if you want a change. It's not as streamlined as stock Android nor as pretty but it's still polished, functional and attractive enough to warrant your attention.


Packing a Qualcomm Snapdragon 808, 3GB of RAM and a fairly light software experience means the G4 is a fast phone. Unlocking the phone, opening the app drawer, opening and switching between apps, all this happens very swiftly, even with multiple apps loaded. It can heat up at times, usually when charging or using the camera for a prolonged period of time. This has made it uncomfortable having it in my pocket on occasion. It's not searing hot but it can certainly get pretty warm and I've had to resort to moving it to a different pocket. The only time I got it to properly overheat was when navigating with Google Maps for a while and having it in direct sunlight (a warning message came up about the phone getting too hot) but asides from that, the phone generally stays cool even under pressure. It's definitely quicker than the Snapdragon 801 and 2GB RAM in the Moto X 2014 but is ever so slightly behind the Exynos 7420 in the Galaxy S6.  Occasionally though there are performance hiccups with slight delays when clearing all apps, going back to the home screen or swiping away the notification shade being three examples. It doesn't happen very often but it's very annoying when it does; you don't expect it to occur so it's doubly irritating and makes the experience jarring. Overall performance though is good, quick and responsive and exactly what you want.

LG G4 multi window
Performance is buttery smooth even with multiple apps open.


LG G4 camera

LG wants you to buy this phone for its camera. One quick look at the G4's product page and it's all about this 16MP f/1.8 shooter with laser autofocus, OIS (optical image stabilisation) and Colour Spectrum Sensor. And they should be touting the camera as its headline feature because it's simply fantastic.

LG G4 camera
This could have been taken with my mirrorless camera.

Opening the camera app is quick and simple. Double press the volume down key (when the display is off and no music is playing) and the app will open in just over a second and take a picture. Contrary to what many other tech reviewers have stated, you can change the setting to stop the camera taking a picture when you open the app. The camera doesn't load up as quickly as the Galaxy S6 but you can snap a photo from screen off in about 3 seconds and taking the photo itself is also very quick with minimum delay from tapping the shutter button to it actually taking the picture.

There are three different modes available through the camera app. 'Simple' only has three icons (settings, back and gallery; it doesn't even have a shutter button!) where you tap to focus before it then takes the photo. 'Auto' provides you with more bells and whistles giving you control over flash, HDR (although unfortunately no live HDR preview), resolution, timer and grid lines as well as shutter and video record buttons! It also lets you shoot panoramas, use 'dual' mode (takes a photo with the front and rear cameras with added visual effects) and gives you the option to have a voice-controlled shutter by saying 'cheese', 'smile', 'whisky', 'kimchi' or 'LG'...

Manual mode is where it's at though, allowing full control over a number of different settings:

  • White Balance - White balance can be left at auto (and it does a great job) but it can also be adjusted on a slider based on Kelvin temperature levels (2400K - 7400K)
  • Focus - There's autofocus, tap to focus or you can control the depth of your focus from macro to infinity
  • ISO - From 50 to 2700, you can control the camera's sensitivity to light
  • Shutter Speed - From 1/6000 sec to 30 secs, this gives you the opportunity to create light trails in dark settings or capture fast-paced action
  • Auto Exposure Lock - Lets you reset the ISO and shutter speed to a 'default'
  • JPEG/RAW+JPEG - Choose whether to shoot in JPEG and let the software post-process your picture or take your RAW image into image editing software such as Adobe Lightroom to edit numerous parameters of the photo including shadows, blacks, highlights and whites. 

LG G4 camera
Above: Shutter speed 1/15 sec. Below: Shutter speed 1/8 sec. Control the amount of light in your shot.
LG G4 camera

LG G4 camera
Longer shutter speeds lets you create light trails, with this being a very boring example (shutter speed at 2 secs).

16MP means images are sharp, really sharp, even when zoomed in. Laser autofocus makes focusing very quick and the software does a good job of knowing when and where to focus. OIS helps stabilise shots whilst the Colour Spectrum Sensor gauges light and colour levels incredibly well and is able to reproduce accurate lighting and colours almost every time. Even low-light performance is impressive with controlled shutter speeds and OIS reducing motion blur tremendously and colours remaining largely true and not too washed out.

