The LG G3 was probably the Android phone that was closest to getting everything right last year, but it ultimately fell short of being the “best Android phone”. The camera was the most balanced between the Galaxy S5 and One M8, the design wasn’t quite as nice as the One M8 but definitely better than the Galaxy S5, and LG’s UI fit in relatively well with Android 4.4.

The one flaw that held it back was ultimately the display, which was probably responsible for a lot of the problems that I noticed in the G3. Battery life wasn’t as good as the competition, which was probably due to the new 1440p display. The display itself wasn’t all that impressive either, as there was significant saturation compression and some sharpening effects which really hurt the quality of the display. However, in the context of 2014 flagships it was definitely a valid choice among many that year, as it seemed every device had missed the mark in some way that year.

This brings us to the G4, the successor to the G3. The LG G4 is effectively an evolution of the G3, as we’ll see in the specs below.

 

LG G3

LG G4

SoC MSM8974AC Snapdragon 801
4x Krait 400 @ 2.5 GHz
MSM8992 Snapdragon 808
2xA57 @ 1.82GHz
4xA53 @ 1.44GHz
GPU Adreno 330 @ 578MHz Adreno 418 @ 600MHz
RAM 3GB LPDDR3 933MHz 3GB LPDDR3 933MHz
NAND 32GB NAND (eMMC 5.0)
+ microSD
32GB NAND (eMMC 5.0)
+ microSD
Display 5.5-inch 2560x1440 IPS LCD 5.5-inch 2560x1440 IPS LCD
Network 2G / 3G / 4G
Qualcomm MDM9x25 IP
UE Category 4 LTE
2G / 3G / 4G
Qualcomm X10 (Integrated)
UE Category 6/9 LTE
Dimensions 146.3 x 74.6 x 8.9 mm
149 grams
148.9 x 76.1 x 6.3 - 9.8 mm
155 grams
Camera 13MP Sony IMX135 rear camera,
1.12 µm pixels, 1/3.06" CMOS size,
F/2.4. 2-axis OIS

2.1MP F/2.0 FFC
16MP Sony IMX234 rear camera,
1.12µm pixels, 1/2.6" CMOS size
F/1.8, 3-axis OIS

8MP Toshiba T4KA3 FFC
Battery 3000 mAh (11.4 Wh) replaceable 3000 mAh (11.4 Wh) replaceable
OS Android 4.4.2 with LG UI (At launch) Android 5.1 with LGUX 4.0 (At launch)
Connectivity 802.11a/b/g/n/ac + BT 4.0, USB2.0, GPS/GNSS, Slimport, DLNA, NFC 802.11a/b/g/n/ac + BT 4.0, USB2.0,
GPS/GNSS, Slimport, DLNA, NFC
SIM Size MicroSIM MicroSIM
Price 199.99 USD on contract (US, launch)
~600 USD retail (US, launch)
199.99 USD on contract (US, launch)
~649 USD retail (US, launch)

At a high level, the major changes here have been the upgrade from the Snapdragon 801 to 808 SoC, the new “Quantum IPS” display, and a whole host of changes to the camera that seem to be the focus of the LG G4. The camera seems to really be the centerpiece of this phone, as LG has upgraded the sensor (IMX135 to IMX234), updated the optics, improved the OIS even further, and added a color sensor that looks at visible and IR spectrum to help determine white balance.

Design

As previously discussed, the G4 is very much an evolution of the G3, and this is most apparent when looking at the design of the G4. From the front, there’s relatively little that distinguishes the G4 from the G3, other than a change to the bottom bezel. The design of the phone retains its relatively thin bezels, although the removal of the two-tone bottom bezel definitely makes it feel like the bottom bezel has gotten larger. In the hand, the most noticeable change is that the corners are now noticeably more squared-off in nature. This definitely makes it harder to use the phone with one hand, to the point that I don’t really think this phone is supposed to be used with one hand.

