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LG G4 Review: A worthy high-end contender

By Scorpus · 27 replies
Jul 20, 2015
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  1. Every year, LG manages to impress me in one way or another with their new flagship Android smartphone. The inclusion of a near bezel-free display, combined with surprisingly awesome battery life, on the G2 two years ago made me fall in love with LG handsets for the first time. In 2014, the company released the G3, the first mainstream smartphone with a crisp 1440p display and a great laser-assisted autofocus system for the camera.

    This year, LG has focused on improving every aspect of the camera with their latest flagship, the LG G4, and the results might prove impressive once again. LG has upgraded the camera sensor to a 16-megapixel unit, kept the optical image stabilization and laser autofocus from the G3, and switched to a wide f/1.8 lens. The selfie camera has also received an upgrade to eight megapixels.

    Aside from the camera, LG has upgraded several other parts of their flagship’s hardware. The company has chosen a Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 SoC for this handset, rather than the Snapdragon 810 they used in the G Flex 2, likely for power consumption and heat concerns. There’s also a new 5.5-inch 1440p “Quantum” IPS display, which improves upon its similar predecessor, alongside versatile features that include a removable battery and microSD card slot.

    Read the complete review.

  2. noel24

    noel24 TS Evangelist Posts: 337   +180

    These days I start reading those kind of reviews with scrolling down to Battery Life. Unfortunately, nothing changes here in years.
    crabbos likes this.
  3. Scorpus

    Scorpus TechSpot Staff Topic Starter Posts: 1,960   +230

    Yes unfortunately there have been basically no improvements in battery life since the beginning of smartphones
  4. noel24

    noel24 TS Evangelist Posts: 337   +180

    Which is strange, cause they declare a battery breakthrough twice a year. At that rate We should be able to drive our electric cars off the smartphone in our pocket, right? ;-)
  5. Scorpus

    Scorpus TechSpot Staff Topic Starter Posts: 1,960   +230

    I suspect a lot of issues getting battery breakthrough tech into phones and other devices is volume production. Developing some of the tech is quite expensive and I doubt there are ways to efficiently produce these new batteries without it costing a fortune
  6. Adhmuz

    Adhmuz TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,769   +598

    As for the build quality, it's disappointing LG still uses plastic exclusively in the body design, although I've had no problems with my G3's durability, but I also put it in a Tough Jacket Maxx so really it's irrelevant at this point.

    Glad to see the camera is now poised as the leader among flagship smartphones, just not enough to warrant replacing my G3 anytime soon.

    As a current G3 user, battery life isn't really that big a concern and generally I get 2 days out of a charge no problem. It's nice to see them trying to improve on it but only so much can be done with limited space and budget to develop the technology. Also keep in mind all the tech being packed in to the newer phones, all those sensors require constant power.

    Ideally a joint effort from all the manufacturers to co develop better batteries for the whole market would be ideal, cost effective, but never going to happen. As we stand the batteries are only designed to last 2-3 years either forcing you to buy a new battery, or more likely upgrade to a new phone. Designing a battery that last 5-6 years and holds a charge for a whole week would be fantastic, just not in the best financial interest of the companies making the phones, hence the consumer sees little to no improvement year after year.
  7. Kevin82485

    Kevin82485 TS Booster Posts: 160   +41

    Having such a large screen does not help matters. Battery life is getting better, but screen sizes are getting larger too, which I think leads to the perception that batteries are not improving. If the screen were .5 inches smaller I think that would add significant time to the battery life, but it seems that people are starting to want larger screens than before, so there is some trade off.

    If you were able to somehow put a battery with battery tech from a few years ago into the LG G4, I suspect that battery life would be much, much worse.

