The LG G4: Three things right, three things wrong

The screen and the main camera are its two most important assets

The LG G4 has a leather-covered back.

The LG G4 has a leather-covered back.

This week the G4 smartphone from LG Electronics starts shipping outside its home country, with arrivals in the U.S. and Europe expected in a couple of weeks. While the smartphone has a great screen and camera, it doesn't get everything right.

What works:

Screen: Even though the G4's screen has the same size and resolution as the one on the G3 (at 5.5 inches and 1440 by 2560 pixels) it's noticeably better. LG has improved its performance in several regards, including brightness and color reproduction, making it one of the best screens ever. All those pixels put higher demands on the processor, GPU and battery, but it's nonetheless worth it.

Camera: Along with the screen, the main camera is the G4's most important asset. It isn't just that the 16-megapixel camera takes great pictures -- the manual mode offers a level of flexibility competing smartphones can't match. The camera app lets users control the focus, shutter speed, ISO and white balance. There is also the option to save photos in RAW format, in addition to JPEG. For people who aren't used the controlling all those settings, the manual mode may feel a bit daunting at first.

Performance: The G4 is the first phone to have Qualcomm's Snapdragon 808 under the hood. The chip uses six cores instead of the eight cores on the processors that power competing Android-based products. That has resulted in less than stellar benchmarks. However, in the real world there is little to tell it apart from any other high-end smartphone.

What doesn't work:

Feature omissions: LG is rightly getting kudos for sticking with memory expansion using microSD cards and an exchangeable battery. At the same time there are a couple of features missing in the standard package, including wireless charging. If you are ready to lose the leather back, you can buy an extra case to get it. Missing altogether is an integrated fingerprint reader and waterproofing. The latter is another feature that unfortunately seems to have fallen out of favor.

Size: When the G4 was still under development it was rumored to come with a smaller screen than the G3, but in the end LG decided to stick with a 5.5-inch. That sets LG apart from its two biggest competitors; Apple and Samsung. Both companies let buyers choose if they want a flagship smartphone with a large or a larger screen, with the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus or the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy Note 4, which is a better approach. The G4 is also a bit bigger and heavier than the G3.

Appearance: The G4's leather back has gotten mixed reviews. The material, however, helps the smartphone stand out and gives the phone a pleasant texture and feels better to hold than the Galaxy S6 and the HTC One M9. But the G4's overall design isn't a winner because the materials used for the side and front aren't up to snuff. For users who don't want a leather smartphone, an alternative model uses a mixture of ceramics and polycarbonate, but it just looks cheap. There are smartphones that cost less than $300 and look better, which isn't the way its supposed to be.

Summary

Overall, the G4 is a solid, incremental upgrade over the G3, but LG probably has the potential to build something better if its developers and designers were to be given free range. For more in-depth reviews of the LG G4 head to websites Greenbot or PC Advisor. The latter awarded it four out of five stars, while Greenbot was a bit more generous, adding a half-star.

Send news tips and comments to mikael_ricknas@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags smartphonesAndroidconsumer electronicsLG Electronics

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Mikael Ricknäs

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?