It's a shame that you can't control the aperture (fixed at f/1.8) as this would have given more credence to LG's claim that this camera can replace your dSLR. What's also a bit disappointing (and gives even less credence to the aforementioned claim) is the post-processing in place. This is particularly evident in low light shots and when using a higher ISO. Digital noise starts to rear its head as low as ISO 700 in darker areas although it's only apparent if you look for it. However, go higher and it becomes visible across the whole image at 1500 and above, with chromatic aberrations around the edges of the frame in the occasional photo. There is some moire present when shooting straight lines and a bit of sharpening going on but it's not too strong and hardly discernible to the naked eye. A feature that's also lacking (but present in the Galaxy S6) is the ability to track focus on a moving object. This would have been very useful for fast moving scenes such as sports, children or animals. You can adjust the shutter speed (in manual mode) to compensate and reduce motion blur but it's not quite the same.

LG G4 camera
In the occasional semi-dark shot, noise will be obvious, such as on the laptop, as well as some purple fringing around the edge of the frame (not in this photo).

All photos are JPEGs shot in manual mode and were not edited in any way.

If you're not confident using manual mode then 'auto' mode will still prove to be very effective and produce excellent shots for you. The camera will trip up every so often and over-expose or not always adjust the white balance correctly but it'll be an intuitive experience and take the photos that you want.

The 8MP front facing camera is also pretty decent boasting nearly as many pixels as most rear-facing cameras on mid-tier smartphones. There's a 'beauty' slider to soften skin (if you're into that thing) and gesture controls to allow for easier selfie taking. At times it can over-expose and there's a loss of sharpness and added noise when zoomed in but, despite a slightly narrower field of view compared to the front facing shooter on the Galaxy S6, it's a perfectly capable camera for your selfie needs.

LG G4 front facing camera
8MP provides a pretty sharp image and HDR helps but the sky is over-exposed and it loses sharpness when zoomed in.

Video recording options include 720p, 1080p and 4K (3840x2160) although that only comes at 30fps (720p and 1080p shoot at 60fps). There is also a Slo-mo option which shoots video in 720p at 120fps. Quality is excellent with great sharpness in the 4K video and very little focus hunting. It handles motion well, helped by the OIS and noise is controlled with the loud tube train causing hardly any distortion or crackling at all.

'I decided to leave my Sony NEX 5R...I knew the G4's camera could manage'

This is an incredibly impressive camera module. On a few occasions, I decided to leave my trusty Sony NEX 5R at home because I knew the G4's camera could manage. And in pretty much every situation, it has. Manual mode allows for so much creativity and functionality in your shots, capturing the exact image that you are looking for almost every single time. However, noise is an annoying occurrence in low-light and even some daylight shots and it doesn't take photos as quick as the S6 or iPhone. Speaking of the S6, that's also packing a great camera, is quicker in opening and taking a picture, has real-time HDR adjustments and includes focus tracking mode.

The new Android 5.1.1 update to the S6 has also given it RAW support, brought the lowest ISO value down to 50 and enabled shutter speed control although strangely, you can only access these new features using a camera app in the Play Store which allows control of this (Snap Camera HDR and Camera FV-5 are two options). The default Samsung camera app does not give you these extra controls yet but it's only a matter of time before Samsung flips the switch and enables them in the default camera app. Ultimately, both are excellent in their own right and you can't really go wrong.

(Click here to download the original camera samples in full resolution)


A 3000mAh battery is a rare sight in today's smartphone world but this thing is packing it which pits it favourably against the 5.7" Samsung Galaxy Note 4 (3200mAh) and 5.5" iPhone 6 Plus (2915mAh). Initial testing was iffy with one day out in London forcing me to resort to battery saver mode, something which I have never used in my life. It seemed as if the battery had to go through a few charging/discharging cycles before stabilising and now it seems better.

'it's certainly one of the longer lasting batteries around'

Overnight discharge is around 5% after 8-9 hours compared to the 10-15% discharge seen on the 2300mAh battery of the Moto X 2014. With medium usage (50% auto brightness, location always on, Wi-Fi or data always on, occasional Bluetooth, Twitter/Instagram notifications, WhatsApp and text messages, 2 email accounts constantly syncing, some photos, high GPS mode, background syncing), it will easily last you a day whilst medium-heavy usage (lot of internet browsing and photos plus Bluetooth always on) will push the battery to its limit by day's end. My usage is probably a bit higher than the average person so I'm confident in saying that this phone can certainly last you a day, possibly a day and a half, but unfortunately no longer than that. Still, it's certainly one of the longer lasting batteries around.

If you ever run out of juice, the removable back allows you to swap out the old for a new. However,  I can't seem to find a UK retailer stocking the battery with Android Central being the only place to have an official battery (here). It also supports Qi wireless charging but you need to purchase a separate case (here) to enable it.

