Looking back at the LG G4

by: Joshua VergaraFebruary 10, 2016
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Mobile World Congress 2016 is just around the corner, and as has been the case every year, there is a slew of Android smartphones that we can’t wait to get our hands on. Particularly exciting is the upcoming launch of the flagship offerings from the two Korean giants, Samsung and LG, but before ushering the new, we thought that some retrospection may be in order. We’ve already revisited the Samsung Galaxy S6, and this is our look back at the LG G4.

More LG G4 videos

Last year, LG was the final holdout as far as offering expandable storage and removable batteries was concerned, and with even Samsung letting go of these previously staple features in favor of an admittedly premium design, the LG G4 was the only option if these features were important to you. Granted, expandable storage was still an option with some flagship releases that followed the G4, but removable batteries has almost entirely gone by the wayside with premium smartphones.

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What the G4 offered over the competition was already a big plus, but LG managed to pack it all in to a beautifully-designed body as well; the G4 offers a slightly curved display that was adopted from the G Flex line, along with LG staples like the ultra-thin bezels and rear button layout. There were some extra, stylish elements found as well, with users able to choose a leather rear backing for the device, available in a variety of colors and textures. Of course, the more standard metallic (seen in this video) and ceramic finishes were available as well so there is certainly something for everyone.

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The overall design aesthetic has paid dividends, with the ergonomically-friendly curved body making for a smartphone that is one of the most comfortable to use. With its unique elements, the G4 looks different from pretty much every other Android smartphone out there. However, this did lead to some issues, with the curved sides and thin profile of the device, resulting in a device that’s difficult to grip. This problem was particularly prevalent when lying in bed and holding the phone up above your face, resulting in a few, quite painful, drops.

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If the current rumors about the LG G5 are true, we might actually be seeing the end of the curved display and still unique rear button layout. This will, of course, be a radically different addition to the flagship G series, and while LG is definitely going to make the design stand out, the death of these features will certainly be a shame. We really liked the design language of the LG G4, as the device stands out from the crowd, and we’re hoping that the LG G5 doesn’t disappoint.

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In terms of hardware, the LG G4 brings to the table pretty much everything that is expected from a high-end LG flagship. Continuing from its predecessor, the LG G4 features a 5.5-inch IPS LCD display with a Quad HD resolution, and comes with excellent color reproduction and high brightness levels, allowing it to be legible in broad daylight.

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Under the hood is a hexa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 processor, and while Qualcomm did have a technically superior processing package on offer in 2015 in the Snapdragon 810, the former manages to do a good job. Overall, the Snapdragon 808 proves to be nothing short of reliable, with the G4 easily able to handle GPS navigation, YouTube and Netflix video playback, music playback and general day-to-day use. The only noticeable slowdown was while gaming, with the handset displaying a little stutter while navigating in-game menus or in some cases, while playing the games themselves.

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Of course, the main claim to fame for the LG G4 is all that it offers, which primarily are expandable storage and a replaceable battery. It has to be said here however, that I haven’t used a replaceable battery since the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, which is obviously a very long time ago. As far as battery life is concerned, I was able to get a full day of use out of the device, with an average of around 3.5 hours of screen-on time, which is on par with what you can expect from most smartphones..

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Expandable storage is also something that I concern myself with only when I’m close to running out of space on the device, and the 32 GB of built-in storage proved to be quite sufficient to cover my needs. That said, if these features are necessary for you, the LG G4 remains your best bet, and we’ll have to wait and see if the micro SD card returns in the upcoming LG G5.

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The 16MP primary shooter on the LG G4 comes with f/1.8 aperture, laser autofocus and a colour spectrum sensor, and proves to be pretty reliable. When using the G4 in Auto mode, I found the experience to be quite fun, requiring just a tap anywhere on the screen in order to take a shot. While the picture taken is good most of the time, Manual mode is perfect for those moments where Auto mode doesn’t quite cut it.

Camera samples

2015 was the year of the manual mode, and the LG G4 showed us what it could be like, with granular control over minute details. For example, even the Kelvin readings inside the white balance setting were available, so if the Auto mode wasn’t up to the task, I was able to tweak the settings to exactly what I wanted using the manual mode.

lg g4 vs iphone 6s vs galaxy note 5 vs xperia z5 Camera shootout: Xperia Z5 vs LG G4 vs Galaxy Note 5 vs iPhone 6S432

The only qualm with manual mode was the fact that using a touchscreen to change settings can be a little bit cumbersome, and it takes time to get settings correctly adjusted, which isn’t great when you’re trying to take a shot quickly. The overall picture quality has been good, with nice and detailed photos, even though the coloration could use the extra punch that I’m used to from other phones.

