The month of April has had a couple of new premium smartphones announced with both LG and Huawei introducing their flagship devices for the year. Yesterday, LG announced the new LG G4 while a couple of weeks ago, Huawei introduced the Huawei P8 to the world.
Both handsets follow similar design languages to previous flagships but aim to improve upon certain areas and bring the latest specifications in search of a premium experience. How do the two handsets compare? Let’s take a closer look.
Both the Huawei P8 and the LG G4 look like their predecessors but the key difference between them is the use of materials; Huawei have stuck with a metal unibody build – the Chinese OEM were one of the first to adopt metal builds in their handsets – while LG have gone with a plastic build that’s complemented by a range of rear covers, including one with a nice leather finish.
There are many similarities in the design language used by both LG and Huawei and one of these is that both manufacturers have made the display the key part of the handset. On the front, the Huawei P8 uses a 5.2-inch Full HD IPS display while the LG G4 sports a 5.5-inch Quad HD Quantum Display, which offers a denser experience (538 ppi vs 424 ppi). While the P8 does use a JDI-Neo display that offers 1500:1 contrast ratio, the superior resolution and Quantum Display on the LG G4 provides a more immersive experience.
The P8 and the G4 share many similarities not least in size with both manufacturers aiming to achieve the impossible and make a handset as slim as possible. The Huawei P8 uses a metal unibody design like the iPhone 6 and is just 6.4mm thick while the LG G4 ranges from 6.3mm at the edges to 9.8mm thick in the middle thanks to the curved design.
The curved design of the G4 has been possible, as LG have kept the same rear-button design of the LG G3 with the power and volume keys located on the back beneath the camera. In comparison, the P8 has a more traditional layout with the keys on either side. Huawei claim the P8 has a frameless display but thanks to the buttons on the rear, the LG G4 has a slightly higher screen-to-body ratio (74.3% vs 71.4%). It’s worth noting that both of these are higher than most flagships, which tend to be around the 68-70% mark.
Hardware and performance
Huawei has traditionally used its own in-house Kirin chipsets in its flagship devices, while LG has reached out to Qualcomm to provide the internals for its handsets. In previous years, Huawei have been able to optimise their handsets better than LG but with the G4, LG have worked closely with Qualcomm to optimise the processor to suit the G4’s needs.
With the G3 last year, LG opted to release two versions – a standard edition with 2GB RAM and 16GB storage and a premium edition with 32GB storage and 3GB RAM – and the lower edition hampered the performance of the G3. With the G4 this year, LG have stuck with just one version and the hexa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 processor is paired with 3GB RAM and 32GB storage to provide the best possible experience.
By way of comparison, Huawei have somewhat adopted LG’s strategy from last year by releasing the Huawei P8 in two storage versions: the standard edition comes with 16GB storage while the premium edition offers 64GB storage. Whichever version you choose, your handset will be powered by an octa-core Kirin 930 processor with 3GB RAM. Both the LG G4 and the Huawei P8 come with expandable storage, via a microSD card slot, but only the P8 lets you use the slot with a second SIM card.
Apple and Samsung have added fingerprint sensors to their latest flagships but while there were rumours that the LG G4 might sport a biometric scanner, these proved to be false. Both Huawei and LG opted to omit a fingerprint sensor from their flagships and, while a scanner can be useful in some scenarios, it’s not too upsetting that they’ve been left out.
On both the G3 and the Ascend P7, the cameras were one area where we felt the companies came up short. This year, both Huawei and LG have introduced improved cameras packages on their flagships in search of the best possible smartphone camera.
The Huawei P8 comes with an upgraded 13MP sensor, which offers better colour reproduction and the addition of Optical Image Stabilisation helps ensure less noise in photos. In the camera software, Huawei have added some manual controls and other features like a light painting mode to capture light trails at night, and a director mode to capture professional movies directly from your phone.
The LG G4 comes with a noticeably upgraded camera versus the G3 and jumps from a 13MP sensor to a 16MP shooter. This upgrade is more than just megapixels, as LG have added a f/1.8 aperture package which offers the largest sensor on any flagship currently on the market. The LG G4 also comes with OIS and a colour spectrum sensor which analyses scenes to achieve the right white balance automatically.
Like the Huawei P8, the G4 camera comes with an all-new manual mode but whereas Huawei have added some manual controls, LG have added all the controls you’d find on a professional camera. 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 to all smartphones and most professional cameras.
We’ve not had enough time to really compare these two smartphone cameras but from first glance, it does seem that they’re going to be fairly evenly matched. We will of course be looking at this in a lot more depth in the weeks to come.
This is probably the main area where the two companies really differ: Huawei have added their own rather-heavy EMUI v3.1 on top of the Android 5.0.2 Lollipop operating system while LG have taken the minimalistic route to produce a near Nexus-like experience on top of the Android 5.1 Lollipop OS.
Huawei’s interface is designed to cater for the needs of the Chinese and Asian markets and while it may be garish for some users, it does have some really nice touches. EMUI comes with a Theme store to allow you to customise the look and feel of the handset, while motion gestures and a one handed mode help the user experience. EMUI is almost identical to previous versions and feels very familiar to previous Huawei devices.
While Huawei’s EMUI aims to replace Material Design with their own creation, LG have embraced Google’s interface to offer a premium experience. The LG G4 UX 4.0 has been heavily optimised to provide a fluid experience and in addition to this, it comes with an enhanced calendar app that can create a reminder from most parts of the phone, and a powerful gallery app to group photos into memories.
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. The LG G4 also comes with 100GB Google Drive storage for two years and the addition of LTE Cat 6 inside the handset should ensure that your cloud data is easily accessible.
The key difference between the G4 and the Huawei P8 is the software and this is where LG seem to have won the battle. The Huawei P8 has been heavily optimised but there are still a few software bugs while, at least from our first hands on, the G4 offers an excellent lag-free experience that’s as close to the Nexus as possible.
Overall, there’s very little to pick from when choosing between the LG G4 and the Huawei P8. The former has a better display and a smoother experience, but the latter is arguably the nicer design and the metal unibody has a nicer feel.
On paper, both handsets should offer a premium smartphone experience that can rival the best flagships on the market and in our Huawei P8 review, we called it a capable smartphone that can hold its own against the competition. It remains to be seen whether we say the same about the LG G4 but stay tuned, as we will be bringing you an in-depth look at the LG G4 and how it compares to the competition in the weeks to come.