The G4 does support Quick Charge 2.0 technology but this only works with a compatible charger so you're stuck with standard charging. Still, it went from 17% to 79% in an hour and up to 100% in 1 and a half hours which is pretty good, especially considering the large capacity of the battery and out-of-the-box standard charging.

LG G4 battery
The battery will last, just watch your network connections and brightness.


The G4 only comes in one variant, 32GB with expandable MicroSD storage up to 128GB (to save certain apps and media onto). Initial available storage is 22.7GB and after packing it with over 150 photos, over 50 downloaded apps and downloaded music, I still have nearly 12GB left, and that's without using a MicroSD card. For most storage hoarders, and casual users, this should be plenty enough although for those getting low on storage, LG has installed a 'Smart cleaning' tool which recommends files for you to get rid of.

Smart cleaning is available if ever you need to clean out some space.
This is unlikely though considering the 32GB storage + expandable storage.


It has been monumentally difficult in deciding how good this phone is when compared to its competitors.

LG wanted to build a heavyweight contender to compete with the very best and become king of the smartphone hill. It had to bring its A game. And largely, it has.

'a smartphone worthy of anybody's attention'

The display is one of the best around, rivalling the S6's market-leading screen for sharpness, colour reproduction and brightness. Its camera, when used in manual mode, is arguably the best there is to offer for something which is not a dedicated camera (and not called a Nokia Lumia 1020). Even in Auto mode, it can compete with the S6 and iPhone 6 although not always consistently. A 3000mAh battery can only be matched by the iPhone 6 Plus and Samsung Galaxy Note 4, two phones which possess (even) larger dimensions whilst the Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 provides for a smooth experience. The added inclusion of a microSD card slot is both useful and a rare feature in today's world. Throw in the (largely convenient) back buttons and useful software features such as Knock On and you have a smartphone that is worthy of anybody's attention.

But then there's the design.

I like the diamond-quilted design on the back which gives a sleek and exclusive touch. I like the fact you can get a genuine leather back as well (although I'm not huge on the stitching running down the middle). I like the subtlety of the curved design, the slim bezels, the fact it largely doesn't feel cumbersome and huge despite packing a huge screen. But all of that is not enough because the front and the materials are not enough. It's not different enough, it's not beautiful enough, it's not good enough. Asides from the metal sides and patterned plastic cover, there's nothing else, nothing different: no curved edges (S6 Edge), no machine drilled precision speakers (HTC One), no elegant and sophisticated body (iPhone 6/6 Plus). In today's world of selfies and Instagram and matching the colour of your underwear to your socks (not me), appearance is huge and the G4 is just...a bit boring.

'The G4 is worth buying just for the camera alone, it's that good. But worth buying over something else?'

But I still like this phone. I can live with its lackluster looks, its not so premium feel and its slightly large frame because everything else about it (speaker and occasional performance hiccups aside) is great. And when I say everything else, I'm mainly talking about the camera. The G4 is worth buying just for the camera alone, it's that good. But worth buying over something else?

The G4's biggest rival is its own South Korean neighbour, the Galaxy S6. This is the difficult part: which one is better? The S6's display is brighter, more pixel dense (577ppi vs 538ppi) and more colourful (although not as colour accurate) but it's 0.4" smaller. It has a beautiful aluminium and glass sandwich construction but is therefore much more fragile (put a case on it?). A 6.8mm depth makes it slimmer but at the expense of a much smaller battery (2550mAh vs 3000mAh). Both cameras are unbelievably good but now that the S6 has improved manual controls, it's taken away the G4's manual mode advantage. The S6 has tracking focus but the G4 has a wider f/1.8 lens making for better bokeh and slightly better lowlight performance. They're even priced similarly with Amazon having both off-contract in the £440 range (the leather G4 and S6 Edge will cost you more). These are just some examples of the 'pros' and 'cons' of the G4 and S6 and I could go on and on.

It really depends on what you value most.

Durability? G4
Beautiful build and design? S6
Software? G4 (but you can just download another launcher or theme for both anyway)
Performance? S6 (just)
Battery? G4 (although the S6 has fast charging out of the box)
Wireless charging? S6 (S6 has it straight out of the box)
Storage? G4
Screen size? Preference
Screen technology? Preference
Camera? Toss-up
Price? Same

I guess it's not a bad problem to have (#firstworldproblems), choosing between two great phones, plus the iPhone 6, but for the moment, the hill remains without a clear winner.

Which would I choose?

I wish I had both.

What do you think of the G4's design?

Do you prefer plastic or metal construction?

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