The phone that had a lot of people excited, thanks to all the leaks and rumours, finally landed a few weeks ago, and is making itself into the hands of reviewers and users alike. LG G4, the new flagship from LG takes on the good standard set by the LG G3, and brings higher specs in processing, RAM, storage, screen and most of all, photography. With a UI that is more polished than before, it brings an extra factor into the equation, a genuine leather back. And before you ask, yes, the power and volume buttons are still on the back.
Now before I go into details, I must mention that this is a review unit, which is pre-release and not the final sales version. I am hopeful that some of the quirks I have seen in the software and hardware will be addressed before the final release.
Quick look at the specs:
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 Processor with X10 LTE
- Removable 3000mAh battery, Wireless charging with Quick Circle Case
- Android Lollipop 5.1
- 5.5 inch Quad HD Screen – 2560 x 1440 pixels
- 16MP F1.8 Camera with OIS2.0 and Laser Focus
- 8MP front camera
- 3GB RAM, 32 GB user memory, SD card up to 200GB
- 148.9 x 76.1 x 9.8mm
Look and Feel
A lot of emphasis has been put into how the phone looks and feels. A curved back ensures that it fits well into the palm of your hand, and despite having a shiny finish on the back (if you don’t go with the leather back), it stays put in your hand, so full marks for that.
The leather though, didn’t do much for me. Probably because I am not a big leather fan, or probably that despite having a slightly soft touch finish, it is indeed a very thin layer of leather, which despite having a leather texture, still has something plasticcy about it.
Taking a look at what the phone shows, you have the full screen at the front, with the camera on top, and the LG logo on the bottom, and the curved back featuring the power and volume keys. A textured finish for volume while a brushed aluminium finish for the power button are highlighted clearly, and provide a good smooth feel, and are easy to use once you get used to them. Of course, the Knock feature lets you totally ignore the Power key if you are so inclined.
With a 5.5 inch screen, this is definitely one of the bigger phones out there, though the beautiful screen definitely makes you appreciate the size.
Speaking of the screen, this packs in a Quad HD screen. The amount of detail you get to see is immense, and pretty impressive. However, over saturation of colours was often seen, specially in the sunlight, and that made the screen look a bit washed out at times.
The software comes with the usual set of features that have already been introduced by LG with the G3. Things like Quick Memo and QSlide make their presence known again, and every time you get a notification you see it as a hovering menu rather than taking over your screen. Then there are the little features, which LG highlighted in their release, such as Event Pocket which integrates events from your apps and puts them into your calendar, and Notification Cards, which notify you of various features about your phone. Interestingly, this time, you are also able to disable the special ‘G’ page, which features the LG items such as Health, etc. which is a good touch.
All this lives on top of Android 5.1 and gives you all the features you expect from a flagship.
I have to say, the phone is blazingly fast. There is fast that you don’t notice, and there is fast that you do, and this is latter. Let me explain. Most ‘fast’ phones give you a smooth experience. This goes beyond. Everything from loading apps to taking pictures happens instantly, with no lag whatsoever. The processor may not have been the fastest on the block, and the RAM is 3GB, but however LG have adjusted the software, it works well, and amazingly well.
The phone really shines when it comes to photography. It is, as far as I am aware, the only main stream phone that offers you manual adjustments, such as focus, ISO settings, exposure and shutter times. The app works very well, and as already mentioned, is lightning fast.
Night time flash shot of a rose that has been rained on. You can see the finer details captured there, as well as the lovely focus. This was taken on manual mode.
A spiders nest I happened to discover on my backdoor. Shock, horror and spooky. Makes a cool photo though. These were tiny, about 2mm each.
Testing the sharp focus again.
Trying to capture some sunny moments in the park by my home.
Needless to say, this is one of the best cameras I have ever used on a smartphone, and if you are into photography, this alone is enough to sell this phone.
Now the phone doesn’t come without its quirks. They go from being weird, to being really annoying. This was a trial phone, so there is a chance that those may have sneaked in because of an earlier software release.
- I had an EE SIM in the phone. It thought I was on T-Mobile half the time, and Orange the other half. Not a problem, of course.
- It kept showing Korean time on the lock screen. I could not find a way to change this, or disable this.
- Text messages automatically turned into MMSes once they went beyond 160 characters. No way to disable this either. I had to resort to sending multiple messages individually if a long text message was needed to be sent. The only way out of this was to use an alternative messaging app.
- Bluetooth was a bit funny. It unpaired my Pebble watch midway one day, and I had to go Pair it again. It had disappeared off the Bluetooth list.
- Location service for the native weather app doesn’t work, though I could search Oxford.
Now generally, being a heavier user, I don’t mind a low battery by the end of the day. This one though, I found rather disappointing. The phone was about 10% most days by the time I got home, and these are normal work days, which involve no amount of commuting (as in, I was driving, not playing with my phone), or reading or such activities. Just checking emails, a few phone calls, texts, tweets and Instagram. Nothing major. The 3000mAh is just not enough for this phone, and it has got to a stage where it is rather annoying.
More information on the phone can be found on LG’s website:
It is available in an array of colours, with leather and non-leather options, though many carriers seem to have exclusivity on a few of them. It starts at £519.99.
Being a pre-release trial version means I feel rather teased by LG. Of course, it is always good to see what the potential is before the actual release.
This trial version is a phone defined by the Good, the Bad and the Ugly. The good is the performance, the screen and photography. The bad are the little quirks in the software, but one can live with them. The Ugly though, is the battery life. At this price though, this is probably the cheapest high profile flagship that packs in an amazing camera.
I am hopeful that as the final release hits the public, the good would be better, the bad and ugly addressed. I keenly await the final version!