LG G4 review
LG has often been overshadowed by the likes of Samsung, Sony and HTC in the battle of the Android smartphone flagships. The release of the LG G3 last year went some way in rectifying this, helping the South Korean firm more than double its US market share in the third quarter of 2014.
2015 has already seen the release of the Samsung Galaxy S6 and HTC One M9, with the S6 broadly regarded as the standard bearer amongst the Androids and main rival to Apple's iPhone 6.
To compete against these smartphones and continue the success of the G3, LG claims to have made a "quantum leap" forward with its latest flagship, the LG G4.
IBTimes UK has spent some time with the LG G4 to test out these claims and see how well it stacks up against its rivals.
LG G4: Design
The LG G4's tagline is "See the great, feel the great", referencing its three biggest selling points: design, camera and screen. At the device's London launch, LG's European president Brian Na lamented the fact that all smartphones have clumped together into "monolithic slabs of flat, uniform and cold metal", with no design features distinguishing them from each other.
LG's solution to this is to cover the back in leather and give it what it calls a "slim arc" design. It also comes in a ceramic metal design, as featured in this review, which unfortunately resembles the monolithic slabs that Na deplores so much.
Unlike the faux-leather used on Samsung's Note series, the leather versions on show at the London launch actually give the G4 a distinguished look and a premium feel. Compared to the slippery ceramic, the leather also offers decent grip when held in the hand.
LG G4: Screen
The LG G4's display lives up to the "see the great" tagline, boasting a 5.5in Quad HD (2560 x 1440) screen resolution that holds up well in bright sunlight.
The resolution is actually the same as its predecessor, the LG G3, which was the first smartphone to feature a Quad HD display. To improve upon this, the G4 utilises something LG calls IPS Quantum Display technology, which offers 25% better brightness and operates in a similar way to quantum dot displays found on larger-screened devices.
This new technology offers a "quantum leap" in terms of technological innovation from the G3 display, according to LG, and while this may be hyperbolic, the G4 screen is undoubtedly one of its stand out features.
LG G4: Software, performance and battery
LG hasn't gone with the most powerful processor for the G4, opting instead for the Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 Processor. Rumours suggest that this could be to do with overheating issues when using Qualcomm's more powerful octa-core Snapdragon 810 chipset.
Despite this compromise, there are no issues with lag or slow performance. Even when burdened with a dozen open apps the G4 is able to handle itself well.
LG's customised version of Android 5.1 (Lollipop) allows users to customise the standard Android home screen, as well as coming with a "beginners" option that is so easy to use I think even my technophobic mum could handle it.
One of the best additions to LG's Android experience is the KnockCode function that allows you to tap out a personalised pass code onto a blank screen to wake the phone.
The battery compares well when put up against the Samsung Galaxy S6 and HTC M9, lasting about two days with moderate use. Unlike the S6 and the M9, however, the G4's battery is removable and replaceable.
Unlike the S6, the G4 comes with a microSD slot to enhance the 32GB already provided. Samsung has acknowledged that its flagship device has memory issues, resulting in a slowdown in performance and app crashes.
LG G4: Camera
While the screen and leather design stand out, it is the camera where the LG G4 really shines. A 16MP rear camera with a 1.8 aperture is supplemented by a wide array of manual settings that allow you to adjust white balance, ISO and extend the shutter speed to up to 4 seconds.
The integration of a new technology LG calls Laser Cam F1.8 ensures better overall colour accuracy and, according to Na, is "the closest we've ever come to recreating what you see with your naked eye".
When tested against the S6 and iPhone 6, which both feature class-leading cameras, these claims actually stood up well. Na's claims that it can rival that of a digital SLR camera unsurprisingly fall short of the mark.
The 8MP camera on the front of the device can also be considered the best "selfie" snapper amongst its rival flagship smartphones, bested only by 13MP on the less high-spec HTC Desire Eye.
LG G4: Value and verdict
The LG G4 will be out at the end of May with prices starting at £500. The leather-backed option comes with a £25 premium.
When it comes to the screen and camera, LG has got it sussed with the G4. The design is also distinguished but this is more a matter of personal preference.
Still, improvements in other areas can be made. Despite the "slim arc design" it is still one of the chunkiest handsets of all the flagships, and unlike some of its rivals it doesn't include built-in wireless charging.
These are generally fastidious points to make for what is otherwise an excellent smartphone and a worthy successor to the G3. With the names G5 through to G9 recently trademarked by LG, this range should continue to provide more-than-adequate competition for the likes of Samsung, HTC and even Apple.