LG G4 Review


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LG launched the G4 Dual, the company’s flagship smartphone in India last month for Rs. 51,000. This is the first time the company is launching a dual SIM version of its flagship smartphone in India. Even though it features a 5.5-inch Quad HD screen similar to the G3, other aspects have been improved. Is the G4 a worthy successor? Is this one of the best flagship smartphones in the market currently? Check out the complete review to find out.

Unboxing

We unboxed the dual SIM Ceramic White version of the G4 recently, check out the video below.

Box Contents

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  • LG G4 Dual Smartphone in Ceramic White color
  • Micro USB Charger (5V-1.8A)
  • Micro USB cable
  • LG QuadBeat 3 Headset with an extra set of earbuds
  • Quick start guide

Video Review

Display, Hardware and Design

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The LG G4 has a 5.5-inch display with a resolution of 2560 by 1440 pixels with a pixel density of 538 PPI (Pixels per Inch). Even though the display size and the resolution are same as the LG G3, this has 120 percent color gamut, compared to the 100 percent gamut in the G3, offering richer and more accurate colors. It also offers 25% increased brightness, 50% increased contrast and 56% better color accuracy compared to the display on the G3. LG is calling it IPS Quantum RGB technology. The display definitely stands out when it comes to color reproduction. Viewing angles and the sunlight legibility are good too. The display is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 3, similar to the G3.

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The LG G4 has a screen-to-body ratio of 72.46%, compared to 75.22 % on the G3 and the most compact LG G2 with a screen-to-body ratio of 76.28%. The LG G4 is 148.9mm tall and 76.1mm wide, compared to G3 that is 146.3mm tall and 74.6mm wide, even though the display size remains the same. Since the smartphone is wider, it makes one-handed usage hard.

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It has an 8-megapixel front-facing camera with f/2.0 aperture, which is good for selfies and video chats. It is a huge improvement when compared to the 2.1-megapixel front-facing camera on the G3. The front-facing camera can record videos at a 1080p resolution. It doesn’t have a flash on the front, but the the screen brightens up around the border of the photo preview window and acts as a soft selfie light. It also has a small notification LED that lights up in Blue, Green or Red color depending on the type of notification. The usual set of proximity and ambient light sensors are present next to the camera.

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The LG G4 has on-screen buttons and the LG logo is present on the bezel, below the display similar to earlier G series smartphones. Since there is an additional SIM switch button you switch to either SIMs easily. These set of buttons can be rearranged. We will discuss more about this in the software part.

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It has a slightly ergonomically-shaped curved body that comfortably fits in your hand. It doesn’t have any buttons on the sides and the smartphone is 8.9mm thick, similar to the G2 and the G3. On the top there is secondary microphone and an IR blaster. On the bottom there is 3.5mm audio jack, primary microphone and a micro USB slot.

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The 16-megapixel camera present on the back has a chrome ring around it. The camera module is also protected by a Sapphire Crystal Glass to prevent it from scratches. Laser Auto Focus is present on the left side of the camera, Color Spectrum Sensor and LED flash are present on the right side of it. Below the camera module there are volume rockers with the power button located in between them.

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Even though the smartphone has a plastic back or an original leather finish, the build quality is solid. The G4’s design is not attractive when compared to the Galaxy S6 or S6 Edge’s glass back, but you have to sacrifice it if you need a replaceable battery.

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The leather back definitely looks premium compared to the Ceramic White and the Metallic Gray covers that are made of plastic. These plastic back covers have diamond-like patterns that are visible when the light reflects at a certain angle. LG currently sells Brown, Black and Red variants with leather finish in India apart from these plastic variants. The leather back is prone to scratches when it comes in contact with sharp or rough objects and the plastic back cover gets scratches easily when you place it on a rough surface since the center part of the back comes in contact with the surface first. It is recommended to get a case if you want to avoid scratches.

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Removing the back reveals two micro SIM slots and a microSD card slot. It also has a 3000mAh removable battery.

Camera

LG G4 Manual Mode UI

It has a has a 16-megapixel camera with f/1.8 aperture, 1/2.6″ sensor, 1.29-micron pixels, Laser Auto Focus, Color Spectrum Sensor for a more accurate color output and better white balance, 3-axis Optical Image Stabilization (OIS) and LED flash. It has manual mode that lets you adjust focus manually, White balance, ISO (50 to 2700) and Shutter Speed (1/6000s to 30s), in addition to simple and auto modes. It also has support to capture images in RAW (.DNG format), Panorama that can capture images up to 104MP resolution and a Dual Mode that lets you align front and rear cameras in one screen to capture images or videos. You can also launch the camera quickly by pressing the volume down key twice when the screen is off. This feature is present under shortcut key in the settings.

Images are good in all the aspects and have excellent details and color reproduction. Macro shots were good offering nice bokeh, thanks to the f/1.8 aperture and the Laser Auto Focus that uses laser to guide the auto focus system to focus the exact part of an object when you touch it. HDR shots were good too and it has auto HDR mode that lets the G4 do the work for you, by capturing HDR images automatically. Low-light shots came out good too, but the noise is high some cases where there is minimal lighting. The flash is also decent offering decent detail in flash exposures. You can take advantage of low-light RAW shots since the processed low-light images are better.

