LG G4 review: simple, but effective

For a high-end smartphone, the LG G4 is a pretty bare-bones device.

It is the combination of a high-resolution display, big battery, powerful processor, quality camera, and a shell large enough to house everything – all running on Android 5.1 “Lollipop”.

There is no fingerprint scanner or heart rate monitor, and it isn’t waterproof.

However, LG has promised that the G4 will launch at much lower prices compared to the Galaxy S6 and iPhone 6.

With an off-contract price of R8,500–R9,000, the LG G4 definitely falls into the “high-end” price category, but it does so without stepping into R10,000+ territory.

What’s in the box?

The Basics

Battery life. Longer than the standard day, courtesy of a 3,000mAh battery.

Display. Bright, clear, content visible in sunlight. Good touch response.

Storage. 32GB single partition internal, microSD supported.

Network. Supported: MTN, Vodacom FDD-LTE (1,800MHz), all SA 3G & 2G. Unsupported: Telkom TD-LTE (2,300MHz).

Cameras. Best feature of the LG G4. Rear: F1.8 lens, 1/2.6″ sensor, OIS 2.0. Front: 8MP wide angle.

Specifications LG G4
Dimensions 148.9 x 76.1 x 9.8mm
Weight 155g
Operating system Android 5.1 Lollipop
Display 5.5″ QHD (1440×2560)
Rear camera 16MP
Front camera 8MP
Storage, internal 32GB
Storage, expandable microSD
RAM 3GB
Processor 1.8GHz hexa-core Qualcomm MSM8992 Snapdragon 808
Graphics Adreno 418
Battery 3,000mAh removable

You get all the standard accessories you expect with a new smartphone (headset, charger, USB cable), as well as two back covers: one plastic, and one leather.

As a contract launch offer, LG said it will also include a 32GB microSD card with the G4.

Looking under the bonnet, the LG G4 features a 1.8GHz hexa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 processor, 3GB RAM, and 3,000mAh removable battery.

It also has a 16MP camera on the back, and an 8MP front-facing camera.

Cameras

LG G4 camera test 1
LG G4 camera test 1
LG G4 camera test 2
LG G4 camera test 2
LG G4 camera test 3
LG G4 camera test 3
LG G4 low-light camera test
LG G4 low-light camera test

Much of LG’s marketing energy is being spent on the G4’s camera, with endorsements from photographer Coby Brown featuring in its advertising.

This attention seems well-placed, as the LG G4’s camera is the smartphone’s best feature.

Whether taken in well-lit or low-light environments, the pictures we took looked good. Little or no noise was evident in shots of darker locales, and colour reproduction was consistently good.

One frustrating niggle was that the camera’s on-screen shutter button is placed slightly off-centre on the bottom or right edges of the screen, depending on whether you orient the phone for portrait or landscape shots.

Design

LG G4 front, back, and side
LG G4 front, back, and side
LG G4 interface screenshots
LG G4 interface screenshots

You can also take photos by pressing the volume down button, but it isn’t located on the edge of the device like other smartphones.

Instead, LG has stuck with the design it introduced on the LG G2, which has the power button and volume rocker on the back of the device, just below the camera lens.

This makes reaching the volume buttons without obscuring the lens, while holding the device in landscape orientation, difficult.

Another interesting feature of the volume buttons is that you can quickly press them twice as a shortcut to a particular action.

Double-pressing volume down will launch the camera and take a photo, while pushing the volume up button twice will launch Quick Memo, LG’s note-taking app.

When holding the device upright, the rear keys are easily reached with either your left or right index fingers.

When the device rests in your palm, you are likely to notice that the LG G4’s corners are sharper than those on other high-end phones.

It doesn’t sit as comfortably in the hand as other smartphones – partly because of its sharper corners, and partly because of how chunky it is.

The large form factor demanded by the 5.5-inch screen, combined with a weight of 155g, makes the LG G4 a pretty bulky device.

The Verdict

The Bottom Line: LG G4
The Good The Bad
  • Great camera
  • Battery: removable, high capacity
  • Removable cover
  • MicroSD slot
  • Chunky
  • Lacks some features, e.g. Telkom TD-LTE support
  • Superfluous software: e.g. Quick Memo, Smart Bulletin

LG’s G4 smartphone is essentially a trifecta of “killer features”.

  1. Leather back cover
  2. 3,000mAh removable battery
  3. Excellent 16MP main camera (with an 8MP front-facing shooter as a bonus)

If that’s what you want from a phone, and you don’t mind the chunkiness or missing out on some of the bells and whistles you get with the Galaxy S6 or iPhone 6, then the somewhat cheaper LG G4 is worth considering for your 2015 upgrade.

LG G4 side
LG G4 side
LG G4 back
LG G4 back
LG G4 back
LG G4 back
LG G4 back
LG G4 back

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LG G4 review: simple, but effective