This relatively small change ends up pushing LG over the edge for me when it comes to one-handed usability. I managed to just barely use the G3 with one hand all the time, but with the G4 anything on the left side of the display is now a real stretch to get to, and I basically can’t reach the top-left corner of the display if I’m only using the phone with my right hand. The LG G2 was a comfortably one-handed phone, and the G Pro 2 was a comfortably two-handed phone. The G4 ends up right between those two difference usage paradigms, where some situations allow for one-handed use without issue but others definitely require two hands. At any rate, for those that liked the size of the LG G3 and OnePlus One they’ll probably be right at home with the G4.

The whole phone also has a noticeable curve to it, at a radius of 3000 mm. This radius of curvature is incredibly subtle and in everyday use the phone looks flat, unlike the aggressively curved display of the Galaxy S6 edge. In practice, the real benefit of this curve is to keep the display from touching the surface of a table if the phone is set face-down. The front of the display merges with the side plastic frame, which is slightly higher than the glass to also help somewhat with drop protection. The side plastic frame itself is nothing particularly special to discuss, and is arguably a bit of a regression in feel compared to the G3 due to the glossy nature of the finish. The top of this frame has the IR receiver and transmitter to control TVs and similar appliances, and the bottom has the microUSB port, 3.5mm headphone jack, and a single microphone hole, but there’s otherwise nothing else along the sides of the phone. The rather clean sides are due to the use of rear-mounted power and volume buttons, which is a trademark of LG phones at this point.

The back of the phone is really where most of the changes are on this phone relative to the G3. The dual-tone LED flash is gone, and there’s a color spectrum sensor (RGB + IR) where the amber LED used to be. There’s also a camera hump to accommodate the thicker optics that come with a larger camera sensor, and the back cover has been redesigned on the plastic versions to have a diamond pattern which doesn’t noticeably affect the feel but causes a visual contrast that helps to distinguish this phone from the G3. Unfortunately, we haven’t been sampled the leather back cover so I don’t have anything to really discuss on that front. The single speaker of the phone is also on the back, and appears to be comparable to the G3.

Overall, the design of the LG G4 is decent, but it won’t necessarily impress in the way that the Galaxy S6 might. LG has managed to execute a plastic-bodied phone that doesn’t have any notable issues with look or feel, and given that this build enables a removable battery and microSD slot those that find those features to be a necessity will probably accept this trade-off. I personally would’ve liked to see the speaker either moved to the bottom or front of the phone, but LG has managed to evolve the design of the G3 without any noticeable regressions.

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  • bleached - Sunday, August 02, 2015 - link

    http://www.dxomark.com/Mobiles/Column-right/Mobile... Reply
  • Arcetnathon - Wednesday, August 05, 2015 - link

    You point something really strange.
    Each review of tech website published month after release is worst than first tests.

    Maybe big company doesn't play fair and send very specific smartphone that will never be in store...
    Reply
  • akdj - Thursday, August 06, 2015 - link

    As an owner of three of the top 5; S6, Note 4, & indeed... The iPhone 6+, which raps the 'top 5' "Apples is (sic) 'rate' in the top five'
    The 6+ is indeed produced by Apple ...my subjective feelings are almost identical to Josh's. S6 Edge is an incredible camera. I love it. My Note 4 always has been, with micro SD it makes shooting 4k practical, but my low light shots are pretty sad in comparison to the 6+, as well as 'action' or fast moving shots. S6 shoots 4k, excellent 1080p, but the video stabilization and 60fps-240fps adjustments on the iPhone tump the other two, and I'm just realizing I've placed my response after the wrong reply of your dxo link.
    It's saying damn near what Josh concluded. DxoMark is specific to still photography, heavy on resolution and to those ends the sensors in the S6, N4 & G4 indeed play in the same field as the iPhone ...and in some cases beat it. That said, for simplicity point and shoot and nearly every time get an excellent shot without latency or buffering, the iPhone is hard to beat. Without G4 experience I'll hold judgement, but for video, the iPhone is it. For stills, I'm partial now to my S6 and the Note 4 has always been phenomenal
    Apple opening their 'souls' a bit with the ability to interact with the SoC ala their native apps, there are plenty of manual control, high resolution shooters (using the 8 megapixel, 4K sensor and its speed) as well as slow motion and video editing tools --- probably the biggest weight in the iphone's favor is the App Store, it's amazing selection of editing and shooting tools as well as continuous updates might just top the subjective list of top 5.