Check out the some camera samples (Click the image to view the full resolution samples)

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HDR OFF
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HDR ON

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Check out the complete set of LG G4 camera samples here. It can record 4K (3840×2160) and 1080p videos at 30fps and HD videos in slow motion at at 120 fps. The video quality is good, but it has weird jello effect when panning. You can play the recorded slow motion video in 1/2x, 1/4x or 1/8x, but it works only on the phone. Check out the 4K video sample.

Check out the camera review that will offer you a clear idea about the LG G4’s camera in detail.

Software

LG G4 Home and Notification

The LG G4 runs on Android 5.1 (Lollipop) with LG UX 4.0 on top. The UX seems overdone and doesn’t look impressive at all compared to the stock UI. It supports up to 8 home screen and folders. The notification bar has a row of shortcuts on the top that can be rearranged or removed. It also has option to select either SIM cards as default, a row of QSlide apps (once it is enabled), brightness and volume sliders. The home screen also has Smart Notice that offers personalized notifications for weather, travel, calendar appointments and more by analyzing a user’s daily routine and travel schedule. It also alerts you when a particular app is draining the smartphone’s battery so that you can take action by closing the app immediately to improve the battery life.

LG G4 Lock screen and Smart Bulletin

The lock screen has quick shortcuts to launch apps easily by swiping on them. These can be rearranged or replaced. It also has weather animation option that shows animation on lock screen when it rains or snows in the location. The home screen also has optional smart bulletin that shows customized info such as stats from LG Health, Calendar, Music, Smart settings, QuickRemote and Smart Tips.

LG G4 Smart Settings, QSlid and Dual Window

The Smart settings feature lets the smartphone perform several actions automatically when you are at home or away from home. It also has option to launch an app when earphones are plugged or when the phone is connected to a Bluetooth speaker. The QSlide apps are tiny apps that run on the top of the screen. These include a video player, browser, Calendar, Memo and Calculator. You can adjust the opacity of a Qslide app and also expand it to full screen, but you can run only 2 QSlide apps at a time. Dual Window lets you run two apps on a screen, similar to Samsung’s Multi-Window. Once enabled, it can be accessed from the multitasking menu and supports several apps, including some Google Apps. The multitasking menu also has screen pinning option so that it doesn’t close automatically when you clear the apps that are running in the background.

LG G4 Interruptions and Button Combination

Android Lollipop’s Interruptions feature has Priority only Mode that lets you set do not disturb times so that only the most important apps and people can get in touch with you. In addition to the feature, this also has a new Downtime feature that lets you set “No interruptions” time during a period of time on particular days. Another interesting feature is the button combination option that lets you switch the position of touch buttons on the home screen. It supports 5 buttons that includes, dual window, notification, QuickMemo+ and QSlide, in addition to the usual set of back, home and recent or multitasking buttons. The new Calendar app lets you set multiple schedules in one place that can be managed together. You can also drag an event from SNS such as Facebook to calendar.

LG G4 RAM, Internal Storage and App to SD

Out of 3GB of RAM, you get 2.83GB of usable RAM, out of which about 1.5GB of RAM is free when only the default apps are running in the background. More RAM usage is mainly due to the high resolution display. Out of 32GB of internal storage, 21.8GB of storage is usable. You can also move compatible apps to the SD card, when you insert one. It also has support for USB OTG.

Apps

LG G4 Apps

Apart from the usual set of Google Apps, it has LG Backup, LG Health, Quick Remote, QuickMemo+ and SmartWorld app store. You don’t have any other unnecessary bloatware pre-loaded on the phone. It also has a built-in Smart cleaning app in the settings that lets you free up some space by cleaning cache and idle apps.

LG G4 Health, Remote and QuickMemo+

The LG Health app uses the smartphone’s sensors to detect your steps and activities such as walking or running. The results are not completely accurate. Since the phone has an IR Blaster, you can use the QuickRemote app to use the phone as a remote control for home appliances such as TV, Set-top box, AC, Projector and more. You can set up different remote for different rooms such as Living room, Bedroom etc. Set up takes few minutes, but it works perfectly and also has all the top brands. The QuickMemo+ lets you capture of any type of content such as web pages, graphical images, photos and videos instantly and jot notes on the screen. You can also launch the QuickMemo+ quickly by pressing the volume up key twice when the screen is off.

Music Player and FM Radio

LG G4 Music Player and FM Radio

The Music Player supports a range of audio formats. You can use the equalizer when you plug in the headset, and there are different equalizers modes. The 1W loudspeaker is quite loud even in a noisy environment and the Quadbeat 3 headset offers good output and is stronger compared to the Quadbeat 2 that came with the LG G3 and the G Flex smartphones. Even though the speaker is located on the bottom of the phone, audio doesn’t get muffled when placing it on a flat surface since the back is slightly raised. The FM Radio has auto tune mode and recording feature. It also has auto music recording feature to record only the music, but it’s not perfect. You can also add your favorite stations to select it quickly.

