LG G4 Review – The almost perfect smartphone

LG G4 Review – The almost perfect smartphone


Ahh the LG G4, the phone that everyone’s been talking about for the past couple of months. Of course there’s a reason for it, LG has been killing it lately in the smartphone market. Their G3 was a hit, and I for one thought that the LG G3 was a great device, and the LG G4 is no different. As always, I will be focusing on usability than technical specs or benchmarks, those things don’t matter as much anymore. What’s a device review if we don’t at least mention the specs? So, here we go.

LG G4 Technical Specifications (Canadian model)

Platform & Memory

Operating SystemAndroid 5.1
Processor1.8GHz 64-bit Hexa-Core (Snapdragon 808)
RAM3 GB
Internal Memory32 GB
Expandable MemoryUp to 2TB
Sim TypeMicro

Physical Attributes

ColourMetallic Grey / Leather black
Size / Dimensions148.9 mm x 76.1 mm x 6.3 mm
Screen Size5.5″
Display1440 x 2560, QHD
Keyboard / TouchscreenTouchscreen
Weight155g
Battery3000 mAh

Connectivity

Frequencies / Bands850/900/1800/1900 MHz 3G – 850 / 1700 (AWS) / 1900 / 2100
GPSYes
BluetoothYes
Wi-FiYes
Mobile HotspotYes
NFCYes

Okay, enough specs. Let’s talk about how this phone performs off paper.

Design and feel

In terms of design, LG stuck with what worked for them in the past. The LG G4 is a mix between the G Flex 2 and the G3. As you can guess, the LG G4 is not the prettiest looking phone, that crown goes to the Galaxy S6 Edge . At first glance, you almost can’t tell the LG G4 apart from the LG G3 but there are differences. For instance, LG offers two options with the LG G4: the first is the one with the leather back, which LG is saying is the “premium” model; and the second is a polycarbonate finish with a diamond effect. The latter has the same brushed metal effect as last year so that’s not really anything new. I didn’t really use the polycarbonate back at all since I really liked the unique feel of the leather. There is a chance I will slap on the polycarbonate later, after I get bored of the leather. Although, the leather is nice, I think it’s too thinly stretched over the back of the phone to be considered premium. Because of it’s thinness I’m afraid that the leather will start to wear out sooner than I expected. So far it’s been good. With all that being said, the leather feels really nice and I’m a fan.

Take a look at the gallery below for shots of the LG G4, it’s easier for you to just see how the device looks than for me to describe it.

Hint: swipe left to view the next picture if you’re on a touchscreen device. If not, you can use your mouse to swipe left or use the arrows that pop up when you hover over the image.

LG G4 Top
LG G4 Bottom

The LG G4 is designed to fit nicely into your palm. You’re probably thinking, isn’t every phone designed for that? Well, the the back of the G4 bulges out a little to curve into your palm which makes it nice to hold compared to, for example, the Galaxy S6 or the Galaxy S6 edge. This also allows for a bigger battery space, 3000mAh as opposed to 2500mAh in the S6.

One thing LG is making a huge deal of is the fact that the battery is removable and to be completely honest, for me, it doesn’t really matter. I don’t see the need to have a removable battery. I know for some people, they like the safety it brings and they take comfort in the idea that you can carry around a spare battery. I would rather use the battery pack I carry around. However, making the battery removable lets you change it out if the power pack starts acting up. The major con for opting in for a removable battery is design. The S6, M9, iPhone 6, all look significantly better than the LG G4 because of their unibody design.

The LG G4 is not the most attractive smartphone of the bunch but I’m glad LG is offering things other smartphone makers simply don’t anymore. Things like removable back, removable battery, and a microSD card slot, are rare to find in smartphone nowadays.

IMG_4661

With the 5.5-inch screen the device is large but it’s not TOO big like the Nexus 6.  However you still need to wriggle it around a little to use it day to day, but that phenomenal QHD screen makes it worth it for me. The display is slightly curved, but you can’t really tell. You only see the curve if you REALLY want to see it. The curve really doesn’t do anything to your daily use but, LG says the slight curve on the screen is to make the phone a little more durable.

LG’s signature design tweak, the rear keys are present on the LG G4 and I love it. It took me about a day to get completely used to it and now I’m at a point thinking why other smartphone makers won’t do this. The buttons on the back feel different from other elements of the phone which makes them really easy to find. This is the first LG G device I owned and I really love the button placement.

Display

The display on the LG G4 is mind-blowing and for a flagship in 2015, if it wasn’t, the chances of it being a success among users would be very slight.The difference here, from all other smartphone makers is quantum. It’s literally a quantum IPS display that looks really, really nice and goes head to head with Samsung as the best screen on the market.