    I think a good idea would be for Google or Apple to allow you to alter the size of display through the software. If you have a 5.5 inch screen they could give you the option to decrease it to say 4.5 or 5 inches. This would basically turn of thousands of pixels on the screen which in turned saved battery life. So if you're someone who at times needs extended battery life from your phone this could be a way to do it. Some sort of an extension of the extreme battery saving mode on Android phones.
  8. MilwaukeeMike

    MilwaukeeMike TS Evangelist Posts: 2,839   +1,183

    What? They are smaller, lighter, last longer and charge faster than 5 years ago. AND the processors take less power now. I own a G4 and the battery is fine. Fine means I can use my phone as much as I want and it'll last me all day easily. I.e. right now my phone is at 80% and I unplugged it 5 hours ago. at that pace, it's a 25 hr charge. And even if you are a heavy user the phones charge so fast nowadays. Batteries charge fastest at low %... I can get about 25% of battery charge in like 15-20 mins. That's at least another 4 hours of usage in a very short charge. (not to mention, you can get a backup with this phone and just swap it.) Complaining about battery life in a phone with good battery life, fast charging and a swappable battery makes you sound unreasonable. Seriously, what do you want?
    hahahanoobs likes this.
  9. MilwaukeeMike

    MilwaukeeMike TS Evangelist Posts: 2,839   +1,183

    Every review says this, the G4 gets ripped for not having a 'premium build'. I knew this and bought it anyway, and it does NOT feel cheap (disclaimer: I have the leather back). This is not an old Galaxy S3 style cheap plastic phone. The whole front is glass, and only the edges are plastic. The edges look fine too, the only downside of plastic is easier scratching than metal. The lack of metal also makes it lighter, as it's noticeably lighter than my smaller HTC One. That was a pleasant surprise. The slight curve is cool too.

    Every review says this too, and it's totally true. You can (and I have) taken a decent picture of the moon on a dark night. Auto settings are spot on, and the manual settings are done well enough that a novice (which I am) can use them and make them work.

    The only downside I've seen is some screen lag for the first 1-2 seconds after the phone is unlocked. This might be Android, not the phone, (since my older phone had it too... along with a lot more lag), but it's worth mentioning.
  10. Skidmarksdeluxe

    Skidmarksdeluxe TS Evangelist Posts: 7,986   +2,878

    I have never seen the point of making a fuss over build materials, I mean that's what they make cases for and they're invariably plastic/rubber. If I wanted to buy this thing it would be the standard plastic one, the last thing I'd want is some dead cow's skin slapped on the back of it.
    That said, it's not a bad phone but nothing to get excited about.
  11. Impressive is a subjective term.
    Subjective terms are hard to separate.
    That said, this is a good thorough review.
  12. Capaill

    Capaill TS Evangelist Posts: 379   +133

    I've had the phone for a few weeks and am generally happy but I'm a light user. I basically use the alarm in the morning, a few IMs and calls a day and some quick google searches on LTE and am currently getting a steady 3.5 days out of the battery.
    There are plenty of aftermarket cases available now but I'm still waiting to find a non-LG circle case with wireless charging, as the LG cases look bland.
    I don't intend playing games on it but as a good day-to-day Android phone that handles the basics and can take good photos quickly, it seems ideal to me.
    I like the button that will show/hide the notification area. But I've had problems getting the screen to acknowledge my knock code while the display is off. And the split screen and floating windows are for such a limited range of apps that they are of little use. So it's not perfect.
  13. madboyv1

    madboyv1 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,446   +349

    Was is the image stabalization throwing me off like woah, or did I see quite a bit of skew/smearing on the test video? The still images looked pretty good though.
  14. Scorpus

    Scorpus TechSpot Staff Topic Starter Posts: 1,960   +230

    Yeah I believe LG uses both optical and digital stabilization for the video

    While it's true that in an isolated scenario battery technology has gotten better, the battery life you actually get from a smartphone hasn't. Of course this is because larger displays, more powerful SoCs, etc. are crammed into each new flagship.

    Also, a lot of these improvements come from a physically larger battery. The first Android phone, the HTC Dream, came with just a 1,150 mAh battery; the LG G4's battery is nearly 3x larger. The Nexus One was just 1,400 mAh.

