LG G4

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The most disappointing thing about this review is that we didn’t get our hands on the leather-backed edition of the LG G4. Not that it would have made a difference to the phone’s performance (and if that’s all that is the deciding factor when it comes to buying a new phone, I’ve got this idea for a calf-skin phone… er… skin to pitch to an accessories company quickly) but it would have been something to experience.

Sadly, there was no opportunity for Stuff to caress a leather-covered back-side on the G4 so we had to make do with the standard plastic panel instead. This is what we found out.

It’s All G4

G4 FrontWhether you look at it from the front or the back, the LG G4 is definitely a member of the G-series family tree. Taken head-on, the display is wider than the other contenders have put forth for this year’s top Android and that’s going to help a user or two make their choice – there’s a lot of screen space.

From the back, the leather-less back is a sheet of plastic covered in diamond shapes – this helps the G4 stay in the hand without overdoing the textured feel. There’s nothing along the sides, the charge port and headphone jack are at the base with the power and volume controls on the rear of the phone below the camera as is LG’s custom of late – I’d have to say that the pedigree has been established, yes? Not much has changed here. If it ain’t broke…

Under The Skin

G4 Close CamLooking below the surface, we’re greeted with a strange mixture of specifications. LG have definitely gone their own way when deciding how to outfit the G4 and this shows with their mixture of the high-end 5.5-inch display, stepped down CPU and that camera setup. The 1,440 x 2,560 resolution goes a way to make sure that you’re never going to want to load anything sub-HD on this phone. Ever. As long as you’re looking at images with a high enough res, all will be well. The G4’s display is sharp as hell.

There’s 32GB of storage out of the box, with a microSD slot if you want up to another 128GB of space. That’s one point over Samsung’s otherwise excellent Galaxy S6 right there.

The odd choice from LG comes with their decision to put in Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 808, a six-core sliver of silicon that no other company has opted for in their flagship. Why the dip? No idea but LG have gone and done it and now they have to sit with it.

Performance Anxiety

The other major contenders this year have the Snapdragon 810 installed (unless you’re looking at the Exynos version of the Galaxy S6) and both the S6 and the HTC One M9 have one advantage over the G4. Two actually – two more cores than LG’s phone.

G4 EdgeDoes that make a difference? That depends. Comparing our benchmark figures, the G4 outperformed the M9 when you’re looking at our internal test scores. The G4 scooped 1121 for single-core performance in Geekbench and 3510 for multi-core – slightly more than HTC’s baby. But externally, the HTC One M9 and the Samsung Galaxy S6 both consistently outdo the LG G4. Those extra two cores make a difference.

Unless you’re just trying to compare real-world performance, that is. That’s a lot harder to quantify and that’s because it’s a struggle to see the G4 exhibiting any kind of slow-down. You’re going to have to bang the processor with something very 3D-intensive from the Play Store and even then, performance isn’t going to drop much. Smaller processor, but it still grafts.

Eye Of The Beholder

G4 Camera InterfaceIf the processor is a mite undersized, that’s not a term that can be applied to the G4’s camera. 16 Megapixels in the back, 8 megapixels in the front and LG have thrown their tech book at the G4 to ensure that it takes good snaps.

This can be laid at the foot of the sensor and the f/1.8 lens, which give it a slight edge over the HTC One M9 and even Samsung’s S6. That and the optical image stabilisation (OIS) and laser autofocus, both highlights from the last two flagships.

But LG doesn’t have it all its own way with the camera. Samsung’s device is marginally faster than the G4, even if LG’s dog can see better in the dark. At the end of the day though, if you’re able to put up with a slightly slower response then the G4 will give you better images at the end of the day. Especially in the middle of the day, LG’s HDR mode is very nice to have in over-bright light.

Verdict

LG dominated the last two years of Stuff‘s Top 10 with the G2 and G3 and they were headed for their hat-trick. Samsung retains its crown at the end of the day though, even though LG have put in a more-than-decent effort with the G4. The G4 has focused its efforts in a different place for 2015 and that’s actually lost them the race. Unless you’re a camera fiend, that is. All of the other highlights from the previous generations of G-series phones are still here, excellent battery life, an IR remote and good sound from the phone, but that’s not enough to dislodge the better-equipped competition. But at least you can get this one in leather. And it’s the cheaper proposition as well.

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