Calls and Messaging

LG G4 Dialer and Messaging

It has speed dial, call logs, Contacts and Favorite. The Messaging features are similar to the previous LG phones that supports MMS and Email. The keyboard is better compared to earlier LG keyboards and is comfortable to type. Since the phone has dual SIM support with a dedicated on-screen button, you can just press the button to switch to either SIMs to make a call or send a text message from a particular SIM.

Dual SIM and Connectivity

LG G4 Connectivity and Dual SIM

Even though it has dual SIM support, only the first SIM supports 4G, while the other SIM remains in 2G. The second SIM has 3G support, but the first SIM needs to be set to 2G if you want to enable 3G in the second SIM. The connectivity features include Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac with WiFi direct, DNLA, Bluetooth v4.1, GPS, NFC and Slimport with support up to 4K (which is just like a MHL port). It also has Digital Compass and Gyroscope. The on-screen SIM switch button makes switching between either SIM cards easy.

Performance and Benchmarks

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The LG G4 is powered by a Hexa-Core Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 (MSM8992) 64-bit 28nm processor that has two bigger ARM Cortex A57 cores clocked at 1.88GHz per core and four smaller ARM Cortex A53 cores clocked at 1.44GHz per core. The performance is smooth without any lags, mainly there is no heating issues present in the Snapdragon 810 SoC. Of course it gets a bit warm when using 4G in hot outdoor conditions, which is common in most smartphones, but it doesn’t get too hot. Apps and camera open instantly, thanks to 3GB RAM, which is also more than enough to run several applications in the background. Even though the processor lacks two extra Cortex A57 cores compared to the Snapdragon 810, this is more than enough to power the smartphone and the Quad HD screen. Check out some benchmark scores.

LG G4 AnTuTu Benchmark 5

LG G4 3D Mark Ice Storm Unlimited

LG G4 Basemark OS II

Check out the complete set of LG G4 benchmark scores here. The 600 MHz Adreno 418 GPU offers smooth gaming performance and good graphics. The Adreno 430 GPU definitely has an edge compared to Adreno 418 GPU when it comes to graphics in some high-end games, but this is good too. It also supports Bluetooth and wired gaming controllers. It scored 5/5 stars in our gaming review. Check out the video below.

Battery life

LG G4 FA One Charge Rating

Coming to the battery life, the 3000mAh battery offers average battery life, but it doesn’t last throughout the day. With 4G or 3G data use for most of the day, few calls, couple of hours of music playback and some video playback, battery drains out completely by the evening. LG has maintained the same 3000mAh battery since the G2, which is definitely not enough to power the processor and the Quad HD screen. It has a removable battery, which can be replaced with a spare battery when required. You can even claim a free additional battery with charging cradle in India or the US for a limited period.

It doesn’t have built-in wireless charging support. You need to purchase a separate Quick Circle cover to enable wireless charging, which requires you to replace the back cover. Since the Quick Circle doesn’t have a leather back, you have to sacrifice the leather cover if you need wireless charging. It has battery saver option that turns on automatically when you reach a certain threshold to extend the battery life and the game optimizer adjusts the video quality in games to save the battery. It supports Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 2.0 for faster charging. It achieved a One Charge Rating of 9 hours and 36 minutes in our battery test, mainly due to the brilliant talk time, but it’s not the best. Check out the complete set of LG G4’s battery life test results here.

Conclusion

Overall, the LG G4 is a worthy successor to the G3. Even though the UX is not attractive and the smartphone doesn’t have an eye-catching design apart from the premium leather back, the display is just brilliant and the camera offers several features, including a manual mode that the competitors don’t offer. This time LG decided to launch the smartphone only in 32GB variant, unlike the G3 that came in two variants. It also comes with dual SIM support in India, which is an added advantage. Even though the smartphone was launched for Rs. 51,000, the price has come down gradually. One thing the smartphone doesn’t score is the battery life, which is also one of the problems faced on the LG G3.

It is a huge smartphone and is also thicker compared to other flagships such as Samsung Galaxy S6, iPhone 6 or the Sony Xperia Z3+, but most prefer a smartphone with a large screen. The LG G4 is one of the best smartphones in the market if you are mainly looking for a combination of dual SIM support, expansion slot and a removable battery that you rarely see on a flagship smartphone. To summarize, here are the pros and cons of the smartphone.

Pros

  • Brilliant display
  • Good camera with manual mode, Laser AF and OIS
  • Fast performance
  • Dual SIM support

Cons

  • Average battery life
  • LG UX is a not impressive
  • Requires Quick Circle cover for wireless charging

Author: Srivatsan Sridhar

Srivatsan Sridhar is a Mobile Technology Enthusiast who is passionate about Mobile phones and Mobile apps. He uses the phones he reviews as his main phone. You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram