Yesterday at an event held in London and New York, LG unveiled its new LG G4 flagship smartphone. After months of speculation and rumours, LG’s new smartphone is a combination of last year’s flagship, the LG G3 and the G Flex 2 in a new body that boasts impressive design and specs.
The key trend over the past few months has been that most manufacturers are dropping plastic builds but LG has stuck to its guns with a plastic body that’s completed by a leather colour with vertical stitching down the middle. For this comparison, we managed to get our hands on the black titanium finished plastic edition but for those who want the leather, it’ll be available in a range of colours.
The key difference between the iPhone 6 Plus and the LG G4 is that, while they both have identical screen size, the former is a significantly larger handset than LG’s flagship. Add in that LG have a higher screen resolution to Quad HD (compared to Full HD on Apple’s phablet) with higher pixel density (534 ppi vs 401 ppi) and LG’s new flagship is definitely impressive.
The LG G4 brings a subtly curved display that improves the in-hand experience while the iPhone 6 Plus has Apple’s legacy of minimalistic unibody metal designs offering a home button on the front with an integrated fingerprint sensor.
Both the iPhone 6 Plus and the LG G4 use design languages synonymous with recent devices from their manufacturers but the smaller bezels – and the fact that LG have kept the power and volume buttons on the rear – means the G4 has a significantly higher screen-to-body ratio (74.3% vs 67.8%). The rear cover is removable on the G4, meaning you have access to the removable 3000 mAh battery and a microSD card, which are two features that have always been missing from Apple’s devices.
There are very little similarities between the G4 and the iPhone 6 Plus but both handsets offer the flagship experiences each manufacturer envisaged. It’s worth noting that as its seven months old, it won’t be long before Apple refreshes the iPhone 6 Plus but even then, we’d still expect LG’s handset to have better overall specs.
Hardware and Performance
Apple’s handsets have traditionally had specs that – on paper, at least – pale in comparison to its Android rivals but this doesn’t tell the full story. By owning the vertical supply chain, Apple has been able to ensure that the specs are fully optimised for its iOS handsets.
The iPhone 6 Plus is powered by a dual-core 1.4GHz Apple A8 processor with 1GB RAM. In comparison, the LG G4 uses a hexa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 processor with 3GB RAM.
Android OEMs have traditionally had to use powerful internals to compensate for a lack of optimisation but with the Snapdragon 808 CPU, this is less so. LG have worked really closely with Qualcomm to optimise the Snapdragon 808 specifically to the G4’s needs and the result is an Android experience that’s finally able to rival the iPhone in performance. From our short time with the G4, it’s clear that LG have finally managed to deliver a handset that’s capable of offering an experience as fluid as Apple with a much better display.
The iPhone 6 Plus is available in three storage options – 16GB, 64GB and 128GB – while the LG G4 comes with 32GB storage and a microSD slot allowing you to expand this by up to 128GB. Rather than go with two versions like with the G3 – which had either 16GB storage and 2GB RAM or 32GB storage and 3GB RAM – LG have opted to have just one edition of the G4 and this should help ensure that the same experience is had across any version of the handset.
On paper, there’s one area that the iPhone 6 Plus definitely excels and this is in the biometrics department. The iPhone 6 Plus has a fingerprint sensor packed into the home button and LG have omitted fingerprint scanning from the LG G4. While a fingerprint scanner definitely has its uses, the omission on the LG G4 isn’t something that’s too upsetting.
If there’s one area that the iPhone 6 Plus is recognised as being one of the best, it’s in the camera but with the upgraded camera on the G4, LG may finally have a smartphone camera that beats the iPhone.
The iPhone 6 Plus uses an 8MP rear camera with 1.5µ pixel size, which aims to capture more light, OIS, an auto focus system called Focus Pixels and software-based optimisation to produce some of the best images on a smartphone.
The LG G4 introduces a noticeably upgraded camera versus the LG G3, jumping from a 13MP sensor to a 16MP shooter. The upgrade is more than just a megapixel count as the G4 offers a f/1.8 aperture package that offers a larger sensor than any other flagship on the market. The LG G4 also offers Optical Image Stabilisation and a colour spectrum sensor, which analyses scenes to achieve the right white balance automatically.
One of the other upgrades in the LG G4 camera is the new manual mode, which aims to offer professional controls for those who find auto-shooting modes too restrictive. The manual mode comes with lots of ISO stops, manual focus, a full white balance gamut, a histogram and the ability to shoot RAW and JPEG simultaneously. Also of note is that LG have managed to add shutter speeds up to 30 seconds, which is vastly superior than all smartphones and most professional cameras.
We haven’t had enough time with the LG G4 to confirm whether it’s as good as LG say it is but based on initial impressions, LG have finally delivered a smartphone camera that’s capable of competing with the very best on the market.
The iPhone 6 Plus is powered by iOS 8, which is aesthetically similar to the iOS 7 with a few new features like Apple Pay, improved notifications, third party keyboards and a new Health app. iOS is one of the main reasons the iPhone proves so popular and the challenge facing rival OEMs has been to offer an experience that can persuade users to switch.
Over the past few versions, LG’s software has been progressively getting better but the G4 is where LG has really worked some magic. Rather than replace the entire interface with their own creation – which has usually resulted in lag and stutter – the LG G4 UX 4.0 has been optimised to provide a fluid experience. In addition to the optimisation, LG have added an enhanced capture that can create reminders from most parts of the phones, a powerful gallery app that groups photos into memories and some other changes which we’ll detail in our full review in the weeks to come.
In addition to optimising and improving the software, LG have worked closely with Google to provide an almost Nexus-like experience with Chrome as the default browser, Google Drive integrated across LG apps and numerous LG apps working natively with Android Wear. To boost your storage further, the LG G4 also comes with 100GB Google Drive storage free for two years.
Overall the LG G4 aims to achieve what no other Android smartphone has been able to and offer an experience that’s optimised and designed to work flawlessly with the smartphone. Based on our initial play, the company have certainly achieved a fast and slick experience and the decision to move closer to a Nexus-like experience seems to have paid off.
It’s obviously too early to determine just how good the experience is but from first glance, LG have done very well. Rather than completely revamp the G3, LG have taken the design language from the G3 and combined it with the G Flex 2 to offer a unique subtly curved smartphone that’s a joy to use in the hand.
Stay tuned, as we’ll be bringing you a review of the LG G4 and a more detailed look at how the LG G4 compares to the competition in the weeks to come.