2018 Lg G4 Smartphone Review
Smartphone LG G4 Review – Almost a view year ago LG released the G3 as the successor to their interestingly designed G2. Now we have the G4. Continuing with a very similar design and a focus on high end performance, just what is the latest flagship from LG really like and does it have what it takes to sit proudly next to the Apple, Samsung, Sony and HTC phones available today? It virtually goes without saying that to be able to be counted as a contender, the G4 has to have the internal specifications – it does not disappoint as you can see on screen now..
LG have opted for the 6 core 808 processor from Qualcomm rather than the more desired 8 core 810. This may be a negative for some, but shows a focus on the performance of the device rather than just specs. Ever so slightly taller, wider and thicker than last year’s G3, the G4 has less sweeping corners although benefits from LG’s slim arc design. This gives a slight curvature to the device which essentially means it feels no larger in the hand compared to the G3, yet is marginally heavier at 155g compared to the 149 of the G3. Make no mistakes, this is a large phone and for many, including myself, verges on the side of impractical as an everyday phone. Samsung Galaxy Note 4 and Apple iPhone 6 Plus users will find this quite comfortable in hand. The frame of the G4 is of metal construction, however the edges are polished to leave a glossy plastic feel and look, this is extremely solid nonetheless. The colour version you can buy is determined by the back cover, there are also real leather back covers available, pressed to the plastic, with a stitched central seam.
The brown/tan leather option on test does give a different look to other phones. It does not appear to wear quite as well; a few marks are showing in the corners after just a couple of weeks. One could argue though that the leather ‘ageing’ is part of the charm. The rear mounted buttons have existed since the G2 and whilst not the most common location, I find they work well on the whole. Despite the size the G4 feels reasonably comfortable and balanced in hand. Most, but not all, will cope with one-handed use. Without doubt one of the best smartphone screens of the moment, the Quad HD IPS Quantum display packs a real punch with 538 pixels per inch. Images are sharp and crisp with good colour balance. Colours do not look or feel overly saturated. The 5.5” screen is great for those who like gaming or consuming lots of media. Viewing web pages is a pleasure as more can be displayed on the large screen. Android version is running on the G4, but it has been heavily customised with a fairly hungry LG user interface.
The customisation will likely divide opinion. Personally, I see these skins as great value-additions to the handset and more often make a phone more usable and enjoyable than just stock Android. As phones begin to reach a peak in innovation and the hardware differences mean less and less, it is the software that helps round off the user’s experience. Many of the features found on the G3 exist on the G4, continuing a trend of keeping usable and useful features.
Some of the key software features are: KnockOn – Double tap the screen to switch it on or off. Knock Code – Unlock the screen by tapping in a particular sequence. QSlide – Allows you to have a window open on top of what you are doing in the background. Have your phone dialer, calculator and web page all open at the same time. These floating windows can be moved, resized and even have their transparency altered. Multi Window – Select 2 apps to be open at the same time. Resize each app window and use in both portrait and landscape mode.
Great for multitasking, I liked this a lot. There are of course many other great features too. I am slightly saddened to see ‘Capture Plus’ removed from the G4 as a feature. Present in the G3, this allowed a whole web page to be saved as a image, rather than just the screen. As is customary, all the Google services are installed as standard, you can add apps from the Play Store, watch videos on YouTube and have your Gmail or corporate email accounts syncing within a matter of minutes. As a flagship the G4 has the connectivity options that are expected of it. These options are shown on screen now. What I do really like to see is the variety of support and that peace of mind of knowing the options are there, even if you do not use them all. The microUSB port is ideally located on the bottom of the handset, so with an adapter you can connect a USB memory stick or even a hard drive to copy files between that and the G4. If you want to show off your holiday snaps, or present to your boss, you can use a slimport cable to mirror your phone’s display to an HDMI enabled screen.
You can even output in true 4K! Should you want to, you can also program your phone to control your TV and other AV equipment as a remote. Continuing to keep the headphone jack on the base of the G4 like the G3 is advantageous when it comes to sliding the phone in and out of the pocket. Mounted on the rear the loudspeaker is punchy enough, producing volumes within the mid 80s to low 90s on the decibel meter, it is not the best out there though. At full volume it is fairly clear but lacks the crisp sound that you get from say an HTC One range phone. Most of the other elements of the G4 have been incremental updates over the G3 but the camera has received the biggest overhaul.
Boosted from 13 to 16 megapixels on the rear and to 8 megapixels on the front, the G4 will impress anyone here. The 8 megapixel camera is ideal for selfies, plus with a voice and gesture activated shutter getting that perfect pose whilst holding the phone is possible. Switch to the rear camera and this is where the magic begins to happen. The new 16 megapixel lens is paired with a 1/2.6” sensor, that has a Faperture and optical image stabilisation. Included too is the laser autofocus seen previously and an LED flash. In addition, an infrared-sensitive colour spectrum sensor that analyses and measures all of the visible light within a scene before a shot is snapped, ensuring that an image’s colours appear natural and vivid even in dim conditions. All of this means great photos, whether you are standing still or on the move. There are 3 key shooting modes, simple, auto and manual. Simple is a no-nonsense affair of pointing the camera and touching the screen. Auto gives you a few more options on screen but is again pretty much point and shoot. It is the manual mode though where the G4 and the camera truthfully comes into their own.
Like a DSLR you get complete control over ISO, white balance, shutter speed and there is a histogram too. Most of us use auto mode and this does mean great shots but for the keen photographer manual mode is where it is at. You can even save images in RAW file format to give you the capability of perfect post-capture editing ability. Of course such options do mean the memory is chewed up, so the microSD card slot will be of great benefit here. Memory is also eaten up quite quickly if you use the UHD or 4K video recording available through the camera. This is limited to 5 minutes. When recording video you can pause and resume capture as well as take advantage of 8x digital zoom. The audio quality from the video I feel is good too, the 2 built-in mics really help here. You can also capture video and stills with dual recording which is handy. A quick double press on the lower-rear button will launch the camera to capture an image. This is ideal for those moments where you need to capture something really quickly because you will miss it otherwise.
The results from both the front and rear camera are really good. The aperture allows for great shots with a depth of field. The colours in the images are rich and well balanced as well as being sharp. In low light, lighter areas did blow out a little where there was a stronger source of light, but overall really impressive. 3,000 mAh is the capacity of the removable battery in the G4 which is reasonable. However, you need not worry too much as this should get even the more demanding users through a working day. I was easily lasting a full working day with light to moderate usage with little need to charge part-way through the day.
LG have included a ‘Battery Saver’ on the G4 that can kick in at 15% remaining power but the options are considerably less extensive in terms of control in comparison to Sony and their battery management options. Sadly, as standard the G4 does not come with wireless charging, but supports it should you purchase the optional Quick Circle case. This means you will be doing away with the stylish leather back cover option if you want wireless charging. In the competitive world of flagship smartphones, LG are often 3rd or 4th recommendation behind the likes of Apple, Samsung, HTC and Sony but there is no reason it should be when you have a specification and performance like that on the G4.
There is a lot on offer with a superb camera and form factor with performance to match. One could consider this as an incremental update in some respects without the big changes in design and appeal like Samsung have completed of late with the S6. Incremental or not, if you are opting one of the ‘best’ smartphones available today then the G4 is a superb product, particularly if you are into photos on the mobile..
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