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Finally, on the software side of things, you may have seen in the video above that I’m running the Google Now launcher on the LG G4. That may not come as much of a surprise as, unfortunately, LG’s G UI does not have that many useful features, even though it isn’t lacking in them. For example, the Smart Widget on the home screen only really served to offer weather updates. There is also the Smart Cleaner, which I have only used once or twice, and also the Q Slide, which I am thankfully able to hide in the notification drop down.

Gallery

So there you have it for this quick look back at the LG G4! The overall experience with this smartphone has been very good, and it remains a very reliable device to have, especially if you’re able to leverage features like expandable storage and a removable battery. The design aspect is what I have enjoyed the most about this phone, and we hope that, even if we don’t see some of the more unique elements make it over to the LG G5, we get to see them in other parts of LG’s lineup.

Are you using an LG G4? What do you think of the G4 now and do you intend to buy any of the new devices expected for MWC 2016? Let us know your views in the comments below!

Next: LG G5 rumor roundup

  • lfsnz67

    The in hand feel of this device, particularly in leather is terrific. It’s easily the most comfortable and pocket friendly large phone. It’s also quite durable and I don’t particularly mind the ui. Adding the replaceable battery and sdcard are still great and useful features.

    HOWEVER, the rampant boot loop issues that so many have been plagued with makes this phone still a huge gamble to own and I personally cannot recommend it…

    • TopXKiller

      Thats why I picked up a used V10 over G4 bc of that issue

  • Robyn B Holmes

    best phone ive ever had!

    • cop con

      my LG G4 has a sudden death !!!

  • Thessaly

    I love that LG has kept removable batteries and sdcards, conversely, I dislike that they’ve crippled their cameras by not including optical image stabilisation. The camera is a deal breaker (in addition to their various issues, re: tinny speakers and long bootloops).

    • Zhiyong Sun

      You probably had it wrong. LG had optical image stabilization since G3. G4’s camera is one of the best, if not THE best smartphone camera out there, completed with OIS.

      • sevastian

        Since G2 ;)

      • Snn

        OIS since G2.

    • Weneklek

      Are you referring to the G4? because the speakers are surprisingly loud compared to the other android phones ive seen. Also, the camera is far from crippled in my opinion. Maybe a defect?

    • Haggie

      My friends have me take our pictures because my G4 camera is so much better than the cameras on their phones.

  • gareth

    My Only gripe was battery life Looking fwd to the G5 with biometrics & fingers XED bigger battery.

  • Chris Jutting

    Loving my G4. Such a great phone. And the smart widget also provides birthday reminders, add to contacts suggestions, among other things. I like it a lot and it’s the only reason I have not changed launchers.

    • bigjaco

      i found the smart widget killed my battery

  • Jason C

    I love my G4. Great camera and beautiful design, plus Micro SD which is very important for me. The problem for me is the battery since I’m coming from a Sony. And the fear that I might have to send it back if the bootloop issue come to me.

    • Christian Annel

      I came from Sony as well. Battery is my legit only letdown

      • bigjaco

        since mine updated to marshmallow my battery has improved tremendously

        • Jason C

          Mine did the opposite way with Marshmallow update…

  • Weneklek

    Still enamored with mine. Great build, great screen, great performance, flexibility, awesome speakers (which for some reason no body really talks about) and GREAT camera. Mine unfortunately suffered from that infamous boot loop as well but once the replacement was made, i was back on the saddle.

    The only thing that I really found annoying was the curved back. On hand its comfy to use but when placed on a table, pressing the screen just rocks the phone left and right.

    A lot of people seemed to dislike its UI but i find its not as intrusive as the other ones out there. Probably wont switch out with another phone for a while unless this just flat-out dies on me *knock on wood*

  • Don Rambarran

    Best phone I’ve ever had! Ex-iPhone die hard!!

  • Zhiyong Sun

    I really enjoy using my G4. Leather backcover makes it very unique, and comfortable. Feels much sturdier in hand than G3. Curved screen is nice to look at, dynamic range is better than G3. I haven’t bought a second battery and external charger but I certainly plan to, as I do travel a bit. I did buy a 64GB microSD card for less than $30 and added that to my total memory count, storing tons of phone and video to it to free up some phone memory for capturing more.

