The successor to the LG G3 has arrived and it comes in the name of the LG G4. Following its older brother, the LG G4 bears a beautiful 5.5-inch Quad HD display with a resolution of 2560 x 1440. Its body has a slight curve to it that makes it different from its former model. Powering the device from within is a 1.8GHz Dual-Core Cortex-A57 and a 1.44GHz Quad-Core Cortex-A53 processor with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 chip, 3GB of RAM, and the Adreno 418 GPU. The phone has an internal storage capacity of 32GB, with room to expand the memory by up to 128GB using a microSD card. It also runs on the latest Android 5.1 Lollipop OS. Built with a couple of cameras, the LG G4 has a powerful 16MP rear-facing camera equipped with OIS and dual LED flash, along with a secondary 8MP front-facing camera. The back camera can also record HD videos. With a 3000mAh battery, the LG G4 can last up to 375 hours in standby mode and 10 hours of talk time. What’s best about the phone is that it is available in an array of color and texture options such as metallic white, metallic gold, metallic grey, leather black, leather brown, leather beige, leather sky blue, leather red, and leather yellow.
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The LG G4 is LG’s latest flagship smartphone, and at first glance it seems like a vision of the new phone ideal. This device ticks off all the boxes for current issues in phone design: it has the option for leather backing, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 808 processor, and standard popular design elements such as the removable battery and MicroSD card slot. With top processing speeds and an equally impressive camera, this phone is certainly a great option.
Sadly, LG didn’t quite follow through on what could have been a great list of physical design specifications. The first odd note is the phone’s option for a leather back, which turns out to be leather thinly glued over a plastic chassis. The leather backing is only dubiously attractive; it includes some stitching details at the center, which may appeal to some, but the overall effect is not hugely convincing. The leather backing doesn’t seem well-integrated with the rest of the phone, and remains ultimately reminiscent of a case. Whatever backing is chosen, the phone’s side is made of plastic, rather than metal, hitting a sore spot that Android phone users have been complaining about for years.
The alternative options for the phone body seem fairly uninspired; LG claims that the plastic backing is “ceramic integrated,” suggesting a higher capacity to withstand chips and cracks. Nevertheless, the backing is just a few microns thicker than backing on Samsung’s Galaxy 6, which to many might seem outright flimsy. With plastic, it's inevitable that users will likely remain envious of the iPhone’s metal. The tradeoff is access to a removable battery, which is a great gift for high-intensity smartphone users.
The display on this phone is not to be sniffed at: The LG G4 offers a 5.5 inch “IPS Quantum” LCD Display which is, according to LG, 25% brighter, has a 50% greater contrast ratio, and 20% improvement in color matching. The screen is as bright and beautiful as can be, reminiscent of Apple’s much-coveted Retina technology. Unfortunately, these laudable details do not give the phone a leg up on its rivals; comparative examination left reviewers with the impression that most of the available displays these days offer equal sharpness and quality.
The G4 runs Android 5.1 Lollipop, which is very similar to what was offered on the G3. This operating system offers fleshed-out interactive access to recent apps like Overview, lock screen notifications, and an expanded Guest Mode. Most of the standard Google apps users look for come pre-loaded, including Gmail, the Chrome browser, Maps, and the Play Store. Search queries are launched by swiping up from the central home softkey, or can be engaged vocally once the option is enabled under the Settings menu.
A few design flaws in the G4 include LG’s decision to back off from Google’s double panel system; instead, notifications and power controls are relegated to a single pulldown panel, which can feel crowded. Once displayed, the panel shows either notifications or power controls, which seems like a step back from the dual panel approach of the G3.
On the other hand, dual windows are very much supported, meaning that users can do things like play games and browse the internet at the same time. Otherwise, the software interface is bright, affable, and charming, offering a new combination of stimulation and minimalism that users are likely to find refreshing.
An additional creation with the G4 is LG’s Smart Bulletin, which dedicates an entire home screen to widgets corresponding to some of the preloaded apps, such as the music player, the user calendar, QRemote, and even LG’s fitness tracking app. The Smart Bulletin is complemented by broader synchronization options in the calendar app, delivered under the name of Event Bulletin. This option syncs the calendar with Facebook events. Photos taken at the same event can be bundled automatically into shareable “memories,” and most practically of all, the phone is able to sense your location with Smart Settings and modulate your phone’s settings according to pre-determined specifications, enabling users to enable or disable sounds, Wifi, and Bluetooth on the basis of their location.
As mentioned earlier, the G4 has lightning-quick processing speeds with the 808 processor, with 3GB of RAM and a clock speed of 1.8 Ghz. The battery life stands at about 10.5 hours of continuous video playback. As with most phones of this variety, the 15% battery notification pops up in the early evening after a day of Youtube, phone calls, texting, internet browsing, and game play, so this phone doesn't stand out one way or another with regards to battery life. As noted above, the removable battery pack is a great asset for people who tend to ride their phone batteries hard, but spare batteries and charging accessories are sold separately.
As mentioned before, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 hexacore processor is impressive, if not necessarily comparable to the likes of G-flex 2’s octa-core 810 processor. All the same, LG claims that the Snapdragon 808 is better configured to support the G4’s apps, camera, and display, and the processing speeds don’t disappoint. The phone takes about 35 seconds to power on and off, and about 1.5 seconds to launch the camera. Compared to phones with the 810 processor, the G4 is faster at opening and closing apps, launching the camera, opening new Chrome tabs, and summoning the keyboard.
The G4’s standout features come with the camera options, which are truly impressive. This phone sports a back 16 megapixel camera with options to shoot in raw file or JPEG formats, as well as an 8 megapixel camera on the front to satisfy even the most avid selfie snapper. Automated camera options are the same as or better than they were on the G3; the auto-focus enables the camera to focus high-speed closeups and works fairly well, though it doesn’t appear much better than the options offered by the Galaxy S6 or the iPhone 6. A new addition is the color spectrum sensor built in on the back camera below the flash, which captures more accurate colors and fixes the white balance ahead of time, leaving photographers with less post-processing.
The camera also comes with a full suite of manual controls through Lollipop’s Camera 2 API. This API offers output to DNG for those who wish to load photos into a RAW processor and do some serious photography; it also offers standard manual features like ISO, exposure, aperture, white balance, and focus, bringing smartphones ever closer to eclipsing point-and-shoot digital cameras. All the same, the lens size remains small, as with any smartphone, so avid photographers are unlikely to be satisfied, in spite of the suite of upgraded specs.
All things considered, the LG G4 holds up well against the competition in the aggregate, though it doesn’t necessarily come out on top. The camera options are particularly nice, and the leather backing may well appeal to those with more rustic sensibilities than people who would favor the sleeker Moto X or the forthright Samsung Note 4, but how this phone measures up to the competition will depend largely on what a person wants out of a smartphone.
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