We’re in New York, where LG just introduced the new G4, its flagship device for the first part of 2015! Read on for our LG G4 first look and hands-on impressions!

The Android race is highly competitive this season, with Samsung staging a stylish comeback thanks to the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge. While companies like HTC or Sony have been caught somehow flatfooted, LG seems to be mounting a much better defense with its new G4.

We had the opportunity to spend some time with the G4 ahead of LG’s event today, and we got to play with both the polycarbonate model and the flashy leather-bound version. The upgrades from last year aren’t just cosmetic, but is the G4 what LG needs to get ahead in the smartphone race this year? There are some initial clues in our LG G4 hands-on preview. Let’s check it out!

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The LG G4 is available in two options. First up, the “regular” version features a polycarbonate back with a subtle diamond pattern and the same metallic-like texture like on the G3. The plastic rear covers will be available in titanium (gray), gold, and white, and from our time with the titanium model, we enjoyed its feel in hand and general build quality.

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The other option is the much ballyhooed leather cover. LG told us that the use of leather has been years in the making and that the process of manufacturing one cover takes up to three months. Available in many colors, including burgundy, brown, tan, and blue, the covers are made of genuine leather tanned using plant-based agents. Not everyone will like the seam running down the middle, but the leather does feel very nice and it improves grip. An added benefit is the fact that the leather should help keep the phone pleasant to touch, regardless of how hot or cold it gets outside.

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Regardless if you pick the plastic or the leather model, the back is easily removable, and you get a replaceable 3,000 battery and a microSD card slot. Both features are absent from the G4’s biggest competitor, the S6, so it will be interesting to see if their inclusion does anything for its sales.

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LG’s well-known rear-mounted buttons are back, leaving the front for the screen alone. And what a screen this is. The G4 features a Quad HD (2560 x 1440) display of 5.5 inches that is slightly curved, similarly to the LG Magna mid-ranger. The curvature is very subtle and it won’t have a big impact like on the G Flex 2, but it may still help protect the screen in the case of a frontal drop. The slightly raised margins add further protection.

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LG touts the use of quantum dot technology to enhance the color range displayed by the G4’s screen. Sony and Amazon, among others, have used quantum dots before: the technology employs nanoparticles to give LCD screens a vibrancy boost, allowing them to compete with AMOLED in this regard. The screen complements the bright colors of the UI rather well, and the G4 is clearly an improvement over the previous generation in this regard.

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Moving on to the internals, LG adopted a Snapdragon 808 hexa-core processor for the G4, coupled with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage. While, on paper, the octa-core Snapdragon 810 is the better choice, thanks to LG’s and Qualcomm’s optimizations, the G4 actually performs better than the G Flex 2 (Snapdragon 810), with minimal episodes of lag and stutter.

Display5.5-inch LCD Quantum Dot
2560 x 1440 resolution, 534 ppi
ProcessorQualcomm Snapdragon 808 (hexa-core: 2xCortex A57+ 4xCortex A53, 64-bit), Adreno 418 GPU
RAM3 GB DDR3
Storage32 GB, expandable via microSD, up to 128GB
CameraRear camera: 16MP, f/1.8, color spectrum sensor, OIS, laser-assisted focus;
front camera: 8MP
ConnectivityHSPA, LTE-Advanced
Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, Wi-Fi Direct
Bluetooth 4.1
SensorsAccelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass
Battery3,000 mAh, user removable, wireless charging, quick charging
SoftwareAndroid 5.0 Lollipop, LG UX 4.0
Dimensions149.8 x 76.2 x 6.3-9.8 mm, 155 g
Colors and finishesPlastic: Gray, Gold, White
Leather: Black / Brown / Red / Sky Blue / Beige / Yellow

The aforementioned microSD slot and replaceable battery are sure to make many users happy, as are the support for wireless charging and quick charging. A feature that’s not mentioned as often is GPS accuracy: LG says that thanks to its close work with Qualcomm, the G4 should feature better GPS than any other phone. We’ll obviously test that out for ourselves once we get our review unit.

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The camera is a big deal on the G4: the f/1.8 aperture lens puts it ahead of the G6, albeit by a small margin, and LG is keen to note that. Coupled with the 16MP sensor, the optical image stabilization, and fast laser-based focus system, this should ensure the G4 takes some all-around great pictures.

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A new addition to the feature set is a spectrum sensor that can tell what kind of light (e.g. artificial vs natural) illuminates a scene and adapt the white balance accordingly. There are enhancements on the app front as well, including a mode that lets you capture an image in both RAW and JPEG formats, and a slew of manual options like white balance control, a histogram, and many ISO stops.

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Finally, on the software side, we get Android 5.1 Lollipop with a flat and colorful rendition of LG’s UX on top. Everything looks bright and fresh, and there are a couple of noteworthy new features as well, such as the ability to capture information and quickly add it to the calendar or the enhanced gallery.

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Overall, the interface feels very snappy and we have to give a shoutout to LG’s prominent placement of Google apps throughout the system.

There you have it – our first look at the LG G4. While there weren’t many surprises, we have to give credit to LG for refining an already good recipe, but adding just enough changes to keep it fresh. The design may not be totally new, and many people will probably balk at the showy design accents, but from our time with the G4, we think it’s definitely worth your attention.

Keep it tuned for more coverage of the G G4 and let us know your opinion in the comments!

Joshua Vergara

Josh’s primary role at Android Authority is as a YouTube host and reviewer, though he’s been known to write features, record podcasts, and more.