Hands-On With the G4, the New Flagship Smartphone From LG

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The G4 is LG’s new high-end Android mobile phone. On first glance you might mistake it for LG’s last significant phone, the G3. They both look really similar with all the buttons on the back and a distinctly barren glass front face. The G4, like the G3, looks really nice, if not a little simple.

Initially I was a little disappointed with the G4’s same appearance as the G3, but it follows the patterns being set by Apple, Samsung, and HTC. All of which will use very similar, or identical, phone exteriors for more than one year. For its part, LG did add the option for a leather back to differentiate.

I still really like what the G3, and now G4, has done with the phone’s physical size. It has a large 5.5” screen, but the overall footprint of the phone is still about a half-inch shorter than the iPhone 6 Plus which has the same size screen. It feels small in the hand, but has a generous sized screen. Really, it’s the best of both worlds.

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Part of the reason it can be smaller is that the G4 still lacks a fingerprint scanner, or other fancy features. For those who’ve never had a reliable fingerprint scanner on their device—meaning either the S6 or iPhone—it might not seem like a big deal, but for those that have, it’s become essential.

The real story about the G4 is the camera and then to a lesser extent, the phone’s display. The display is just phenomenally sharp and crisp. On first interaction you really do just want to stare at the corners of icons and the fine detail you never noticed before.

The beautiful visuals are thanks to the phone’s Quantum IPS LCD screen which has a resolution of 2560×1440, which is the other reason the device has such a small feel in the hand. The G4 has got incredibly thin bezels on all sides, making the phone feel like just a giant screen. Furthermore, the screen itself packs a serious punch with its 538 pixels per inch—which is just an insane density.

On the camera side, the rear camera is a 16-megapixel sensor with f/1.8. Meaning, on paper it should have better low light performance than other phone cameras. In some initial snapshots taken with the LG G4 that was my experience. Photos had more light and had a better depth of field.

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Image above taken with G4’s rear camera.

At this point though, I don’t think there’s one phone with a camera that rules them all. I think we’ve finally reached the point where there are a few respectable options, including Samsung’s new S6, the iPhone, and now the G4. I could mention the Lumia line of phones too, but no one is buying a Windows phone, even for the camera.

With 3GB of ram and a speedy Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 1.8GHz 64-bit processor I have yet to experience any lag, but I also haven’t pressed it beyond some general multitasking and web usage. I don’t think processor speeds need to stay stagnant, but we’ve definitely crossed a line where mobile speed is more than adequate on the high-end devices.

All-in-all the LG G4 is an impressive phone that comes off a little boring. I’m glad LG isn’t adding one-off features just to check a box on some spec-sheet, but the improvements also wouldn’t really justify a G3 owner to upgrade anytime soon.

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