IMG_4658

Measuring in at 5.5-inches, the screen is not the easiest to navigate with one hand. Especially for me, I have very small hands. But what you get in return is a screen that displays everything amazingly well. Sure, it’s big but it was easy for me to get used to the size, unlike the Nexus 6, which I just couldn’t get used to. Being an IPS display, you don’t expect rich and deep contrast ratios but this display has that. It almost looks like what you’d see on a Samsung Super AMOLED display. The colours look rich and vibrant and the display just looks great from all angles.

The coolest thing for me on the screen is the “Knock On” and the “Knock Code” feature. Knock On allows you to wake the phone from sleep by double tapping the screen. This prevents the need for looking for the power button. Just like when I was using the OnePlus One, I find myself knocking the phone to wake it up. Knock On is not as sensitive as it is on the OnePlus One, sometimes when you double tap the LG G4’s screen it takes a second before waking up.

Knock Codes is meant to replace PIN and swipe code methods of unlocking your phone. It allows you to tap on certain portion of the screen to create an invisible pattern that will unlock your phone. Sometimes, this works great and sometimes it doesn’t, just like the Knock On, it takes a second to unlock your device.

User Experience and performance

As you probably already know, I’m a fan of the pure Android look from Google. With that being said, the LG G4 interface just looks okay to me, it’s colourful in a pastel sort of way but it does look a lot more refined than earlier LG interfaces. LG G4 incorporates a lot of Google’s Material design language and the icons are a lot cleaner.

LG G4 smart bullletin

I like the clean look of the notification bar, when you pull down to see what’s going on in your world, you’re not greeted with a whole bunch of slider icons. Instead, there are only a few and you can customize which show and which don’t. Q Slide apps are still a thing, and I have no idea why. Samsung does it, Sony does it and I still can’t find a reason to use them. For those who have no idea what I’m talking about, with Q Slide apps, the idea is that you can have a floating app on top of your screen while you’re doing something. This means that you could be watching a YouTube video and if you suddenly need to look at your calendar, you don’t have to get out of the YouTube app to do so. It seems like a good idea, but I NEVER used it. Seriously, unless you’re on a 9-inch tablet, there’s no use for a feature like this, it just gets in the way. The takeaway from this is, just don’t use Q Slide apps.

LG G4app drawer

Smart Notice was something LG boasted during the announcement of the LG G4. The idea behind Smart Notice is that your phone is able to tell you important things when you need them. This includes weather forecasts in full sentences, birthday reminders, apps that drain battery etc. This is useful-ish, I guess. To the left of your home screen where Google has Google Now, HTC has Blinkfeed, and Samsung has it’s Flipboard; LG has a bunch of widgets for things like the music player, LG Health and your calendar. The only thing that part of the screen is good at, is looking nice and colourful. I guess it could be useful if you’re using it to track your health (I can’t comment on the accuracy of that). Otherwise, I’m glad LG gives me the option to turn it off.

Performance

With a 2015 flagship device, there shouldn’t be any performance issues and that’s true with the LG G4. During my time, I haven’t had any major performance farts, no lags, no random restarts or any app crashes. Even when using dual window mode, the device performed just fine. Note that the phone does get a little hot when you’re doing a lot of things at once but it’s not so hot that you have to put it down and walk away.

Switching between apps is smooth, the snapdragon 808 processor does handle multi-tasking pretty well. Overall, no performance issues so far. I am confident that going forward the device will continue to perform as expected.

Camera

IMG_4667

If you haven’t heard about the LG G4’s camera yet, you need get out of the hole you’re hiding in. The LG G4 has the best camera in my opinion. It’s a 16MP shooter with f1.8 aperture, designed to deliver amazing low-light capabilities. Top that with the amount of control LG gives you to the camera, allowing you to choose the exact settings to get the perfect shot. On the manual mode you get control of white balance, ISO, shutter speed, you name it, you can change it, just like a DSLR. The LG G4 can also shoot RAW images which is attractive to the more photographically-minded person.

manual mode camer

The manual mode is great when you know what you’re doing and you want to get a specific look, but for those who just point and shoot (most of us), there’s an “Auto” and “Simple” mode which will get you the best picture you can without having to tweak anything.

The camera launches pretty fast and you can open the camera by double tapping the rear volume key. When you do that the camera not only launches but it also takes a picture, usually within 2 seconds, which is pretty fast.

