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A Worthy Top Contender
Choosing a high-end smartphone to purchase from the wide variety of options on the market today can be tricky, but you really can't go wrong by choosing the LG G4. The handset is solid across the board, featuring decent hardware and the latest software, and a competitive price that keeps it in the running against the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S6, the HTC One M9 and the iPhone 6.
The LG G4's best feature is easily its camera. The combination of a 16-megapixel optically stabilized sensor with an f/1.8 lens and competent software results in some truly awesome photos in a wide variety of conditions. With the G4's superb shooter in your pocket there is no reason to carry around a point-and-shoot, and in many circumstances it does the job of a much more bulky DSLR.
I was generally impressed with the G4's performance, and I believe LG made the right choice by opting for Snapdragon 808 over the hotter and less power friendly Snapdragon 810. In benchmarks the G4 gets comprehensively beaten by the Samsung Galaxy S6 and its Exynos 7420 SoC, which may have some ramifications down the track, but in current applications and operating systems the speed of both devices is very comparable.
The LG G4 also comes with some handy features that the Galaxy S6 does not, including a microSD card slot for cheap, expandable storage, and a removable battery. The battery life from the G4 is generally good (and significantly better than the G3), but having the ability to hot swap the battery on the go provides added flexibility that not many other smartphones currently provide.
The design of the G4 was perhaps the least impressive aspect of the device. The plastic back cover is bland and feels somewhat cheap, and although the leather back is a significant improvement from a visual perspective, I was expecting it to feel better than it did. I like how LG makes the display dominate the front using tiny bezels, but for the back panel I'd recommend one of dbrand's black carbon vinyl wraps.
I was impressed with LG's new 1440p display used in the G4. The new panel is much brighter than LG's first-gen Quad HD display which we saw on last year's G3, and that helps a ton for outdoor use. The display's color quality is very good, and while it doesn't have the same deep blacks as an AMOLED, it impresses as far as LCD technology is concerned.
I was pleased to see that LG has revitalized their software skin by making it closer in style to Google's Material Design. The stock applications are decent, some of the additional features - Knock Code and Smart Bulletin in particular - are useful, and in general the software feels less messy than before. I'm still not sold on LG's multi-tasking features or Smart Notice, but at least these additions don't hurt the experience.
At $535 unlocked and off-contract from Mobicity, the LG G4 costs just as much as the 32 GB Samsung Galaxy S6. While I'd personally choose the Galaxy S6 at this price due to its superior performance and build quality, the LG G4 is far from a bad choice and will certainly satisfy buyers looking for a great, flexible device with the best camera on the market.
Pros: Fantastic class-leading camera you can rely on in almost all situations. Great 1440p display. Decent performance without having to worry about throttling. Expandable storage and removable battery add flexibility.
Cons: Design isn't as impressive as some of its competitors, even with the optional leather back. Performance is marginally behind the Galaxy S6.