    I really likes the rear placement of the volume and power button. It would be a shame if they relocate them in G5. If that’s the case, I would probably go with a Samsung Note as my next phone. Please please please don’t let that happen!!

  • Ned Zimmerman

    Great phone! Great camera. Great OIS. No bootloop problems here. Gets reception in the middle of the wilderness where others fail. Don’t see any need to upgrade this year. (Sorry cellphone makers and retailers!)

  • Erik B

    I was a huge cheerleader for LG because of my G4 until I got the boot loop problem that it seems is a huge problem for LG. AT&T said they’ve had hundreds returned just at the one center I was at. I just got my replacement today and although I love the phone, it’s hard to say if I’ll still choose LG the next time I’m up for a new phone. It stinks because I’ve been so unhappy with the Samsungs I had before it. Oh well.

    • David Dalrymple

      Your post exactly sums up my sentiments. My G4 got stuck in the bootloop yesterday. I was disappointed to see how slow LG was to admit a problem and am not sure if they would have done so willingly unless called out online. Plus AT&T and/or LGs less than stellar customer service response to a significant hardware failure.

      • Barbara

        They have given me the run around for almost 2 weeks now. I’m beyond annoyed and disappointed with LGG4 and LG right now. Major let down

    • Shawn Rosenthal

      What exactly is a boot loop problem? Does it happen randomly?

      • David Dalrymple

        It’s when the phone reboots, display the splash screen (like when you first start the phone from off) then blanks out and goes into the splash screen again. And keeps doing it over and over again never stopping.

        • Shawn Rosenthal

          Is there a fix? I just upgraded to marshmallow, will it make a difference? Or am I destined to get this issue? S poo funds like the red ring of death from Xbox…

          • lfsnz67

            No it is a hardware problem confirmed by LG on this site.

          • Shawn Rosenthal

            Now I’ve locked some gallery files and they disappeared… Wth is up with that? Says no locked files found…Installed marshmallow if that helps…Pretty PO’d

  • bigjaco

    This phone has done nothing but impress me!! Does exactly what its asked to do and more. I did however had to get a leather cover for it as the cheap plastic back was far too slippy for my hands.

    Brilliant camera, love its curves ill not be looking for another phone for a very long time….

  • Barbara

    Wanted to say that I am, no, was an LGG4 owner until my device which I acquired last June suddenly went into boot loop hell and then just stopped working. What’s worse, I’ve not received any support, replacement or repair from LG. the device has never been rooted or altered with. I was very excited about the device and even gave LG major shout outs for an impressive device. But now, that it’s not working at all, I would begin to imagine that our relationship may be at splits end. I need suggestions for a better device and more cooperative phone maker. I know there are many out there who would love to know that their device is being over utilized in Tech Integration (which is where am at) and make shout outs for its use throughout the industry.

  • Haggie

    I have had mine since it was released. It has been rock solid with the exception of last week right after the Marshmallow update. Now that a couple of issues from that have been resolved, it is even better than ever. Great screen, amazing camera, fast, solid battery life, plenty of memory, expanded storage, replaceable battery, and very reliable.

    I’m not the type that needs the latest and greatest, so I plan on staying with this phone until some game-changer feature comes along that I really need (not sure what that would be). Marginal increases in performance or screen aren’t going to move me.

    I’ll never buy a phone without expandable storage and a replaceable battery unless it comes with a lifetime guarantee on both.

  • Steven Guest

    love love love my g4… removable battery if you ever had battery issues its an easy fix micro sd card slot i can load all my photos and songs to it and free up my phone so it wont be bog down.. it shoots RAW photos and manual camera controls really love this..the only real issue i have with it the screen is real bright .so when i first wake up to look at my phone it blinds me like looking in the sun i have to turn it down some so i wont be blinded by it i see LG has change the G series with the new G5 and it makes me sad to see it i have grown to love it and im so use it of how simple it is to use with one hand im going to hang on this one for some time hope lg will the error of there ways and go back to the way the g series started like the G4

  • Dani T.

    Am I the only one who loves the software on this phone?Snappy and with features that I actualy use i dont get why so many ppl want vanilla android I’d miss features like the LG UX has.

  • Dacha

    As many stated this thing will die on you and you’ll be out of $600 just like that if you’re out of warranty, my died yesterday on 9 month of use, looks like new. Boot loop issue…

  • pcf_Mactronix

    My G4 is easily the best phone I have owned it just fits what I want from a smart phone. I really cant see me upgrading it for at least a couple more years.
    It does everything I need it to do and more.