Announced on April 28th at multiple events around the world, the #LGG4 will finally be on sale in South Africa from 19 June.
As the successor to LG’s wildly popular G3, the 2015 flagship had a lot to live up to.
Android devices have been vastly criticized for their lack of design. What you usually end up with is a slab of black plastic, and from the front, this is what the G4 offers, turn it around though and you get a unique new look. Leather.
In an effort to stand out from all the glass, metal and plastic smartphones in the world, LG has opted for a leather-backed rear. If you’re not a fan of leather, there is a metallic looking plastic back option available (it’s worth noting that LG has stated that each leather-backed device will come with a plastic back in the box in order to give consumers the option of switching between covers). South Africans will be able to get their hands on either the tan or black leather back (there is a red leather option which is a Cell C exclusive) or the grey or gold metallic back.
The front of the device now has a slightly curved display, which is only truly noticeable when placing the G4 face down on a flat surface. The curve is nowhere near as pronounced as on the G Flex 2, however LG says that not only is the curve more ergonomic (think about when you’re on a call), it also helps reduce the risk of damaging the screen should you drop your phone face down.
Overall, the G4’s design is not a radical departure from the G3, which is a bit of a letdown. LG is clearly looking to make a device that has a unique LG design, one instantly recognizable from across the room. There’s nothing wrong with that, it would’ve been nice though to see them take the creativity that they’ve shown (after all, this is the company that brought us the RearKey and a leather back) by bringing something a little more exciting.
The MOST talked about feature of the G4 is the camera, and with good reason.
Samsung has always dominated the photography game when it comes to Android smartphones and the camera on the S6 and S6 Edge certainly did not disappoint. In fact, they were our favourite cameras on any smartphone this year…until the G4.
LG has introduced a 16MP camera with an F1.8 aperture lens on the G4. Besides the simple mode (just tap the screen to take a picture) and normal mode (which gives you slightly more control than the simple mode), the G4 also has a manual mode. This setting allows you to play around with shutter speed, ISO, white balance as well as manual focus. And just to sweeten the deal, you can save your pictures in RAW format.
Colour reproduction is slightly muted when compared to pictures taken with the Samsung Galaxy S6 (Samsung tends to favour more saturated colour), however LG does point out that this is more natural color reproduction than what is found on other smartphone cameras. This is thanks to the Color Spectrum Sensor (CSS), which according to LG is “the first feature of its kind to find its way into a smartphone”.
Here are some of the photographs that I took using the LG G4:
So, the G4 takes amazing photos but what does that mean if you don’t have a great display to view them on right?
Instead of upping the number of pixels on the screen, LG has decided to fine-tune what was an already impressive display on the G3. The G4 features LG Display’s new 5.5-inch IPS Quantum Display, which offers 20 percent greater colour reproduction, 25 percent improvement in brightness and 50 percent greater contrast.
It’s the “first Quad HD display to employ Advanced In-Cell Touch (AIT) technology, which combines the LCD and touch sensor into a single layer to provide better colour reproduction and touch sensitivity” says LG.
It is indeed a great display, however the brightness level in direct sunlight doesn’t quite measure up to the super bright display found in Samsung’s 2015 flagship devices.
Sound reproduction on the G4 is adequate when using the rear-facing speaker. It’s not the best on the market but it will get the job done quite nicely, but let’s be honest, how often are you listening to sound on the loud speaker of your smartphone anyway? It’s the in-box earphones that really shine. The red-cabled QuadBeat 3 in-ear earphones are without a doubt the best earphones that LG has ever included with a smartphone. In fact, a friend of mine who happens to be a tech journalist is using them as his daily earphones and that’s something I’ve never known him to do before, they’re that good. Let’s be clear, these earphones are not going to outperform your Sennheiser or AKG in-ear earphones, however they’re a damn sight better than almost any set of earphones you’ll find in your smartphone box.
Sound reproduction is clear and loud without too much bass. The design needs some slight tweaking and the button placement on the controls threw me off the first few times I used the earphones. Most of us are used to the buttons being placed in the following order: Volume Up, Pause / Answer Call, Volume Down. LG has opted to go with a slightly different order: Volume Up, Volume Down, Pause / Answer Call. It might seem like a minor, insignificant change but when you use it and realize that you’ve essentially been programmed to find the buttons in a certain order and they’re not, it’s a somewhat disconcerting feeling.
As expected, the G4 comes standard with Android 5.1 (Lollipop) skinned with LG’s own UX 4.0.
UX 4.0 is intended to be “simpler and more intuitive to better understand and respond to the needs of each user”. With features such as Event Pocket (which allows you to create a unified calendar with all of your meetings and events in one place), an improved Gallery (which is very similar to the Photos app that Google has recently released) and multi-user settings, the latest iteration of LG’s UI is a step up from what we’ve seen before. Now if only someone could do something about the somewhat childish colour selection.
It might seem like I’m not that impressed with the G4, after all, on paper it seems like the G4 is a minor upgrade to last year’s G3 and in many ways it is. The problem that LG faced was improving on a smartphone that was already pretty close to ideal. They played it smart when it came to features by giving people what they really wanted (removable back, removable battery and expandable storage), where LG seems to still be finding its way is in the details. Design choices on both hardware and UX, but with the massive strides that the South Korean company has made since the introduction of the G2, I’m sure that these will be sorted out sooner rather than later. LG is still finding its way and that’s a good thing because it means that they will continue to listen to you the consumer, after all their motto is “learning from you”.
Is the G4 worth buying? Definitely!
It has a great battery, amazing display, the best camera on any smartphone currently available and supports wireless charging (only with the LG Circle case which will be available at LG Lifestyle stores) as well as fast charge.
LG is no longer the dark horse of the smartphone market and with the G4, they prove that once again, they are the handset manufacturer to watch out for.