    *i don't own a 4K TV but I've got the ability to playback 4K on my MacBook Pro -- looks amazing but it's limited in length of time you can shoot and heats the camera up nice and warm. The S6, all around, my favorite for everything and now my go to camera in most situations. It's smaller and easier to shoot --- but for video capture, my son playing baseball, or last weeks Mötley Crüe show, the iPhone and it's incredible stabilization, video processing and iCloud uploading, ....see where I'm going?

    I own a business, have for two decades and with a dozen employees equipped with their choice, I pay for them ...and have iPhone as a personal - S6 personal and Note4 business only. Primarily the stylus and autographs for credit cards has a cool vibe with clientele. You mileage may vary but dxo mark scores in the mid 80s rivals and defeats many point and shoot cams under $300. A point or two difference isn't real world, nor the bible on what to buy. Iphone is ranked 5 & 6 (+ & standard) - can't seem to find the Experia in America and their separation of a couple points in the mid 80as -- without considering motion at all, I'm not sure ANY is the wrong choice and for many that don't want manual control, the iPhone with HDR is hands down the layman's favorite. Android, I'm with the S6, double tap home button to pop the cam and it's rare even as a DSLR shooter that I'm adjusting settings, modes or manually selecting ISO, Aperture or shutter speed
    S6 Edge, I love it. 6+, love it. Note 4, still awesome - bit heavier but easily used now with experience and the right case
    Take motion into the equation and the limitations on 4K, post processing there of and playback ...I think this is the reason Apple has put this much effort into their sensor as it's the perfect 'size' for non cropped, full sensor 4K shooting

    Maybe I'm confused, but I'm ambidextrous, love both and have owned both since 07/08. Dxomark is a silly geek site for resolution of serious optics. Those scores and their differential is hardly a 'win' for any flagship mentioned

    J
    Reply
  • Pissedoffyouth - Thursday, July 30, 2015 - link

    How does the handoff between clusters cope compared to the 810? Does it scale from 2>4 cores when stepping down, averaging the load across the A53 cluster? Reply
  • nikaldro - Thursday, July 30, 2015 - link

    The S808 throttles about as much as the exynos 7420. Reply
  • nikaldro - Thursday, July 30, 2015 - link

    The S808 throttles about as much as the exynos 7420. Reply
  • grayson_carr - Thursday, July 30, 2015 - link

    My God. I thought this review would never come. I already lusted after the G4, bought the G4, owned the G4 for a while, and then bought a Nexus 6 to replace it haha. Still, it will be good to know the Snapdragon 808 lowdown seeing as the Moto X 2015 and Nexus 5 2015 will make use of it. Reply
  • ThisIsChrisKim - Thursday, July 30, 2015 - link

    I bought the G4 and I'm really liking it--camera is just superb. UI is meh, but not annoying enough for me to get something else.

    Nice seeing this review, nonetheless!
    Reply
  • grayson_carr - Thursday, July 30, 2015 - link

    I liked the G4 (maybe even more than the Galaxy S6 I owned before it), but there were a couple minor annoyances that ultimately led me to buy a Nexus 6. I found that the G4 performed well most of the time, but as mentioned in the review, in some apps it would drop frames more often than the previous two phones I owned (Nexus 5 and Galaxy S6). Also, the touchscreen seemed to be less responsive than the previous phones I owned, which started to get on my nerves. Finally, there were a couple software annoyances like the inability to expand notifications in some circumstances, that were bothering me. I did like the screen on the G4 better than the Galaxy S6 and Nexus 6, and the manual camera controls were boss, but ultimately I prefer the Nexus software experience. Reply
  • Fitnesspro - Thursday, July 30, 2015 - link

    Grayson. You are right. Speed and battery count. I liked the G4 specs but was disappointed when tried the phone out at T Mobile. Has a snag and the actual screen id not Reply

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