    Maybe one day we'll get to the point where battery improvements aren't just limited to size, and we'll see battery life improve faster than we add new technology to phones. But it probably won't be for a while.
    hahahanoobs likes this.
  15. madboyv1

    madboyv1 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,446   +349

    Yeah I figured it did, but would that explain the visual artifacting I mentioned, or is that simply a byproduct to what is likely a rolling shutter?
  16. MilwaukeeMike

    MilwaukeeMike TS Evangelist Posts: 2,839   +1,183

    I would agree. Battery life won't get much better because it doesn't have to. Your car won't get 600 miles to the tank either, not because the tech isn't there, but because no one needs that. The trade off would be driving around with so much gas it's weighing you down.
    It's generally expected to plug your phone in at night, so a phone that lasts all day is all they'll make. If they were to extend battery life to like 5 days, but make the screen small, lo-res, and not very bright, then no one would buy it. The trade-off between features and battery is a balancing act, and unless you're willing to sacrifice something major to get that battery life, all you're really doing is wishing you could have your cake and eat it too.

    Those sorts of technical breakthroughs don't happen often. Maybe fusion will do it to the electrical grid, and maybe a breakthrough in batteries will do it to cars and devices. But so long as we're stuck in 2015, this is what we get. :(
  17. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 9,169   +3,261

    That's not completely true the question is not what we need or want. The question is what corporate thinks they can monopolize on. If corporate can't monopolize on a product, you can count on not getting it whether you need it or not.
    madboyv1 likes this.
  18. tipstir

    tipstir TS Ambassador Posts: 2,425   +112

    Two months ago I had upgraded to the LG G3 and I was very impress with it. Today I am still. But the LG G4 looks promising even at $200 more to acquire it as upgrade. I had decided to past on it. Except for the curve panel I could live without that. Sure the Oct-CPU sounds like a fun deal I still feel happy with my 2.5GHz Quad-CPU and 3 GB of RAM 32 GB NDS and 64 GB EDS max is 128 GB EDS. 4K Cam/VCam are a nice touch too use.

    Nice review on G4 but I'll keep my G3 for now though.. Very fast for what I need it for.
  19. Scorpus

    Scorpus TechSpot Staff Topic Starter Posts: 1,960   +230

    The skew effect is likely from the digital stabilization. There's not much of a rolling shutter effect, at least that I observed.
  20. Krackan

    Krackan TS Rookie

    I absolutely love this phone. I had an S5, switched to S6 Edge, which malfunctioned within a week of purchase, and switched to the G4. I love the feel, the looks, and the battery life, which is extended dramatically using the Snapdragon app. The screen tends to favor blues over reds, which took some adjusting coming from a galaxy, but it is a great phone overall. The option to add my own SD card, and a bigger battery if I choose, makes this a keeper. I am a little perturbed at LG, however, as their promotion for a free leather backplate, extra battery, and charger, seems to be not working for me.
  21. MilwaukeeMike

    MilwaukeeMike TS Evangelist Posts: 2,839   +1,183

    That sounds like a conspiracy. Apple might do something like that because people still buy their phones, but struggling phone makers would never purposely make their product less attractive. If HTC or LG or Sony could make their phone last far longer than Samsung and Apple they'd do it in a second. No doubt.

    These firms don't 'monopolize' (actually it's called collusion when firms get together to screw customers). You've seen the lawsuit battles between them... they don't decide not to improve tech and then all follow suit.
  22. MilwaukeeMike

    MilwaukeeMike TS Evangelist Posts: 2,839   +1,183

    I like it too... thanks for the advice on the Snapdragon app... I'll try it out.

    bummer about the rebate. I bought it when they were offering the battery and SD card and mine came already. The free battery and charging cradle is an awesome perk. It's a legit LG battery too, not a cheap one you'd get on amazon that would last a couple months.

    Hope it shows up for you. mine took a couple weeks.
  23. Tanstar

    Tanstar TS Evangelist Posts: 581   +159

    I didn't have that lag with my old Samsung GS3 and Android 4.42, so I don't like having it with my LG G4 and Android 5.1.

    I do think all the talk about style and materials is a waste of bandwidth. You're going to put your phone in a case, so who cares? Also, there was no additional charge for the leather back from Verizon. Same price, either way. Can't speak for other providers.
  24. dennis777

    dennis777 TS Enthusiast Posts: 285   +33

    LG has great smartphones, to bad they have bad support for their smartphones.
  25. David3590

    David3590 TS Rookie

    I like LG G4 and I am using G4 very good

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