In practice the LG G4’s camera is the bomb. It’s up there with the best smartphone cameras and at a lot of the times, it took better pictures than the Galaxy S6 and the iPhone 6. The phone lives up to the low light claims LG made and I’m honestly impressed at the overall pictures this camera spits out. Picture samples are below.

Hint: swipe left to view the next picture if you’re on a touchscreen device. If not, you can use your mouse to swipe left or use the arrows that pop up when you hover over the image.

Battery

This part is a little confusing to me, the battery on the LG G4 is decent on paper but when it comes to real usage, especially compared to other flagships, it doesn’t perform as well as you’d expect. I am able to get through the day but some days it’s just a struggle. My typical day starts with me leaving the house at 7:30 with about 95% charge, because like everyone, I wake up and use my phone in bed for a little while. Then I face about a 45 minutes commute to work, listening to music via Bluetooth headset, and tweeting here and there and reading some emails on the way as well. I’ll usually get into work with about 85-80% remaining, which is fine.

Where it gets a little annoying is that I’ll usually leave work with about 30-20% which just puzzles me. When I’m at work I’m replying to text via Mightytext and using WhatsApp on the web. During lunch I’m actually on my phone. And if I watch a video or two during lunch there’s a chance that I’ll go below 15% by 4PM. With minimum usage I’m able to get through the day by bedtime, where I’ll be at 10%-ish. The LG G4’s battery is not BAD but some days it just sucks, I wish it was more consistent. I can’t, for the life of me figure out why it’s like that. On a good day I got 4 hours of screen on time and on a bad-ish day 2.5~3 hours.

LG G4 battery stats

Battery usage stats on a normal light use day

Now, I do charge the phone at work, since there are times when I go out after work, and I like to have my phone ready to take pictures or to meet up with my friends.

The Bottom Line

LG is pulling in some new fans and that’s because they’re working really hard to provide the best smartphone experience to the consumer. I think  they did a great job with the LG G4, besides the phone not looking so pretty and, it is a good upgrade for those who have the LG G3, just for the camera alone.

I think the phone is missing a “premium” factor but I can overlook that. I’m happy with the device and probably will keep it around. For those who value removable battery and an SD card slot, the LG G4 is a perfect buy; a smartphone that meets those specific needs is a rare breed. I am a little disappointed at the battery life of the device but other than that, it’s a brilliant smartphone and would definitely recommend it.

  • Matthew Jardine

    I really enjoyed reading your article review of the LG G4. I think that you hit the nail on the head with your points, it is a truly great device, slightly lacking in the design department (with the actual device not being as premium as competitors, as well as a few software design inconsistencies), however, really succeeding in performance, display and camera departments.

    I do wonder why your battery life experience was lacking though… I have seen many reviews of this device claiming a pretty consistent battery life of approximately 4-4h30 screen on time for heavy to moderate usage. They also claimed a good standby endurance. Do you perhaps have Voice-over-LTE enabled? That was a massive culprit of Samsung Galaxy S6 battery issues.

    • http://technomaple.com Abdul Al-Basith

      Hi Matthew,

      Glad you enjoyed the review! I can’t for the life of me figure out why I’m not getting a stunning battery life from the device. Where I am we don’t have Voice-over-LTE. For me the battery is a little better than the galaxy S6 edge, which I had earlier and wrote a review on as well. I’m going to reset the phone to see if that helps. I know linkedin has been eating my battery a little bit, I’ve uninstalled the application, yet not huge improvement.

      Are you planning to get the G4?

      • Matthew Jardine

        Hey Abdul,

        Thank you for your reply. Over the past few hours I have read 6 of your written articles (including the Galaxy S6 Edge and Nexus 6). I enjoy your articles, I think they are insightful and well written.

        I am considering getting an LG G4, however, I am still undecided between the Galaxy S6 Edge and the G4. They are both fantastic phones and both have unique selling points.

        • http://technomaple.com Abdul Al-Basith

          Thanks Matthew, I really appreciate you taking the time to read them :)

  • http://androidpcreview.com Tim

    The battery life is concerning. I’ve been going back and forth between the G4 and the new Nexus 5 when it (finally) comes out. I’ve got the original Nexus 5 now, and the battery life was always one of the better features for me. When I first got it, I could go two days without re-charging. That’s what my expectations are for my next phone as well.

    • http://technomaple.com Abdul Al-Basith

      Wow, that’s from a Nexus 5? For me the Nexus 5 would only last me the day, which I was fine with. The LG G4 didn’t do that for me, that’s why, I just switched to the iPhone 6 Plus lol. I’m not an iPhone person, but I was kind of left with no choice.